DARLING in the FRANXX (ダーリン・イン・ザ・フランキス, Dārin In Za Furankisu), also known as DARLI FRA (ダリフラ, Dari Fura) for short, is a 2018 Japanese science fiction anime television series created by Code: 000, co-produced by Trigger, A-1 Pictures and its subsidiary CloverWorks, which premiered on January 13, 2018. A manga adaptation by Kentaro Yabuki and another caricature began serialization on January 14, 2018.
In a post-apocalyptic future, humanity has been under constant threat and driven to endangerment by giant beasts known as klaxosaurs, which are sub-divided into at least four categories based on their size: ‘Conrad’, ‘Mohorovicic’, ‘Gutenberg’, and ‘super Lehmann’. In the 21st century, the progress of human civilization accelerated by ground-breaking discoveries in mining technology, allowing extraction of magma energy for a low-cost and all-encompassing energy source. Scientists who contributed to this discovery formed APE, an internationalized organization that gained large influence over politics and the global economy. After discovering human immortality, much of humanity opted to become immortal but at the cost of their reproductive systems. The magma energy drilling eventually led to the sudden emergence of the klaxosaurs, which began attacking the drilling facilities and leading to a huge number of casualties
Pushed to the brink of extinction, APE led the remnants of humanity to abandon Earth’s surface for the relatively safe mobile fortress-cities called Plantations. The adults live in these cities and have become immortal due to receiving injections of magma energy but at the cost of their reproductive systems. The adults live peaceful and uneventful lives within the Plantations where procreation and relationships have become obsolete. To defend the Plantations, humanoid military weapons called FRANXX were created. However, it was later found that they required a male and female pilot who retained their reproductive functions. Because all of humanity lost those functions in exchange for immortality, there were was a need for fertile children and through genetic cloning, children were born. The children, referred to as ‘parasites’, are educated only for piloting the FRANXX in boy-girl pairs and are kept in isolation throughout their childhoods, and placed in environments called ‘Birdcages’, which emulate that of a bygone era, so they can develop the emotional responses needed to pilot the FRANXX.
After a century of warfare against the klaxosaurs, a parasite named Hiro, who is initially viewed as a prodigy, fails his capacity test and is deemed unfit to pilot, making him lose interest in life. While skipping out on his class's graduation ceremony, Hiro encounters Zero Two, an infamous FRANXX pilot who is actually a human-klaxosaur hybrid with red horns on her head and a dark past in which her partners die after riding with her thrice. After her partner is killed in a klaxosaur attack, Hiro says to Zero Two that he'll help her pilot her robot to defeat the klaxosaur. After they succeed, Zero Two announces she has found her ‘darling’.
"I found you, my darling!"
Darling in the FRANXX works on a wide variety of themes. The main symbol is of a bird, prominently the Jian, a Chinese mythical bird with one wing and is incapable of flight unless a male and female pair lean on each other. This signifies the purpose of the boy-girl pairs as FRANXX pilots but also reflects how the two can continue the cycle of life and lay the foundation for the future. The series tackles topics such as self-discovery, coming-of age, war impact on children, dystopian environment, love triangles, teen marriage and pregnancy, and henotheism. The most prevalent themes covered is the real-world issue of war and the military's use of children. This outlines the upbringing of the characters and shapes their initial perspective of how the world they know operates. The series also focuses on the physical and emotional transition of childhood to adulthood. This includes themes of interpersonal matters, such as the children naturally discovering love, friendship, and forming a family unit for the sake of survival. Identity and protection also play an important role for the children as they begin to questions the origins of their existence, finding their true destiny and resolving to fight for it when they realize they are disposable in the eyes of their affirmed leader. Other prominent real life matters such as teenage pregnancy and marriage are shown with Kokoro and Mitsuru. Self-sacrifice is one of the most notable themes in the series, as Hiro and Zero Two chose to give up their lives to ensure their friends would be freed from further warfare and live happier lives.
