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 Post subject: Re: Anime
PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2018 6:08 pm 
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Episode 11

I think I finally know why this comment happened:

TPmanW wrote:
I think Trigger might have a thing or two to say about LGBTQ matters with this series. The setup so far puts them in a good place to push that angle anyway.
Perhaps we'll see that the Franxx can support a pistil and stamen in reverse configuration? Heck, they might even go all free love on us and have a Franxx with 3+ pilots.

This episode explains why you might say something like that. I mean, I still think it's going to fall on the negative end of the spectrum, given the fairly utter failure of Ikuno/Ichigo and the treatment thereof, but at least now I know why you might wish to address it.

This was another “lower deck” episode. While it was mostly focused on Mitsuru, it also covered Futoshi, Ikuno, and Kokoro. That means that unless Miku gets her own episode (seeing as she didn't really share in Zorome's) we've covered all of team secondary characters and will be back to main plot next episode, whether it has to do with the ominous thing being built in this episode or not. Unless it turns out to be the final arc, the road to Gran Crevasse kind of needs to start soon in order to have good weight to it.

I'm sorry, I STILL don't like or feel for Mitsuru. HOW many years has he held a grudge over something that conventional wisdom suggests should be impossible? (and conventional wisdom we're given no narrative reason to question since I oddly think it would be kind of against what seems to be the central messages to do so). I get it, being straight-up forgotten has to have stung, but it takes a special kind of bitter to keep that burning so hot for so damn long. He near opens the episode basically quoting Homura Akemi's “I won't rely on anyone anymore.” philosophy, but while Homura had a constant avalanche of failures, of everyone else breaking before her, you have one incident and... ok, it's not entirely little, but... it's little. And it's old. Homura earned that bitterness, and unlike Mitsuru she existed in a setting and a story where she could honestly stand on her own (or at least make a good-faith try at it), so it made sense that she could form and keep that mentality. Zero Two could have pulled it off, and kind of does with her constant memento mori/“just statistics”/weaklings die talk, but Mitsuru has neither sufficient justification nor a solid stand. And while he turns around and might grow to be less unpleasant thanks to associating with Kokoro now, it would take some twelve labors level herculean effort for me to actually like him. And really that was what made this episode kind of fall flat for me: I was distracted from potential good material by the fact that I wanted the camera off that guy.

Futoshi, meanwhile, reaffirms his position as the extremely poor man's Goro. He has none of Goro's grace or savvy: he loses his temper and breaks down in tears and such, but he does still clearly put the needs of others above himself. The fact that he's able to connect properly with Ikuno, even while screaming about Kokoro, is actually kind of an achievement. I feel sorry for him, but I think that while this episode goes out of its way to make him look pathetic and worthless, he'll pick himself back up and do his best from now on, as he has up to this point.

Apparently all Franxx can go into pistil-only Stampede mode? I thought that was just a Zero Two thing, but maybe Zero Two is just the only one who can survive/fight mostly effectively under such conditions.

Nana said what I was already thinking: Dr. Franxx is throwing a spanner in the works. It's what he wants, to overthrow APE's philosophy if not their technical rule.

Based on this Gutenberg Class, I'm wondering if Conrad Class aren't always part of a hive/hive mind. In episode 3 there was the big brood mother sphere, and here they're merged into a Gutenberg with a single core. That would explain why they're not 100% unique like other Klaxosaurs, they're one Klaxosaur with a lot of bodies.

Yellow Blood Cells aren't the doom plague, they're apparently correlated with better Franxx-piloting ability. Having too many is bad, though (Episode 5, Hiro's condition). Makes me wonder if Zero Two's not entirely human nature gives her a higher tolerance. Maybe they're both?

Speaking of Zero Two, while she's been a bit out of focus in the Lower Deck episodes, the two small bits she got here were pretty good. They're building up that something's really eating at her, so when that pays off, it will have the weight it needs (assuming it pays off well, of course). At the end, though, I liked her brief little talk with Hiro. “til death do us part”, eh? I wonder if Zero Two knows what she's referencing. Probably. If this show doesn't feature the two of them if not walking down the aisle than at least having some sort of post-need-for-pilots reaffirmation of that, something will have gone wrong.

Most critical out of this episode, babies don't happen anymore. Human reproduction is off, at least as we know it. So presumably adults aren't conventionally mortal? Or maybe humanity is just a dying race, kept afloat not by true immortality but by life extension. Millions of people slowly rotting away in skinner boxes that will keep them going, but not forever. I don't think APE is so blindingly stupid or transparently evil as to be a voluntary human extinction group, especially since with the Klax it would be easy to lay down and die. Maybe they're deep into cloning and part of the experimental nature of Squad 13 is having them be new individuals rather than recreations of their predecessors?

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 Post subject: Re: Anime
PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2018 10:22 pm 
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Yeah, it's pretty hard to back Mitsuru in his grudge. He may have put his life on the line to get better, but how much of that was really on Hiro? If Mitsuru didn't up his performance somehow, then I suspect he may have ended up on the cutting room floor. Now I am picturing an actual "cutting room" for children. Thanks Tevish.
Futoshi as the destitute man's Goro? Heh.
I like the clone theory.

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 Post subject: Re: Anime
PostPosted: Fri Aug 03, 2018 9:07 pm 
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TPmanW wrote:
Now I am picturing an actual "cutting room" for children. Thanks Tevish.

Hm, I think Ellia might have one of those. If she doesn't, I guess she could borrow APE's :evil:


Episode 12

And with that, the show steps into new crazy. Which I don't exactly mind. Most of it had been set up very well. For one, we return to the Garden and confirm that no, Naomi was not sent back, in the exact weak payoff I was anticipating before, cementing the cold uselessness of her character. I'm kind of disappointed I recall her name when it took me so long to learn some of the others enough to feel comfortable writing them (and I screwed up Kokoro for an episode or two of these writeups). But that is, of course, small potatoes.

The big deal is Zero Two and... yeah, just everything about Zero Two. The action in this episode was also really good. Even in the previous hard fought battles, like Episode 6 and 11, the fighting had a grandiose, larger-than-life feel to it. Here, even though everything is still pulling off the same high-anime fighting moves, the action feels damnably intense, harsh, and maybe even gritty. The new environment helps – the snowy forest provides a more dynamic battleground than the flat dead desert ever did, with numerous obstacles and finite lines of sight. The cinematography also helps, with a lot of dutch angles throughout and, as well, what I would call “enough” closeups – not so many that you can't understand the fight choreography or see what's going on, but enough that the speed of the action is really felt. Sure, Zero Two and Hiro fly really fast while spouting innuendos in Episode 4, but the way you see them move never feels quite as sharp as it does here. Of course, Zero Two herself is giving her all for the harshness. Her bloodthirsty attitude plays over all the fight scenes, and she's constantly topping herself with just how uncomfortable she can make the slaughter. But the intensity of the action isn't the biggest point.

