I don’t want to watch Darling and the Franxx but I want to be part of the conversation.

When Darling and the Franxx was first announced, I was rather excited for it. I haven’t seen many mech shows at all but the few I have seen, have all been great. I’m also a pretty irredeemable trigger fangirl (I know I know, that’s not cool anymore). I just think that hit or miss, the studio usually tries to offer something unusual.

see…. interesting…

I figured I would set it aside to comfortably binge after the first season wrapped up. As the initial reviews started rolling in though, I quickly lost interest, and off the list it went. I have to admit, I’m not entirely sure how to explain my whimsical outlook on the whole thing. It’s not that I have anything in particular against fanservice or controversy. The complaints I was seeing weren’t that much of a deterrent. It’s more that beneath those, I just couldn’t find much to elicit my interest. And since I already have years of anime backlog to get through, I was happy for an excuse to scratch one off the list.

I haven’t looked back since… except….

I still haven’t heard anything to pique my curiosity about Darling in the Franxx. The thought of sitting through 24 episodes seems like a waste of time to me. But the larger conversations that have sprouted from the various elements in the show have been fascinating!

people also seem to love this girl

At first it revived the good old fan service and misogyny debates with the interesting twist that all sides seem to agree that it featured a strong, interesting, well-developed and fully realized female character. How to reconcile the idea of such a character existing within a seemingly sexist work (and by extension could the work be considered sexist at all) has been the subject of countless think pieces that I’ve greedily devoured whenever I could.

Then of course there was the entire adjustment of expectations. Considering the pedigree and hype, many fans fully anticipated having this show become one of their favorites. But anticipations are tricky and dealing with a let down is a process that has its own rituals. Watching everyone adjust in their own way and share that with us, was great.

This said, Darling and the Franxx is a commercial success, breaking into mainstream pop culture. And being mentioned by celebrities beyond our little anime community. In turn, this brought out the gatekeepers and welcoming committees. Once again debates over nonexistent the issue of what a “real” fan is where held left and right. Entitlement and exhaustion dominated my anime news feed.

it can feel like that sometimes

Then suddenly, all the whining and high horse quickly replaced by the scandal that was Ichigo. Once again, not having seen the show, I don’t exactly know what the actual issue is at all, but I was transfixed by the fallout. Discussions of the toxicity of fandoms and the hazards of mob mentalities that seem to form over the most random things brought to light so many fascinating elements I had never considered. The experience was both surreal and completely engrossing, occasionally a little sad.

And just as the hype finally seemed to be dying down a bit, I read this and my FOMA was once again fully renewed.

It’s a bit too late though. Even if I drop this post mid sentence to go watch Darling and the Franxx right now, by the time I catch up, most people will have moved on. Everything’s already been said and repeated. Those great conversations all happened, I just wasn’t a part of it. And as you can see, a lot of the debates where happening around the show rather than about the show. It wasn’t the actual content that was so intriguing but rather people’s reactions to it. Once you take that out, the appeal is considerably lessened. It’s one of those things where you had to be there…

she seems so nice…why did people get so angry?

However, no matter what else the series may be, it has managed to engage fans and generate debate better than any show in recent memory. I have to give it credit for that. Franxx exposed some fundamental differences in the way we all view and assimilate anime. This is how we can really get to know each other. Through conversation! And this is what I really feel I missed out on.

So how can I figure out which will be the next series to do that. If I were to pick one this season I would bet on Banana Fish. Then again another conversation maker like Darling might not come along again for years. Is it even worth watching a series just to have something to say? An opinion? A voice…

Did I manage to made it sound super important just there?

So tell me, have you ever watched a series just to see what everyone was talking about? Did you enjoy it?

69 thoughts

  1. I got 8 episodes in then dropped it because I could no longer stand its paltry imitation of Evangelion. It shot itself in the foot from the get go. Elements of the story and the circumstances of their world as explained by characters early on were superficial and laughable.

