The winter season is well underway, and Studio TRIGGER has arrived on the scene with Darling in the FRANXX. In a world where children’s only value is determined by their ability to pilot robots known as FRANXX, young Hiro, also known as Code 016, has seemingly lost this essential ability. Resigned to being dismissed to a worthless life, his life is changed when he meets a girl pilot, or “parasite”, by the name of Zero Two.
The series kicks off with a fairly straight-forward structure and plot, with archetypes that fans of giant robot series have seen many times: the disgraced genius, the unspoken threat, the awkward “falling over/stumbling upon the opposite sex naked” trope… the list goes on. Regardless, while there are some familiar elements to Darling in the FRANXX, it’s where the road diverges where the series offers some serious promise.
First, there’s the design of the FRANXX. Our first look at the machine is very Zoids-like in its appearance, seemingly taking the form of a beast on four legs. Intimidating, sure…but following Zero Two and Hiro partnering up, the machine takes a very different, and even more impressive form.
While “Strelizia” appears to be the main mech for the series, I’m intrigued to see the other FRANXX designs and weapons of choice.
Furthermore, the enemies within the world of Darling in the FRANXX are interesting as well. The initial enemy is large and packs a huge punch, like an oversized T-Rex that happens to have a Death Star laser cannon. Much like Dark Souls bosses, I’m sure that the real threats come in much smaller packages, but we’ll see in the weeks to come.
Another standout of Darling in the FRANXX is the art style. Studio TRIGGER has spent quite some time developing their unique look, and seeing it adapted to a giant robot series for the first time since the core team members worked on Gurren Lagann is a real treat. Strelizia’s movement and attacks in the final clash with the Klaxosaur were smooth and conveyed overwhelming power. In future episodes when they inevitably clash with multiple enemies, I’ll be interested in seeing how far TRIGGER goes in capturing the lightning-in-a-bottle that was Gurren Lagann mech battles.
Sure, there was a good portion of the episode that we’ve all “seen before”. It probably could have done with a bit more explanation, but we’ll see if episode 2 provides some measured world-building.
Overall, I was very excited to begin watching Darling in the FRANXX, and I’m happy to say that so far, the show doesn’t disappoint!
You can watch Darling in the FRANXX on Saturday mornings on Crunchyroll.
You can find my review of episode 2 here.