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DARLING in the FRANXX Part Two UK Blu-ray Anime Review

11 min read
Excuse me, who ordered the chaos to add to this series, because the confusion is slightly above what the heck levels now…

Excuse me, who ordered the chaos to add to this series, because the confusion is slightly above what the heck levels now…

What They Say:
In a battle against the klaxosaurs only the children, classified as parasites, are humanity s hope in this dying world. Fighting in mechanized suits known as FRANXX, parasites are grouped up in male and female pairs to face the monstrous creatures. Hiro was once a prodigy FRANXX pilot. But when he gives up the fight, he meets Zero Two, the girl with the horns, and finds a new reason to keep going.

The Review:
Audio:
The audio has an English 5.1 Dolby Surround track and a Japanese 2.0 one which is the standard in most non-movie releases – with a pretty good dub and sub track, the sound is genuinely of a high quality with no problems synching with the subtitles as watched disc 1 in English and disc 2 in Japanese. The music is excellent with cementing with the opening and ending songs being firm favourites (especially the episode 16 version of the ending, definitely gives you a few eye openers) and the combination of mecha style music with more emotional tracks putting it quite high in quality with no problems with it synching with the subtitles.

Video:
Similar with the audio, the video is set in full-screen format (but can also be showcased in wide screen format) via NTSC transfer to PAL format with the show combining animation with a bit of CGI which seems to be a bit more noticeable in this arc, there were no real problems with the subtitles, the sound synching in either language, no pause lag or in general, it is a quality release, especially considering how vibrant the colours are with the rather unique mecha designs and the colours used – being an original series though you can tell a lot of love was made upon it as made by A-1/Trigger you know at least that part is going to be quality.

Packaging:
There was no packing for this test release.

Menu:
The menu is very standard – the first disc has Hiro and Zero 2 on the background, whilst disc 2 has Hiro and Ichigo with the selections on a red bar below of Play All, Episodes, Set Up and Extras on both discs – easily select your popup menu from the show (bar extras) and no delays in selection so a standard Blu-Ray menu.

Extras:
There are quite a lot of extras for this release – disc 1 we get a commentary for episode 18 of the dub featuring Justin Briner (9 Alpha), Jeannie Tirado (Kokoro), Leah Clark (Ikuno), Ryan Reynolds (Zorome, and yes she made the joke that it wasn’t THAT Ryan Reynolds, though Deadpool in this series may have helped…) and Bryson Baugus (Mitsuru) – it’s a general catch up on the episodes and how the show changed so often so quickly and how the what a twist mentality was there, but it’s also the episode with the Ikuno/Ichigo scene which veteran Leah talks about in detail, seeing her trauma in a world where there is plenty of trauma – it is quite in depth and considering Ikuno was one of my favourite characters it is a well thought out albeit brief train of thoughts on the character.

Disc 2 contains the majority of the extras though – first off we have an episode 23 video commentary with Clifford Chapin (ADR Director), with Bryson and Jeannie returning – this is due to the focus on Kokoro/Mitsuru as they try and rekindle their memories after being lost and the big ending with Hiro/02 as they focus on how the series ends after quite a rollercoaster of a ride, the baby subplot, needing to rewatch the series to get all the little hints and clues of their relationship and characterization (Mitsuru in particular considering how stoic and anti-Hiro he seemed to be at the start you realize why once certain things are revealed and how his character develops) – other things you notice and they do are how significant the storybook is and how trust is a vital factor as you can tell the group did enjoy working and watching on the show.

On the Japanese side we get two what are called ‘Playback Specials.’ The first one has some pre-air screening showcase, and we get a question for all of the kids cast – they all get asked what scenes for the first half of the show made the biggest impact on them – so we get Kana Ichinose (Ichigo), Yuichiro Umehara(Goro), Nanami Yamashita(Miku), Mutsumi Tamura(Zorome), Shizuka Ishigami(Ikuno), Hiroki Goto(Futoshi), Saori Hayami(Kokoro), Aoi Ichikawa(Mitsuru), Yuto Uemara(Hiro) and Haruka Tomatsu(02) all answering the question with clips shown in between their answers – these are also intermixed with other things like backstage scenes of creating with manga with Kentaro Yabuki (seeing his transition from hand drawn art to digital art) and work on the sound mixing with the director Atsushi Noshigari.

