When we left our heroes at the end of Darling in the Franxx Part 1, things had taken a dark turn. With Zero Two going rogue and attacking Hiro, it looked as if the bonds Squad 13 had built were about to come crumbling down. Everything is at stake as we head into the second half of this thrilling sci-fi series!
As we begin the second half, we’re treated to a flashback episode which reveals a shocking truth. Episode 13 shows us that Zero Two and Hiro once met as children, only to be torn apart by the adults and having their memories wiped. This glimpse into the past shows us an isolated Zero Two, wishing for warmth and companionship, and that Hiro offered her stability. Having been brought back together in the present, it’s easy to see why they gravitated towards one another even without the memories of their past friendship.
When Hiro reawakens after Zero Two’s attack, he finds himself forcibly separated from her by Ichigo and the rest of Squad 13, who don’t want to see Hiro’s life taken by the ‘Partner Killer’. However, without Strelizia, are the remaining fighters any competition for the mighty Klaxosaurs?
The second half of Darling in the Franxx has the difficult job of tying everything together from Part 1. With so many unanswered questions (and plenty of character drama), there isn’t a moment to spare as we race from one shocking reveal to the next. Sadly, not all of these revelations stick the landing, and some left me cold to the direction the story was taking.
Although it’s difficult to talk about the final few episodes without giving spoilers, it’s important to say that the ending won’t satisfy most viewers. The series jumped the shark and does something most viewers didn’t anticipate, which works for being surprising but muddles the narrative on the whole.
By the end of the anime, I was only watching to see what happened to the cast rather than seeing the story through to its conclusion, which is a shame for something that seemed so promising early on. Having said that, I don’t think the bad ending is a reason not to watch Darling in the Franxx, especially if you care about the characters. Your enjoyment will hinge on how much you enjoyed Part 1.
It feels as though Darling in the Franxx could never decide what it really wanted to be: robots fighting giant monsters or a character drama. There are moments where it balances both incredibly well but, more often than not, something falls by the wayside. The cast are likeable and they’ve grown a lot since we saw them in Part 1, but Zero Two becomes a very weak character as the series goes on and Hiro never really grows in likeability. It makes it all the more difficult to decide what my feelings are about the series.
Where animation is concerned, the series was handled by Trigger and CloverWorks, but it seems as though most of these episodes came from CloverWorks without much or any involvement from Trigger. It’s hard to fault the animation as there are some great battle sequences, and the wide range of colours used scene to scene also helps to bring the story to life. It might not be the best animation we’ve seen from either studio but it’s compelling to watch, all the same.
The voice actors also continue to do a great job, especially the Japanese leads Yuto Uemura (Atsushi Nakajima in Bungo Stray Dogs, Leon Stephanotis in Violet Evergarden) and Haruka Tomatsu (Sanae Ebato in Scum’s Wish, Haru Okumura in Persona 5: The Animation). The two play Hiro and Zero Two respectfully and fill their characters with an incredible amount of depth befitting the show’s emotional storyline. While I didn’t sample any of the dub for this review, if you want to know more about it you can check out the review for Part 1 where IncendiaryLemon covered it in-depth.
The music for the series continues to be handled by composer Asami Tachibana. Although there isn’t anything particularly wrong with it, it never held my attention either. The opening for the series is still “Kiss of Death”, while there are four different ending themes: “Beautiful World”, “Hitori”, “Escape”, and “Darling” used throughout the remaining episodes. These tracks are sung by the female Japanese VAs and are fairly memorable, much more so than the rest of the soundtrack.
This release comes to the UK thanks to Manga Entertainment and is available on Blu-ray and DVD. The release includes Episodes 13 to 24 with both Japanese and English audio. On-disc extras include episode commentary and clean opening/ending videos.
Overall, Darling in the Franxx offers an exciting sci-fi mecha series that, while let down by a confused ending, aims to entertain. It’s not the best Studio Trigger anime by a long way, but if you enjoyed the first half then you’ll undoubtedly find something to like here. Maybe just don’t think too hard about the conclusion.