Arranged Marriages Are Bad Unless The Guy Is Hot – ‘The Girl In Twilight’ – Episode 2 Review

Arranged Marriages Are Bad Unless The Guy Is Hot – An Anime QandA Review of ‘The Girl In Twilight’ Episode 2

What’s the show? The Girl In Twilight (Akanesasu Shōjo), Episode 2.

So what happens in this episode? I was so into this show last week, and this week… not so much!

Okay, that’s not exactly what I asked, but go on, what’s led to this change of heart? First and while I hate to bring it up, the animation/art quality has gone down a whole heck since the first episode, like I always expect a dip but this is what I expected the show to look like at Episode 10 not 2!

Oh yay, garbage animation quality and it’s only Episode 2, oh you spoil me show!

Fair enough, that’s a detriment. Anything else? I said last week that the ‘forced quirkiness of each of the characters’ was something I enjoyed about the show but now it just feels kind of stale—it’s almost feels like a different writer was responsible for this episode. Sure there’s still some cute character moments that made me smile, but a lot of it was always kind of awkward and lame.

Scathing! Anything else?! The plot of this episode (and the next since this episode doesn’t resolve it) is an ~interesting~ idea but I kinda hate how they’ve gone about executing it because it absolutely robs the central character of all of her ‘feminist’ leanings and genuine complaints about the ‘alternate reality’ she suddenly found herself in.

Bad law is bad.

Oh boy, “feminism” huh, this oughta be fun… explain what you mean? What’s this “alternate world” she’s in? So blonde girl Nana, she’s the one who had the ~boy crazy~ characteristic written to her. She finds herself in a parallel universe that diverged from an ‘event’ 10 years ago where Japan has mandated a law where all girls on their 17th birthday must be married off to a man. Its not said why but it’s safe to assume it’ll have something to do with Japan’s declining birth-rate. Anyway it’s quite possibly one of the most archaic and un-feminist things I’ve seen in an anime and kudos to the show, Nana says as much (though she says it’s “weird” and “gross” rather than dropping anything buzzworthy as the word ‘sexist’). And I was like, “yeah, you go girl, you show those backwards bastards!” and then she meets her soon-to-be fiancé. And it’s a hot guy, and not just any hot guy but a celebrity she has a crush on.

*douche chills intensify*

Well that’s lucky for her! Doesn’t change the fact that she’s still in a government mandated arranged marriage! And from then on she’s absolutely ~fine~ with the whole thing.

Wait, didn’t you say this is only part 1 of this particular story? Surely she’ll be brought round to the side of reason by her friends? Probably. In-fact, dare I say ~absolutely~ she will, it’s not like this show is just going to get rid of one of it’s characters that quick. But it’s just such an obnoxious and narrow-minded view of women that “oh girls would totally be fine with an arranged marriage as long as it’s with a hot guy she’s into”.

Derp.

But wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t I what?

Wouldn’t you be fine with an arranged marriage if it was to a celebrity you have a crush on? That’s different, I’m a man and men are idiots (and apparently too the men who wrote this show), besides there’s no celebrity I have a crush on, my crushes are all 2D nowadays. Makes things easier that way!

Uh-huh… So I’ve been meaning to bring this up but in your review of the first episode you compared this to critical darling and fan-favourite series of Winter 2018 anime ‘A Place Further Than The Universe’… I take it that ~opinion~ is now null and void? Pro-tip for the future, don’t listen to my opinions after a first episode because I don’t know what I’m talking about… unless it’s an ecchi anime like ‘How Not To Summon A Demon Lord’ I was write about that show! And I’ll be taking that win with me to the grave! Ahem…

Nice?

But this show? Will it correct itself next episode? Probably. But am I possibly too perturbed to care about this show going forward? That too. It almost seems like everything it did right last episode it did wrong in this one. Oh well.


Previous The Girl In Twilight Reviews:

Let The Parallel World Come To You – Episode 1 Review


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Let The Parallel World Come To You – ‘The Girl In Twilight’ – Episode 1 Review

Let The Parallel World Come To You – An Anime QandA Review of ‘The Girl In Twilight’ Episode 1

What’s the show? The Girl In Twilight (Akanesasu Shōjo), Episode 1.