I love that while a spiraling descent of reveals, this is mostly properly set up confirmation and explanation of things that have been seeded all the way from Episode 1 in some cases, letting you put the pieces together fairly well. For instance, Zero Two is degenerating. It's made clear in this episode and explained as “Saurification” and something she suffers normally, accelerated by the pairing with Hiro. That's been coming since the end of Episode 6 where she talks about having to kill more Klaxosaurs, and at least since the lower deck episodes where she dodged her tests and focused on her monstrous appearance, to the point of recognizing that she was degenerating or becoming more monstrous when she was examining her fangs in Episode 11. It could start happening to Hiro from riding with her?! OK, that's new, but again... yellow blood cell count spikes rather than dropping like everyone else (who was consumed and died), and the importance of Yellow Blood Cells has been established since, so I guess that makes sense. It also explains Zero Two's reticence to go in for testing. Honestly, despite her having a serious breakdown this episode I still see her in a primarily positive light, and it feels like she was fighting it to avoid having her happiness with Hiro broken up by the cruel reality of her situation. After all, she clearly thinks that killing Klaxosaurs can retard the process, reverse it, and even make her fully human, so being deep into denial and/or bargaining about it makes sense. But Zero Two's degeneration isn't the biggest point.

There's also the interpersonal dynamics. I touched on this – I think at least until the last scene she was trying to hold on and hold out against testing that would sound the death knell for her and Hiro. Once she got tranquilized and subjected to it all the same, she turns radically more aggressive (Even worse than Episode 11), and when that doesn't seem to get her anywhere, she starts really lashing out at Hiro. Whether she's trying to push him away once an ending seems inevitable or whether she's acting out of impotent rage at the cosmos, it's clear she's in at least as much pain as she could inflict on him or anyone else. The confession scene at the lake was especially good – it was easy to feel Hiro's care and desperation, and it was also easy to understand, on an emotional level, why Zero Two wouldn't be in any state to accept such feelings. It's agonizing and yet so natural that, confronted with being told Hiro loves her when she can't love (or even tolerate) herself, she'd go to offering the part of her that she can believe a human would want. When that goes south, Zero Two enters one hell of a black rage, smashing all the mirrors, terrifying Ichigo out of talking to her (granted this may be because Ichigo is horribly ineffectual), and everything ultimately comes to a head in the final battle of the episode, where she breaks entirely and seems to turn on Hiro. But while seeing Zero Two burn down everything she's built with Squad 13 and Hiro is pretty dynamite, that's not the biggest point

The biggest point is The Red Girl. I'm just going to go out on a limb and assume what we were 90% told right at the end but had every reason to suspect before: she's Young Zero Two. Red Girl had been one of the “Low key” mysteries of the show all the way from Episode 1, from the very first scene pretty much. We saw her in front of a tree while Zero Two was narrating about her thoughts on the Jian (and that she found it beautiful, recall). She's in the opening, clasping hands with a human (presumably Young Hiro based on the framing), and I think we may have seen another in-episode glimpse or two. All the same, it would be easy to not consciously notice it. In fact, I didn't list Red Girl as one of the Mysteries when I made the tally back in Episode 6: I just assumed that it was Young Zero Two and eventually we'd get some flashbacks and a little backstory for her. Wow was it a good deal more relevant than that.

I'm going to lead with some wild speculation: Hiro was mindwiped/subjected to induced amnesia at a particular point in his early childhood. My evidence comes from this episode (with some setup from the last episode) and ties into Zero Two's final pre-mind-meld line and the whole Red Girl deal. First is Mitsuru. We know Mitsuru went into the lab, and when, and why, and we know that Hiro 'forgot his promise'. In that flashback in episode 11, Hiro looked troubled and confused at Mitsuru's reminder. In this episode, he looked troubled and confused that Mitsuru had ever gone to the lab when that seems to be decently common knowledge among the other Parasites. Now, while I would normally have credited Hiro not being the kind of person to just forget even a pinky swear last episode, there could have been a lot of reasons why he reacted to Mitsuru that way. Perhaps he had been subjected to a little 're-education', perhaps something else was really weighing on his mind, perhaps he just hit his head, who knows. With losing the fact that Mitsuru ever went to the lab, though? He's clearly missing a chunk of data from a time late enough in his life that everybody else has it. Now what about the Red Girl. We see a memory scene of Hiro and Ichigo sharing what one presumes to be a picture book (though I believe they titled it “the Golden Bough”, which is NOT). In this episode, we're also remided of Zero Two's fascination with Picture Books (which was first brought up in the opening episodes, I can't remember which of them) by her making a frantic search for such a volume. Of course, she doesn't have access to check the Young Parasites Facilities. That Picture Book would lead Hiro himself to the Tree. The mistletoe tree in the Garden is a place Hiro wanted to go because of the Picture Book, thinks he hasn't gone, but when he goes there we get two things. First, it's the tree we saw the Red Girl in front of in Episode 1. Second, Hiro feels a huge sense of deja vu, enough to make him question whether or not he actually should have any memories connected to the place. We see the Red Girl at the tree again in the scene, presumably from Zero Two's memory (and Hiro's?), and he says he's seen the exact scene before, but seems distraught at that.

Right before things go to crazy town, Zero Two talks about meeting her “darling from back then”, and that should make everything click if it hadn't already: The hand holding in the opening, Hiro's scattered memories, Zero Two's strange drive, and possibly even Hiro's bizarre compatibility with her likely have their root in this incident: When they were both children, Hiro and Zero Two encountered one another, meeting under the mistletoe tree (Symbolism! Kissing!). Hiro shared the picture book with her (hence her fascination with picture books – she's looking for THAT picture book) and they forged a strong bond. But Hiro doesn't remember, at least not consciously, any of this (or other things that were going on at the same time, like the promise with Mitsuru), so clearly that block of memories has been removed or, given the deja vu, forcibly repressed. It's possibly Zero Two didn't really remember either: she only mentions 'back then' while having a complete mental breakdown, and her quest for picture books might be following the same phantom memory that brought Hiro to the tree. True, it's possible that something terrible enough could have happened that repressed memories are just a thing, but when an Omniscient Council of Vagueness is involved, a good rule of thumb is to never attribute to strange “would be a cheat in a mystery novel” flukes what can adequately be explained by malice.

If Zero Two re-awakened those memories earlier (like Hiro seems to with the mind meld at the end), possibly in part before the scene at the lake, that would explain why she turned on Hiro – he doesn't remember and it's not like he's got any features remarkable enough for her to know it's the same person, especially if her own thoughts are not totally clear (and they aren't. She's not thinking clearly.). So from her perspective, she's shackled to an impostor now, the quest she's been following the faint dream of put on hold indefinitely and defied by this person.

Except it's not an impostor, it's the right guy. She finally found what she was looking for and neither of them could really know it. The episode ends with their voices coming into synch with the memory of Red Girl Zero Two at the tree, so presumably they'll both come out of the mind meld knowing the truth, but getting there has been... well, one hell of a ride, and resolving that still doesn't fix a lot of things, like her physical degeneration, Hiro's physical degeneration, and Ichigo. Yeah, I list Ichigo as a thing that needs to be fixed. You do not hand all the information about everything bad about Zero Two and Hiro being together to the most unstable parasite with a massive Hiro-shaped weak point and expect things to turn out well. Doubly so after the realspace lines that lead up to the mind meld, which Ichigo can presumably hear, when she WON'T be privy to any reconciliation that happens in magical memory land. Last known information she's got: Zero Two is legitimately trying to kill Hiro. Not just passively, deliberately. I normally would trust Ichigo's leadership about as far as I could throw her (she's tiny, so that's a nonzero distance I guess. Do I have to do it shot put style, or can I grab by the belt and collar and swing her around Hammer Throw style? I'd get a better distance that way. Are there regulations for Ichigo-tossing? Maybe it would be better to flip her end over end like a tiny caber...). When Hiro is involved, much less at stake, I trust her about as far as I could throw Delphinium (which is obviously NOPE.). She is going to lash out, and while I can't say it's totally unjustified, given the information she has, she's probably going to prove a fairly big obstacle if she does not want to hear any explanations, excuses, or ways forward that don't involve breaking up Hiro and Zero Two.

