Love Across Time and Space – ‘Darling in the FranXX’ Episode 24 (Finale) Review

Love Across Time and Space – An Anime QandA Review of ‘Darling in the FranXX’ Episode 24 (Finale)

What’s the show? Darling in the FranXX, Episode 24.

Well here we are, the end of Darling in the FranXX… this is kind of a hard one to talk about.

Oh? How so? It’s always hard to talk about a season finale of something this big… no not just season but series, this is a pretty definitive ending—all things considered. Also… I’m going to have to talk about some of the criticisms I saw of the show on Twitter, because well… I have some ~opinions~ on what’s been levelled against this finale.

Oh boy… one of those reviews, huh? I’m going to try and keep the ranting to a minimum okay? I know nobody likes to read a rant, if you want to know my brief and concise thoughts on the finale though, here they are: it was great, pretty much what I wanted and more or less what I expected.


Fair enough, so should we talk about what happened in the episode first? Okay, so giant Zero Two and Hiro inside her are floating through deep space, having a grand ol’ time reading each other’s thoughts and periodically blowing up enemy alien spaceships. Meanwhile on Earth, some time has passed and the gang is getting ready for the birth of Kokoro‘s baby. The episode cuts back and forth between deep space and Earth, with the passing of time increasing each cut.

I legit cried a lot at this scene.

How much time we talking? At first days, then weeks, then months, then a couple of years. In space; they reach the alien hub, but Hiro succumbs to the negative influence of the VIRM. Back on Earth, Kokoro’s and Mitsuru’s baby Ai (whose a toddler now) is touching the petrified Zero Two statue and begins saying “Darling” despite never having learnt that world. The gang surmise that Zero Two is trying to reach out to them for help. So they all hold hands and send their thoughts and prayers to space… and yeah on paper that sounds incredibly lame…

He’s kind of handsome… I mean, where dem titties at!

You said it, not me! Anyway, the power of friendship knows no bounds and Hiro hears their voices and comes back out of the void—or wherever he was—and he and Zero Two ‘connect’ once more and defeat the evil aliens with the bomb the klaxosaurs provided. Boom! The aliens are defeated but of course in such a blast there’s no surviving it for our two young lovers. And their souls drift through space…

Wow, didn’t expect them to kill the two main characters of the show! It was kind of the only way they could go about it without it seeming contrived, and yet there’s still people out there who thought this ending was “convenient”.

Group photo!

Oh boy… here we go, rant mode enabled… No, I’m not going to rant, I’m just going to say that in-universe this ending made sense. Having statue version Zero Two on Earth being able to hear everyone was established—in so far that there was a connection between Zero Two’s mind in Strelizia and her body on Earth, we saw her flesh body take damage Earth-side while it was being attacked in space. Also, of course Hiro’s going to here it, he’s inside her! The two have been sharing a brain for years at this point!

Easy with the exclamation marks chief. If that’s all people are saying then what’s the big deal? That’s people who already didn’t care for the show complaining some more about an ending they don’t care about. There’s more.

Of course it’s a Sakura tree, of course!

Okay, go on. So back to the episode itself, we have a time-lapse of the tree that sprouted from the crumbled Zero Two statue (just go with it) hundreds of years pass as the tree grows large and new cities grow larger behind it. It’s an honestly gorgeous scene that had me shedding a few tears! Then as the drifting souls of Hiro and Zero Two return to Earth we see two familiar looking small children meet each other under the tree.

Love finds a way.

Okay? And… And I think that’s a beautiful way to end this series, with the same message of hope for the future that was always an undercurrent (and later—the entire plot) of the series. Some people had issue with this idea of “souls” or “reincarnation” as being too cheesy or too ~mystical~ but most Japanese ideologies concerning the idea of the soul revolve around some kind of reincarnation mythos. This isn’t religious symbolism suddenly appearing in a science-oriented show, this is more rooted in Japanese culture—the way nearly every Slice of Life series has characters visiting a shrine for New Years, it’s not an explicitly religious tradition like if a character in a Western show went to church, it’s just a part of life. That’s not to say everyone in Japan believes in reincarnation but there’s something hopeful about the idea of a soul living beyond its physical limitations and something sweetly romantic about two souls finding one another again in a different time.

“Kiss me now!”

Hmm, sounds like you’ve just got an opinion that happens to be different from other people’s, doesn’t make yours any more valid… I, uh… well yeah, fine! Where do you get off being the voice of reason?

That’s literally my job here. Right.

So was there anything else you wanted to add? The more I think about this ending the sadder it is—on a very small scale though, because ultimately it’s a happy ending, the world continues, no more bad aliens, things are more or less ‘good’. But I can’t help but think about the Plantation 13 gang waiting for Hiro and Zero Two to return home for the rest of their lives, and then dying of old age—not really knowing what happened. I mean I’m sure they made their peace with the assumption that they perished, but still, I feel sad for Ichigo.

I mean I guess Goro is a good consolation prize…

Uh-huh, well when you’re done feeling sad, want to wrap up this review? Cracking the whip today, aren’t we? I’ll save my overall feelings for the show as a whole for an inevitable (but probably long way off) full-season review. Speaking strictly on the finale though, I’m more or less happy with what we got! I knew we’d have something of a time-skip in this episode but I never thought it would be as long into the future as it was here! Also, small thing but I’m glad Ikuno got a girlfriend in the form of the returned Naomi, it was subtle and I wish they’d shared an on-screen kiss but it made me happy nonetheless! All in all, while ridiculous at times and borderline nonsensical, I thoroughly enjoyed the finale of Darling in the FranXX.

This is what I was waiting the whole series for! Representation matters!

Previous Darling in the FranXX Reviews:

Episode 1-15 Review
Episode 16-20 Review
Episode 21 Review
Episode 22 Review
Episode 23 Review

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Darling in the FranXX Episode 23 – Anime QandA Review

Darling in the FranXX Episode 23 Anime QandA Review

What’s the show? Darling in the FranXX, Episode 23.

