Tengen Toppa Strelezia Lagann – Darling In The FranXX Review

So when I last touched upon the lovely and lovey Darling in the FranXX back in February, it seems like such a lifetime has passed since. This is even omitting the craziness and drama that was the “Bitchigo Incident.” We moved from innocence and some random ecchi to being a deeply saddening, emotional, and darker show. This includes a good focus on 02 overcoming her issues with Hiro to becoming more and more involved and integrated with the kids of Plantation 13. This is disrupted in a seemingly normal fashion by the 9’s, who are a team of elite pilots who are also pretentious dicks, but that aside they take 02 and she devolves into a literal man eater, made all the sadder when it is revealed that Hiro is in fact her childhood “darling” who initially saved her back when they were children. Hiro later rescues her again and the show seems to hit a natural plateau with the two of them combining and proceeding to tear into all of the Klaxosaurs as a bad ass upgraded Arc Gurren Strelizia. It really almost brought a tear to my eye seeing Strelizia kicking ass with Hiro and 02, with all of Squad 13 backing them.

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All seemed well until suddenly the Klaxosaurs showed their hand (literally) and revealed a power yet unseen and apparently an intelligence belying their previously savage and animalistic nature.  And so begins our introduction to the interesting exposition and twists and turns, with more hints and direct references to an underlying conspiracy, as Squad 13 is left alone in the remnants of the shattered Plantation 13. Eventually a budding love between Kokoro and Mitsuru with the two of them “consummating” their relationship and eventually getting married and crafting wire rings. In the midst of the ceremony they are interrupted by APE and retrieved from their seeming isolation. This kicks into Episode 19 where things begin to go all TRIGGER on us. Dr. Franxx begins to describe the world as of 2025 and how the discovery of how to harness Magma Energy by the mysterious, totally not Illuminati “APE” organization which seemed to provide cheap and easy energy to power everything from medicine, to technology, to functional immortality, at the cost of reproductive abilities and their empathy/emotions. The trade off for this was the desertification of the world but humanity utilized the plantations to live, and with the appearance of Klaxosaurs, FranXX were created. The research came at the cost of his wife during testing and the finding that reproductive function was required to operate them. Franxx himself eventually found and encountered the Klaxosaur Princess and obtained some of her DNA to recreate and power the FranXX which were derived from Klaxosaurs themselves. Jumping back to the future, the children of Squad 13 array themselves and demandto be set free from Papa after this last mission, which is to obtain the Star Entity, a powerful Klaxosaur weapon Strelezia could pilot to finish off the Klaxosaurs once and for all. He agrees and the mission seems to start as a beginning to the end of this show.

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Kokoro begins feeling some morning sickness, but carries on with going on the mission, and in the midst of the operation, 02 is thrown by the Klaxosaur Princess from Strelezia and Hiro is taken hostage to be used to power the Star Entity. We then find out that the show goes full Gainax/Trigger and reveals anti-Spirals VIRM, the intergalactic organization that attacked Earth millions of years ago when Spirals Klaxosaurs were the dominant race on Earth, very akin to humanity now. The Klaxosaurs later combined in the precursor to the FranXX and eventually melded, becoming the Klaxosaurs as they are now. Needless to say, all the other children are confused as the Klaxosaurs begin fighting purple space monsters as some of the members of APE including Papa reveal themselves to be the alien masterminds that used humanity to leverage power over the Klaxosaurs that defeated them before as they trigger a failsafe in the Star Entity to cause it to self destruct and destroy the planet.

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“Aliens”

Eventually 02 is rescued by Hachi and Dr. Franxx and returns to her trek to save her darling. Making her way there with the aid of one of the Klaxosaurs, she breaks into Strelezia and gets to Hiro. With the blessing of the Klaxosaur Princess, 02 obtains the power to activate Super Galaxy Strelezia Apath and beat back the VIRM fleet in orbit. All the while we see the different Franxx being destroyed, with even the normally calm and condescending 9’s being thrown into disarray between the betrayal of Papa and the brutal and unexpected death of their comrades at the hands of VIRM. This array of emotions is capped off at the end with the powerful blast by Strelezia Apath leaving 02 in a less than healthy state.

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Darling…I don’t feel so good…

The latest episode reveals a bait and switch with 02 not actually dead. In an arguably worse state, she is left catatonic and non responsive. This drives Hiro to becoming more insulated and erratic. Strelezia Apath has been taken away by the Klaxosaurs who have seemed to stop fighting the humans and focused upon the VIRM threat. Ichigo and Goro spent the time since the siege trying to organize the other children and build farms and repair things to sustain humanity. Kokoro and Mitsuru cope with the realization that Kokoro is now pregnant and a lack of understanding and direction burdens the two amnesiac lovers. Hachi and O.G. Nana find the “rejected” children form the Garden in a subbasement and are left postmortem instructions from Dr. Franxx to be their adults. Even the 9’s are found to be broken shells of the once proud warriors they were, refusing to eat and beginning to waste away. As this happens, Hiro realizes that 02’s mind is actually still in Strelezia Apath and Ichigo collapses from exhaustion after finding that the planet is unable to sustain life due to the magma harvesting. After a slightly touching reunion, Hachi and Nana help to keep the children stable and acting as a leadership that they now lack without Papa. And so the parasites fight on, taking to the stars to finish the fight. *Cue Halo music*

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You may feel this way after that explanation.

With that, you are now caught up on the fantastic Darling in the FranXX. Don’t take my veiled references to Gurren Lagann as a bad thing, as I mean it to reference the fact that they took a similar train of thought that Trigger/Gainax is famous for with it’s insanity. This is the sort of escalation that only Trigger could really pull off without seeming too insane like Claymore. In a manner much more like Attack on Titan (or obviously Gurren Lagann) they reveal the existence of a greater world in a well delivered and impressive manner that leaves me enjoying where we’ve come from, where we’ve gone, and what the next two episodes are going to be like as Squad 13 and the 9’s take the fight to VIRM in orbit of Mars. I for one am anticipating seeing the gang  going toe to toe with the VIRM and take back 02 and that damn smile.

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It all started with that damn smile…

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