- "CHILDREN are usually obedient, docile and rational. They only live to fulfil their mission: fight the Klaxosaur and protect the ADULTS. Not these kids. Too many times, they don't know what to do with their emotions and get carried away. That's definitely not CHILD-like."—Nana
Partner Shuffle is the eleventh episode of DARLING in the FRANXX.
During a battle with a Klaxosaur, Mitsuru gets affected by "child fever", putting Chlorophytum out of commission. Though the fever is temporary, the sync rate of Mitsuru and Ikuno declines to such an extent that battling Klaxosaurs will become difficult. In fear that the combat of the entire unit might be affected by this, Nana presents the parasites the option of swapping their partners.
Smiling, Hiro tells a group of children that he's been chosen to represent them. They stare back in admiration. Mitsuru tells his younger self to stop looking at him with admiration. He shouts that he's a traitor, causing him to wake up from the dream. Zorome notes that it's unusual for Mitsuru to sleep in and Futoshi asks if he was having a good dream, as his face is all red. They head off for breakfast as he rubs his forehead. He narrates that he chose to not expect anything from anyone, preventing his hopes from being betrayed. He slips out of bed and leaves the room.
In the briefing room, Ichigo reports that they killed 25 Conrad-class klaxosaurs. Nana thanks her and says that the S-Planning in their area is proceeding smoothly, thanks to their efforts. Hachi tells codes 326 and 196 that they need to improve their kill count, and that their parasite score is dropping as well. Mitsuru dismisses his concerns, saying he wasn’t feeling well. Hachi dismisses the group, leaving him and Nana alone. Hachi notes that they've now killed over 90 in their area. Nana smiles and says that their kills over the past fortnight are 3.7 times greater than in their first. She says that what would normally cause problems in a group are drawing out their full abilities. Hachi says that it would be a total refutation of their previous methods. Nana replies that it might be what Dr. FRANXX is after.
As the units stand on guard, Zorome asks what "S-Planning" is. Hiro replies that it seems like they're digging for something, and Zero Two says that it's probably nothing good and jokes she is going to choke from the stench of klaxosaurs. Futoshi tells Kokoro that they've grown stronger, as they're on a special mission. Kokoro says that it's thanks to him carrying her through. Futoshi says that she's his responsibility causing Kokoro too giggle and thank him. Blushing and nervous, he tells Kokoro that he is going to work hard to be the best partner she will have and asks her to promise to be his partner forever. She is surprised but then smiles and agrees. Futoshi is happy and promises to always protect her. Miku suddenly interrupts and says he's gross. Zorome agrees and says to cut off his communication. Kokoro giggles, but Futoshi reprimands them for listening.
An alarm suddenly sounds and Ichigo announces that seven Conrad-class klaxosaurs are approaching. Goro wonders if they have a nest nearby. Ichigo tells them to get ready. Chlorophytum suddenly falls to its knees. Ikuno turns to see what's wrong and finds Mitsuru sweating and panting.
As Mitsuru lies in bed, Hachi notes that his child fever came sooner than expected. While Nana gives him an antipyretic, Hachi looks at his profile and realizes he has already had the procedure. Goro notes that Mitsuru had always been frail, and Ichigo adds that he was the only one who received the injection and came back. Miku is confused, so Ikuno says that it was the Elixir Injection, a highly concentrated drug that induced yellow blood cell production and greatly increases parasite aptitude. Miku asks if he had always acted that way. Goro says no, he used to follow Hiro around. Futoshi says that's shocking and Zorome asks how they ended up always butting heads. Goro says he doesn't know, thinks but it started not long before Mitsuru took the injection. He says that Hiro changed a little back then, too. Kokoro says that the injection has only a survival rate of 15% and didn't know he had such a risky procedure.
While dreaming in the hospital bed, Mitsuru remembers telling Hiro that he wanted to be like him, fight in the FRANXX together. He sadly says that he can't because he's too weak, so if he takes the injection and comes back alive, he asks if he would pilot FRANXX together. Before Hiro replies, Mitsuru wakes up, cursing. The next morning, Nana notes that Mitsuru seems to be out of the woods for now. He asks to pilot a FRANXX. She is reluctant and thinks it over. When they test, his capacity is getting lower and Hachi notes that he might become a pruning target. Nana thinks of what they should do.
