Darling in the FranXX – 02

Last week was pretty much Hiro, his rough break-up with Naomi, meeting Zero Two, and taking care of the crisis. This week things slow down a bit as we’re introduced to the rest of the squad where Hiro once again has a home. That includes the squad leader Ichigo, very well-voiced by Ichinose Kana in her first role (and sounding a bit like another, more famous Kana).

Ichigo clearly harbors feelings for Hiro of which he’s clearly unaware, and so she sees Zero Two as an interloper. Setting aside the fact that she swooped in and snatched Hiro practically the moment Naomi peaced out, Ichigo doesn’t want to see him get hurt, and Zero Two seems like the type who will hurt. She barges into the squad’s chow and pours honey over everything like a weirdo.

Hiro is the eleventh of a squad of ten, but Zero Two isn’t the twelfth; her fate is unknown, leaving Hiro with no official partner or FranXX. Ichigo is the unquestioned elite squad leader, but one can tell the redhead Miku maintains a quiet envy for her stature (as demonstrated in the classic locker room scene with fanservice and plug-suit fitting).

Ichigo and Miku are “pistils”, and their “stamens” are the studious Gorou and wild Zorome. Gorou is very friendly with Hiro (and not threatened by Ichigo’s affection for him) and seems like a nice guy, but Zorome is your classic heel/rival character who will likely keep berating and running Hiro down until Hiro does something (not counting last week).

Rounding out the group are the pistil-stamen pairs of Kokoro/Futoshi (the lovey-doveyest) and Ikuno/Mitsuru. When the pairs enter their colorful, distinctive FranXXs, we see that the actual pistil-stamen interface is a little…suggestive, with the girl on all fours while the guy stands behind and “drives.”

Basically, the girl is an interface between the guy and the FranXX; without total synchonicity between partners, the FranXX won’t work properly. Adding to the suggestiveness is the fact that interfacing is very physically taxing and sometimes painful, so that while operating a FranXX, everyone’s breathing heavily and occasionally making weird noises.

After their first official sortie as parasites, the pairs stand down. Zero Two continues to loiter around, invoking the ire of Ichigo, who isn’t afraid to warn Zero to stay away from Hiro. Though Ichigo might wish she hadn’t, as Zero Two gives her a taste. Out in the yard, Zorome wallops Hiro with a football, and the two get into each others faces, forcing Ichigo and Gorou to be the adults in this messed-up family and restore peace.

The thing is, Hiro can understand why Zorome is so dubious of his ability: Hiro himself doesn’t actually remember what happened after entering that cockpit being kissed by Zero Two. He only remembers the feeling, and he wants to get back to it so he can prove to Zorome, Ichigo, the others, and most importantly himself that he can pilot a FranXX.

Well, Hiro promptly gets his Shot, though perhaps not quite under the circumstances he’d hoped for. The brass (led by the mysterious “Papa”) okays a FranXX mock battle to test Hiro, but Zero Two isn’t allowed to partner with him this time.

Even before that was made clear, Ichigo volunteers to partner with him, hoping she can bring out the pilot in Hiro as much as her pink-haired nemesis. Zorome volunteers to be the opponent, and eager for an opportunity to prove her worth against Ichigo, Miku agrees as well.

The second Ichigo got her wish, I knew things were not going to go well, but things start out just fine, with Hiro and Ichigo reaching 100% sync rate and activating her FranXX Delphinium, without any trouble. And then, not ten seconds into the battle, it shuts down again.

Inside the cockpit, Ichigo is on all fours, sweating and heavily breathing as she and Hiro unleash a flurry of double entendres that, taken out of context, sound like dialogue from Girls, a show renowned for its awkward sex scenes:

Ichigo: What’s wrong?
Hiro: I don’t know. It just stopped.
Ichigo: Was it my fault?
Hiro: I don’t think so.
Ichigo: What did she do differently?
Hiro: I don’t know. I don’t remember.
Ichigo: Calm down. No need to rush.

Whew. Suffice it to say, as much as she may like Hiro and want to stick it to Zero Two, Ichigo and Hiro simply aren’t a good match in a FranXX.

When Hiro remembers that Zero Two kissed him and everything went “BOOM”, and Ichigo climbs onto Hiro and kisses him as well, it felt as much like a last-ditch effort to get things moving again as Ichigo not wanting Zero Two to have something she doesn’t with Hiro, i.e. a kiss.

That her kiss does absolutely nothing for Hiro only makes things worse. I can’t help but sympathize with both of them; things are not going well at all.

