Episode 11 – “Partner Shuffle”
“If you place your hopes in anything, they will be betrayed. Promises will go unfulfilled, and faith will be let down”–Mitsuru’s words–a reflection of this reviewer’s experience with the show–a foreshadowing of the unceremonious end awaiting those who place their hopes in Trigger and A1’s unfulfilled potential–promises of deeper territory left unfulfilled, turning viewers into lifeless husks.
We open with the Parasite Pals enjoying their “simultaneous puberty” and bragging about their kill counts until, suddenly, a gaggle of klaxxies threaten to send them back into the world of un-sex.
The short-lived battle sets the stage for “The Partner Shuffle”–a thought experiment setting our characters adrift in the ocean of homosexuality. DarliFra’s mad scientist writers jolt their slumbering metaphors awake once more. The staff soften their adherence to normative gender roles–Mitsuru has the hots for Hiro and Ikuno for Ichigo. Yet rather than acknowledging sexual fluidity, the writers re-pledge their allegiance to heterosexuality by depicting the two Pistils unable to pilot the FranXX together, or, as Ichigo summarizes, “I knew it wouldn’t work without a boy.”
Meanwhile, Mitsuru loses his mind over a broken pinky promise. Since the writers refuse to allow any character to verbally express their affections towards someone of the same sex, Mitsuru’s problems derive no sympathy from the audience. By shying away from his true struggle, DarliFra censors the well-quaffed boy’s plight–degrading it to frustration over Hiro’s annoying smile and forgetfulness.
In the end, Kokoro rescues Mitsuru from his dangerous dive into the gay psyche, re-balancing the tipping scales of sexuality and assuaging all fears of a disturbance in the macho man/submissive woman Force. And, of course, Zero Two continues to establish herself as either hopelessly aloof or creepily affectionate, draping her arms over Hiro and moaning into his ear, “we’ll be together until we die”. Our Jian, of course, responds with a smirk, willing to enable the beast-woman’s serial killer instinct to pin down his source of poontang.
Episode 12 – “The Garden Where It All Began”
The 13s travel to their childhood spawning ground, the dystopian orgy-porgy palace, home of the Papa Experiments and the blonde boy. In other news, Zero Two rifles through the Public Flower-Sex Library but can’t find any picture books. She also tries to bite-kiss Hiro’s face.
The Perpetually Pubescent Posse have a serendipitous habit of happening upon sensitive information and reaping no negative consequences. They bumble around the Garden Laboratory, ogling its inner-workings, gawking at the test-tube children, all while conveniently-located employees freely offer them information about government practices and conditioning systems.
DarliFra starves viewers with haphazard character development, hooking the audience up to an exposition drip-feed. Indeed, the Parasites wander around confused and ignorant unlike everyone else in the FranXX universe. At least Ichigo has another male suitor in the wings.
Zero Two enters “saurification” (klaxxosaur puberty)–in other words, her horns and fangs grow, her top vanishes, and she hyperventilates in the shower more. DarliFra’s entire cast of characters (except the 13s, of course) intuitively understand our horny heroine’s motivations and desires–she thinks killing klaxxosaurs makes her human and she sometimes morphs into a hooded girl with “red skin and blue blood.” Also, she invents a new sport:
Trigger and A1’s love child blasted out of the gate with a fresh (albeit flawed) premise, but squandered its first half with boring, formulaic tripe. Episode 11 offers more of the same, but 12 saunters in with a jar full of the long lost special sauce. An optimistic reviewer might hope that DarliFra‘s second half could right the ship. Yet we must heed Mitsuru’s words and chase our fledgling optimism with a swig of cynicism–“If you place your hopes in anything, they will be betrayed.”
And, please remember:
~ Don’t Shoot the Messenger