So in recent episode the show has gotten a bit ~weird~ at least in regards to what you call the “window dressing” namely the actual setting and plot of the show. Do things continue on this trajectory? This is the weirdest, dumbest episode of this show and has pretty much confirmed it into legendary status in my opinion!

So you like it even when you admit it’s “dumb”? Things can be good and dumb, those two things aren’t mutually exclusive. Michael Bay movies are dumb but they’re… okay bad example. But when I say dumb I don’t mean in the sense that it’s unintelligent, I mean the sense that it’s absurd and unintelligible and I can’t believe what I’m seeing.

Is it something in particular or throughout the episode? It’s a single thing—albeit massive—that happens at the end of the episode.

Way to some it up succinctly!

Well let’s save that for the end of the review and talk about the rest of the episode first, yeah? Fine~ so the gang go to space to battle the bad aliens with the help of the Klaxosaur’s space fleet and it’s kind of an unintelligible mess of action and lasers and explosions and not going to lie but this is exactly the reason I don’t usually ever watch Mech anime. Obviously I know they’re not all like this but my eyes kind of glaze over when I see big robots fighting, but I at least had the benefit of being invested in the characters here as well as the fact some of it looked pretty nice!

Pretty darn cool.

If it was just space battles though wouldn’t that be kind of boring for you? There’s plenty other stuff to enjoy about this episode, the scenes back on Earth with Kokoro looking after the catatonic Zero Two were very touching and exactly the kind of thing I was hoping for—as were the later scenes between Kokoro and Mitsuru… I just want them to be happy together!

I legit cried.

Any other scenes you liked? Yes, the scenes with Nana and Hachi were nice, I wouldn’t have been especially aggrieved if Hachi had died in that explosion but I guess the writer’s want a mother and father figure to look after the Plantation 13 kiddies… urge to rant about heteronormative agendas rising.

Settle down… nobody wants to read about that. Quick, uh, so what’s the ridiculous thing that happened at the end of the episode that made you so enthused? Oh! Right! It’s amazing; when it happened I was like, you marvellous stupid sons of bitches!

I can see why he chose to be with her, the horns really suit him… oh and also they’re soulmates.

What happens?! So the whole point of Hiro and co. going to space was to rescue Zero Two’s mind who is trapped in the Strelizia Apath (or whatever they were calling it in the subtitles of this episode), they get Hiro to the ship, which is absurdly massive by the way, it’s practically the size of a space station… Hiro enters the cockpit and enters Zero Two’s mind, they argue for a bit—she wants him to stay away and keep his humanity, he wants to be with her no matter what—it goes back and forth until finally she gives in and… well just feast your eyes on this glorious gif:


What… what happened? This is her final form! (Probably) Strelizia True Apus! Basically giant sexy robot turns into a giant, fleshy woman in armor in space and it’s ridiculous and doesn’t make any sense and I love it and I want to marry it.

That’s… I don’t even know what to say? I know right, I felt so many emotions, mostly laughter though.

“Sup, I’m huge now”

I don’t think that was the intended reaction though? So? I hate the idea that people are so rigid about expectations and what a show should be that they can’t accept and enjoy something ludicrous and so damn pretty. But whatever, people will probably hate this episode and I’ll be the sole idiot proclaiming how much fun this final transformation is. Whatever, I don’t want to get rant-y, I just want to enjoy myself, end of review!

Calm down, and let’s finish this properly and professionally. Watch the gif a few more times to centre yourself. *deep breaths* I’m fine, I’m fine. So after the transformation Strelizia True Apas fires her lasers destroying all the enemies but the job’s not over yet! Hiro tells his fellow FranXX pilots that he and Zero Two have to go through a wormhole that’s just appeared and deliver a bomb to the main enemy alien military fleet in order to wipe them out for good and stop the threat of them returning to Earth—much to the tearful objections of his friends. But there’s no stopping Hiro and Zero Two, they’re a team and it’s their destiny.

Yes it looks like a wedding dress, don’t @ me.

So are you looking forward to the final episode? Oh hell yeah, getting to see the ridiculous and beautiful Strelizia True Apas in action against an entire army of aliens is hopefully going to be amazing… or amazingly over the top. Also, not so secretly hoping for a ‘they all lived happily ever after’ ending for everyone. Only time will tell though if I get my wish!

Previous Darling in the FranXX Reviews:

Episode 1-15 Review
Episode 16-20 Review
Episode 21 Review
Episode 22 Review

If you liked my post and want to support my content, please consider supporting my Patreon page, or donating by buying me a coffee on Ko-fi!



Men Love Their Cockpits – A 20 Question Review of Space Battleship Tiramisu

Men Love Their Cockpits – A 20 Question Review of Space Battleship Tiramisu

What’s the show? Space Battleship Tiramisu (2018).

And what’s it about? I don’t know if you know this about me but I’m a bit of a clean freak. But only about some things, and only once I’ve noticed that they’re untidy… but once I do notice you bet I’m going to obsess about it until I’m able to clean it or put it back the way it’s supposed to be!

Uh… okay, what’s that got to do with this show? Everything! Space Battleship Tiramisu is about one man’s unending efforts to keep his cockpit clean—it’s his sanctuary, his home—and if anything gets in the way of his ~ideal~ he loses his damn mind!

Right. And who is this obsessive man? Subaru Ichinose, a top mech pilot who on more than one occasion strips down to his birthday suit in pursuit of zen in his cockpit.

Don’t piss him off!

Wait, why is he naked?! I think the more important question is, why aren’t we all naked…

No but seriously. Well in the first episode it’s because his shirt was on inside out and back-to-front and it was causing him such distress that he ripped the clothes from his body so as not to feel like he was suffocating!

Okay then… sounds like Subaru has some issues…I wouldn’t go that far, I find his unique brand of obsessiveness and reactionary behaviour kind of relatable. Like in the final episode of the first season where he’s applying a clear protective cover to his brand new helmet and is trying his hardest to get it on the curved surface perfectly only to lose his shit when he gets distracted and ends up with three air bubbles under the protective coating! I feel his pain!