    The people who didn’t watch this show didn’t miss anything. It simply comes at our time here in the West conversations surrounding social justice and mysogyny are really high, and that’s changed the youth’s pperspective on how they watch anime. Realistically, trimming off all the social lenses and excitement, the entire show is cringy because it’s one giant disgusting and shallow allegory for teenage horniness.

    I thought about writing a piece on why it’s bad but decided against it because the show literally was not worth my time to be frustrated with.

    I see some people in the comments describing it as the best and worst show of the season when it was never good. I can only pray they watch Evangelion and repent for thinking the show was anything more than flashpan sensationalism.

    1. I think Matt was joking when he said it was simultaneously best and worst of the season… Most of my readers seem to be various shades of indifferent to this show .
      I still haven’t seen it, is it also a harsh criticism of anime fan culture like eva was?

      1. I think the Evangelion rebuilds were , not the original. I think it’s jumping the gun, past orbit even, to assume the subtext of Darling in the Franxx functions as commentary on the anime fandom. I just don’t see it.

        1. I beleive the original series started on the commentary right after the hiatus and budget restructure. Ep 16 or so. It was a great show.

          1. I’m glad you enjoyed it! And I love your blog btw. If the occasion arises again I would love to talk Evangelion. Also, there’s some confusion over what happened with the budget. The budget was fine but because Anno was storyboarding last minute, they didn’t have time to make full episodes. Also, the show was supposed to end in a way that unfortunately too closely coincided with a real tragedy that occurred in Japan just weeks before the finale. But I digress.

            Two shows I was pleasantly surprised by were School Days and Hunter X Hunter. Everyone despised School Days but I loved it. Everyone said HxH was great and didn’t believe them until the Greed Island Arc.

            1. I remember that. Still I think the reduce ressources forcing the show t go to line art really worked with the theme. Also thank you!
              I loves HxH as well. I must admit I am not a fan of the School Days anime – I find the character development too erratically paced but I really liked the game which solved that point for me

    2. “one giant disgusting and shallow allegory for teenage horniness”

      I think one of the shows theme’s is that it is better to be a horny teenager than a passionless adult drone. (Did I just smell some Soma waft by?) Remember, 99.9% of the population is neutered.

      I suppose they could have gone with horny adults but anime loves to use teenagers.

      And I wrote a blog on why I thought it was good but seriously flawed.

      1. To parse that is to validate the show, to give it worth it doesn’t deserve. Look, it’s like Tommy Wiseau trying to make a Kubrick movie. It just doesn’t work and just doesn’t deserve the grief.

        It’s great you wrote an article but I personally found the entire series not worth my time. Trying to convince a fan all of Darling in the Franxx is bad is like trying to convince a flat-earther all of the moon landing happened. I’m just not going to get anywhere with someone like that.

        But I thank you for trying to justify the show though. It’s just not worth the energy.

  2. As for Darling in the Franxx, I actually really liked what the show did from the very beginning, which kinda sucked because noone was talking about that. And when they figured it out, then they all decided that sucked because it wasn’t just robots and space and shounen. Oh well.

    But as for the real question: when I was blogging on a group anime blog, there were many times that I would watch a show to be part of the conversation. The biggest two were Valvrave and Attack on Titan (and probably the one that broke the camel’s back). I just didn’t like that show. Shouty, stupid, horribly wrong for the universe they set it in, it was a show that was all rule of cool and no substance. There were parts of it I was interested in, and they were of course not ever talked about (I liked the realization on the part of the audience that everyone in that show is just screwed. No hope. They got nothing. And from what I hear they’re even screwing that part up now). And of course it’s since gone on to have a ton more episodes.

    I’ll still watch some things to follow along, but not nearly as much, and my tolerance for watching things I don’t want to watch just to be part of the crowd has gone waaaaay down. I have to at least like it some to continue watching now.

    1. I liked the politics of heavily limited ressources in the first season. I wanted more city planning….I have issues

    2. First season okay, 2nd season really sucked, third season so far is not too bad. It is not all that uncommon for a long running anime to have a miserable middle.