Later on, Nana suggests Squad 13 try a "partner shuffle." She tells them that it's simply an option available to them. The children discuss their thoughts, and Futoshi says to Kokoro that they don't need to since he promised to protect her forever. He asks if she agrees and she reluctantly agrees. Hiro asks Zero Two if something is bothering her and asks if she remembers when he asked her to speak her mind with him because he wanted to get to know her better. As he speaks, Zero Two covers his mouth and says it’s annoying and they can understand each other just fine by piloting Strelizia together before she walks away.
Mitsuru watches Hiro from far away and Ikuno tells him to stop since he knows what caused the mess. He asks what she's talking about. She tells him to drop the act and that it takes courage to face up to others and himself. He asks what her point is, and she says that he wants to be acknowledged by Hiro, not by Papa or the adults. Mitsuru suddenly shouts for her to shut up. Everyone turns to look at him, causing him to look away, ashamed. Ikuno smirks and says that it suits him better than acting cool and aloof before adding she's not like him.
Nana asks if there is anyone who wants to try piloting with a different partner. Ikuno asks to try a pistil-pistil connection as a backup plan when they've lost a stamen. She asks Ichigo to help. Ichigo is surprised by this but reluctantly agrees. Nana agrees to let them try and asks if there's anyone else. Kokoro shyly puts up her hand and asks to try piloting with Mitsuru. This surprises everyone, and Futoshi is hurt as by doing this she is breaking their promise. Kokoro apologizes, but Futoshi begins to cry. During testing, Nana announces that 160 seconds have passed. Ichigo says she doesn't feel anything, so Delphinium times out. Genista's score crossed the minimum required, and while it is in the lower range, it is stable. In the locker room, Ichigo smiles and says she knew it wouldn't work without a boy. Ikuno coldly says that she was serious before closing her locker and walking out. Both she and Mitsuru leave at the changing area at same time. Ikuno looks to the floor and tells him to laugh if he must.
Futoshi cries into his pillow as the other boys are at his side. He asks if he did something wrong. Zorome says maybe he annoyed her and suggests that he should lose weight. Goro mulled over Kokoro's action and Hiro replies that she must have felt she had to do something for Mitsuru. Zorome smiles and adds especially since Mitsuru's so miserable. Futoshi leaps out of bed and begins shaking him, claiming he's clearly the most miserable. Goro tells him to calm down, as Mitsuru suddenly returns. They all turn to look at him. He begins to leave, but Futoshi angrily asks if he thinks he's pathetic. Mitsuru asks what it matters who their partners are. Futoshi easily throws the others off of him and says he has no idea how he feels. He tries to punch him but misses and falls on his face. Mitsuru adjusts his tie, says Futoshi is annoying and walks away. Hiro tells him to try and understand Futoshi's feelings. Mitsuru clenches his fist and asks what right he has to say that. Hiro doesn't seem to understand and Mitsuru walks away. On the floor, Futoshi says that, when he thinks of Kokoro, his chest feels tight. He says that the tightness hurts now and wonders why. Hiro smiles at him and says he understands. In the greenhouse, Kokoro twirls around and hums. To her doll, she says that the flowers smell nice. Mitsuru suddenly enters and asks what she's doing, and Kokoro throws her doll in surprise. They sit together and Kokoro asks why he thinks humans stopped having children. Mitsuru says probably because they don't need to anymore. She says that it seemed that having a baby was the most natural thing in the past. He tells her not to waste time thinking about unnecessary things, as one look at the adults makes it clear: They don't need others to live. Mitsuru asks why she volunteered to be his partner and that Futoshi hates him now. He asks if it was out of pity. Kokoro says no, and begins to suggest something, but is interrupted by sirens.