Wait, isn’t this a series about mech’s in space? It’s a series with mech’s set in space but no this show’s just about Subaru dealing with everyday struggles—some relatable, some completely and utterly ludicrous like when he starts having a conversation with a rogue pubic-hair that’s floating ‘round his cockpit.

And what language did you expect it to speak? Pubeish?

That sounds… kinda stupid. Some of it is, yeah. And some of it’s pretty clever, it’s pretty much a lucky dip of what kind of comedy you’re going to get on any given episode—but since the episodes are only ten minutes each it never feels like you’re wasting your time by watching a ‘lesser’ episode.

And are there many “lesser” episodes? I’d say it’s about 70/30 in favour of ‘good and funny’ episodes, though even the least of the lesser ones still manage a chuckle or two.

Is there any plot to speak of? Not so much as plot as there is character development, either to do with his estranged brother who shows up round the midway point—and who turns out is just as ‘obsessive’ about things as Subaru. Also I know this’ll be controversial because a few fellow reviewers were annoyed by this but I loved the fact that the show ~almost~ had a semblance of a serious plot going on in the middle episodes only for it to be thrown away for the sake of a bunch of silly jokes. I wouldn’t expect anything less from this show!

The eyepatch is just for looks.

And what about the other characters? There’s the other inhabitants of the Tiramisu like the brash and appropriately named ‘Vulgar’, the buxom beauty ‘Ligier’, matronly and interfering ‘Shigeruko’ and of course the evil robot who tries to frame Subaru for stealing it’s wallet only for Subaru to switch the robot’s settings from ‘evil’ to ‘motorbike’ and then mount its head in his cockpit to act as a sort of GPS navigation system.

…What? You heard me…

Not to disparage this clearly perfectly sane anime, but it does kind of seem like its approach to comedy is a bit “throw everything at it and see what sticks.”Absolutely—and while that’s invariably going to turn off a lot of people I was fine with it. Though I’m not going to pretend like it’s some sort of comedic masterpiece, there’s a few key things they could have tweaked to make it better.

Oh yeah, mister smarty writer guy? Like what? In my opinion the best episodes were the first episode and the thirteenth episode (season finale). They were much more focused on the minutiae of everyday life and the stress that can be caused by seemingly insignificant things going wrong—and the comedy that results for the viewer. If they’d focused solely on that style of comedy we could have had the anime equivalent of Seinfeld in space!

There’s always a line when you’re busting for the toilet!

‘A show about nothing—in space’? Pretty much!

But now? Nada. (editors note: that’s a deep cut Seinfeld reference right there!)

Wait a minute… you don’t have an editor! Shhh~

So is there anything else you wanted to talk about regarding this show? For a short anime it sure does have a great OP and ED song! Both were under a minute so they were ineligible for my Top 10 list’s for the season but they both were worthy of a sport, very catchy songs and both of them sung by the voice actor for Subaru! “BREAK THROUGH!”

Surprisingly not a scene from a yaoi anime.

Right, so final score and recommendation for Space Battleship Tiramisu? The best thing to do when approaching this show is don’t expect anything because week-to-week the comedy can be so varied both in quality and quantity—that aside the short run-time at least makes it so that even the weakest episode passes before you have the time to dwell on it too much. Subaru makes for an endearing, charismatic and appropriately bonkers lead character and not only does the season end on a interesting cliff-hanger, a second season is scheduled for Fall 2018 so the wait won’t even be that long! By no means perfect, but still perfectly good fun; 75 out of 100.

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Bad Romance Does Not Equal Bad Anime – A 20 Question Review of Citrus

Bad Romance Does Not Equal Bad Anime – A 20 Question Review of Citrus

What’s the show? Citrus (2018).

And I take it from that combative, clickbait-y title that you’ve got a score to settle too? I’ve got things I need to say is all, nothing wrong with putting the slant of this review right up in the title, is there?

Mm-hmm, so for those who are unaware; what is Citrus about? It’s about Yuzu, a flashy girl who after her mother remarries has to move to a new city and attend a prestigious all girl’s school. With this remarriage comes a new step-sister, Mei—a cold, no-nonsense kind of girl who also happens to be student council president and granddaughter to the school’s chairman. For Yuzu it’s love or maybe lust… it’s certainly something… at first sight, which is only compounded when Mei plants a kiss on Yuzu seemingly out of nowhere!


So it’s a lesbian relationship between two step-sisters? Alright, let’s get one thing out of the way right off the bat, them being step-sister’s is precisely ~zero~ percent of the reason anyone should condemn this show—they’re step-sisters for literally only hours at the time they first kiss—it’s not like they’ve been living together and growing up together!

So then what’s the point of them even being step-sister’s in the context of the narrative? Isn’t that just to make the manga/anime seem more salacious to the reader perusing it on a bookshelf/streaming service? Maybe that’s what a shrewd publisher thought, maybe the mangaka savvily thought it’d earn him some extra sales by being “controversial” at a glance, but it does serve a huge narrative purpose. In Japan, same-sex relationships are still unfortunately deemed (by a lot of people) as “phases” and at worst “perversions”. Thankfully the country is getting slightly better at accepting it. So by writing Mei and Yuzu as step-sisters it works to further complicate their already messy feelings by throwing any kind of future (i.e. living together, being a couple, getting married) they have together as an almost insurmountable obstacle.


Fair enough, so what kind of relationship do they have? I take it it’s not a conventional one considering the differences in their personalities? That’s an understatement. After the first kiss, Mei acts even colder towards Yuzu, which really hurts her considering that was not only her first kiss with Mei but her first kiss with anyone. From the get-go Yuzu is pretty open and honest about her feelings—or at the very least her ~desires~ which understandably, for a girl going through puberty and a girl who’s just discovered she’s probably gay, is a big damn deal. But Mei only seems to be intimate with Yuzu when it suits her, or when she needs to take control of a situation she doesn’t understand.