Setting and Terminology
The series takes place around a century since humanity’s war with the klaxosaurs began in 2037. As a result of magma energy being drilled from Earth’s core for the use of increasing human civilization and technology, the planet’s surface has been left in complete ruins and the remnants of humanity reside in the Plantations. Inside the Plantations are two sections; the lower section is of a city for the adults that glow in the colour gold and the upper section is the residence for the parasites assigned to protect the plantation. Several other parasite facilities such as the Garden and the Bird Nest exist across the planet. The APE council operate in an aerial facility called Cosmos over Earth’s atmosphere. The klaxosaurs reside within Earth’s core and have many physical manifestations.
Klaxosaurs are divided into 4 main classes based on their size.
- Conrad-class klaxosaurs are smaller than a FRANXX and are usually not a threat. They are fast and rely on strength in numbers. They can merge to form a larger klaxosaur form.
- Mohorovic-class klaxosaurs are medium-sized and can be considered dangerous to the Plantations if left unattended. Otherwise, they are harmless if dealt with.
- Gutenberg-class klaxosaurs are large and intimidating to look at. They consist of a variety of weapons that are a threat to Plantations. A joint operation is required to combat against them.
- Lehmann-class klaxosaurs are almost as large as a plantation and the most dangerous of the klaxosaurs. They are capable of withstanding explosions, military weapons used by the plantations and FRANXX. A seasoned FRANXX unit and powerful military units are required to combat against them.
FRANXX are biomechanical military units designed by Dr. FRANXX to combat against the klaxosaurs. They were created from klaxosaur skeletal remains dug up from Earth’s core fitted with armour and control systems. FRANXX are operated by male and female pairs. They require a strong mental connection and trust between the pilots to function.
Parasites are children who were created to pilot the FRANXX. They spend their entire childhood undergoing training and tests at the Garden and given code numbers before being discharged and assigned to a plantation based on their para-capacity and aptitude scores. They are assigned into boy-girl pairs to pilot a FRANXX. Parasites reside in a bygone environment to help them develop the emotional responses required to pilot. These children grow up knowing nothing besides warfare and are prohibited from forming relationships beyond professionalism or else they will be subjected to punishment.
VIRM is an alien species that has existed as long as humanity and klaxosaurs. Its home planet resides near the end of the universe and takes two years to reach, even with a time warp. VIRM is an energy-consuming alien race that relies on absorbing the souls of its victims. After being defeated by Klaxosaurs several aeons prior, some VIRM survived and went into hiding. Later, they went on to form APE and introduced the FRANXX and parasite system, disguised as humans, so they could take out the klaxosaurs in the future.
Hringhorni is a powerful weapon kept in a secret location called the Gran Crevasse. APE refers to it as ‘Star Entity’ and it was built for eliminating the klaxosaurs. It requires a klaxosapien to operate it and Zero Two was created to do so on humanity’s behalf. It was also installed with a self-destruct bomb powerful enough to destroy the planet should the Klaxosaur Princess attempt to take control of it.
- Original Work: Code: 000
- Director: Atsushi Nishigori
- Assistant Director: Toshifumi Akai
- Series Composition: Atsushi Nishigori, Naotaka Hayashi
- Character Designer: Masayoshi Tanaka
- Chief Animation Director: Masayoshi Tanaka
- Mechanical Designer: Shigeto Koyama
- Action Supervisor: Masayoshi Tanaka
- Music: Asami Tachibana
- Opening Theme: Mika Nakashima x HYDE
- Animation Production: TRIGGER x A-1 Pictures x CloverWorks
List of Episodes
- Episode 01: Alone and Lonesome
- Episode 02: What it Means to Connect
- Episode 03: Fighting Puppet
- Episode 04: Flap Flap
- Episode 05: Your Thorn, My Badge
- Episode 06: DARLING in the FRANXX
- Episode 07: Shooting Star Moratorium
- Episode 08: Boys × Girls
- Episode 09: Triangle Bomb
- Episode 10: The City of Eternity
- Episode 11: Partner Shuffle
- Episode 12: The Garden Where It All Began
- Episode 13: The Beast and the Prince
- Episode 14: Punishment and Confession
- Episode 15: The Bird that Shares Wings
- Episode 16: Days of Our Lives
- Episode 17: Eden
- Episode 18: When the Sakura Blooms
- Episode 19: Inhumanity
- Episode 20: A New World
- Episode 21: For You, My Love
- Episode 22: Stargazers
- Episode 23: DARLING in the FRANXX
- Episode 24: Never Let Me Go
Licensing and Broadcast
The series was announced at Trigger’s Anime Expo 2017 panel in July 2017. The anime series premiered on Japanese television broadcast on January 13, 2018. The manga adaptation written by Kentaro Yabuki and a four-panel stop comic began the following day. The anime series in Japan was handled by CloverWorks and animated by Trigger. The English version was released on February 1, 2018, and handled by Funimation and the service partner Crunchyroll handled the simulcasting. Aniplus Asia handled distribution in Southeast Asia.