The second special is based on the completion of the final episode – we return to Nishigari as he explains about the creation of the series and how the work is paying off whilst looking back at some of the scenes, a short interview with Haruka Tomatsu (02) and Yuto Uemara(Hiro) asking how they played the roles and if it was different and if each others work influenced that – an interview with Naotaka Hayashi (Series Composition + Script) before leading to the final message to the cast and working towards the end. Both are insightful and give a good look into behind the scenes especially as this is a recent series so you don’t get as much look into current series in these extras so was interesting.

Lastly, we get the web previews (next episode previews which weren’t in the show and instead in the extras), and the textless opening and specifically the textless ending to episode 16.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Darling in the Franxx part 1 was a series that I’d liked to an extent but wasn’t as into as other people on this site or indeed my friends. A mix of trying to put serious story with conflict combined with comic moment, it suffers from having a cast which range from OK to unlikeable and throwing stuff at you for the sake of plot. The second half somehow…manages to escalate the problem of throwing stuff at you way too fast, and whilst there are moments that the cast definitely seem to be better, the combined morale, plot and finale make this one of those series that I have to wonder…am I the only one who didn’t like this?

What is strange is that it starts off as one of the better parts of the series as we learn a lot of the back-story of Hiro and 02, hopefully trying to make 02 more likeable. Hiro was the one who gave everyone names (you even learn why Mitsuru and he were good friends and why he’s hostile to him in the present is pretty much explained and later forgiven here) but was very inquisitive much to the workers of the Parasite programs annoyance. 02 was an experiment of more monstrous looks able to regenerate and been tested on…her only source of sanity was a picture book (which becomes more important later) – Hiro finds her and eventually breaks her out but as she can’t speak his language the two don’t get far and captured…which leads to Hiro’s memories being erased (again, refer to what happened with Mitsuru). It leads to present that Hiro suddenly remembers 02 is the girl from the past and 02 now also remembers. Unfortunately Hiro is in the hospital and the group try to stop her seeing him, leading to at the time one of the more blown up scenes of fandom on the net, where 02 eventually leaves after trying to see Hiro, Hiro going after her after calling her a monster and Ichigo holding him back and kissing him.

O.K, I will talk about this scene quickly as a lot of friends HATED Ichigo after this scene – two things. 1) 02 wasn’t seen in the best light at the time and Ichigo was on the whole a much more less selfish character and yet she is the one shown as selfish…and 2) the next episode pretty much retcons everything and even Ichigo becomes friends with 02 – which meant I really didn’t get the backlash over this incident…especially as the show gives me so much more material to pick on anyway….

So looks like 02 is regretting her past and with their character background you begin to sympathise with her but at the same she still has her selfishness…and she ‘wins’ to boot, albeit things seem to change a bit better when they decides to find 02 when they are in a hopeless situation alongside another more unlikeable team (more on them) – they manage to snap 02 out of her depression, Hiro and 02 confess and they save the day, with Ichigo approving of the relationship but opening some new relationship problems…which also contribute to many of the issues I have with the later episodes.

So the group seems to be more relaxed and trying to do things that no other groups have done – they cook, they relax, 02 looks set to rewrite the picture book, Hiro trying to form horns to match 02 and relationships form…including Kokoro and Mitsuru which even leads to them consummating the relationship. However with the instruction of all Klaxosaurs to be wiped out, the plot suddenly goes all out and mixes so many things and rushes so much it is hard to keep up with, making it quite messy by the end.

To try and summarise, we get romance drama with Kokoro and Mitsuru trying to get ‘married’, Ikuno – the one character I did like – pretty much come out and confess her feelings to Ichigo which was always quite strongly hinted (Ichigo lets her down but quite gently and does lead to Ikuno’s big moment later), then Kokoru and Mitsuru are taken into custody for basically trying to do something they shouldn’t and a la Hiro get their memories erased just for the sake of the supreme commanders completing their objectives, some flashbacks from the older characters and commanders almost remising back into puberty trying to bring the rush of plot together (it doesn’t) and the kids basically wanting to get out of this and wanting to become adults (something Zorome has subtly mentioned since the start of the series).