So Mei ‘uses’ her sexuality as a weapon over Yuzu? Ehh~ I guess there’s some instances where it could be seen that way, Mei is a complete and utter control freak—she needs it in every facet of her life otherwise she falls apart. Yuzu is free-spirited and kind and on paper she’s completely wrong for Mei—or she would be if she was weak-willed or undetermined. But Yuzu has such conviction and strength of character that not only can she see past Mei’s many many walls she’s built around her heart, but she wants to enter them and set free the broken little girl who’s been left at the centre.


So you’re defending this toxic relationship they have? No. Defending the anime’s existence and defending the representation of a toxic, same-sex relationship are not the same. Which brings me to the title of this review, just because the show represents a potentially toxic, unhealthy and abusive relationship between two girls doesn’t mean it’s a bad anime. Every “romance” anime doesn’t have to be the perfect template, or ‘how-to guide’ on how to conduct a relationship—applying that leap in logic is like saying video games cause real life violence—and we all know how bullshit that argument is.

I think the issue I see is that representations of same-sex relationships are out of the mainstream already which means when one does get the kind of zeitgeist impact that Citrus apparently had it means the scrutiny on how it presents same-sex relationships is a lot higher. If this is an ~average~ person’s first exposure to a story about a same-sex relationships they’re more likely to believe that this is representative of all same-sex relationships. Yeah, and those people are the kind of idiots who sue McDonalds for coffee being too hot!

Easy now. No, I’m sick of something’s popularity being used as an excuse to criticise it because it’s not “representative” of the reality of something. The author wanted to write a messy, potentially problematic story about two step-sisters falling in love and it have all the soap opera style dramatics that they foresaw in such a relationship developing. Citrus shouldn’t be held accountable for being problematic just because it got very popular in the West.


But people are free to commit to discourse about media, people are free to dislike and criticise and “be triggered”, you can’t tell people how to ‘think’ and ‘feel’ about things because you disagree with them. The thing that I have the most issue with is why is Citrus being scapegoated. There’s a bunch other gay manga and anime out there all with different representations of same-sex relationships, if you don’t like the way Citrus is telling it’s story move on and find something new, it existing isn’t harming anyone. Problematic media exists in every genre and what “triggers” someone may be perfectly fine for another. You can criticise Citrus ’til you’re blue in the face but it still has a right to exist as the author’s freedom of expression.

Careful now, you’re starting to sound like one of those people on the internet who use ‘freedom of expression’ as an excuse to be an asshole. Don’t you dare, I hate those people.


Then say what you’re trying to say without being a dick about it. People like Mei exist in real life, I’ve met them, I’ve been friends with them, heck I’ve probably even dated them! She is a deeply flawed individual—some may even say she’s a bit of a c-word, but erasing a person like her from a narrative because it makes it a more palatable experience is just plain dishonest and a bit problematic in it’s own way. I’m glad this show is so messy and confrontational and raw—it makes it more interesting. Yes, I realise there’s damaging stereotypes out there about how same-sex relationships are fetishistic and abusive and unnatural but you can’t put the blame all on one show for the perceptions of ignorant people. And besides, this show has actual positive representations of queer people in it, you just have to wait a while to actually see one.

Care to elaborate? Episode 10 let us get up close and personal with the ‘too pure for this world’ bisexual cutie Sara Tachibana who, despite her appearances is far too wise for her own good and schools Yuzu on what it means to like someone—regardless of their gender. I talked about this terrific episode in greater detail in the single episode review I did for it in Winter 2018. But what this shows, at least to my neanderthal brain, is that not only is the writer capable of a more nuanced and forward-thinking queer character representations but they knew the need for one in Yuzu and Mei’s lives to forge them into better people in general.


And how’s that work out for Sara in the long run? Well, uh… she kinda ends up getting jerked around because Mei and Yuzu are so wrapped up together in their own business… but she’s fine! I mean she seems fine… okay the more I think on it the more I worry about their relationship steamrolling everything good and pure in it’s way…

Wait, you’re not having a sudden change of heart, are you? No, no, no, not at all! I still stand behind this show (and manga’s) narrative decisions. Besides, I never got the sense that the show was ~actively~ condoning Mei’s behaviour, all you have to do is listen to the vaguely sinister music queue’s and dark lighting in these early season scenes to know that Mei’s predatory actions are seen just as that. Romance seldom comes into it—at least not on Mei’s end—Yuzu is another matter entirely.

But it’s different by the end of the season? I’m not going to pretend like this season is close to perfect, there’s the rushed almost conclusion the show pushes in its final minutes that’s both meant to offer a promise of a happy ending ‘one day’ while also functioning as a satisfying way to end an anime should it never get a sequel season. It’s not unearned it just feels a bit too tidy, but such is the way when adapting something that’s not close to finishing.


We’ve talked a lot about the external opinions on the show but not a lot on the show itself (some review this turned out to be) did you want to have a say on it since we’re nearly out of questions? I’ve defended this show fervently but here’s the thing, it’s not even among my favourite shows of the Winter 2018 anime season—it’s not even my favourite Yuri series! It was thoroughly entertaining throughout though, it was cheesy and funny and occasionally dramatic and aesthetically satisfying but I never got the sense it was pandering or fetishistic or fan-servicey or even the least bit arousing—and I’m usually all for girl-on-girl anime shenanigans! It told a sorta complicated relationship drama, sorta well but it did it with enough style and intrigue and personality that I can’t help but appreciate it.

So what’s your final score and recommendation for Citrus? Citrus is the kind of show I think of fondly now and again—the manga perhaps less so, but that’s a discussion for another day. It’s clear what it wants to be and despite commanding more attention than it probably ever intended to I think it succeeded in telling a story fraught with messy emotions and complicated people. It’s far from perfect, in fact it’s damn near silly at times—but the connection between Yuzu and Mei is something tangible and I can’t help but be drawn in by their story. It’s sweet, it’s sour, it’s Citrus; 84 out of 100.


