What? It’s the best mecha anime of this season?
The 2018 Winter anime season started with your usual, balanced mix of different genres and tropes from slice of life, to action, shounen, and the now must-have Isekai. There are shows that stand out artistically, like Violet Evergarden, continuing shows that still try to live up to the hype of its previous season like Overlord, comeback hits like Cardcaptor Sakura – Clear Card Arc, and of course another Fate series.
But perhaps what really stood out this season when it comes to anime is the new mecha series Darling in the FRANXX from Studio Trigger, the grand name behind other anime hits Kill la Kill and Little Witch Academia and A-1 Pictures who gave us Anohana, Black Butler, and…Sword Art Online.
Darling in the FRANXX easily shot up the anime charts for hitting all the right notes in anime fans, and by hitting the right notes, it’s not just about the story, or the character development, but all about the many references that the show proudly wears on its sleeve. Mecha designs easily remind us of Star Driver, the world with Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, and as well as bunch of references to the mindblowing mecha series, Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Now having mentioned the story, Darling in the FRANXX follows the tale of humanity trying to survive a post-apocalyptic world dominated by monsters called Klaxosaurs who feed off Magma Energy which also somehow became humanity’s main source of energy. Driven away from their homes because of the Klaxosaur thread, humans now live in Plantations, which are huge mobile colonies that travel one part of the world to another, and are protected by mecha units called FRANXX. The FRANXX shown in the series seem to come in different variations, each with their signature and unique advantages like strength, mobility, and firepower, and are always piloted by 2 people, the main pilot referred to as the “Stamen” and his partner, the female who kind of acts as the FRANXX main thought processing and control unit.
While the 2-pilot concept has been largely known to mecha fans thanks to Pacific Rim, what’s interesting about Darling in the FRANXX is the not-so-subtle sexual reference that has been implemented in the show’s mecha design with the female co-pilot positioned very suggestively. Also, one thing to point out is that the FRANXX themselves are technically female as the female co-pilots are the ones being designated as the main processing and control units, hence we get another reference from Eva.
But what does really make Darling in the FRANXX stand out is how the story is being laid and presented. Of course, you get the usual cliches like a bunch of orphans trying to save the world, defeating enemies with the power of love and plot armor, and the same old blue-colored short haired girl being rejected by the MC, but what’s great about everything is that even with all the references and the cliches, everything can be easily digested, you can easily theorize things, predict a few stuff, and still enjoy what the show has to offer.
There’s a good amount of character variety, despite a few ones being a little too one dimensional, the information with what’s happening in the world being explained in good bits while still keeping the mystery interesting, and of course some bloody brilliant action that only Studio Trigger can deliver.
Darling in the FRANXX is currently an ongoing series which you can watch over at Crunchyroll and is slated for 24 episodes. The show is still at its early stages, with only 7 episodes available for viewing so it won’t take that long for anyone to catch up to whatever it is that most mecha fans are obssessing over this Winter anime season.