  3. So…
    The first blog post I read after my hiatus is about an anime that I couldn’t stand to watch through the last episodes of? I am of the opinion that the Ichigo ‘scandal’ was the best thing to happen to the series, because the rest of the drama in the show was terrible! I mean they used ‘memory erasure’ as a plot device! That all but cements it as Aldnoah.Zero the Second…
    But I watch a lot of series ‘just to see’ what everyone’s talking about. But I can get into series pretty easily, so it’s really not like I approach a show with a different mindset- besides Cowboy Bebop, surprisingly! Everyone says Cowboy Bebop is great, but I just can never seem to watch past the first episode! I can’t figure out why either…
    I watched Higurashi because of a recommendation… and it was fantastic!
    I watched AOT because of the hype… and it was okay.
    I also watched Devilman Crybaby because of the hype… and it was ___.
    Bottom line – I watch whatever, whenever. Hype and discussion probably makes it more likely, but no matter the critical acclaim… I inexplicably can’t watch Cowboy Bebop. (even though I kinda want to)

      1. I’m usually not bothered by slow shows…
        But I guess I kinda instinctually compare it to Trigun’s first episode. That’s kind of an impossible hurdle to clear, since I still think Trigun has one of the most entertaining first episodes I’ve seen!

  4. This anime always keeping in my head where there is one of my friends that said it’s great and recommended me and of my friends that said the worst Mecha anime he ever watched and he is dropped it. My expectation of this anime was so great when first came out, the rating, and anything which related to this anime. Celebrities mentioned it and everybody loves it. But, it’s funny after watching this and keep seeing a lot of critics, especially on MyAnimeList. I always laugh at the review that everybody makes a rant and the rating keeps decrease little by little. Apart from there are so many dramas until people hated it because of the internet and the fandom, Darling in the FranXX is one of the anime that I like for a certain reason. Not included “so bad its good” type of anime, for me.

  5. I check out series based on word of mouth a couple of times. Mixes things up for me since I go in mostly blind into them. So far, it’s been surprisingly split like half, and disliking half of the anime I go with on just word of mouth.

    As for Franxxx, I also was eager to see it before it aired, but didn’t get around to it because other things I was watching was getting my attention. Once the controversy popped up I brought it back up, but not enough to make me want to watch it. I knew about the discussions, but with no context I didn’t bother keeping up with it. I’ll eventually get around to watching Franxxx, and maybe reading a bit about the discussion it inspired. I won’t get the rush of being part of the conversations, but at the same time I won’t rush to conclusions during my viewing of Franxxx.

  6. I feel the same way everytime there’s something hot that everyone is talking about and you want to join the conversation but you can’t. It happened to me initially when RE:Zero blew up when it first released and I wasn’t watching it. On one hand it’s a shame I couldn’t be a part of it.

    On the other hand, it’s always great to look at the memes that generate from there out of context and watching people absolutely lose their minds while you watch from the sidelines. It’s like watching a zombie virus spreading as it’s happening kek.

  7. I am so disconnected from the hype and the “controversy” I never really noticed it. I prefer to see a show myself, review it, and look at the reactions of others after.

    Was Zero Two “fully realized”? I’m not sure what that means. You have to treat this like a great anime that suddenly stopped mid season. The last third of the show is MISSING. So much could have been explained and expanded upon!

    It was replaced by something else that might have been good, if only we’d seen the first two thirds.

    There is nothing wrong with fanservice if it advances the plot line and is thematically correct. Do it well enough and it isn’t fanservice any more, it is a dramatic element. When Zero Two rises out of the water with that fish in her teeth, you are seeing the real Zero Two. You see the beauty and savagery of a wild animal. You see the complete lack of concern for her nudity. Clothing is of no more use to her than an orca or a leopard.This is Zero Two, the Klaxosaur. “I like the way you taste.” That is how an animal would think, not a human. She has been caged by man but never really tamed. This is IMPORTANT. Her entire arc is about incorporating human elements into personality without losing who she is.