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Darling in the FranXX Episode 22 – Anime QandA Review

Darling in the FranXX Episode 22 Anime QandA Review

What’s the show? Darling in the FranXX, Episode 22.

So… Darling in the FranXX the show you hated but now love for stupid reasons… Shuddup! They’re not stupid reasons, I’m allowed to love this show now!

Even though everyone else hates it now? Yeah, that’s kind of how it feels now! But it’s okay; I’ve got plenty of love for this show to make up for all that negativity out there.

Do you have any idea about how much of a contrarian hipster douche you sound like? Tch. Can we get to the actual review, maybe?!

~Fine~ what’s the episode about? It’s like Fallout—Darling in the FranXX edition. Everyone is suffering physically and emotionally, barely scraping by and worried about the future. Kokoro is having worse and worse morning sickness, Ichigo is working herself to exhaustion, Zero Two is in a catatonic state and beset by random deep wounds that appear on her body and Hiro is preoccupied with taking care of her at the expense of everyone around him.

Sounds dark. Indeed, it could be Plantation 13’s darkest hour, plus the rest of the surviving kids from other plantations—including the Nine’s—are all worse for wear.

So what’s Zero Two’s deal? Do they explain why she’s catatonic and self-harming? See, I thought she was self-haring too, what with massive gashes appearing on her body whenever Hiro returned to from a days work cultivating the fields. But mid embrace, as Hiro’s and Zero Two’s horns touch, he gets a terrifying vision of what she’s experiencing in her mind—or rather what Strelizia Apath is experiencing in space, battling the evil aliens from the previous episode. We see the aliens attack Strelizia’s face in space and then back on Earth Zero Two’s face gets covered in deep gashes. Turns out, Zero Two’s catatonic because her mind is still controlling the Strelizia Apath in space!

Well that sounds uniquely horrible for her. Indeed, and so Hiro decides to go to space to save his Klaxosaur waifu.

And how do the rest of the Plantation 13 kids feel about it? Well Goro is pissed at first, annoyed at how selfish Hiro is being not considering the feelings of his friends—he even clocks Hiro one in his anger. But they eventually come around and the episode ends with the able bodied pilots pledging their loyalty and lives to rescuing Zero Two.

And I take it that you loved every minute of it? Pretty much, though my favourite part of the episode was a considerably more low-key development. Nana and Hachi—following an automatically sent email from the deceased Dr. Franks—find that all the kids that they previously thought were ‘sent away’ from the garden for not being compatible FranXX pilots are all alive in some sort of cryogenic facility! And not just that but Dr. Franks wants Nana and Hachi to act as “adults” for the kids. The moment where the wheelchair bound Nana comforts one of ‘The Nine’s’ literally brought a tear to my eye.

Only two episodes left now, right? Do you think the show will be able to wrap up all the loose ends by then? I don’t know and to be honest I don’t care if it doesn’t. I’m not here for the plot, I’m here for the characters so as long as Hiro and Zero Two and the rest of the Plantation 13 kids find some happiness going forward then I’ll be content with this series—only time will tell though!

Previous Darling in the FranXX Reviews:

Episode 1-15 Review
Episode 16-20 Review
Episode 21 Review

If you liked my post and want to support my content, please consider supporting my Patreon page, or donating by buying me a coffee on Ko-fi!



Consenting to Objectification – A 20 Question Review of Anime de Training! EX

Consenting to Objectification – A 20 Question Review of Anime de Training! EX

What’s the show? Anime de Training! EX (2015).

Okay… and what’s it about? It’s about cute girls exercising!

You do this a lot where you pretend a show is just about one facile thing for the sake of making a comedic point. This show’s about more than ~just~ that, yeah? Nope, it’s 12—four-minute episodes showing five different cute anime girls doing exercises in their respective bedrooms (and occasionally elsewhere) and the audience observes as they stretch and moan and sweat.

That…sounds…creepy… Here’s the thing about this show, it’s simultaneously the most and least creepy fan-service I’ve ever seen.

H-how can that be? That’s like saying something is the most funny and least funny—that’s impossible! You want to give me a minute to explain?

Right, sorry, go ahead. Well here’s the deal, 90% of this show is watching girls (between the age of 14 and 17) exercising and there’s no denying there’s something seedy about how the camera lingers on the girls as they count out their routine. The viewer always has the most sexualised angle on these girls and it makes no mistake that this is the content it’s choosing to focus on, fetishizing girls who are working out and getting sweaty.

Uh-huh that does sound quite creepy, so go on try and convince me how it’s simultaneously the “least creepy fan-service” as well… (This’ll be good). In my opinion the show finds a way around the creep factor—or at least rationalises it—because all of the fan-service is consensual. Which is to say as much as fictional character can consent to being objectified.

“Consensual” huh? Explain. Each of the girls directly address the audience frequently, not just breaking the fourth wall but talking to the camera as if it’s the viewing public watching from home. All of these girls have invited “the audience” into their homes to watch them train and to help the audience train too, and it’s kind of endearing and even—dare I say—cute.

Why do I have a feeling that your opinion is probably not going to be in line with the masses—especially your female readers? Your enjoyment of this kind of thing is probably dependent on a many number of factors. And you probably already know if you’ll enjoy this show from the synopsis alone…

And did you enjoy it? I enjoyed exercising along with the show more than I enjoyed the show itself.

E-excuse me? I’m almost afraid to ask what part of your body you were “exercising”…. Come on now, don’t be crude. I used the show’s short run-time to exercise on my stepper at home. Three episodes was just enough workout time to get a sweat up and feel the burn!—especially during the high energy theme song! It was a really fun experience!

Right, but we’re not reviewing this show based on how “fun” it is to “exercise” too, is the show worth watching? I don’t like those inverted commas around the word “exercise” it was innocent I swear!

Sure sure… The show is—minimalistic, that’s a polite way to put it. There’s the pretence of a story, the girls are training to become idols—that’s it, that’s the story. Like a lot of these shows (and I’m not even sure what I mean by “these shows” this is the first show like this I’ve ever watched) the focus is on characters. And there are some really good characters here—honestly!

