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 Studio 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. A variety of themes are introduced, such as dystopian environment, coming of age, romance, and mecha science fiction. Real life themes are used heavily, such as teenage marriage and pregnancy, sexuality, religious propaganda, and military use of children.
The theme of teenage sexuality is extensively explored. Raised in isolation and taught nothing beyond the morals and tales of the authoritarian world APE created, the children are oblivious to the concept of intimacy, as such a thing between parasites is illegal and warrants severe consequences. However, as the parasites endure the journey of transitioning from childhood to adulthood through puberty, they naturally experience sexuality and initially are unsure how to express their feelings. As a result; they are all caught in multiple love triangles with one another. LGBT and its effects are heavily explored, as Ikuno is in love with Ichigo but she feels ashamed and confused of her attraction to girls, which causes her deep pain to the point she despises herself.
Throughout the series, all of humanity is controlled by an international organization called APE, which the leader, Papa, is worshipped as a god. All of the adults and officials of APE are immortal. At one point following the immortality experimentation, Dr. FRANXX was asked if humans would be the equivalence to gods but, as an atheist, he dismissed it. The children are brought up to identity Papa as an immortal deity, and the exaggerated tales of his capabilities convinced the children. This propaganda the children live in is the equivalence to living in a cult. However, as the children experience their curiosity and individuals thoughts, and the subsequent non-spiritual tactics of Papa who deems their feelings and acts as treason, they gradually lose their faith in their so-called god. The children find their own form of spiritual healing, which is shown as an example when they install their prayers as an instrument of strength for Hiro and Zero Two during their final confrontation against VIRM.
Throughout the series, the parasites start off as sheltered children who lack insight into the world beyond the environment they were born and raised in. However, as the series progresses, they move past their innocence as they experience and discover the flaws of the society they live in and of the world that surrounds them. For Hiro and Zero Two, what remained of their innocence was destroyed the moment they chose to sacrifice themselves to save those dear to them and the planet. Part of growing up is moving away from the protection and sheltered-ness that comes with innocence. Yet, their move from innocence doesn't feel unnatural or bad, it is merely part of growing up and becoming an adult. It is normal for a teenager to begin to look at the world and see new things and ask different questions. It is normal to begin seeking new experiences and gaining new understandings of past experiences. That move out of innocence is normal and while it may seem to have disappeared all at once, it does draw away gradually until suddenly it seems, it is no longer there.
Family and Interpersonal Relationships
Family and friendship play vital roles. They influence the way that the children view love and survival. The necessity to lean on one another for comfort and support in times of need, such as the prospect of facing death or abandonment, brings back hope for the children and strengthens their ability to trust others and desire to prosper, which shows how important families are in building and creating a person's views on the world and themselves, but also the work that it takes to be a family. Family plays a crucial role in the relationship between Kokoro and Mitsuru, who, after their memories are wiped following their wedding, learn to build a bond of trust and affection upon learning they are expecting a child. Pro-life and pro-choice themes are suggested, as Kokoro and Mitsuru were faced with an unplanned pregnancy but, although abortion was brought up as a consideration, they chose to bring their child into the world despite the dystopian circumstances. These are children who are individuals with individual thoughts and ideas coming together to try and work as one in the best way that they can. There is a lot of forgiving and understanding that goes on.
Individuality and Identity
Individualism is another major element of this story, as the children frequently ask themselves “Who am I?” and question their origins. The children are seeking to find themselves as they experience a loss of innocence via risking their lives as child soldiers and begin to really explore the world around them. They are impressed by many different opinions and ideas, they are pulled in different directions by the adults who control every aspect of their lives. At the beginning of the series, there is a great feeling of overwhelming conflict that comes from Hiro and Zero Two, but as the story progresses and they began of find what they truly desire in life, and their stance becomes more solid. But this individualism isn't just seen with Hiro and Zero Two, it is why all the characters struggle the way that they do. Kokoro is feeling the desire to bear a child because of her belief that procreation represents hope for the future of her and the parasites, who are doomed to die at a young age; Ichigo is struggling with the conflict of being the responsible squad leader and her selfish desire for Hiro to fall in love with her and to ‘protect’ him from the risks of piloting with Zero Two; Mitsuru feels obsessed with surpassing Hiro to prove Hiro is far from perfect but finds his views conflicted with feelings of love for Kokoro and his subsequent questioning of the ideals the parasites were taught. The parasites feel nothing but uttermost loyalty towards their affirmed adult leaders but being abandoned and left to an uncertain future draws out feelings of conflict over what is right and wrong. Part of coming into individuality is learning to work with others in their individualism. As the end of the story comes, the reader sees this more blatantly.
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. It's 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.
Star Entity is a powerful weapon kept in a secret location called the Gran Crevasse. APE sought to obtain it for the purpose of 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. Crunchyroll named it one of the most highly anticipated and best animes to watch following its release in 2018. After the final episode, Crunchyroll gave the series a 7.3 out of 8 stars, with a large percentage of viewers labelling it as “very good” and/or “excellent”. 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. Although his object was to create a mecha anime, it turned into a multi love story. While the Western audience was more critical of the ending, including the last arc, the finale 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.
During the 2019 Anime Trending Awards, DARLING in the FRANXX had 14 nominations. They are:
- Anime of the Year, placed 10th out of 17 nominees.
- Man of the Year (Hiro), placed 17th out of 20 nominees.
- Girl of the Year (Zero Two), placed 4th out of 24 nominees.
- Supporting Man of the Year (Goro), won out of 12 nominees.
- Supporting Girl of the Year
- Couple Ship of the Year
- Best in Animation Effects and Sequence, placed 6th out of 14 nominees.
- Best in Ensemble, placed 6th out of 16 nominees.
- Best in Soundtrack, placed 11th out of 20 nominees.
- Action or Adventure Anime of the Year, placed 9th out of 16 nominees.
- Original Anime of the Year, placed 6th out of 10 nominees.
- Sci-fi or Mecha Anime of the Year, placed 2nd out of 5 nominees.
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|