Darling in the FranXX - Episode 1 Review
Episode one of Darling in the FranXX shows us how gorgeous its animation and fight scenes are, but it introduces everything to us like an ecchi or harem would, just with a higher budget.
The series starts off with our main character, Hiro, having a monologue about the Jian, a bird that cannot fly unless the male and female do it together. This is meant to be symbolic of the Franxx, a robot that can only be piloted by a pair of two, a male and female. Hiro is resting in a forest, upset that he wasn't able to pass the test to pilot one. Soon after, he meets a strange girl, Zero Two, who claims his lack of purpose is not all that different from hers. When a monster attacks the facility, Zero Two is caught engaged deep in battle when her partner dies on her. Coincidentally crashing right next to Hiro, the two try to pilot it together, becoming a perfect match for the Franxx.
First of all, this series clearly seems inspired by Evangelion. Although it focuses on action and fan service, which is far from what Evangelion was ever about, the plot is eerily similar. The robots look a lot like what the Eva's and Angel's looked like, these creatures seem to be mysterious and came out of nowhere, they have to destroy a core to kill them, and when they die, they expel a huge wave of mysterious liquid everywhere. In a lot of ways, it seems like an attempt at a version of Evangelion that's made for the general audience with its focus on sexualizing, fetishizing, and action.
Seemingly the best part of the series so far is the gorgeous mix between Trigger's and A-1 Picture's art styles. The animation is wonderfully fluid, and the character designs, along with the depth put into backgrounds, is fantastic. This allows for amazing fight scenes, and lets the creators put quite a bit of detail into the fan service. It's also pretty funny how much it fetishizes certain things. Some of it is understandable, but I couldn't help but laugh to myself when they put a defined butt and pair of breasts on the Franxx towards the end of the episode. It was quite the ridiculous sight.
Another good part about it is that the directing and cinematography are quite solid. The way the series cuts to shots and animates those shots also seems inspired from Evangelion, but its use of color and the facial expressions keep it different enough.
One problem is that this is a largely generic and basic setup for a first episode. A loser of a protagonist meets some surprisingly gorgeous girl when he suddenly stops becoming a loser and quickly becomes the most useful person around. I wouldn't be surprised if this became a harem because that's what that this premise reminds me of. It starts the same way that many other harems do. It feels as if I've seen this a hundred times before, and although it certainly can get better, this doesn't give me too much hope.
The biggest problem with the first episode is that its attempts at depth feel pretentious. The symbolic explanation of what the Jian is and how its very similar to the Franxx seems out of place considering the type of series it's shaping up to be. The way it centers text on the screen when something important is happening also seems pretentious, trying to make it seem like some larger narrative has formed. If this show plans to be full of action and fan service, perhaps this isn't a good idea. However, it's certainly possible that it'll prove me wrong in the coming episodes, showing us that it can be deep in an effective way.
Overall, if you're into giant robots, high octane action, and some mindless fan service, Darling in the FranXX was made for you. The series could turn out to be fun, but I hope it stays mindless and doesn't try too hard to be deep, otherwise it might fail. Even so, it's very possible that it can retain its depth without seeming pretentious.
|Great Animation||Occasionally Pretentious|
|Engaging Action||Basic Setup|