Oh, and then it’s revealed that the commanders lead by Papa are actually an alien race designed to get revenge on the Klaxosaurs who defeated them in the past.

O.K…THAT CAME OUT OF NOWHERE.

And to add to more confusion, during a battle, 02 is knocked unconscious, we learn about the infamous Dr. Franxx, we find about the discarded parasites (including Naomi – remember her from the first episode), another 02 like oddity is trying to infect 02 and Hiro but stopped by the antagonist Nine Alpha, Kokoro is discovered to be pregnant (again, hinted she has always wanted to have a baby), and leads to 02 recovering, she and Hiro fighting together and defeating the alien race, and they carry a bomb to fully destroy them by entering a warp gate, basically sacrificing themselves for the greater good.

Cue the final episode. Which is basically everyone seemingly going into a normal life (Goro even seems to have won over Ichigo after basically doing almost nothing in the second half of the series) and yet it appears the alien race VIRM still survived, giving it a very bitter sweet ending even without the final moments of Hiro and 02 apparently alive….but not in that time line. Combined with the whole everyone wants to have babies kind of theme they hit with, to say it’s a hodge podge of a mess is an understatement.

I won’t say I can’t see why the series has its fans – the animation is gorgeous, the character design and mecha design is unique and there are some moments that are quite fun. Plus the battles themselves are quite impressive and very Gurrenn Lagaan ish. However, unlike that series, it doesn’t have any huge moments which make me want to watch it again, the drama is very forced upon and to be honest, none of the characters have any huge moments which makes them important to the story after the reveal of Hiro and 02’s past.

O.K, they TRY to make Mitsuru/Kokoro like a big deal, but neither character was that interesting or even likeable for the most part and it almost feels like their relationship was forced upon them (Kokoro’s other love interest Futoshi basically accepts it despite some shock but he’s barely in it, as are Miku and Zorome, even Goro has barely any development time despite his apparent hook up with Ichigo by the end) – Ikuno actually has two big scenes (her confession of Ichigo, and her way to save everyone – even hinted she gets in a relationship with Naomi) which make her at least memorable in those instances, but even Ichigo is practically nonexistent after the infamous kiss…and you wonder if that was just because fanboys didn’t like her at that moment ignoring what happened afterwards…

…this is especially vexing as it felt they were redeeming 02 with her past, now getting along with the group but the scenes with her and Hiro whilst less annoying are also less memorable, and then it tries to go Evangelion on it with the mental drama and it really doesn’t work. As mentioned, with the whole marriage, memories, alien race, attempt to rule the world, who the real villains are, etc, it really is a mess and whilst I wasn’t a huge fan of the 1st half, the second half just really was a mess. I wouldn’t say horrible, but confusing and non-interesting is how I would put it. In the end, the series could have been something interesting as an original show and am sure in its own way, it still is.

Just not the way I thought it would be.

Summary:
Darling In The Franxx tries to continue its story but isn’t sure what the story is. Romance drama? Actual drama? Mecha show? Comedy? Teen angst? Space war? It tries to be all these things in the latter half but doesn’t succeed in any of them and it just becomes an attractive looking mess. It isn’t offensive, but it is uninteresting, and what you can make out just confusing you more as they throw a ton of stuff at you and it is hard to keep track of or at least make it interesting enough to keep track of. Not a fan despite being one of the bigger hits of recent years in Japan, to me it definitely is not one I can come back to.

Features:
Dub commentary for episode 18, Video commentary for episode 23, Playback Specials I and II, Web previews, Textless opening, Textless ending to episode 16

Content Grade: C
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: A

Released By: Anime Ltd
Release Date: July 22nd, 2019
MSRP: £24.99
Running Time: 114 minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 – 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Playstation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.

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