A Gutenberg-class klaxosaur approaches and Hachi commands to set up a defensive line 500 meters from the S-Planning and neutralize the target. He says that Genista and Chlorophytum will act as rear support. As Kokoro and Mitsuru go to their FRANXX, Futoshi stops him and tells Mitsuru to protect Kokoro. Mitsuru scoffs and tells Futoshi not to be ridiculous. Kokoro stops him and says she'll be fine. Futoshi tells her to be careful and says he'll do his best with Ikuno. Kokoro smiles and nods. Futoshi begins crying and rushes into the cockpit, causing Ikuno to sigh in annoyance. Zero Two suddenly leaps off and attacks the klaxosaur, but fails, causing Hiro to realise its core is too deep. She rushes in again but gets trapped, forcing Miku and Ichigo to save her. After being freed, Zero Two tells Ichigo to mind her own business and charges at it again. The pieces she cut off turn into the Conrad-class klaxosaurs they'd been fighting.
Before she can attack again, Hiro tries to stop her but Zero Two tells him not to get in her way. As he asks Ichigo what they should do, Kokoro says they need to shoot at it to expose the core. Ichigo disapproves of the idea, stating the plan is too risky for Genista right now. Futoshi cries as they talk. As the large klaxosaur lumbers on, three Conrad-class klaxosaurs get past and Futoshi goes after one of them. He tells Ikuno that she's too tense, but they manage to kill it. Mitsuru struggles as well, and Kokoro says that there's no need to rush. Strelizia kills it for them and Hiro asks if they're okay. Kokoro thanks him, and he tells Mitsuru to hand in there before rushing back. Mitsuru becomes annoyed and charges blindly at the klaxosaur, causing Genista to smash into it. An operator announces that Genista's positive pulse is dropping below the minimum. Just as they are about to be squished, Chlorophytum protects them. Ikuno asks if they're okay. Kokoro thanks both of them. Miku and Ichigo cut its back legs, but it begins stretching in place towards the S-Planning. Ichigo says she and Miku will stop it. Miku tells Chlorophytum to take care of Genista. Futoshi says that he'll protect her as they shoot into its foot.
Kokoro says that they should start over and turns toward Mitsuru. Kokoro's head is bleeding. They power down and Mitsuru tells her that if she places her hopes in him, she'll only be let down because he's incompetent. She disagrees and Hachi orders them to reconnect. Kokoro enters them into radio silence, leaving Hachi confused. Kokoro says that he can rely on others more and that she believes in him. She tells him to believe in her too. Mitsuru smiles and asks if she's joking. As a child, he asks Hiro to pilot together. Hiro smiles and promises. After his injection, he approaches Hiro, who forgot all about it. He tells Kokoro that believing in someone will only get you betrayed. Mitsuru says he was a fool for expecting anything from him and asks why to make a promise if it was going to be forgotten. He holds his head in his hands and cries. Kokoro says the broken promise must have deeply hurt him. She says that she acted similarly towards Futoshi and she isn't the nice girl they think she is. She says that if someone did something like that to her, she wouldn't have any right to complain or blame them. Mitsuru angrily asks if he should forgive him (Hiro), then. Kokoro says that they aren't perfect like the adults, but she still wants to have relationships with other people and that she believes in him. She turns to reconnect to the FRANXX but begins to enter stampede mode. Before Kokoro gets seriously hurt, Mitsuru stops her. He asks how she can trust someone so much and Kokoro smiles. Mitsuru remarks she is ‘unbelievable’ and smiles back at her.
Genista reconnects and their sync levels reach the maximum, and Kokoro tells Squad 13 work together to kill it. Afterwards, in the hanger, Futoshi storms over to Mitsuru and asks why he was so reckless during battle. Kokoro moves towards Futoshi but Mitsuru stops her. Futoshi asks why Mitsuru hurt Kokoro and punches him in the face. As Kokoro rushes to care for Mitsuru, Futoshi asks why he didn't dodge it. Mitsuru asks Futoshi if he realizes how unreasonable he's being. Futoshi shouts at him before Mitsuru slowly says that he promises to protect Kokoro from this point on. Upon hearing this, Futoshi falls to his knees and wails that he loved Kokoro so much. As Hiro sadly looks on from his FRANXX, Zero Two embraces him from behind. She tells him that they'll be together until they die.
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|