There is a heck of a lot riding on just how the glorious mess this episode made gets cleaned up.

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 Post subject: Re: Anime
PostPosted: Fri Aug 03, 2018 10:48 pm 
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Oh this will get interesting very soon.

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 Post subject: Re: Anime
PostPosted: Sat Aug 04, 2018 11:01 am 
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An Aside

In light of recent events, our thoughts go out to a certain beloved, lovestruck, pink-haired, dangerously insane young lady (no, not Yuno Gasai). We wish her a speedy recovery from mental breakdown and degenerative Saurification.

Spoiler


On to Episode 13.

Pre-viewing thoughts

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Last edited by Tevish Szat on Sat Aug 04, 2018 12:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Anime
PostPosted: Sat Aug 04, 2018 11:57 am 
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It's probably best to put that image in a spoiler tag.

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 Post subject: Re: Anime
PostPosted: Sat Aug 04, 2018 2:40 pm 
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TPmanW wrote:
It's probably best to put that image in a spoiler tag.

:shifty:

Episode 13

That was basically what I expected from last episode. Let's check shall we?

Quote:
When they were both children, Hiro and Zero Two encountered one another, meeting under the mistletoe tree (Symbolism! Kissing!). Hiro shared the picture book with her (hence her fascination with picture books – she's looking for THAT picture book) and they forged a strong bond. But Hiro doesn't remember, at least not consciously, any of this (or other things that were going on at the same time, like the promise with Mitsuru), so clearly that block of memories has been removed or, given the deja vu, forcibly repressed.

Alright, I had the events wrong but the ideas right: the picture book was Zero Two's, not the Golden Bough from last episode that talked about the mistletoe tree. Instead it was “The Beast and the Prince” (also the title of the episode) which reads pretty much like a slight reworking of “The Little Mermaid” – nonhuman girl falls in love with human prince, is made more human like by a witch at a painful price and ultimately loses what happiness she'd thought to gain. I liked that their encounter was more meaningful than a chance encounter under the Mistletoe Tree – it was a deliberate act of defiance on Hiro's part, and one that while not presaged in earlier episodes, makes sense with his character. We know he's an empathetic person, and that he was a lead-by-example sort of leader in his younger days, so it makes sense that even as a kid (perhaps ESPECIALLY as a kid who, by being a teen-code, has been largely spared repercussions for his previous defiance) he wouldn't just sit by when he knows that someone basically innocent is in pain.

I also really like how a lot of the kids' time on the loose mirrors scenes we see later, in a chronological sense: Zero Two's insistence on keeping her “name” makes a lot of sense with the fact that's one of the things she's holding on to (And “Oni” as the other suggested name is a nice touch given the mythical creature she resembles, especially in her younger Red Girl state). Hiro giving her the candy mirrors pretty exactly the scene where Zero Two feeds Hiro in episode 2 and sets up her obsessive love of sweet things (she clearly had no culinary appreciation up to then, seeing as she sticks a live rat in her mouth), giving heavier meaning to pre-existing material rather than trying to just generate everything wholecloth in less than half an hour. To an extent I wish I was taking notes while watching because I feel like there were a few more little moments of payoff like that. I'll be honest, I love it when a story structure comes together.

Also of note we have a childhood marriage promise, and Hiro and Zero Two share blood – Zero Two tastes Hiro's (we presume) when she bites him in the scene with the rat, and Hiro hers when he licks her wound after she scrapes her knee. This is at least symbolically important, but so far nothing in this show has stopped at symbolism so maybe it's another piece of the “Can pilot with Zero Two safely” puzzle. The writers aren't exactly what you'd call subtle, after all.

The Picture Book opens up a “dilemma” for Hiro and Zero Two as much as the shared memory sets up their reunion – but the last episode gave us an easy solve: If Hiro keeps riding with Zero Two he'll suffer Saurification and “become the same kind of creature as her”. The beast doesn't need to become human if her prince becomes a beast, now does she? I don't think Hiro is going to hesitate to accept such a fate if it means being with Zero Two forever, the problem is everyone else. Nana and APE high command could try to block that, but more potent is Ichigo: immediately at hand, clearly berserk, glitching out (we see Delphinium's face plate going static-y) and yet still at it enough to, unless I missed my mark, rip an arm off of Strelizia when we'd never to this point seen a Franxx receive major structural damage. In the moment, she does kind of have every reason to be pissed off and acting out, but I feel that she's not going to listen to anything from here on... least of all Hiro's wishes. Ichigo doesn't really care about what other people, up to and including Hiro, want; that's what makes her such a :b: character. Goro is probably going to have to keep her from outright murdering Zero Two in the next few seconds, and as the aftermath of these events sifts out, she is going to be the most front-and-center object preventing things from working out.

In small side notes, Dr. Franxx was at his most Mad-Science-y today, especially while conducting the experiment on Zero Two. That actually seemed a bit off. I mean, true, he's a Mad Scientist, but he'd previously seemed like a decently caring, empathetic person, somebody who unlike APE respects the individual and wouldn't be cheering “Subarashii!” at acts of cold-blooded torture like Bondrewd the Novel. Even his other appearances in the same episode, intervening behind the scenes for Hiro, seemed more in line with his previous appearances in which he was downright fatherly to Zero Two (talking about her wish coming true, giving Hiro advice on staying with her forever, trying to keep Nana from interfering with the lives of the Parasites). Did you just forget your medication that day, Doctor?

Also why are you a Cyborg? There are no other Cyborgs. I expect this to be addressed, either by explaining or by introducing other cyborgs (Maybe the “Geezers” at APE, like Papa, are cyborgs under their fancy outfits? That would make sense if it's the final stage of life extension, and Dr. Franxx has to be ANCIENT based on what we know about the plantation system.)

Ichigo's naming and first real meeting with Hiro was also freeking adorable. There was a lot of adorable this episode, which I appreciate when Yuuki Yuuna is a Hero is busy punching me in the gut. But more than that, he concern about being different struck me. With what she said about how the other kids acted, and asking if she should get more injections, it seemed like the non-experimental parasites were given some sort of emotion-dampening treatment. Actually, it seemed like they'd said “hi” to a Dementor, but that's neither here nor there. Now this doesn't quite jive, the leader of Squad 26 still had emotions (he got mad at Zero Two for costing him his partner in the past) even if you assume the Old Lady and Nine Alpha kind of don't, but if it is just numbing, I guess that's alright. This also continues the theme from episode 10 about individuality versus conformity.

We also saw Mitsuru's promise scene from Hiro's point of view and... wow that was nowhere near as big as Mitsuru made it out to be. The promise itself was less heartfelt and personal than Mitsuru remembered (and easy to intrepret as squad mate rather than partner), and the situation was much less in Mitsuru's control – it's outright said that he was on the chopping block and the Elixir was his only chance of staying. HE SAYS IT. For somebody who wanted to not rely on anyone else he sure wasn't very good at recognizing something he had to do for his own sake.

