2018
01.22

DARLING in the FRANXX

SHAFT tit...er tilt.

SHAFT tit…er tilt.

You know what? Hype is a bitch. And nobody knows that more than Studio Trigger (for better or worse). Ever since they were declared “THE SAVIORS OF ANIME!!!”(tm) by one of my colleagues (the one who doesn’t write here anymore because he’d have to apologize to all of us for making that inane claim), the studio’s name always gets attached to some high profile, heavily promoted, stylish as hell supershow, only for it turn out either some half-baked light novel-grade shit (Inou Battle and Kiznaiver) or lazy troll job that was funnier internally than it was for the rest of us (Ninja Slayer). Hell I’m gonna say this right now, Kill La Kill doesn’t hold up anymore. We only liked it for Imaishi’s scratchy art style. Why do I know this? Because that is all the show had going for it since it’s main plot was pretty awful once Trigger actually got to it 14 episodes in. So that makes their kids show Little Witch Academia the only consistently good thing they’ve made! For that reason I am done giving The House That Imaishi Built the benefit of the doubt. They will be treated like any other “celeb” studio that disappointed me one too many times. They’re just Gainax…again.

And with that out of the way let’s talk about DARLING in the FRANXX, the new Trigger thi—oh wait this is actually an A-1 show isn’t? But it is an A-1 show WITH Trigger…although I’m not exactly sure to what degree each company contributed in the production. Early documents suggested A-1 did the hard lifting while Trigger contributed design work and key animation. This would explain why this show feels like one of A-1’s stock robot show cliché factories…albeit with that signature unrefined “we just colored in our storyboards” Trigger look. Color me unimpressed.

So the world has come to an end! Hooray! Whats left is a vast desert wasteland ravaged by giant monsters called klaxosaurs. The remaining humans huddle together in a glass dome containing the last plant and animal life on Earth while their leaders, a bunch of KKK guys because Trigger, use pairs of orphaned children known as “parasites” to fight the giant monsters with rather impractical looking robots called FRANXX. Our story concerns two of them: Hiro, a Shinji-Clone whose only saving grace is his balls have dropped (albeit only half way), and a mysterious girl with horns who just wants to lick him. Licking in this case is good, because these FRANXX apparently run on orgasm fuel because of course they do this is an A-1 Robot Show. Oh yeah the giant robot (named the Iron Maiden because lulz) actually talks and has tits, because Trigger.

Now I’m pretty sure I know how this show came about. A-1 had a crappy idea for a robot show and a set of crappy old robot show scripts. They knew if they had made that show alone, it would just be another version of Star Driver/Valvrave/Guilty Crown/whathaveya. So Trigger was brought in to weird it up. But at the end of the day, its still that same crappy robot show script. Characters spew dialogue that was already wooden 15 years ago and is now downright petrified. And the plot, your basic “get in the fucking robot Shinji” storyline albeit with more cunnilingus, feels even older. DARLING in the FRANXX is ultimately just an average teen dystopic robot show. Just like the ones that aired last year, and the year before that, and the year before that. The only thing missing is Hisashi Hiirai character designs to make it Gundam Seed.

Clearly this is why we’re only getting the bare minimum of story information when this kind of show is announced these days. The makers know they’re giving us the same old shit so better not go into the details or else we’ll know its the same old shit. Just…typical. – Lord Dalek

Second Episode Review

The prototype for the FranXXs required pilots to be seated in rim job position.

The prototype for the FranXXs required pilots to be seated in rim job position.

You know, I was going to write this show off by the first episode. But then I watched the second, and oh man. This show is going places I’m not sure I want to go. First off, this is another mecha show that’s all about teenage puberty like Aquarion and Eva, except this show skips all the subtext and gives you metaphors as subtle as shoving a wet banana through a pink donut. All the female mecha pilots are on their stomachs in doggy-style position while the males use steers and controls attached to their buttcheeks, with one incident causing the girl to moan in ecstasy over her ass handles being touched. Yet, these same pilots are so sheltered that they have no idea what kissing is. They’re all teenagers who have little idea of their world, guided by strange looking elders and given little reason to live except to pilot the FranXXs. Perhaps we’re meant to see this as tragic, as an allegory for how modern-day Japan is mistreating its youth and forcing ridiculous standards upon them, if this hadn’t been played out in almost every mecha series in the last two to three decades.

Though Darling in the FranXX is at least bombastic enough that every form of symbolism seen through its first two episodes is blatant and in your face. One of the major arcs that’s sprouting out is the main character going through erectile dysfunction after successfully flying a FranXX with an exotic pink-haired girl, but then failing to get it up when another girl’s his co-pilot. She even kisses him and shakes her ass in order to get some sort of reaction, but he feels nothing. He suffers through performance anxiety in the sheets and out. It’s almost funny to watch when out of context, or even in context. And I’m not sure if the show knows that or not. It has all the blatant sexuality that fueled Kill la Kill or Gurren Lagann’s more Freudian moments, but without any of the self-awareness. At least those shows had more going, and Simon and Ryuko’s character arcs weren’t driven entirely by their reproductive organs, while FranXX seems content in throwing sexual imagery everywhere and hoping you’ll think it’s deep or something. I’m not sure what this show wants to be.

