2018s Darling in the Franxx is one of the series that, while not the best of the year, was absolutely one of the most talked about and discussed. Ambitious, Derivative, Flawed, Touching and Infuriating. Franxx is the sort of anime that can only come for creators who truly believed in their work. Its legacy past this year is still to be determined, but out of all the shows this year that I’ve watched, Franxx remains one that still has me coming back to think about.
Today I want to take a look at the two main leads of the story, their relationship and how it represents in my view, a pure example of naive teenage romance. So after the cut let’s take a character dive into Darling in the Franxx’s Hiro and Zero-Two.
(This is a reblog and edit of a previous Character Dive, because hey..this is a bit more relevant now!)
Some series are known for only one or two things. Breakout characters or jaw-dropping moments are often what immortalize a show in the minds of many. I don’t know how many conversations I’ve heard where people have said: “You just gotta watch this show for this character or this one amazing moment. Sometimes these characters become so popular and well beloved that overtake the series they are in, for good or ill. Fonze from Happy Days grew well beyond the show he was in. The character of Fraiser from Cheers found success beyond his first show. In anime, we have seen it in characters like Levi from Attack on Titanor the Gotei 13 from Bleach. Even characters who don’t overtake the show such as Dragon Ball’s Vegeta, or Naruto’s Sasuke Uchiha often find themselves elevated to a higher status because of their breakout.
Today we’ll be talking about just such a character, a character that not only completely dominates the entire show, but almost single handily can be credited for its success. I am course talking about Shimoneta’s Anna Nishikinomiya. Let’s get into it after the cut.
MASSIVE SPOILER ALERTS FOR THE PLOT AND TWISTS OF SHIMONETA, YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!
Now that I’ve managed to pull myself away from my Super Smash Bros coma, it’s time to jump into the well of character dives again!
I love being able, to sum up, things in a few words. For some reasons the idea of taking an anime or character and just breaking it down into a sentence and a few words that encapsulate it just works for me. We live in a time where video and written essays can go on for ages (I’m guilty of this too!) and I have always been a ‘cut to the chase’ sort of guy. Skip the bullshit, get to the point.
Which is why for our next character I love that I can sum her up in one perfect word. So after the cut let’s take a dive into Date A Live’s leading lady: Tohka Yatogami.
It is easy to hate on things, but it is even harder to admit that something you hate or dislike actually has some redeemable qualities. While we can dismiss pieces of art and entertainment as bad and never think about them, it is the work that is flawed or has a moment of greatness that leaves you with something to chew on. Hence despite my heavy dislike of the series, there is one scene in Shinmai Maou no Testament that stands out as a shining example of possibility and potential. However, before we talk about the said scene, we need to take a small detour and speak out two things: Anime blue-balls, and Shinmai’s Basara Toujou. Let’s get into it after the cut.
(THE VIDEO CLIP PRESENTED IS VERY NOT-SAFE-FOR-WORK. PLEASE WATCH WITH DISCRETION)
She’s a character who plays more of the third wheel for the majority of the Fate visual novel, yet she was popular enough to have her own spin-off that is the longest piece of Fate-related work ever made. She has an adorable design that sells countless pieces of merchandise, but a backstory that is marked by betrayal, disappointment, and abandonment, unless you watch her spin-off.
She can be a character forged by a centuries-long ambition but born like any other child in this world. A girl whose parents choose power over her safety, but instead directs her anger at a man who had nothing to do with it. Or she is someone whose life was more important than great power, who was given the chance to be a normal girl and experience the values of friendship, love, duty, and commitment.
Either way, she’s one of the most popular characters in the Fate franchise, and my personal favorite female anime character of all time. After the cut let’s take a dive into Fate Stay Night’s: Illyasviel von Einzbern.
(SPOILERS FOR FATE ZERO, FATE PRISMA ILLYA, AND ALL THREE ROUTES OF THE FATE VISUAL NOVEL)
Her popularity is massive, her design is iconic. She’s an example of gender-flipping done right. Unlike the rest of the cast, her influence can be felt in almost every single Fate anime that has been created. She has countless lines of merchandise that have made millions. She has inspired several knock-off characters within her own universe and, she has two excellent voice actors. Quite frankly, she is the type of character that comes around only once in a generation, and whatever you think of Fate Stay Night as a franchise, you cannot deny that this character is a big reason it worked.
Let’s not waste any time, after the cut let’s take a dive into the mascot of Fate, the heroine of the first route, the legendary King Arthur: Saber.
When it comes to anime, there is no greater stock archetype than the Tsundere. If you aren’t aware of what that means, the Tsundere is a type of (usually) female character who presents herself as cold, stand-offish and prone to anger, but behind her mask is a kind, warm and loving person. In terms of romance, they will often be dismissive and hostile to their love interest, but deep down harbor deep and loving affection towards them.
Simply put, if you have ever heard a variation of the phrase: “It’s not like I like you or anything” then you are probably seeing some type of Tsundere.
A fair criticism of the Fate Franchise is that most of its main cast are just stock archetypes and that despite being affected by the story, they don’t really do much to set them apart from the vast sea of other anime males and females. Shirou is the plucky young hero, Sakura is the quiet shy girl, Saber is the strong and duty-bound fighter and so forth. All of these traits have been done in other, possibly better animes. Now while I would argue that Fate does try to wrap these characters with depth and complex emotional stories, I must admit that after watching every single piece of Fate media there is, the cast of Fate Stay Night still feel very…basic.
Now I would argue, as I have done in the past with this years’ How NOT to Summon a Demon Lord, that basic can be good, even great. Sometimes just playing within your limits and doing what you know can lead to some truly great work. As I once heard: “You can eat all the caviar you want, but sometimes you just need ham and eggs.” I think Fate Stay Nightsucceeds in part because it doesn’t try to veer too much outside its comfort zone. Yet from within that zone, they can create wonderfully memorable characters and that is no clearer than with who we are talking about today. After the cut let’s take a dive into Fate Stay Night‘s second leading lady: Rin Tohsaka.
(SPOILERS FOR FATE ZERO, AND ALL THREE FATE STAY NIGHT ROUTES, ESPECIALLY HEAVEN’S FEEL)