‘The Girl In Twilight’ huh? Isn’t that Kristen Stewart? Wow, quality dad joke there… No, this anime has nothing to do with ‘Twilight’ or anything like it, damn it!

Fine, what’s it about then? Cute girls doing cryptic things.

Okay, that’s the short version what’s the ~slightly~ longer version? Well it’s about five high-school girls, Asuka, Yu, Mia, Nana and Chloe who all partake in a vaguely bizarre ritual to do with radio frequencies and cassette players and it’s all in the name of summoning ‘another world’.

Is she trying to ask the tree out on a date? (That’s an old reference I doubt most of you kids will get!)

Wait, how does one “summon another world”, don’t you usually travel to one? Well I don’t know but eventually they do find the right frequency thanks to a magic crystal and another plane of existence sort of ~appears~ around them. They are immediately beset upon by weird looking yellow bunny floofs who after provoked turn evil. It’s then when our main girl Asuka sees another girl who looks remarkably like her come forward to save them from the floofs who’ve transformed into giant snakes, a technically impressive 3D CGI battle takes place and the Asuka doppelganger is triumphant! She scolds them all for being in “this world” and sends them back, but before she can return herself passes out. Asuka being the nice girl that she is brings her back to her parents place to rest up.

They look strangely delicious, like they’re made out of marshmallow or something!

‘Kay that seems like a fair amount for a first episode— We’re not finished yet! After dinner and a bath Asuka gives her doppelganger the bed for the night and we learn that both Asuka’s have lost someone important—the same someone (presumably a little brother based on the photo and brief flashback we see). Doppel-Asuka leaves for her world early in the morning, but has accidentally left behind her locket that contains said information about lost-presumed-sibling.

Dead sibling trope slightly less overused than dead parent trope.

So that’s the plot of the episode, but is it any good, did you like it? I’ve always regretted not blogging week-to-week about ‘A Place Further Than The Universe’ when it aired in Winter of this year, because from the very first episode I knew it was something special. I’m not trying to retroactively gain praise for having noticed something early than most did about the aforementioned show but I’m ~kind of~ getting that feeling about this show and I’m not even sure why, except here it’s just to a more specific extent.

There’s a lot of ‘head-on’ shots in this episode. Don’t know if that specific cinematic technique means anything. Maybe to engender us with the protagonist? Or maybe it’s just easier to draw…

Okay and what’s all that supposed to mean? It means I think this is going to be one of the highlights of the Summer season and I’m calling it already but I also think it’s going to be a show that ~feels~ a bit to precocious for its own good for some. Like these are some quirky girls, and it’s all very deliberate, like we’ve got the aloof and quirky dreamer with a bit of a sad past, we’ve got the boy-crazy one, we’ve got the one who throws random French phrases in, we’ve got the old-school radio geek, we’ve got the more grumpy and skeptical one. Plus there’s things like Asuka’s fondness for Chikua snacks and the fact she can bribe her teacher with Miso flavoured soft-boiled eggs that her family makes to get out of trouble. It’s all stuff that’s thrown at you very quickly and very deliberately to endear you to these girls. And you know what? It absolutely works for me, I’m already down for more adventures in ‘dimension hopping’ or whatever it is they’re doing…

Cassette players? What year is this set in?

Does that mean you think it has the potential to be ~as good~ as ‘A Place Further Than The Universe’ since you made the comparison? It’ll be hard, but it’s possible! Also it kind of reminded me of ‘Caligula’ anime in bits too and, well, that’s less of a good comparison so hopefully it doesn’t end up like that show…

So I’ll count this as a recommendation then? If you like your cute anime high-school girls with a heaping side of action, mystery and ~dubious~ science then you’ll probably find something to like here! I thought it was a really fun, well-written and fast-paced first episode that promises a lot while keeping a bunch of unanswered questions and room to grow!

I mean if there’s a bath scene you can bet your ass I’m going to put a screencap of it in!

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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.

Hot.

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:

Subarashii!

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


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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


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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?!

Klaxosaurception.

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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The Abject Utopian – A Novel By Me!

