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.
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!
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.
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…
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?