Does it want to be goofy and ram the viewer with basic penis and vagina symbolism, or a dark methodical mecha series about how dangerous a teenage boy’s sex drive can be? Because the Deadman Wonderland-esque opening suggests they want to do the latter, while the dumb jokes and silly characters like the egotistic midget kid or the fat guy who eats bread in every scene he’s in suggest otherwise. Maybe that’s what happens when you cross A1 Pictures with Trigger. Their styles just can’t coalesce, and you get a bizarre Frankenstein show that doesn’t know whether to kiss or to bite. And that’s a shame, because this show sounds like it wants to say something interesting about sexuality and coming-of-age, but they lack the cognitive faculties to express those ideas without coming across as horny teenagers who just figured out what vaginas look like. – BloodyMarquis

Killing Bites

You can kill five or six girls... or just one!

You can kill five or six girls… or just one!

Okay, let’s get the elephant out of the room first: the first two minutes of the show has attempted gang rape, with a high school girl being dragged into an van while the driver wonders if he has enough courage to attempt stopping his colleagues from penetrating all her orifices. Yeah, turns out said teenage girl can become a furry monster and utterly tear her assailants limb from limb, but still: our introduction to this show’s violent heroine (a girl named Hitomi that’s half-honey badger) and hapless male lead (I don’t care about his name, he drove a rape van) is an attempted rape scene. It’s a bad start, but it lets you know exactly what you’re getting into. Killing Bites is a tasteless, schlocky, violent fanservice anime. To steal a joke, this show is basically Kemono Friends: Top Cow Edition. The OP and ED are filled with wank fodder, our heroine spends most of her time in a bra and panties, every fight comes with copious amounts of blood and dismembered body parts, and we get animal facts every once in a while (did you know honey badgers are also called rastels?). All bookended by some sweet garage rock. This show is stupid… and I love every second of it. I mean, I don’t love the rape part. I could have done without the rape part. That shit lingers over the rest of the episode like a bad fart and almost made me tap out before we hit the opening titles. But everything else brought out my inner teenager who just relishes in sex and ultraviolence, and I can’t help but wait in glee for whatever happens in the next episode. Not just because of the fighting though, as there is more to the show than that. We have good old shady organization #45129431 running these fights, and despite them clearly existing as an obvious excuse to justify all this, I can’t help but hope to learn more about them and the creepy tongue-wiggling, screen-licking psycho at the very top. And it looks like we’ll be having some school shenanigans in our near future, as well. That’s all secondary to the furry fights that are this anime’s bread-and-butter, however. And those fights will be the main reason why I, and a number of others, will continue watching. I just wish it didn’t have that attempted rape scene at the start; that would make it easier for me to recommend without feeling too uncomfortable about it. – RacattackForce

Mitsuboshi Colors

Kids Next Door, battle stations!

Kids Next Door, battle stations!

You can clearly see that picture above, with three elementary schoolers aiming an anti-tank missile at a police officer. Do you really need more? Mitsuboshi Colors is probably the most fun “cute girls do cute things” anime this season, as it doesn’t try to hook the viewer with odd gimmicks like ramen, camping, or being a year older than all your friends. It just gives us some basic character types (the crybaby, the energetic one, the laidback gamer) and revels in the straightforward fun to be had in watching these little kids be little kids: playing video games, hanging out in the park, disturbing the peace, and just messing around under the guise of being town heroes. Every winter season manages to have that one show that just embodies fun and is all about hitting you with joke after joke, and this year’s seems to be Mitsuboshi Colors. – RacattackForce

Slow Start

Maybe the title actually refers to puberty?

Maybe the title actually refers to puberty?

These are supposed to be high schoolers? I mean, I’m one of those people that can look at Nowi from Fire Emblem Awakening and go “I’m okay with this. I’m gonna make her bang that other dude so time travel shenanigans grants me a dragon halfling baby to use in my army.” But I have my limits, and that limit is having 3 out of 4 of your normal human main characters look like they should still be having mandatory nap-times after lunch. But whatever. Loli character designs aside, this show has bigger problems: nothing here is halfway memorable.

This show’s gimmick is that our main character Hana is a full year older than her new classmates, not because she was left back, but because she was busy studying to get into this particular private academy. That’s where the title comes from. We learn this at the end of the first episode, and frankly, I can’t see how anything interesting could result from this setup other than maybe an awkward conversation or two with a former classmate that’s now a grade level above her. It’s the sort of thing that takes a sentence to explain, and unlike being held back a grade, it doesn’t seem like something a teenager would be ashamed of. Hell, her new friends would probably be jealous that her folks let her take a year off instead of force her to just go to any old local high school. I think the only time where not being the same age as your peers due to being out of the education system for a year would be awkward is middle school, and that’s mainly because kids at that age are extra ruthless with the teasing and bullying. But no one studies to get into middle school, so that wouldn’t work as a gimmick. But the “year older” thing is a shitty gimmick as it is, and they already have these really young-looking character designs, so changing it so that Hana was left back in primary and now has to deal with middle school would make things mesh more.

I can’t help but feel like I’m getting a bit side-tracked on the purpose of this review, which is elaborating why Slow Start is lame, but you need to understand. Slow Start’s first episode is the main quartet going on series of tangents, making observations about how each other’s names are written or what foods they like to eat. None of these conversations are funny in the slightest, much less memorable. And I only remember that much because I cheated and went to ANN to refresh my memory. Can I apologize to Laid-Back Camp for that “white noise with pretty pictures” jab? It may be boring 90% of the time, but at least I can remember most of the little gags that show had in its first episode, and I haven’t watched it in two weeks. All I remember about this is the large amount of nothing that was happening for 15 minutes and a strong urge to scroll through Tumblr to look at Steven Universe fan comics. I’m getting side-tracked because the core of the show is so bland that I needed to vent about character design and pitch tweaks to the premise in order to make this review more than a sentence. This is a solid skip. – RacattackForce

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