Also, the Pretentious filter was back in full Episode 1 force this episode, but I didn't mind it as much here because the episode was, rather than current events, a dive into the (repressed) memories of our leads, playing out and overlapping.

I think I remember TPmanW not liking this episode, but I really did. It wasn't exactly new or creative material, but it was a good explanation of what happened in Hiro's Lost Time and how things came to the end we see. So far, that's something Darling in the Franxx has done really well: tying itself together in a tight manner, so that all the setup (even things you didn't realize were setup) amounts to something, and all the payoff was set up. It's not so brilliant that I'm really wowed by it (in fact, I find it to be good “Brain food” material, something that's got enough there to provoke thought, but isn't great enough to generate creative despair at the thought of being unable to do stronger work. MST3K has a similar response; the comedy is good and engaging, but the movies are so bad you KNOW you can do better) but it is a strong core with a good grasp of storytelling. I am becoming more confident in my remaining predictions, because they're primarily predicated not on what I think is going to happen but rather on what I know has to happen or not happen in order for the core of the story to be functional. The potential always exists for this (or any) show to bomb, right up to the final episode, but right now it's a solid project.


PS/Edit: Oh, and what is up with Hiro before his meeting with Zero Two? OK, he's a teen, and that's special, but Ichigo's code is right next to his. And one below. Shouldn't she be the same kind of special that had Hiro being constantly tested BEFORE his run-in with Zero Two? Unlike the Cyborg Franxx thing I've stopped expecting we'll get an answer to this, but I'll be pleased if we do.

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 Post subject: Re: Anime
PostPosted: Sat Aug 04, 2018 5:08 pm 
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Yeah, I HATED this episode. Looking back though, I think part of that may have been in retrospect. Certain things you alluded to run contrary to what I thought happened in episode 13, so I may be conflating it with one of the next episodes. It's that or things just look harsher when you're looking back on them.
I think I may have to rewatch it before I can solidify my opinions.
Pretty sure I'll remain convinced it was pretentious and boring though.

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 Post subject: Re: Anime
PostPosted: Sat Aug 04, 2018 8:05 pm 
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Look out, it's a double feature today!

Episode 14
Let me get this out of the way first, the pretentious directing is still cranked up to maximum, and it's not as acceptable here as it was with the framing of the previous episode. Basically the same problem being overblown as Episode 1.

Zero Two may be a monster, but Ichigo is one hell of a green-eyed Monster. Of course, we knew that already. Her actions for the vast majority of this episode are entirely based on what we knew going in and at least she had the restraint to grab Zero Two out of Strelizia by hand rather than by giant robot hand.

On Zero Two's side... this is being framed as, and I think it legitimately should be, her lowest point. In essence, the meaning of her life comes crashing down around her ears, and through a chain of bad to worse she stands to lose everything. Initially, when the confrontation in the hall occurs, the rest of Squad 13 isn't exactly behind Ichigo, at least not her vehemence (even if they follow implicitly what Leader says to do), and even question her because some of them probably considered Zero Two a friend. For this episode, that's something we could have used more of: Zero Two actually bonding with non-Hiro members of Squad 13, at least from their points of view. She's angry and :r: and of course she lashes out, declaring that none of that matters. She throws away the teammate bonds in a bid for her Darling... and she loses. So she fights harder... and she loses. So she fights harder still... and she has a chance until she sees victory ripped away from her. Finally, justified from her point of view, she lashes out. She gives in to being a monster, rather than a human, and that costs her more than anything. She even understands, after that: this is her punishment. Every step she's taken, she's dug her hole deeper and now karma has caught up. By acting in a monstrous fashion, she gets treated like a monster. I think her ultimate awareness of the fact is what's the most critical. She was willing to hurt her darling just to have her darling, and she realizes how wrong headed that was, and it breaks her.

This is in sharp contrast with Ichigo. Ichigo is also willing to hurt Hiro to have him – she says as much herself, that she's fine with being hated as long as she can keep him away from Zero Two, despite knowing absolutely that Hiro wants to see her. Unlike Zero Two, though, Ichigo has no epiphany about how monstrous she's acting, about the fact that she is doing emotionally what Zero Two was doing physically. Watching Ichigo this episode is like playing Zero Two's arc throughout the show in reverse – she starts by lashing out, frightening everyone, and hurting the person she loves, and ends by making the same pitch to Hiro that Zero Two did at the beginning of the show. “I can give you all you ever wanted and more, just be mine.” It's actually kind of creepy – not her confession; the actual confession scene itself was really well done and gets out a lot of the depth of her feelings and actually helps to keep her in a state where... I don't hate her. I hate Mitsuru, but despite all the bad things she does and her staggering inability to recognize when she's the pot calling the kettle black, I don't hate Ichigo. I think she's a person dealing with something amazingly difficult to handle and, yeah, not doing it well or in a way that is anything other than messed up and maladaptive, but even now I still feel for her, at least a little. Like Zero Two, she's in pain, and not “Oh I'm so angsty” pain like Mitsuru.

What's creepy is the start of the apple carving scene, where Ichigo is talking so calmly about how Hiro must hate her, but that she's done what she's done despite that and has every intention of continuing to do it. This isn't any of her screaming desperation, which I grant her, this is coldly calculated, and it comes off as abusive, and I think it's supposed to come off as abusive because, again, Ichigo in this episode is Zero Two throughout the show played in rewind and Zero Two hasn't been a shining beacon of not hurting Hiro.

Though, of course, when Zero Two and Hiro went together, Hiro had to step up every time. He begged in episode 1, he fought for her in episode 4, he was given a chance to get “off this ride” in episode 5. Ichigo... doesn't give Hiro a choice, and in fact knows she is taking away the choice he would make if she let him.

As for Hiro, well he's mostly stuck in bed this episode, but I think I like him a lot better here and in Episode 13 than I did before he got his memories back. Previously, he'd taken the initiative at least (rather than so many anime protagonists who get dragged along the whole way) but he also didn't have much of a character beyond “I want to pilot a Franxx” into “I want to be with Zero Two”, and in the early episodes he was really beaten down, while he fell out of focus between the Beach and the Garden Now, though, the clever rule-breaking we saw with Hiro as a kid has resurfaced. In Episode 13, we see how much the naming process meant for him, and how thoroughly it went against principles. It wasn't just a quirk, it was a minor rebellion. Then we see him rescue Zero Two because his moral fiber is stronger than his loyalty. He hears soldiers talking that they're to kill him if he resists but when they catch him and Zero Two at the Mistletoe Tree, he still steps in front of her, willing to put himself on the line for what's right. That Hiro is the Hiro we see in this episode, maybe a bit older and wiser but in form as somebody who's not going to take injustices lying down. While I think he still considers Ichigo a friend (seeing how he protects her from Zero Two's rampage and calls Zero Two out), he escapes the hospital room to defy her orders like she's the faceless authority of APE. Good on him. This is the Hiro I want to see, and the one I think we're going to need to see going forward (since APE are obviously the bad guys).

The episode ends without reconciliation, and... I honestly don't know how long it's going to take. I know it has to happen. The themes of the show can't leave Hiro and Zero Two apart forever, but... it could be an episode (even a fraction of an episode) or it could be an arc, one of the probably two full arcs we have left. We don't see how Hiro responds to Ichigo's confession and while it's obviously not going to be an enthusiastic positive I think he's broken up enough that she's not going to be straightforwardly shot down either.