I’ve written a novel called The Abject Utopian, here’s my post about it

What’s this, you wrote a novel and are promoting it on your site? Talk about shameless self promotion… Listen, I worked hard on this thing and I wanted to share it with the world!

Right. So why drag me into this, you could have just done a simple post about it and not in this Question and Answer format. I figured if there’s anybody who’s going to reign in my ego and bring me back down to earth—and fast, it’s you. Besides I have a hard enough time writing normally now that I’ve started writing reviews in this QandA format…

A ringing endorsement for your novel ‘has trouble writing normally’. Put that on the back of the book! It’s a fair assessment…

So what’s this novel of yours about, is it to do with anime at all? Not in the slightest.

That’s surprising… isn’t everything in your life anime related now? I wrote this novel about 3 years ago, when I was taking a break from anime (dark times indeed).

Okay, I’m ~mildly~ more interested now. What is it about then? It’s kind of hard to break down in a succinct manner, basically I’ve been describing it as ‘lesbian sci-fi stream of consciousness’ novel.

Ah… “stream of consciousness”, so it’s pretentious? You could say that, yes.

And who’s the target audience? People who aren’t afraid of intellectually stimulating, narratively complex and sexually charged writing.

All I’m hearing is “pretentious pretentious pretentious”. I fully admit this isn’t a novel for everyone, it’s very niche, kind of impenetrable, overly verbose—

Wow, doing a bang-up job selling this thing. I just want people to be prepared for what they’re getting into, it’s one thing to release something but to ask people to pay for something you’ve written is another thing entirely… it’s difficult and confronting.

But you believe in it, yeah? Honestly I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever written, I’m very proud of it, it’s got a lot of “me” in it, if not literally then hidden between the lines. It helped me deal with some pretty serious things I was going through at the time and even though it may be arrogant to say, I think it’s a worthwhile experience—assuming your an open-minded reader!

Fair enough, so do you want to put in a plot-synopsis for anything? I don’t think it’s a novel that benefits from a tidy plot synopsis…

But you put one on the Amazon page, here let me copy-paste it for you!

“What would be your perfect world? For some the answer is simple, for other’s it’s a quandary. Once there were countless alternate realties, stretching across the breadth of human imagination; a perfect fit for every imperfect vision of the world. But now, as the universe reaches its climactic zenith there remains just 77, and of that number only nine are afforded official ‘utopian’ designation. The once learned and respected organisation responsible for these specific designations has grown bloated and corrupted. The tenth world they intend to proclaim as a ‘functional utopia’ is paying for the privilege; a perversion to the founding ideals, and a promise of dire things for every innocent on every remaining world. Only dissension from within can lay waste to these ill gotten plans but the odds are heavily stacked against—both professionally and personally—for the one woman whom hope falls solely upon.”

There, was that so hard?! It’s not that it was hard it’s just that that plot synopsis isn’t really indicative of what the novel is ~like~. Yes, it’s ‘technically’ what the novel is about, but the novel is so much more than can be summed up in a couple of sentences! I much prefer the second synopsis I wrote for it, it’s also on the page.

‘Kay! Copy-paste and…

“It’s a story in three parts: telling what is, what was and what’s to come. It’s a story of three people: the aggressor, the repressor and the transgressor. It’s a story about three worlds: the world of the living, the world of the long dead and the world about to die. It’s a story in three realities: it exists in honesty, it exists in biography and it never existed to begin with. It’s a story about love, a story about loss and a story about life itself.”

Yeah, that’s suitably more pretentious, good work! Thanks?

Right. So where can people buy it? On Amazon! Here’s a link to the Australian page: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B07DGYPDYH You can also presumably find it on the Kindle store? I haven’t tried searching for it but it should be all set up by now!

And what if people don’t know if this kind of book is for them? You can read a free sample on the store page, just click the cover art, it’s almost two chapters worth so you’ll definitely get an idea of whether this kind of book is for you!

Anything else to add? If you’ve bothered to read this, firstly thank you so much, and if it sounds like something you might want to read then please support me by purchasing the book and leaving a review for it on the store page—even if you hate it! Thanks again!


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