    Yeah I know some guys will get nose bleeds over that scene but so what? Seriously. SO WHAT? Jeez Louise, some people need to grow up and stop acting like anime characters themselves. Go take a life drawing course and maybe a naked body won’t seem so outrageous.

    Why on Earth would anyone hate on Ichigo? Herr arc? It is learning that if you can’t have the one you love, try to love the one you are with. I wanted to see Ikuna’s character developed a lot more but at least they didn’t forget her. The fact that she paired up with Hiro’s ex-partner may inform us why he couldn’t make it work with her.

    If I have any gripes it is the notion that one could have a group of sexually functional teenagers living close together and enduring intense life and death conflicts with so little obvious lust going on. Maybe they use the FRANXX units as their form of sexual relief? Given the relative positions and the terminology used, piloting one of those things is an analogy for sex. That makes Zero Two far and away the most sexual being out there. Turns out only Hiro with his touch of Klaxi blood can handle her. Is that an underlying theme?

    And i agree with everything Irina has said on this even if it contradicts what I said. Someone else must have snuck it in there.

      1. I first watched Evangelion back in the 90s when it came out. Have watched it a couple times since plus all the reboots and sequels. It is a different show. DAF didn’t turn into an Evangelion rip off until VIRM showed up in the last third or so. Until then it had a real chance of becoming a variation of Brave New World. Or maybe Logan’s Run. Either would have been far better than what they did to it.

    1. Okay, Ichigo’s reason for liking Hiro is non-existent. Her relationship with him isn’t even developed to justify why the viewer should care about how she feels for Hiro. Instead, what we get is a girl who comes off as menstrual because Zero Two is hitting on her crush. Tell me what I’m missing because evidently we did not watch the same show.

      1. The trope here is the “I didn’t tell him I loved him because (blah blah blah). Now he has someone else. If only I had told him!” The relationship was not well developed and had to be inferred. That isn’t a reason to hate a character. The heart wants what the heart wants, even if you don’t have the backstory.

  8. “This is how we can really get to know each other. Through conversation! And this is what I really feel I missed out on.”

    It’s never too late! And this is one show it might be better to talk about in retrospect…

    I watched it from day 1. My only post about the show was to defend Ichigo (I still maintain Hiro was more at fault!), but it was risky given my site’s theme. Fortunately, I was lucky. The comments I got were great! Not so for a lot of the debate surrounding this show…

    As far as I’m concerned, the show was defensible until the VIRM showed up. The narrative and themes generated a lot of good discussion (like Mage in a Barrel’s post about sexual agency) and setup APE as the arch villains I really, really, really wanted to see taken down (did I mention I didn’t like them?). Even the imperfections could be viewed through the lens of setting up the stagnate society as the bad guys. I was dying to see how our heroes would overcome.

    Then wham. Different direction. It can’t even be measured in degrees, because the plot left the show’s runtime universe.

    I have never been more disappointed in a show in all my life. It made me absolutely fall in love with Zero Two (how can you not watch the scenes about her first Pretty Thing and not want to destroy an entire continuum to protect her?) and then they turned her into something not Zero Two.

    Anyway, I think the conversation you’re generated here is a positive thing. You didn’t miss out on the conversation — you’re part of it now!

    1. That’s a lovely way to put it – this said your comment makes me want to watch the show again…

  9. I liked Darling in the Franxx but feel like the reason why a lot of people didn’t like Ichigo is because she was Zero Two’s romantic rival. Which was just…….dull. I mean Ichigo gave up on Hiro half way through and it was always going to be Hiro & Zero So I thought it was over the top.

    The whole series is so devise it is impossible to have a conversation about it without high emotions getting involved. I made my own post about it and have stayed out of the debate since.