Mitsuru is trying so hard to come back from being a horrible unlikable prick, I can almost tolerate the fact that he gets lines at all. Almost.

As a final note... it's brief, amazingly brief, but when Goro sees Ichigo confessing to Hiro, kissing him, just for a second... Goro smiles. If I were more cynical about the character I'd say he expects her to get shot down but I think Goro is honestly happy either way: in one case, Ichigo gets to be happy and in the other case she can actually start healing and getting over Hiro. And while Goro would probably prefer the latter, I think seeing Ichigo happy is worth far more to him than having her is. Goro... you're too good for her, but I know that won't dissuade you.

That's three (IMO) strong dramatic episodes of Darling in the Franxx in a row, something that hadn't really happened before (4-5-6 was a good run but 5 was just a little weaker for basically being the first half of 6). This one hurt, but it hurt in the right ways.

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 Post subject: Re: Anime
PostPosted: Sat Aug 04, 2018 10:24 pm 
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Did I say double feature? I meant triple, apparently.

Episode 15

I'd say the streak continues but... yeah, this one wasn't quite as good as the last few. It had some great stuff, but it also went a little over in places (and not just... I said the pretentiousness was cranked up to maximum last episode, but I was wrong. I was very wrong and I apologized. It may have been on 10 last episode, but this one goes to 11). It was basically Episode 6 all over again, but everything was a little bigger and more resolved. Honestly, I feel like if the show went through rewrites to give a better context to Gran Crevasse and scratch a few of the remaining mysteries, this could have been the end of the show, since it basically finished all our character arcs in a firm way. Since I've been satisfied up to this point, maybe (assuming I ultimately find myself agreeing with TPmanW here) that would be the smart thing: like the Matrix never had any sequels, just say there aren't nine more episodes of Darling in the Franxx. “If you want off this ride, now's your chance”

Let's talk about the mysteries first, then the characters

“Backup”: So, APE in this episode uses an entire plantation as a suicide bomb, after making a comment about the backup being a percent complete, and “liberating them from their flesh”. I'm going back to my cloning guess with a twist – brain uploading. We know adults still have physical bodies, but these comments make me think those bodies are ultimately considered expendable. Not lightly, obviously, but if the same individuals are living through various recreations that house the same minds, which have long since become stale and stagnant. This would make Dr. (Werner?) Franxx make a lot of sense as a cyborg; we know he's not on the same page as APE, so maybe he's refused to abandon his original body for a recreation.

Klaxosaur Cores: I'm going to claim an incoming “called it” – a humanoid figure drops out of a shattered core. Klaxosaurs are piloted and the cores are the pilot pods. Now, I don't think those pilots are normal... the thing that fell out was a vaguely humanoid mass of steaming yellow, and we see what's becoming of Zero Two when she Stampede Modes too hard. I don't know if the Klax Pilot to Klaxosaur process is reversible, but they're clearly more melded with their tech, like the Hideauze/Whalesquids in Gargantia opposed to the core-line humans. I don't know if they're human-derived or legitimately a different race yet, but it seems clear there's a more humanoid intelligence to be had.

That Giant Hand: WHAT THE HECK? OK, it slapped down to reabsorb the mass of cores from the big dopey plantation-flipping Klaxosaur (sparing, by miracle, anyone we actually cared about except maybe the Old Lady from Episode 10 who we saw again). But seriously, logic dictates that if you have a giant slappy hand that can swat a plantation like a fly, it is probably attached to something similarly giant that I would call a “win incoming”. I suspect we're going to fight that thing, and I suspect I'm not going to like it, because I have a fairly low tolerance for absurd escalation. Red Strelitzia was already pushing it this episode

What's up with the Nines: So, Nine Alpha has a pretty clearly masculine voice (and hits on Ichigo to reactions you'd expect from Nine Alpha being male) but drives in the Pistil position. The other Nines also don't look to have a strict Pistil-Stamen relationship the way other Franxx pilots do (and their Franxx don't get faces), and when piloting they manifest phantasmal versions of Zero Two's (small) horns. They also say that one of the other squads (I think 13) is “not bad for humans” suggesting that the Nines are, bluntly, not human. They'd seem to be a degraded version of whatever Zero Two is, much like their Franxx seem to be built as Strelitzia knockoffs. I think she's a natural (or unnatural, but from creation) hybrid, while the Nines are augmented ex-humans (perhaps augmented early) with a whole lot less of what makes Zero Two, well, Zero Two. They also might be “Next generation” Parasites or even humans, given that their identical (but super) Franxx and disregard for what the show holds up as a clear human distinction (Male/Female). They're certainly sinister based on how slimy and gung-ho they act, and there's a decent chance they'll serve as mini-bosses on the road to APE.

And now for the characters

Goro: Has finally had enough of Ichigo's bull and sets up a resolution. Thank you, Goro, you have every reason to be acting so cool, don't let Zorome harshen your mellow.

Dr. Franxx: Maybe he didn't just miss his meds one day – he was seeming a little Bondrewd-ish presiding over the memory wipe of Zero Two and Hiro, while for contrast in the present he was clearly goading Hiro into doing... exactly what Hiro did, really, and I have never doubted that he currently cares for Zero Two. I don't know if working with her humanized him and convinced him to start opposing APE's agenda, or if it simply reminded him of a basic goodness he'd forgotten, or if he was more pointedly under APE's thumb in the past. He also confirms that ingesting Zero Two's blood is the source of Hiro's weirdness so chalk up another one for “nothing's a metaphor, the show's not clever or subtle enough for that.”

Ichigo: “I'm really happy for the two of you”. While crying. Liar. That said, she's probably going to tell that lie to herself from here on. She'll never be happy (though she might settle), but having a mind meld piloting with Hiro finally forced her to face the music regarding the fact that when it comes to the contest for Hiro's heart, she didn't just lose, she was never even a contestant. She tries to refuse it as long as she can, even yelling to not be shown said mind-meld-memory scenes, and she probably gets a little catharsis beating the tar out of Strelitzia/Zero Two before handing Hiro over. Until that turning point, she's exactly the selfish girl we've gotten to know and... I have to admit, kind of enjoy. I wonder if she'll fade into the background after this, or if they'll actually have her grow forward, but if she does grow beyond simply having been forced to accept giving up on Hiro, I hope she keeps her core character.

Hiro: We establish in this episode that yes, Hiro changed after his mind-wipe. And that going forward, he should be back to questioning and exploring. Honestly, knowing that he was a stronger person and that was forcibly taken away from him makes me more tolerant of his weak motivations in the early episodes. Again, to be Zero Two's darling, he has to make a choice. He runs out into fire in the training mech to go to her. I like that he's always had to take action, and I like the implication that he'll be taking action more.

Zero Two: From the deepest pit to the highest summit, huh? While the pretentiousness in this episode was usually just too damn much, I actually liked the shots of Strelitzia's cockpit we got before Hiro goes in: when we see a different angle, it's clear that the only thing really out of whack are the horns (which almost seem to be roots connecting her to the machine) but in the reused front shot with heavy shadow and glowing eyes she looks downright abominable. It reminds me of a few shots from the Fullmetal Alchemist episode “Night of the Chimera's Cry” to the same chilling effect. Then there's her reunion with Hiro and... much like Ichigo's confession last episode, it's perfect. Note for note, I wouldn't see it done any differently with everything that built up to it. Their emotions are perfect, their concerns are perfect, the motion and resolution are perfect... everything that goes on in Strelitzia's cockpit is right in every way. I think that's why I forgive suddenly having a level 2 awesomebot that wrecks everything with the power of love: Like Episode 6, reaching that point was effective enough that it felt earned. (Also theme song of an action show over a dramatic moment, hell yes) I mentioned at the start that this is sort of “Episode 6 all over again, but bigger” and that applies to the conclusion too: They reaffirm everything about Darling in the Franxx that Episode 6 set down. This is a show about love, and the indomitable strength of the human spirit. This is “Together we can do anything.” This is a story that will have, must have, a happy ending.

