Miss my review last week? You can find it here!
This is it! The big battle has finally arrived, and both Squad 13 and Strelizia have some things to prove to the adults as a battalion of Klaxosaurs descend upon the “kissing” plantations.
With no opening or ending themes this week, the episode hits the ground running as the children get suited up and prepped for the pending fight. Goro is still conflicted about Hiro going into battle obviously hurt, and Ichigo maintains her concern about his continued partnership with Zero Two.
Unfortunately, there’s little time for doubt or hesitation as new data arrives regarding the approaching enemy. A huge, unknown Klaxosaur is coordinating the smaller enemies, giving many of the strategists pause and intimidating the inexperienced pilots of Squad 13. Still, with Strelizia on their side, they prepare for the fight.
Squad 26 takes the lead, showcasing some serious teamwork and coordination as they take down enemy after enemy. A handful sneak through as the veterans leave it to Squad 13, which starts off with a series of classic inexperienced bungles that make you facepalm and wonder if they’ve learned their lessons over the last 5 episodes at all.
Luckily, Ichigo rounds up the crew and gets things in line somewhat, causing the squad leader of 26 to comment on her ability.
Despite the hectic nature of this episode, there were more than a few crumbs dropped by characters this episode in regards to the children and their role in this (post-apocalyptic?) society. I would be more frustrated with the lack of development on that front if I knew it was ending in 6-7 episodes, but it’s got another full cour lined up for the Spring, so I’m confident we’ll learn more soon enough.
Despite Squad 13’s best efforts, they are still struggling to contain the threats that make it past Squad 26’s defensive line. Hiro and Zero Two notice this and dive into the fray.
In a flurry, Strelizia lines up and disposes of dozens of Klaxosaurs at once. Her fearsome strength is a reminder to Squad 13 and 26 of its seemingly inhuman pilot – now accompanied by Hiro to devastating effect.
However, this is the 3rd ride that Hiro has taken with Zero Two, and the effect is thoroughly apparent as he struggles to maintain his connection with Zero Two through the pain. Encouraged by Zero Two, he continues to fight, even when the unidentified Klaxosaur is revealed to be a “Gutenberg-class” monster and transforms into a humanoid form.
Squad 13 arranges a coordinated attack to weaken the beast so that Strelizia can land the killing blow, and initially it appears to have gone off without a hitch. However, the monster resumes its attack almost immediately, sending Strelizia flying into the Plantation wall and, turning itself into a massive battering ram, attempts to pound the Iron Maiden into a million pieces.
Hiro, believing that his final attack vanquished the enemy, slips into unconsciousness. Matter of factly stating that “he’s dead”, he reflects on being content with having some use at the end of his life. He initially sees his original partner, who chastises him for “feeling satisfied for giving up on yourself”. An apt summation of Hiro’s self-sacrificing attitude so far. While unconscious, Ichigo is wracked with grief before Goro offers her a serving of tough love.
Hiro, continuing his “tour of the afterlife”, then sees Zero Two.
Imagining that Zero Two would just continue her life without him without issue, it occurs to Hiro in a moment of revelation that she would always be left alone in combat. In fact, while he’s unconscious, she’s still desperately clawing and fighting against the Gutenberg-class monster in Strelizia’s animal form. Screaming with rage, and still completely overpowered, Zero Two appears lost. Hiro’s plagued veins appear to dissipate as he resolves himself to be her partner and never leave her to pilot Strelizia alone.
Reunited, Hiro and Zero Two re-activate Strelizia in a beacon of brilliant light, tossing the massive beast to the side while Squad 13 helps to keep its core exposed. Taking flight, Hiro exclaims that they will defeat the monster “with their wings”, piercing the core as two wings of light (oh yeah, Evangelion imagery for days ya’ll) lift the monster into the air, before splintering into numerous spears that pierce its frame and cause it to explode in a torrent of blue blood.
Following the grand finale, Hiro realizes something in this week’s “moral of the story” moment:
While previously Hiro was content at the opportunity to “fly”, regardless of the cost, he has now evolved to more of a co-dependent relationship on Zero Two. Recognizing that even she can’t do it alone, the closing credits are accompanied by Hiro’s description of a bird called the “Jian”. Having a single wing, it’s unable to fly alone, but in a pair it can fly as long and as far as it wants. This one-winged pair has found each other, and their dynamic will continue to evolve as a result.
Back in the control room, Dr. Franxx makes his first appearance since the debut episode, commenting cryptically that Hiro may ultimately be able to “…make Zero Two’s dream come true…” whatever that means.
The Squad reconvenes, Ichigo overjoyed that Hiro made it out alive and (seemingly) no worse for the wear. As the ending credits continue, the final scene includes a mysterious blonde boy and a couple other unknown figures. He comments “You’re certainly hitting it off, aren’t you Nine Iota?”
Who is this strange man? What’s next for Hiro and Zero Two? Whose smile should be protected at all costs? All these questions and more to be answered in the episodes to come.
Overall, a fantastic episode from Darling in the FRANXX this week. The battle was well-paced, and kept things moving. Typically a confrontation like that could be spread over 2, even 3 episodes. The decision to trim the opening and ending themes this week to pack it full of narrative was a smart one in my opinion. Looking forward to some revelations next week regarding the blonde haired boy and much more! See you then!
Time for a break on the beach! Episode 7 is up and so is my review!