Darling in the FRANXX has received positive acclaim from critics. Anime News Network gave the series a 7.4 out of ten, with a large percentage of viewers voting it as ‘very good’ and/or ‘excellent. Crunchyroll named it one of the most highly anticipated and best animes to watch following its release in 2018. The creator, Atsushi Nishigori, said at Crunchyroll Expo in September 2018 that his direction was to create an anime about science fiction mecha and incorporate a group of dynamic like IDOLMASTER, but also with personal elements and conflicts of the characters, such as issues of military use of children and the transition from childhood to adulthood.
Darling in the FRANXX has also been praised for its coming-of-age direction. Nishigori reported during an interview that his approach was to show different pairings and ways of life, as without gender, there would be no such thing as marriage and children. The issue of teen marriage and parenthood stirred controversy following Episode 17, with some criticizing the series for downplaying the reality and hardships of such concepts. The Western reception has been mixed, particularly after Episode 15, in which some critics called the plot ‘flawed’ and rushed to an easy ending. However, the ending was well-received by its Japanese viewers. The quality of the animation and character designs were highly praised. The music was also highly praised, especially the opening theme song, Kiss of Death, and critics gave positive acclaim to the ending themes, which were sung by the female cast members.
Since its original Japanese debut, Darling in the FRANXX has won multiple awards. During the Anime 2018 Winter Awards, the series won Favorite Action or Adventure and Favorite Mecha or Sci-Fi. It won the Best Girl with Zero Two coming in first place. It won Favorite Supporting Female and Male Characters with Ichigo and Goro. The couplings of Zero Two/Hiro and Kokoro/Mitsuru have also ranked in the top ten, with Kokoro and Mitsuru peaking at fourth place. The series won multiple awards at the 2018 NewType Anime Awards, such as Best Mecha Design/Best Prop Design, and making it within the top ten choices for Best Male/Female Character, Best Theme Song, Best Soundtrack, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Character Design.
DARLING in the FRANXX
|STAMEN||Hiro | Goro | Zorome | Futoshi | Mitsuru|
|PISTIL||Zero Two | Ichigo | Miku | Kokoro | Ikuno|
|OTHER||Naomi | Old Woman | 081 | 090 | 245 | 9'α | 9'β | 9'γ | 9'δ | 9'ε | 9'ζ | VIRM|
|APE||Papa | Vice Chairman | Gorilla | Marmoset | Lemur | Baboon | Tarsier|
Dr. FRANXX | Hachi | Nana
|FRANXX||Strelizia | Delphinium | Argentea | Genista | Chlorophytum | Standard | 9 Model|
|EPISODES||01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 | 07 | 08 | 09 | 10 | 11 | 12|
13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24
|CHAPTERS||01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 | 07 | 08 | 09 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20|
|MUSIC||KISS OF DEATH | Torikago | Manatsu no Setsuna | Beautiful World|
Hitori | CÅGE | Vanquish | Escape | Darling
|LOCATIONS||Cerasus | Garden | Chrysanthemum | Gran Crevasse | Cosmos|
|KEYWORD||Klaxosaur | FRANXX|