And by “good characters” I hope you don’t just mean superficially. Well yes they are ~aesthetically pleasing~ I really enjoyed the wannabe goth Shion Tachibana who fancies herself as a “fallen angel from a dark fantasy world”—the way her ‘dark speak’ kept slipping whenever she got too focused on exercising was absolutely adorable. Yu Hiraoka is a shy cutie-pie with glasses, total ‘childhood friend’ trope in all the best ways. But my best girl is Shizuno Saotome…

What’s she got going for her? Well, uh—nice oppai?

Man… sometimes I swear you’re a lost cause… She’s really nice and has a good personality too! I swear I’m not that shallow…

So… this show (and I use the term lightly) would you recommend watching it. No not really… I mean I personally don’t regret the decision but there’s nothing to be gained from watching this show, nothing to be learned, nothing to ~feel~, it’s light junk food… no that’s not right, it’s like a glass of sparkling mineral water, it’s bubbly but insubstantial… Oh except…

Except for what? The last episode is so damn fun and silly it makes the whole thing worth watching, it’s kind of hard to explain but it definitely gave off a distinctive Tim and Eric vibe—if you’re familiar with that style of comedy. Definitely unexpected, but I’ve watched the last episode like 4 times it’s so good. I could even go as far as say just watch Episode 12 of Season 1 by itself and just enjoy 4 minutes of musical related nonsense, it’s very enjoyable!

Wait “season 1” as in there’s more of this nonsense?! Of course, it had a 2nd season a year later, I’ll probably watch it when I feel like exercising again…

Uh-huh… So final score and recommendation for Anime de Training! EX? Taken as something to motivate you while exercising it’s a great tool as it’s got both slow moments and high energy moments too, plus if you’re like me, being spurned on by moaning and sweating cute girls is great encouragement (did I just say that out loud?!) But, taken on its own merits, there’s not much to recommend, some of the characters are well-written and voice acted, the creepiness of the fan-service—while rationalised in-universe and ~technically~ consented to, could still be considered creepy to some. Ultimately there’s just no real reason to bother to watch this show other than the thoroughly amusing and off-kilter 12th episode. This series needs a work-out, 55 out of 100.

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Darling in the FranXX Episode 21 – Anime QandA Review

Darling in the FranXX Episode 21 Anime QandA Review

What’s the show? Darling in the FranXX, Episode 21.

Ah, doing episodic reviews of this show now are we? As much as it pains me to admit it, I just can’t stop thinking about this show! Specifically how I’ve seemingly 180’d on the whole damn series–like this never happens–I’m notoriously stubborn and for a show I initially disliked to be now among my most anticipated each week is nothing short of sorcery! Sorcery I tell you!

It’s something all right… so what happens this episode? Well as you may recall aliens exist–also they want to blow up the world, also this is still very much a love story above all else, come fight me if you disagree!

Settle down there big fella, let’s start with the ‘aliens wanting to blow up the world’-thing and go from there. The Klaxo-sapiens were an ancient but highly advanced civilization that lived some 60 million years ago (take that, creationists!) one day while minding their own business some alien jerks who’d evolved beyond physical bodies “invited” them to join their ascended order. The Klaxo’s declined and war broke out, it lasted a long time ’til what remained of the race either assimilated into magma energy or evolved into battle creatures.

Sure… and then? Present day–Last remaining Klaxo-sapien (the Princess) is dying, strangled by the bad aliens’ failsafe on the ancient mega weapon Star Entity. Meanwhile, Hiro and Zero Two still exist–don’t forget about them! This is a coming of age drama/romance after all… all this silly alien robot stuff is just the garnish.

Are you being sarcastic? Quite the contrary actually. With the help of the rest of Plantation 13’s rambunctious robots and their BFF pilots, Zero Two makes it to Hiro’s side amidst the corrupted interior of Strelitzia. But she’s too late! Hiro is dead! Or is he?

Is he?! Of course not, through the power of love (and the Klaxosaur princess giving up the rest of her life force) Hiro is awakened! The alien’s evil fail safe–and world ending capabilities–are neutralized! Strelitzia evolves into the uber powerful Strelitzia Apath which blows the alien fleet out of the sky and sends the remnants of Papa scurrying off like some Saturday morning cartoon villain–swearing vengeance upon their inevitable return!

This… this really doesn’t read like a positive review at all. It sounds like you’re making fun of the show. Listen, I’m not going to sit here and pretend this wasn’t an exceptionally goofy, over-the-top, melodramatic and conveniently concluded episode of an anime. But you know what it was? It was ~exactly~ the kind of wacky, gorgeous, emotion driven, character filled nonsense that I’ve come to expect from this series–except against the most ludicrous of backdrops thus far. And judging it by that criteria, I have nothing else to say.

Previous Darling in the FranXX Reviews:

Episode 1-15 Review
Episode 16-20 Review

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It’s All About Love… & Robots – A 20 Question Review of Darling in the FranXX (Episode 16-20)

It’s All About Love… & Robots: A 20 Question Anime Review of Darling in the FranXX Episodes 16-20

If you haven’t already please read my post: Puberty & Robots – A 20 Question Reassessment of Darling in the FranXX Episodes 1-15 for context to this post.

I can’t say I expected this review so soon after your other one, clearly you have a lot to say about this show, huh? I kind of hate that I was initially so combative towards this show because the more I think about this show (and I think about it a lot) the more I really respect its creative decisions!

I feel like you’re pretty alone with that opinion… at least in the ani-blogging community. ~Maybe~ but isn’t that the point of blogging to convince others to a different frame of thinking, shouting outside the echo chamber.

Yeah… good luck with that. Tch.

So what did you want to talk about now? Presumably this is about the subsequent lot of episodes after the self described “first part” of the anime? Yes, episodes 16 to 20. Or what I’m calling ‘It’s all about love’ arc.

That’s a terrible name… Shuddup!

It started with a kiss.