That said, I see some dark clouds on the Horizon. By my estimation, we have two arcs left: Versus the Gran Crevasse Depths/Klaxosaur Boss (which might be short) and Versus APE. I already covered some of my trepidation with Gran Crevasse Depths talking about the Hand, so let's talk about APE. The problem is that they really did just burn their emotionally effective material. Everyone is where they need to be: Zero Two, Hiro... even Ichigo is at least professing to be at peace and I believe she won't be causing any more trouble. You can't really have the same threat and/or fall for the uplifting rally again... not from the characters. Since the protagonists can no longer shoulder the burden of moving the story forward, that means it falls to the villains as plot bearers and... APE has no personality. They have a more solid theme now, after Episode 10, than they did at the start but Papa isn't really a figure that can do heavy lifting in terms of the story. He has no personality. In fact while the members of the APE council have unique robes/masks, I couldn't tell you from a lineup which one Papa was. I'd guess not the owl/lemur dude who I remember being “the cool one” in Episode 7, but other than that? Yeah, he's a figurehead.

Nine Alpha has a better shot at being a villain who can actually maintain our engagement with the show, with his smooth, smug, snake-like demeanor, but unlike Darth Vader he's not (currently) threatening enough to really face Squad 13 in battle. Heck, I'd bet on Strelitzia (with Hiro and Zero Two together now) against all the Nines, so if they're going to do the work either through Alpha or as the quirky miniboss squad (they have individual, color-coded designs) they are going to need some serious upgrades and something really strong jobbing for them. Maybe if Nine Alpha murders Ichigo (and Goro since doing in Delphinium would be the way that gets their danger level across) that will cement his strength and villain status enough to hold the weight for a few episodes. Even then, it has to come down to Papa and the council at the end and while they can manifest the threat (they have an orbital station we see this episode) they can't really manifest the character we want.

There's also the fact that there are a lot of balls in the air: the nature of Klaxosaurs, APE's treachery, the backup process, finding a win condition for this whole mess, Doctor Franxx... I feel like some of these are going to get dropped. They have nine episodes left, and that SHOULD be enough but the way Darling in the Franxx is paced it doesn't feel like it. I said at the start that maybe it should have ended here somehow (though you'd have to write APE a lot less sinister), but since it doesn't I almost think it should go longer, like twelve more episodes instead of nine. There's a lot to get through and the show likes (and I like this about it) building a solid foundation for everything it does. But then there's already not the character drama to make nine episodes watchable.

I said after last episode that Zero Two and Hiro being split up could have lasted a full arc, and maybe it should have: Seeing Hiro weakly try weakly (and perhaps even, as a pilot like we see with Ichigo in this episode, successfully) to move on despite the constant emotional pain and nagging longing and regret; Seeing Ichigo slowly becoming dissatisfied when she finds she has what she wanted but it's all sour, so that when she has to give Hiro up at the reunion with Zero Two we can believe she really learned her lesson; Seeing Zero Two accept her punishment, accepting her role as a monster while her regret and the tiny, purest drop of live she holds onto keeps her from sliding entirely over the precipice of no return, a rampaging beast driven by sorrow. I said the reunion was perfect, and it was, but that was for when, why, and how it happened. It could have happened in a more powerful way if we had more hang time (say until the end of the Klaxosaur arc that I suspect is coming, rather than Gran Crevasse Door) to really feel the suffering that needed to be redeemed. And even if it wouldn't have been better for that scene and those characters, it would have left us less to go after they got back together, and I could totally accept an upbeat "Champions of hope and love versus APE" last few episodes.

I've really enjoyed Darling in the Franxx up to this point, but I am now more worried than ever about the possibility of a fall to come, because ironically with some of the best moves in the show it has revealed a weak point for the beginning of the end: too much plot left and not enough character to go with it.

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 Post subject: Re: Anime
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2018 12:42 am 
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Upon re-viewing* Episode 13 it wasn't as bad as I remembered. Wasn't there an episode that was mostly picture book scenes? Maybe I'm just overly sensitive to pretension.

I have to say that I totally missed the bit about "backing up" the soldiers on the suicide mission.

I have a somewhat more positive view of Ichigo than you do Tevish. She ain't the most level-headed or selfless girl, but she really does believe that 002 is bad for Hiro. Some of it is her viewing things in a light that reflects her biases, but she also has legitimate cause for concern. She even gets to see more of Zero Two's dark side than the others- a Zero Two freak out, a warning from the Nines about Zero Two's "true nature", and overhearing Nana and Hachi talk about how Hiro's approaching his saurification limit. Ichigo's deeply flawed, but I sympathize with her quite a bit. She may be denying Hiro's wishes, but she does his best interest at heart.

The blood thing was a HUGE red flag for me. Hiro can pilot with 002 because he ingested her blood? Not because of his emotional connection with her? It always looked like these Franxx literally ran off of the relationship between their pilots. They have relationship gauges and everything. But nope, what's in your heart's not as important as what's in your blood.

I really hate the whole childhood marriage promise trope. It's terribly unrelatable, unrealistic and just kind of dumb. (Yes, I know there was no promise. But I'm picking up the same kind of vibes here) I have to cut the show some slack for throwing some real weight behind the not-promise (I swear, in animeland, if you make a joke about it before you were old enough to know what it meant, you are legally required to be a love interest). Still, I think it saps something from everything we've seen of Hiro and Zero Two's relationship that Zero Two only embarked on this venture because she thought he was the child from her past. For her, whether or not he's the kid from back then seems to outweigh everything they've done together since by a huge margin.
The Disney-style "one true love" bit always bugs me.
That Zero Two wants to become human for the sake of what she thinks one guy wants and not because she has an identity crisis, or she wants to fit in, or any other somewhat-reasonable motive really bugs me. It's Mitsuru-depth character motivation. All the things they could have gone with and they choose one that feels the cheapest, least relatable and frankly most pathetic. <sighs>

Mitsuru not done trying to get you to like him. For what it's worth I considered the guy villain material, but ended up being ok with him by the end.

*Feels like I shouldn't need a dash in "re-viewing" but "reviewing" without a dash doesn't really get across that I actually rewatched it. ... I could've just wrote "rewatching" instead. Ah well.

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 Post subject: Re: Anime
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2018 1:25 am 
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I'm not a huge fan of the "One true love" trope here, but I think Zero Two's past played for me because I read it as not entirely being about a childish romance, but the fact that the escape with Hiro was the first kindness and humanity that anyone had shown her. Her first taste that the world could really be anything other than mad science related torture. I mean, the trope that bugs you is absolutely there, but for me it felt more like chasing a dream; you keep on with the quest even if you know it will probably never end -- it just so happened that Zero Two's holy grail was actually put within her reach. I guess the question that will never be answered is this: "How would Zero Two have got along if she never encountered Hiro again?"

