SPOILERS AHEAD – YOU’VE BEEN WARNED
Miss my review last week? You can find it here!
The episode begins with the adults briefing Squad 13 on the battle to come. The objective is capturing a strategic position known as the Gran Crevasse. This has been a goal of Papa’s for some time, and it appears that everything has been leading up to this climactic battle.
The 9’s are being deployed, as well as every major plantation’s fighting force in an attempt to secure a victory over the Klaxosaurs.
Hiro seems distant and depressed after being separated from Zero Two, and while Ichigo and the rest of the squad do what they can to assure Hiro that they will come out alright on the other side of the battle, Hiro appears to be equal parts heartbroken and disappointed that he can’t be of more use to the team.
Meanwhile, on the battlefield, Zero Two is running wild in her Rampage mode. Having devoured all of the partners they gave her at the end of episode 14, she makes her way across the battlefield, destroying dozens and dozens of Klaxosaurs in a whirling dervish of destruction.
As the fight goes on, the squads trigger the awakening of a new class of Klaxosaur: Super Lehmann. Bigger than an entire plantation, this massive enemy single handedly destroys whole plantations as the FRANXX forces suddenly find themselves having to shift their attention to a new threat. After a suicide attack from Squad 26 fails to stop the Super Lehmann, Plantation 13 is breached and hundreds of Klaxosaurs are poured into it, Hiro now in danger as the fight is coming to him.
Zero Two springs into action, and Hiro, frustrated with himself that he stopped asking questions and let the adults separate him from his Darling, gets into a training bot and rushes onto the battlefield.
This goes about as well as you would expect, with Hiro getting knocked about and Ichigo chastising him and about to send him home. However, just as this happens, the heavens open up as the Celestial-Level Bro known as Goro opens the door for Hiro and reunite with Zero Two.
Goro gives up his seat and has Hiro pilot along with Ichigo so that the reunion can happen. To drive the point home, Ichigo taps into Hiro’s memories during their connection and finds that the only thing on his mind is Zero Two, and that the depth of their bond is far beyond what she could ever hope to match.
Ichigo and Hiro make their way to Zero Two, where she continues to rampage and lose more and more of her humanity. Ichigo lets out some aggression, sharing some blows with Strelizia’s Rampage form before letting Hiro out and join Zero Two in her cockpit.
The rest of Squad 13 is tasked with protecting Strelizia while the two talk, and during their battle they discover something interesting about the Cores they’ve been targeting. There’s a yellow nucleus in each one that seems to resemble…a human?
What could this mean? Hmm…
Meanwhile, Hiro finds Zero Two connected to Strelizia via numerous long horns that are connected to the machine. After pairing with her is unsuccessful, he implores her to “let him in” again, and soon he’s inside her memories once again.
Once again transported to Zero Two’s childhood days, we see that she was subjected to memory altering treatment numerous times in an attempt to erase the time she shared with Hiro. Tasting her blood helped to keep these memories alive, and in a particularly poignant scene, we also see her eating her favorite book. Internalizing the pages to make sure she would never forget.
Hiro realizes the depth of the pain and suffering she went through and lets her know that she’s not alone, freeing her from the Rampage mode and opening her up to talk with him freely again.
Zero Two is distraught, no longer maintaining the tough-girl motif. She apologizes for calling Hiro fodder and says that she’s just a monster. She doesn’t feel like she deserves Hiro, but he interrupts her with a kiss. He tells her that while they were stopped before, nobody’s going to stop them from exploring the world now.
They are one.
Just then, Strelizia transforms into a brilliant-red form that we haven’t seen before. In a flash of red light, the massive Klaxosaur is defeated as Strelizia barrels through it, leaving a wake of explosions as the pair powers through.
Imbued with immense power, and overcome with joy at their fully-realized reunion, Hiro and Zero Two declare their love for one another as they vanquish the Super Lehmann class.
The rest of Squad 13 looks on happily, Zorome jokingly telling them to turn off their comms as he wipes away tears. Following their victory, they are prepared to take out the numerous cores of the Super Lehmann when a monstrously large hand emerges from the recently uncovered Gran Crevasse. It appears to wipe away the remaining shell of the Klaxosaur, leaving a huge hand-trail back to where it emerged from. And with that, the episode ends.
Every season, there’s an episode that just really sticks out to me. Whether it’s a profound story element, a superbly animated episode or an affective emotional reveal, without fail there’s at least one episode each season that sets itself apart from the rest. While I understand that the Spring season is still relatively young, I have a good feeling that this will be that episode for me this season.
Following last week’s episode, there was a lot of consternation and anger on behalf of the fans. In fact, the Darling in the FRANXX team was even sent death threats as a result of Hiro and Zero Two’s tragic separation. So, it stands to reason that showing up such an impactful episode would be a tall order. And yet, episode 15 does so handily.
In the opening half of the episode, the grand scale of the battle against the klaxosaurs helped to demonstrate the shared progression of the team: demonstrated when they arrive on the battlefield and immediately start catching the attention of other pilots. It’s great to see how far they’ve come, even though they are often overshadowed by the love triangle drama that is Hiro, Zero Two, and Ichigo.
The mysterious Council of Old Men appear more and more threatening by the episode, no doubt unveiling the Gran Crevasse is part of their insidious plan. Furthermore, I have a feeling that their idea of “Liberating Humanity” might not be as positive as it seems on the surface.
The second half was the real gut-punch for me. Zero Two’s memories, including the scene of her eating the story book, added some serious depth to not just Zero Two, but the relationship between her and Hiro. The reunion and forgiveness that followed was raw and emotional, and makes me excited to see their new dynamic.
There’s some fantastic growth and character development all around, but Goro definitely stood out once again. A voice of reason, I’m worried that his continued role as a martyr might finally be realized fully in an upcoming episode. Regardless, he’s a tremendous friend and asset to the team.
Overall, Trigger continues to impress with Darling in the FRANXX. I’m genuinely interested to see where the story goes from here. A massive black hand, the mysterious council pursuing their shadowy objectives, Hiro and Zero Two finally realizing the full potential of their connection…so much to see and explore!
I know I’ll be looking forward to the coming weeks, and you definitely should too!
After a one-week hiatus, episode 16 is here, and so is my review!