When Zorome starts kicking Delphinium while its down (with Miki and their FranXX Argentea), Ichigo remembers they’re in a fight, and decides to bypass a defeated, powerless, inert Hiro and pilot the FranXX by herself, a very risky maneuver that takes a lot out of her.

The mock battle ends with Hiro having hit a new low, with all hope of ever piloting anything again in grave jeopardy, with Ichigo feeling embarrassed, ashamed, and very much taken down a notch, and Zorome emboldened. Last week was Hiro’s bad breakup and fleeting fling with Z2; this week Ichigo attempted to reassert her bond with Hiro and it went horribly, horribly wrong.

The failure she endured in front of her squad is the kind of thing that might have far-reaching impact on her confidence at precisely the wrong time in her development as one of the defenders of humanity.  Here’s hoping things start to look up for both of them, both personally and professionally.

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Author: braverade

Hannah Brave is a staff writer for RABUJOI.

2 thoughts on “Darling in the FranXX – 02”

  1. These mecha designs sure are unconventional! I normally am a huge fan of “cool” mecha designs like Gundams and Armored Core. However I think the quirkiness of the FranXX designs does fit with the scenario. I do have to admit that the seriousness of the show’s overall atmosphere does feel a bit jarring when juxtaposed with the odd looking FranXX and the very suggestive way they are piloted. It’s like if Kill La Kill was taken seriously instead of played half for lols. Although maybe I’ll get used to it.

    While I could do without the fanservice presentation in which the FranXX piloting method is presented (I mean holycrap, did you see the trainer FranXX? The steering wheel was shaped like a woman’s ass!). The actual sci-fi tech ideas do pique my interest. It seems like the female is some kind of wetware component that closely links with the machine, and the male co pilot is needed to get a level a detachment from the mecha. Seeing Strealizer in beast mode made me think that solo piloting a FranXX probably causes them to go on a rampage or something. Maybe the machines aren’t as machine like as we are lead to believe.

    So far my thoughts on the show are pretty positive. I actually rather like the character dynamics they have on going.

    1. Yeah, the FranXX are more of the “biomechanical” mecha of Eva and TTGL, which makes sense as there’s loads of GAINAX DNA in FranXX. I love how they not only have faces, but they talk with the voice of their pilots!

      The allusions to Sex are everywhere. Pistils and stamens, the skintight suits, the positions of the pilots in the cockpits, the way “connecting” is described as feeling like nothing else; the weird sounds Miku makes, the sweat…even the word “FranXX” is one “X” off your strong pornography rating of “XXX.”

      Yet the sterile environment and the numbered pilots definitely lend those allusions a clinical hue (tint?). These kids were basically bred to pilot these machines, so they don’t really show the embarrassment you’d expect of those who haven’t grown up with such a system.

      What I find fascinating so far is that Zero Two represents a more primal and profane method of piloting; the kissing, the “darling” nickname; it’s much more intimate than any of the other pilot pairs (one pair is lovey-dovy, but chastely so) Ichigo, ever-protective of Hiro, finds Two’s entire existence threatening (she is part Klaxosaur after all) and leads her into that very ill-fated mock battle.

      What’s worse is that Ichigo didn’t see any choice; if she didn’t volunteer, Zero Two would surely continue to steal Hiro away and/or hurt him. Instead Hiro and Zero Two end up hurting each other and regret ever having jumped into bed-er, the cockpit together.

      Random musings: Whereas the Christian iconography used in Eva was mostly aesthetic, I feel FranXX’s heavy use of sexual symbols could be an attempt to explore something about the state of romance in the tech-obsessed modern age. Methods of courtship and lovemaking have changed drastically in a generation. In the world of FranXX I almost assume these kids aren’t even meant to reproduce, but simply fight and die for the greater good.

      As their bodies transition into adulthood, the tech around them seems to be channeling their sexual energy/frustration for military use. The pairs form the “brain” of the FranXX while the FranXX fight other biomechanical monsters. They’re in a suggestive position, but they’re also fully clothed, and a very significant distance away from each other. This isn’t really sex; it’s not even dry-humping!

      Somehow someone has managed to merge the two to make a human-Klax hybrid in Zero Two, who represents a kind of revolution. Ichigo, Gorou, even Zorome are nothing if not orthodox; cogs in the machine. Zero Two is something new, and she wants to take Hiro along for the ride. That ride might be bumpy and pocked with spectacular failures, but it might be necessary to resolve the conflict.

      Of course, we don’t know much about the enemy they’re fighting, but if we are to learn something concrete down the road (as opposed to them simply being a monolithic foe to destroy) their similarity to the FranXX indicates humanity had a hand in the creation of both sides.

      Whew. tl;dr I’m digging this show. Story themes aside I’m also enjoying the character dynamics.

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