  10. I started My Hero Academia about five episodes in to season one because of all the hype around it, and ended up loving it and well haven’t gotten off that train just yet (though season 3 is certainly going to make for a more colourful review than either one or two did).
    As for Franxx, it was kind of fun following the conversations, probably more fun than the show, though of course the insanity of the Ichigo debacle and death threats was something this community could probably have done without. It did remind me a bit of watching Yuri on Ice. While I loved the anime, a huge amount of the fun of that show was watching the episode and jumping on Twitter to see the screen caps, the comments, the impromptu art works and everything else that would spring up each and every week. It was an experience just watching it at the time and while the show is enjoyable and I fully recommend watching it, new watchers won’t get that same experience.

  11. I watched Sword Art Online because everyone was talking about it back when it first blew up, and became increasingly disappointed as I progressed through the series.

    I’ve come to realize that A-1 can’t always be trusted to sustain a series. Your Lie in April, Wotakoi, and Erased have received decent praise, but they left a lot to be desired with both Grancrest and SAO.

    My assumption here is that A-1 and Trigger just couldn’t get along throughout the production process. One studio wanted a teen drama, the other a dystopian mecha thriller. In the end they just couldn’t bring the two ideas together.

  12. I was watching Darling in the Franxx…but then my hiatus happened and I did not go back to it (reached episode 8). I’m not sure if I will ever finish it. I didn’t dislike it, but it also wasn’t a show that gave me the “wow” factor so to speak. But..these days or should I say this year I got into watching seasonal anime just to engage in conversations with everyone about the shows currently airing. So…you could say that everything that I am currently watching is to see what everybody is talking about 😊

  13. Well fully realised female character might be realised in a way that’s convenient for male characters either in the show or in the audience, in one of the familiar and oft criticised way.

    The problem with Darling in the FranXX is that its throughline appears to be “boys ogle girls and that’s okay, because that’s how we make babies”, but it doesn’t get ther in a straight line – there’s an obstacle course with many obstacles that fall under could-have-been-interesting, and this might turn into is-interesting-in-my-headcanon, because the show doesn’t really commit to much, but partakes in fanservice cutlure anyway.

    The Ichigo debacle felt like a sub-chapter of the never ending waifu wars, undercut by Zero Two = the rebels, and Ichigo = the Empire, so there wasn’t any cool-factor. I’ve been known to appropriate the Small Faces, singing “Ichigo Park” – it’s all too pityful: Ichigo, the girl who doesn’t get guy – we all know her (that a standard monogamist love triangle is part of the show’s deep structure shows how little thought through the SF setting was; or how little the show cared).

    If you want an off-beat mecha show, I suggest Star Driver instead.

    1. Duly noted…I kinda need to actually watch Code Geass though. It’s been on my list forever and I keep pushing it back for absolutely no reason

          1. I even own DVDs I haven’t seen yet (Planetes, Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, Pandora Hearts, Paranoia Agent…)

    2. I could have enjoyed a Hiro – 9 Alpha – Zero Two menage. I think it was obvious that they all swing both ways. Also, 9 Alpha was a bit flirty with Zero Two at the beginning. I also think a Zero Two – Ikuna pairing would have worked fine – except that Ikuna would have taken serious damage from her lack of klaxi blood.

      1. That’s the thing about the show; there’s a lot going on in the margins, but then they pull standard harem shinanigans with even a beach episode, and they completely forget that this has world-building implications. No-one in the show should have anything like present-day sexual morality: there’s just nowhere this can come from. In fact, if you look at it from an organisational point of view promiscuity would be favourable, so you have fall-back pairings if the favoured ones don’t work out (they play with that, but don’t understand the implications). Embarrassment about nudity is something you have to learn; so where did they get this from? 20th/21st century porn should be a curio item on the black market. The show failed to explain the mech set-up, and then – off-handedly in the last few episodes – reveal without a doubt that m/f is not necessary, and even gender fluidity can work with the set-up, but if that’s true than what do I make of the neccessity they pointed out early on. It’s a story that looks half-assed no matter from which angle you look at it, but the upside of this is that you can choose your favourite head-canon without much trouble, because it makes no difference either way.