To the blood... it seems to be both to me? Emotional connections can up your performance (as we see with the partner shuffle), but so can receiving weird and potentially fatal injections. I think that's why I accept that, but we'll see where they go with it going forward.

And to Ichigo, I totally see your read. These last few episodes, I admit, she was acting largely rationally based on the information she had. It's weird, I've been complaining about her a LOT, but I do like her. I've called her a :b:-aligned hero before, and I do say that I feel strongly both parts of that statement. She's absolutely a heroic character who, even if sometimes seeing the world a little differently than outside observers, wants to do the right thing as she sees it.

The backup wasn't to the soldiers who suicided to stop the big plantation flipper, but to the plantation that suicided to blow a hole in the dome -- so only of "adults", not Parasites. (APE ordered a lot of suicide attacks that episode...)

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 Post subject: Re: Anime
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2018 2:28 pm 
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After going for three yesterday to reach an arc end, no Darling in the Franxx today. Instead, finished off Yuuki Yuuna is a Hero.

I'll keep it short here, because I haven't been doing a running analysis log of the show, but I liked it. It is clearly a Magical Girl show that grew up in a post-Madoka Magica world, and it has a very similar structure. It didn't reach the same heights; it spent a lot of time focused on slice of life and cute girls doing cute things rather than on the Magical Girl/arc building aspects; it didn't have the same stunning visual ambition; the motivations for everything involved were a little bit weaker or at least less developed... but it still had a powerful finish, strong redemption, and a good, hopeful core beneath the pain. It just didn't shine as bright because the darkness wasn't as pronounced to contrast with it.

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 Post subject: Re: Anime
PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2018 8:01 pm 
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So I started Shakugan no Shana today... it certainly takes the "just throw them into the weird stuff deep end" approach. More importantly...

Episode 16

You know, this is the kind of material I was expecting to come after we had actually dealt with the depths of Gran Crevasse, the Beast with the Giant Hand, and whatever was behind the Klaxosaurs (Klaxosaur Princess, apparently.) I mean, especially with the dwindling supplies in our siege team, wouldn't you expect there to be some sort of push or counterattack. I know Strelitzia is awesome, but why are you holding back the “unstoppable” superweapon for over a month?

That said, this is needed material. We needed to see this. I'm just not sure this is the right place for it. I guess if we ultimately need to ally the Parasites with the Klaxosaur Princess (To which I give high likelihood), they have to reach the point where they can stand on their own and make decisions independent of Papa's will before facing her. That was basically what this episode is about. Dr. Franxx (with the support of Hachi, over the protests of Nana) is teaching Squad 13 independence. The lessons are going well, though there does seem to be some serious illness in the ranks: Ikuno had a fever, Miku has a loss of hair color that seemed to bother Zero Two, Futoshi isn't eating/keeping food down (and I don't think that's entirely by choice), Mitsuru is acting nice and conscientious (OK, that's probably not illness), and there's talk of “Child sickness” and limits to the lives of Parasites. I personally think that they're suffering withdrawal from something that would have been part of their normal rations/lifestyle, and that Franxx is deliberately weaning them from Papa's control; psychological, obviously, but also possibly chemical.

Hiro: There actually wasn't a ton of Hiro this episode. He's the first to kind of say what everyone is thinking about how they really can stand on their own, but the sentiment is more powerful when it comes from Zorome of all people. His scenes with Zero Two are good though. Sappy, as Miku points out, but good.

Mitsuru: He's trying so hard to grow up! For the first time, I can actually see him redeeming himself from his awful, awful showing in the first half of the show. He hasn't done it yet, but... I'll keep watching, especially for how he handles Kokoro's obvious affection. I think the introspection he shows this episode suits him, because he was staggeringly un-self aware (as I pointed out in the Episode 13 viewing of the promise scene) in his old philosophy, but (as he basically admits) it was all he really had going for him. Since he's admitted in character that he basically needs to rebuild his whole identity, he might actually do it. I said he'd need Herculean effort to come back from his early showing, but I think he's a couple labors in.

Ichigo: There wasn't a whole lot of her this episode, but what there was, was good. Even though it was a tiny scene, I liked seeing her in the aftermath of the battle, finally giving Zero Two and honest welcome.

Zero Two: I think she's still not sharing everything she knows (with how she reacts, and says nothing, with regard to Miku's hair, and in respect with that the otherwise funny treatment of Ikuno's fever) about living in the world, and the darkness in APE, but I'm hoping there's a good reason for it. I really did love her talk with Hiro around recreating the picture book, about how community (though she doesn't use the word) and acceptance is the kind of “being human” that she really wanted, but didn't know. This mirrors what I said about her back around episode 6/7 and how being part of Squad 13 would be good for her. And it makes sense that it's coming out here, as this is when she's really “joined the party” rather than just being a guest.

Zorome: He's the big one this episode. Zorome is and always has been the most devoted of the Parasites to Papa, or the idea of Papa... or is that now Ichigo? Because Zorome's pride is also well-established, and when he finds he can take pride in himself, for himself, after fishing and cooking, he's the first one to refuse to pray to Papa for what the Parasites earned for themselves. (Ichigo was a little pissed, but I think that's really more just that he's loud, annoying, and kind of interrupted her. I'd be pissed too.) He may be the one who suggests begging Papa for help earlier, but he's also in the camp that's comfortable with being free. If his character had been handled in a more sloppy manner, like we hadn't gotten Episode 10, I'd call this a really lazy turnaround, but the way Darling in the Franxx has been structured, building everything in a fairly meticulous fashion, I feel like I know Zorome enough to say that while his initial refusal to pray was a bit of a surprise, it is something that he would do, because of the reasoning behind how and why he's done it. It's not that his faith in Papa has been cast aside at a moment's notice (see also: over a month), it's that his faith in himself and his squad has risen to match it. There's no conflict for him, but it's setting up that he'll be able to cope when there is. I feel like, as much as they need Zero Two's wisdom, Hiro's concern, Goro's practicality, and Kokoro's kindness, they also need Zorome's ego going forward. He is prideful, but the parasites ought to take pride in their own accomplishments.

Klaxosaur Princess: She doesn't say or do anything this episode, she's just introduced: a humanoid face for the leadership of the Klaxosaurs who appears in a couple split-second cuts. I'm just making a note, because she's obviously going to be insanely critical.

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 Post subject: Re: Anime
PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2018 8:02 pm 
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An Aside: Checking In with the OP/ED
So the OP changed this episode, as you would expect it to if you know anything about how anime runs. I think it's interesting that they use the same song (though I think a new verse?) over some very different imagery. The first OP had a lot of greyscale+red, with a little full color and some additional gold. It was very harsh and stark. The second OP, in addition to being more pretentious and artsy (not that the first one wasn't, but it's an OP they often are even when the show isn't) is much more soothing. I think it's more optimistic: the blue palette, watery imagery, and flowing motion could reflect a change in the tone of the show, away from the harsh and sharp motions of OP 1 and the harshness of the first 15 episodes of the show, particularly with regards to Zero Two. Unless Hiro gets hurt, kidnapped, or presumed dead I think we've seen Zero Two's last berserk rampage (though I would actually be OK with seeing that: while Zero Two is butt-kicker prime, it's always been Hiro who has to go to her, and save her if not from external danger then from herself. I'd be OK if we get reunion drama out of the last arc by forcing Zero Two to make her way through hell to Hiro instead. I think he'd make a fine damsel in distress for her.)

