Three episodes in, DARLING in the FRANXX is settling into a groove that feels much more palatable than last week"s scattered second outing.

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Now that the show is absolutely sure that its audience understands its central metaphor, it"s taking some time to flesh out its setting và the parameters of its world a bit. Because of this, “Fighting Puppet” occasionally does feel like a table-setting episode, simply working to establish the status quo just so it can be knocked down in another nine episodes or so. There"s a quick pace và infectious energy khổng lồ the proceedings that give this episode a welcome edge, making me hopeful for the consistent entertainment value that DARLING in the FRANXX will hopefully deliver over the next 21 episodes or so.

Hiro continues to sit on the sidelines after his disastrous performance with Ichigo in the mock battle last week, but this downtime also gives Hiro the opportunity khổng lồ finally spend some time with Zero Two, who sneaks him past Plantation 13"s security khổng lồ show him the iridescent metropolis that the Parasites have been raised lớn defend, despite never getting to lớn see it for themselves. The comparisons khổng lồ Evangelion"s Tokyo-3 are rather obvious (and intentional, given that FRANXX borrows nearly identical shots and scene compositions for this big reveal), but there are some clear contrasts to lớn be found here as well. In Evangelion, the pilots were plucked from the societies they were meant to lớn defend, where the Parasites in FRANXX have been sequestered off from the rest of society since birth. A rather interesting cold open even reveals that Hiro is seemingly responsible for any of the pilots even having names; without his social ingenuity, it"s possible that the Parasites would have been known only by their code numbers for the rest of their lives.

Zero Two seems to lớn know something about this strangely sterile society, bitterly remarking that she finds them khổng lồ be disappointingly lifeless. I find her characterization so far both promising and a bit worrying, if I"m being honest. She"s clearly being phối up as a carnal and self-aware contrast khổng lồ the stunted and exploited Parasites that we"ve met so far, though she also doesn"t see the point in picking out a name for herself, since death makes everyone anonymous in the end. This kind of self-conscious dehumanization coupled with her own desire for explicitly romantic/sexual relationships could prove lớn be a compelling & dynamic part of DARLING in the FRANXX, but it also runs the risk of making Zero Two feel more lượt thích a thematic mouthpiece than an actual character. Her “Manic Oni Dream Girl” shtick does a good job of disrupting the Parasites" way of looking at the world và justifies Hiro"s immediate attraction to lớn her, but I hope that the following weeks provide her with some interiority that these first few episodes have lacked.

Fortunately, DARLING is reaping dividends when it comes khổng lồ the rest of its Parasite characters, who all get their first experience combating Klaxosaurs this week.

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Seeing all the FRANXX and their pilots in kích hoạt was a real treat, reminding me how effective a good old-fashioned mecha show with a bunch of kids fighting monsters in their fancy robots can be, while still establishing enough of its own unique voice to lớn feel fresh. The Klaxosaurs & their destructible cores still feel very Evangelion, but the chất lượng designs of the FRANXX themselves stand out as cool and visually distinct. Seeing the Pistils" faces projected as the visages of the FRANXX itself is perhaps my favorite detail, lending the mechs a cảm biến of humanity that might otherwise be drowned out by the bots" half-blocky, half-bulbous designs. DARLING in the FRANXX provides some damn fine robot-on-monster action, if nothing else.

The Klaxosaur fight isn"t just a showcase for A-1 Pictures và Studio Trigger"s combined animation và design efforts; it also helps solidify the pairs of Parasites and their FRANXX that will ostensibly be carrying this series. Zorome makes up for his obnoxious attitude by showing some real concern for Miku after she collapses in the middle of battle, & Kokoro và Futoshi establish themselves as the most stable pair of the group (so far). The most interesting development was watching Mitsuru foist all of the blame for Chlorophytum"s inactivity on his Pistil Ikuno, before bullying his way into Strelizia"s cockpit in Hiro"s place, much khổng lồ Zero Two"s chagrin. I had originally thought that Zorome might end up being one of Hiro"s main rivals, but Mitsuru"s pride & desire to validate his “performance” only led to his downfall.

There"s an easy analogy lớn cuckolding I could probably examine here, but I"ll restrain myself, if only because I"m sure the uncomfortable sexual allegory will only make itself even more plain as these Parasites" relationships get more & more tangled. Zero Two has proven khổng lồ be a risky girl to lớn partner up with, now that Mitsuru has been added khổng lồ the các mục of men who haven"t been able to physically handle riding with her. Hiro"s desires could lead him lớn discovering new và terrifying truths about his world, but he"s risking a lot to bởi so, & there"s little doubt that his friends are all going khổng lồ be dragged along for the ride in some khung or another.

While DARLING in the FRANXX"s sexual và metaphorical intentions are only slightly less muddy after this week, the actual storytelling và direction on display are satisfyingly consistent và entertaining. I"m on board with learning more about this strange world that Hiro and Zero Two inhabit, and I could see myself rooting for some of these Parasites" relationships once I have a firmer grasp on what exactly the show is saying through them. I"ll be on the lookout for where DARLING"s themes and ideas go from here, but in the meantime, I"m prepared khổng lồ enjoy the colorful story và the well-produced mecha action on the show"s surface.

Rating: B+

DARLING in the FRANXX is currently streaming onCrunchyroll.

James is an English teacher who has loved anime his entire life, and he spends way too much time on Twitter and his blog.