FranXX and Evergarden, up to #4

Now that we’ve been introduced to the basic, absurd world of Darling in the FranXX in episode 1, #2 starts to fill in the details, starting with the side characters, and they’re the usual lot. We’ve got the asshole, the nice guy, the fat kid, the girl with a thing for the main character, the genki girl, er, a couple of others without much personality yet. Once again, nothing you haven’t seen in other series. So we watch as they interact with Hiro and 02, and each other. The girls are shocked at 02’s behavior, while the boys are obviously put off but titillated at the same time. You expect this from a bunch of kids who don’t even know what a kiss is, and considering the show’s mecha piloting as sex, maybe that’s the point.

Which leads us to the episode’s other task, playing around with the sex metaphor. Again, not new, Aquarion and Simoun did it before (and really, the APE people ought to bring some Simoun girls in to demonstrate the kissing), but so far FranXX is doing a good job of using it to further establish the characters. Basically, Hiro, a boy hitting adolescence, falls for a wild, older, sexually experienced woman who takes a liking to him and is happy to teach him a few things, and the sex is great. The others are, as I said, shocked, especially Ichigo, who, out of jealousy, tries to do the same thing, though she’s already partnered with Gorou, the nice guy who has no problem with it–for now. The sex is, as Ichigo announces “terrible.” Okay, now that they’ve flogged us with the metaphor a little too much, let’s see where they can take it.

Episode 3, at least, offers a new wrinkle on the relationships. Taking the pairs piloting the FranXX we of course assume them to be couples, which means they have their own personal issues that come out in the show as piloting teamwork. So Ichigo can’t get Hiro, and their bad sex, out of her head, and even though her partner shows support it’s not helping much. Zorome, the asshole, redeems himself somewhat by showing great concern and compassion when his partner Miku is hurt, even if they don’t always get along. But this time the focus is on Mitsuru and Ikuno. Ikuno can’t perform, so Mitsuru immediately turns to 02 and offers his, er, services. After all, if that flaccid loser Hiro can ride her, then surely he can do better. This was so well set up, I was so worried about the monster crisis and the thought of Hiro losing face (not to mention poor Ikuno, rejected by her partner), that I completely forgot about 02’s tendency to injure and kill her partners. … still working on the metaphor for that one.

An actual action shot, for a change.

And look, while I was dallying, another new episode came out. So episode 4 plays less with the sexual metaphors, though they’re certainly still around, and gets to the story part, in this case, getting Hiro and 02 to prove they’re a viable team. This is done with 02 being led off by guards to go back to the front while the novice team is getting slaughtered. Hiro shouts to her that he doesn’t give a shit about Franxxes but wants to ride with her. It’s pretty much a declaration of love, or lust, and it’s passionate enough that 02 decides not to leave. That only leaves the thrilling rescue, and it IS thrilling. With so many Trigger folks involved it’s hard not to be. On the metaphor front, Papa doesn’t want his precious girl to see that boy she likes, but she does anyway. But now that it seems to be settled that Hiro is going to ride with 02, where will the metaphors go from here? Will they start watching the other couples?

I’m so far behind now that I will have to cut out writing about a few episodes of some shows, but I’ll keep up with Violet Evergarden for a while, even though my interest in it, at least after episode 3, is beginning to wane a little. Oh, it looks fantastic, but it’s KyoAni, “fantastic” is a given. I’m just not in love with the source material. Episode 3 is partly told by Luculia, a doll school classmate with a brother who is drinking and getting beaten up a lot because he blames himself for their parents’ deaths during the war. And the episode’s theme, if there is one, is that it’s hard to communicate how you feel sometimes, oh, and short letters are good, too, which is how Violet finally graduated from doll school, thanks to the harsh headmaster who, frankly, acts out of character here. And now Violet gets to be a doll, even though she has learned absolutely nothing about human behavior, and it’s all on top of a maudlin stand-alone story. Well, the show LOOKS great …

Here’s Iris, being upset.

Episode 4, another standalone, isn’t much better. We get to learn about Iris through a visit to her remote village, the people wearing a hodgepodge of colorful holiday garb and peasant clothes, all looking generically ethnic. Violet learns more about how subtle language and emotions can be while she amuses the locals with her blunt replies. And now I don’t know what to think. The bad news is that it’s the second standalone in a row, the second that has Violet save the day by writing a heartwarming letter to someone. But what I find interesting is that both episodes are framed as someone else’s memory of violet, in other words, something more interesting might happen in the future. I can only hope that we don’t have to wait until the last couple episodes …

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