So what plot beats comprise this ark? (presume for a second that whoever is reading this at least passingly familiar with the events up to this episode.) It’s a big ol’ love fest up in Plantation 13. Zero Two loves Hiro, Ichigo loves Hiro, Goro loves Ichigo, Ikuno loves Ichigo, Kokoro loves Mitsuru, Futoshi loves Kokoro and Doctor Franks loves all of them! It’s just a big clustertruck of love and feelings and messiness and it’s like the best worst soap opera I’ve ever seen just put against the backdrop of a a generational spanning dystopian sci-fi extravaganza.

That’s a lot of love! Oh and did I mention that not only does Doctor Franks love his Plantation 13 labrats, he also loves the Princess of the Klaxosaurs, a.k.a the long running enemy of the entire series, but the Princess loves ‘Star Entity’ a weapon recently acquired by PAPA—the all-knowing, all seeing overseers in space!

Klaxosaur Princess is as terrifying as she is cute.

My head hurts… And so it should! Either Darling in the FranXX doubles down on the relationship drama or it doubles down on the sci-fi weirdness, these 5 episodes prove that it’s capable of both and neither simultaneously!

How do you mean? Well it all comes so hard and fast (no pun intended) that you just kind of have to let it wash over you, lest you drown in the madness of it all. With the exception of the partial flash-back episode that helps explain some of how the world ended up as a series of dome worlds in an apocalyptic wasteland, the new sci-fi beats such as klaxosaur princess and ‘star entity’ and secret space aliens who’ve been partially in control of the government this whole damn time!

She’s not piloting this thing bent over.

“Secret space aliens”? Huh?! Yeah, episode 20 closes out with probably one of the hastiest out-of-nowhere space battles in a show that’s up to that point never even mentioned aliens. And you know what? I’m a-okay with that!

You really seem to be bending over backwards to defend this show’s sloppy narrative decisions? You mean bending over backwards like the Pistil’s do in the FranXX cockpits?!


Sure, whatever, why not… So back to the ‘love’ aspect of this post as I’m sure that’s what you’re wanting to focus on. What’s the big deal about it anyway? Not in general obviously, just in the context of this show. Love, sex, procreation are all things that have been rendered obsolete by this ‘new world’. As the previously mentioned flash back episode explains, Dr Franks discovered a way to make humans immortal but at the cost of their reproductive capabilities. So not only are these concepts of “love” and “relationships” and “sex” and “procreation” completely unheard of ideas to the young cast of characters they’re also actively downtrodden by the powers at be—which serves as a central conflict for these episodes.

The overarching theme of love lost is foreboding.

How so? Well way back in Episode 7, in the infamous ‘beach episode’ while exploring the ruins of an ancient city Kokoro found a book about human reproduction, something that’s never taught to the Parasites (children) of any of the plantations. Ever since then Kokoro’s been slowly getting more and more enamoured with the idea of having children and so when she finally grows closer to Mitsuru they kiss, they have sex(!) and they decide they want to get married.

It was a very sweet wedding episode, of course to be completely ruined by meddlesome adults!

Well that escalated quickly! On paper, yes. But in the show it’s very organic and gradual I really appreciated what they did with this plot line—even the wedding episode—which are usually obnoxious affairs (if American sitcoms are anything to go by) is genuinely sweet and heart-warming. Until of course it’s broken up by PAPA’s armed forces and torn asunder by evil brain washing.

And what about the love between Ichigo and Ikuno, they’re both girls aren’t they? Doesn’t that clash with this show’s “heteronormative agenda”—your words, not mine! Ugh, I’m going to regret those words for a long time it seems. Yes, this show has been staggeringly heteronormative to this point, but they address it here too! Ikuno, who’s been not-so-secretly closeted gay since early on finally confesses her feelings to Ichigo and it’s equally sweet as it is heart-breaking! Here’s a girl, whose whole life is surrounded by ‘boy x girl’ partnerships and burgeoning relationships and feelings between hormonal boys and girls, but she feels nothing for the boys, she “only has eyes” for Ichigo.

She couldn’t be any more gay.

I’m guessing those feelings aren’t returned? Not as such. But Ichigo is at least sensitive enough to Ikuno’s feelings to not recoil or pull away or even say a negative word against her love confession instead is content to listen and sympathise with her “complicated” feelings.

Hmm, fair enough. So are you happy about that plot line? I’m happy Ikuno’s sexuality was addressed and not either swept under the rug or made to feel invalid, I just hope the shows gives her some decent closure by the end of it and not leave her as some smiling bystander as all the other happy couples get their chance to live their lives as they walk into the sunset…

Ikuno deserves love too.

Speaking of the “other happy couples”, what about our star duo? Hiro and Zero Two. It might be obnoxious to say because they are the ‘main attraction’ as it were, but I really do love watching these two… well be ‘in love’, more than anything Zero Two deserves love and the love Hiro gives her is just so tangible and connected and intimate and special I just can’t even.

“Can’t even” what? I can’t even!

Right, this is one of those ‘millennial’ memes, yeah? So, wrapping this review up what do you foresee going forward and what do you want to happen? There’s going to be sex and betrayal and drama and a SURPRISE PREGNANCY and ~feels~ and everything else you’d expect from a soap opera starring a bunch of horny teens! What I want to happen is for them all to go off and live ‘Happily Ever After’ on a cliffside town overlooking a nice beach somewhere… whether we’ll get that is another matter entirely.

♪ “Will your lips taste the kiss of death?” ♪

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Puberty & Robots – A 20 Question Reassessment of Darling in the FranXX (Episode 1-15)

Puberty & Robots: A 20 Question Reassessment of Darling in the FranXX (Episodes 1-15)

Well well well… I never thought I’d see the day you reviewed Darling in the FranXX again! What with all the bluster and hand-wringing and harsh words you threw at it in your previous two reviews? Yes it’s true, I had some ~negative~ comments about the show when I first watched it in the week-to-week format when it first came out.