The Ending is back in the 1-6 ED universe (though 8-14 may have been, it was just the girls trying on dresses), the High School AU. Except this time it's got a lot more weird imagery, including having both regular and hornless Zero Two. Again, I find myself weirdly intrigued by the possibilities of this faintly glimpsed realm. Is High School Zero Two a Chuunibyou whose headband-with-horns is an act? Is it legitimate urban fantasy where she remains a nonhuman creature? Do the characters follow different paths when their backgrounds and living situation are so necessarily and fundamentally divorced from the ones we see in the main continuity? This needs to be explored.

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 Post subject: Re: Anime
PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2018 11:57 pm 
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I definitely didn't come onto the idea that the parasites were suffering from withdrawal.

I've started watching FLCL Progressive and it looks like it will be one heck of a ride. Anybody want me to keep them posted?

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 Post subject: Re: Anime
PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2018 12:23 am 
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FLCL is one of those shows that I've heard a lot about but know nothing about. Maybe I'll check it out... I wouldn't mind some non-spoiler commentary at this stage.

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 Post subject: Re: Anime
PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2018 1:19 am 
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FLCL Progressive is a sequel to FLCL, which I haven't watched either. You can watch the first couple episodes on Adult Swim's site for free though.

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CotW is a method for ranking cards in increasing order of printability.

*"To YMTC it up" means to design cards that have value mostly from a design perspective. i.e. you would put them in a case under glass in your living room and visitors could remark upon the wonderful design principles, with nobody ever worring if the cards are annoying/pointless/confusing in actual play

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 Post subject: Re: Anime
PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2018 1:59 pm 
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FLCL is a weird, short anime about coming of age. For context, I think it was made by the same people who made Neon Genesis Evangelion, probably as a break from all the gloom and seriousness of said show. There are consistent themes of precociousness, transference of emotional attachment, and using electric guitars as bludgeoning instruments. It's pretty silly, with surreal elements liberally sprinkled throughout. The first season is only 6 episodes long, so you can marathon the entire thing in an evening or so.

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 Post subject: Re: Anime
PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2018 7:34 pm 
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Episode 17

So this episode (Return of the Baby Book) is going to piss a lot of people off, because it hits a touchy subject for a lot of people – especially, it's seemed to me, a lot of people in nerdier circles (which would include western Anime fans). And because of the nature and message of the show overall – which I don't think is a bad message, especially not in the context of the work's home society – it has to come down in a particular way that's going to piss those same people off even more than just touching the subject. So let's get right to it.

The centerpiece of this episode is one thing – the debate between Kokoro and Nine Alpha over what it means to be human and, more specifically, what it means to have Sex or Gender. Kokoro is, of course, cast in a sympathetic light by the framing of the scene. Her take is that human reproduction is important, and represents a purpose in life and the ability to leave a meaningful mark on the future. Nine Alpha, by contrast, claims that such conceits are disgusting and outmoded, supporting the society created by Papa that has apparently dispensed with the need for reproduction (and with that, much of gender) and, we find out, emotion as well.

In my opinion, this is fine in context. It would be really easy to read in a fairly heated anti-LGBT message here, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I think that's not the show's intention. I think, in the grand tradition of this show being none of secret, subtle, or particularly new, that what we're seeing here is one of the classic debates of dystopian fiction, rather than anything really meant to be applicable to communities in the modern world.

Now, in my mind, there are two types of dystopia. One of them is the future society where everything sucks, and technical progress has brought nothing but sorrow and oppression. The other is a society that is partially or as seen from a certain angle utopian, but which is highly dysfunctional, such that the modern reader is intended to view it in a negative light. The future depicted in the films Demolition Man or Equilibrium, or in the book The Giver, for instance, do have a lot of positive sides to them – they've largely eliminated crime and strife, but they've done so at the cost of abolishing personal liberties, emotion, or even distinction between individuals. Brave New World's future has obliterated pain itself, and the work explores how mandatory happiness might be a bad thing, because it would rob humans of elements necessary to appreciate their lives. In my mind, these sorts of dystopias are much more chilling and effective than the “return to 18th century living standards under a global framework of communism” that describes SERN's dystopian future in Steins;Gate because we can understand how and why this potentially horrific framework would establish itself, why it would gain traction and why it would maintain support despite having elements that seem to undermine human dignity.

Viewed in the light of being such a Dystopia, Papa's world in Darling in the Franxx isn't anything new or creative, but it is fairly low-hanging fruit for a moderately effective lack of commentary. We already sort of knew (or at least suspected) a lot of the facets of the APE dystopia – If humanity isn't conventionally mortal, perpetuates itself through cloning and/or brain uploading, or is just rotting away in skinner boxes and no longer cares about the future, then Nine Alpha is right that they would no longer 'need' reproductive function (among other things). Since APE “Exalts a future of conformity” (Episode 10), the idea that distinctions between individuals, up to and including the issue of sex and gender, would be erased by their favored paradigm, is a pretty natural one. All the same, especially when we see what happens to Nana and are quickly brought to understand that she'll probably be discarded, we also understand that they've probably gone too far. This is reinforced by the destruction of entire (and only 80-some-percent “backed up”) plantations in Episode 15, and the commentary made by APE's council on that sacrifice (nonchalantly that it may have been less than optimal) in Episode 16 – we come to see APE as, essentially, myopic in nature. This is a classic trait of Dystopian governments; they care about what runs right now, and not what will keep working or be best for the future. And it makes a sharp contrast with Kokoro's reproductive interests, as she (and the other Parasites listening to her) are continually focused on the future aspect, above even any sense of romance or attachment. Kokoro wants a baby, not primarily because she loves Mitsuru, but because she wants an heir, some part of her that will still exist in the world after she's gone. The contrast between Kokoro and Nine Alpha, Doctor Franxx and Papa, isn't about LGBT rights, it's about a vision of the future that features constant renewal as opposed to one that features eternal stagnation – the same dynamic that was established (IMO more effectively, with dynamic visuals and the subtlety of a sledge hammer rather than the subtlety of a freight train) in Episode 3 when the fun, vivacious Zero Two talks about the lifelessness of the City of the Adults.

It's old, tired, Philosophy 101 stuff... but all the way back in Episode 1 I was comparing Darling in the Franxx to The Matrix, so it shouldn't be surprising that it's digging into old, tired, Philosophy 101 material, and should be evident that doing so doesn't disqualify it from being entertaining. I do hope that Kokoro versus Nine Alpha is basically the last of the long-winded philosophical speeches, at least that AREN'T played over mechas fighting, and I wasn't horribly fond of even as much as we got here, but I kind of accept it for what it is.

On the B-line we have Hiro and Zero Two, present as always. It seems Hiro didn't escape that Saurification through the power of Love... or is it the Power of Love that caused it? Zero Two says, towards the end of the episode, that she's sterile, but I don't think that's going to be left at that. As a Human/Klaxosaur hybrid (and probably by mad science and not, as I previously suspected, “traditional” mechanisms) she's kind of her own species, and as the only one of her kind she obviously wouldn't expect to be able to reproduce... but there's a second now, and by golly it's a male. How narratively and thematically convenient.

I won't say I really enjoyed this episode (though Mitsuru continues to level up his humanity), but for better or worse I also don't think it was saying anything profound or meaningful.

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The Coalition/Phyrexian War Game Rises Again


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