Darling In the Franxx is an Odd Anime with an Odd Premise
If you somehow haven’t heard about it yet, it is a show where teenagers fight monsters with giant robots controlled via sex.
The premise is enough to turn off a lot of potential viewers. I know I gave it a pass at first for this reason, but upon revisiting it, I have turned a corner on this weird show. It’s less about the fighting robots and more about delving into the minds of disposable child soldiers.
It should be experienced on its own first. I’m going to talk about the most recent episode and what it could mean for the series as a whole, so proceed with caution. There will be spoilers from this point on.
Our main characters are Parasites, people who can pilot the Franxx in pairs of one boy and one girl. The fact that they’re called Parasites should tell you all you need to know about how society views these children. They’re given serial numbers in lieu of names and are repeatedly told that their only value is being able to pilot the Franxx.
When the previous Squad 13 all died, the adults decided it would be too much trouble to remove their belongings. Instead, the adults in charge just put caution tape over the doors and told the new squad not to go downstairs. These children are used up and then thrown away.
Zorome has been fixated on becoming an adult presumably since he was first brought to the Garden. Even so, every time he asks somebody outside his team about it, he is told it is impossible. One of the older Parasites even wonders if he doesn’t know the truth. The truth is likely a little deeper than the fact that he’ll probably die in battle before ever reaching adulthood.
There have been hints throughout the series, but Episode 10 makes it clear. These children have been infected with something. An earlier episode mentions yellow blood cells. It’s been a while since my high school biology class, but I’m pretty sure that there aren’t yellow blood cells. The infection has changed their biology to the point that the medical scanners in the city can only read Zorome’s injuries when it’s set to “pet mode”. Whatever the nature of the infection is, these children have been quarantined off to die far away from the adults in the city.
Zero Two describes the series as lifeless, and it’s easy to see why. Life in the city isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Even Zorome agrees once he learns a little more about the people who live in the city. The streets are almost completely empty. The hat that covers the eyes of most adults is some pretty obvious symbolism.
The adults are blind to the world around them. Even simple pleasures like eating good food or conversation seem to be missing from their lives. Despite the fact that they literally live in the same apartment, the woman Zorome meets hasn’t spoken to her husband for so long that she doesn’t remember what his voice sounds like.
Their lives are so completely devoid of joy or meaning that they have a machine pumping happiness into their brains for them. The episode clearly wants us to think about whether these people are really living, and by extension is this society worth dying for? Is this way of life worth sacrificing those of children?