Uh-huh, that’s the understatement of the century. You were frothing at the mouth you had so much vitriol toward the show. Why are we back reviewing it again? Well I took a two month break from the show after Episode 8, and I’ve been keeping tabs on it on social media and through various blogger’s reviews and I noticed the mood turning on the show, some of the people who were quick to sing its praises were growing cold on the show and I thought this was interesting.

How so? Well I observed a pattern, people were turning off the show because they felt it was focusing too much on the relationships between the characters and not enough on the world-building and sci-fi plot that was the hook for so many people—myself included.

So initially you watched the show because you thought it was going to be a compelling sci-fi/dystopian tale with mild teen-angst & robots. That’s correct.

But what is the show actually about? It’s a compelling coming-of-age story/romance/drama set against a back-drop of dystopian sci-fi & robots.

♪ “Tonight is the night… when two become one…” ♪

Sorry, did you just call this show “compelling”? What happened to the guy who ranted on for over 1000 words using buzz-words like “the patriarchy” and “heteronormative”? Oh I’m still here, I just realised something along the way while reading the messages of all those people who were getting disappointed about what the show was choosing to focus on.

And what’s that? That this show was never meant to be taken seriously, the show was never meant to be viewed as some sort of genre-spanning masterpiece or some sci-fi action extravaganza, it’s just a story about a bunch of kids who live an unusual life trying to navigate the perils of puberty and love and relationships without the help of external influences like parents or teachers or guardians or older siblings to guide them.

Why did you underline that part? What did you think you came up with something revolutionary there? I, uh… well no. I just thought I’d highlight what my mindset was when I decided to re-watch the first 8 episodes—and the subsequent 7 after—that make up for the “first part” of the story.

Okay, fair enough. So this isn’t a review is it, at least not in the traditional sense? No, this is, as the title suggests a ‘reassessment’ I don’t want to get bogged down in covering episode-by-episode plot points, this is purely addressing the criticism I had for this show in my previous reviews and explaining where my opinions are now.

Right… so it’s a retcon of those previous two reviews? If you want to put it like that, sure. But those reviews are still up there to see me in all my hyperbolic rage, I’m not deleting a word of those, just setting the record straight.

Fine. So the ‘rampant sexism’ that you claimed was among the worst you’d seen in an anime. Yup that’d be the hyperbole… you know how when you get worked up about something and you just kind of over-exaggerate your rage and your indignation to prove a point? Well, guilty of that here! When I re-watched the episodes, I felt a very minimal amount of ‘rage’, ‘distaste’ or ‘discomfort’, so minimal that I’d wonder if I’d suffered a brain injury of some kind that made me view the show so differently. In fact, after episode 8 (i.e. the one that made me rage-quit the show in the first-place) the “objectionable content” was almost completely gone.

Okay, sure. But what about the idea that by containing these “immature” and “harmful” elements—your words—that the show was undoing its very own reason for existing. That was when I thought the show was aiming to be high-art, like the first episode of the show is very pretentious in all the ways I like so as you can imagine I was expecting a lot of lofty things from the show and so when it didn’t deliver and instead seemed to regress into this adolescent, almost childish show you can perhaps understand why I was taken off guard.

So the fact the show is actually a coming-of-age romance/drama with emotionally ill-prepared teens excuses the shows short-comings? In a way yeah, it kind of does! Like let’s forget that this show is written by a bunch of 40+ year old men and is financed by a large company and all that ~external~ stuff and look at it as it’s being told. It’s told from the perspective of these kids, they have the majority if not entirety of the ‘voice over’, it’s their story—it just happens to be set against the high-concept back-drop of a dystopian future with moving dome cities and transforming monsters and giant mechs.

This is just window dressing…

I’m still not sure I get your point… Let me put it another way, your life, yes you the reader I’m talking to you directly right now—your life it may be school-based or work-based, it may be in a poor country or a city with a high-crime rate or street or a town with bad infrastructure but that’s not what your story is about, your story is about you and the feelings you feel and the relationships you build—that’s your story and that’s the story of Darling in the FranXX!

There he goes again, underlining his own text like he’s being all profound and shit. Hey! It’s my site, I can do what I want!

That’s true enough. So you’ve done a complete 180 on Darling in the FranXX then and all it took was changing your preconceived notions of the seriesSee I can underline you too, in those rare moments you say something concisely accurate. Feels good doesn’t it?

Feels good man.

Hmpf, it doesn’t feel bad, if that’s what you’re getting at… Geez, you’re such a tsun…

Don’t call me that! Ahem… so anything else you want to add before we end this reappraisal? Well if we’re going to go into specifics for a second I personally think Episodes 11-15 are of such a high-quality emotional story-telling that I could scarcely believe I was watching the same show. Before that point it was still a well-animated, deeply character driven but nonetheless entertaining show (post reassessment opinion) but those episodes were ~exactly~ the kind of thing I was expecting and wanting from this show!

The feels!

If you’ll allow me to interject for just a second. You did complain in your initial reviews that you wished the show would focus on story and world-building instead of character. Now I know since you decided to approach the show from a different perspective your ‘needs’ for the show have changed, but do you still want for the show to explore the deeper “secrets” and lore behind the dystopian world it’s built. I do, and I believe it will, it’s just all that stuff is taking a back-seat to the coming-of-age romance it’s wanting to tell instead. And while I understand how that can be frustrating for people who just want that aspect of the show, I’m perfectly content for it to be the garnish to this delicious character-driven buffet.

So uh… how do we wrap this up? Umm… okay, what would you say to the disillusioned people who have dropped the show, or are barely hanging on, or who find themselves frustrated with the various ‘decisions’ this show has made. By all means do as I did and drop the show, take a month or more even to distance yourself from it, but come back and watch it with all I’ve said in mind… I’m not saying that having this point-of-view when watching Darling in the FranXX fixes inherent problems in the show itself, however I absolutely think it helps in understanding what this show wants to be! And taking all that into account can help one truly appreciate this show for what it is; a show about Puberty & Robots.

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