        I actually enjoyed the show somewhat, but that’s because I picked it up at ep1 expecting to drop it right away, and never developed any big expectations. A mild curiosity where they’re going with the set-up was frustrated, but that was never why I watched in the first place. I found the kids likable, the set-desings good, and the action fun. Better than expected; something I’d neither recommend nor disrecommend (well, I would disrecommend it to people who priorities plot).

  14. I bet it was interesting to all this discourse from the outside. You could have been the one to keep us all in check or could have been apart of the jury if there was a care against people who watched it .

    Though I don’t think people have gone past Darling in the FranXX yet. A lot of of people are still waiting posts or making videos about it. Kind of like it’s new sword art online…………

    1. REally, cause I have a comment here that says the hype is over… I really need to get on board.

  15. Didn’t watch Franxx as it went along too, but I basically know everything because of the memes and outrage.

    It’s a 10/10 for me because I saw that one clip of a loli dinosaur.

  16. I was folowing the whole drama on 9Gag A&M group until I got tired and watched 17 episode in 3-4 days. The basic topics were who is the best girl, Goro is the best bro or feel sad for Futoshi. It was good show but now it has ended almost nobody is talking about it.

    1. Those topics sound profound!
      I don’t know who or what Goro is but I’m going to agree they/he/it is best bro!

  17. There’s often a lot of value to exploring a creative work “late” because it means your own opinions won’t be coloured by other popular, fashionable opinions that are happening while it is “current”. It’s what I tend to do with the games I cover in detail, because it allows me to focus entirely on the work itself rather than how people have reacted to it.

    While there can be value in analysing how people responded to something, there’s also a very real danger of opinions becoming homogeneous, particularly with how difficult it is these days to go against hot takes with a heavy sociopolitical bent. For me, I much prefer divorcing myself from all that “context” and exploring something on its own merits. That way you’re not “fighting” anyone if your opinion is different.

    I feel this will be particularly important with Franxx, as I’ve seen some absolutely nonsensical hot takes about it (mostly from supposed professionals rather than bloggers, I hasten to add) in recent months, but because those opinions were expressed by the “right” people, anyone who put their hand up and said “hold on a minute…” was either shouted down or, worse, shamed and insulted.

    It’s unfortunate but, regrettably, this is the level of discourse surrounding Popular Things these days.

    1. One of my issues is that I can probably never really watch the show objectively from now on. I have a feeling that no matter what I’ll just end up feeling like: “That’s it? – this is what everyone was so upset about…???”

      1. You should know, I reviewed it all on my site! Jeez, Irina I thought you were a fan of mine!

        1. I honestly thought you checked out – I mean I do fake reviews ALL the time.
          I’ve only watche like 3 shows.

  18. I did infact start watching this series due to all the hype and debate (best girl, etc) so I started watching weekly around episode 8. I enjoyed the series for the most part, however the last 6-8 episodes I thought the story was rushed and it went downhill for me very fast, possibly ruining it altogether. All the build up in the first half of the series was concluded poorly in my opinion. Overall though it was nice to be part of the conversation as this show aired because of just the large amounts of people simply talking about it both inside and outside of the community.

    1. Yeah, they suddenly switched from Trigger to A-1 and A-1 didn’t know how to handle it. OR maybe they were running out of time. I have often thought this was meant to be a longer anime and it suddenly got shortened.

  19. I followed the Franxx drama from the outside too and it was exhausting. At times I did wonder if I should watch it just to see what people were actually talking about, especially the Ichigo debacle when people edited her out of an artist art. But at some point I realized it was to late so I decided not and I feel like I didn’t miss something. But I think a lot of important and interesting discussions came from it all.

    Well, let’s see what happens, if anything happens this season. Banana Fish might be controversial but is it controversial enough?

Leave me a comment and make my day!