Darling in the FranXX 23, while being a big space-battle episode, does a better job when it focuses on humanity in the future. I say “humanity” because the show makes a point that the Children, some of whom are fighting in space, some (Mitsuru and Kokoro) staying on Earth, are basically it, as far as humanity is concerned. Those strange other people have probably all died, apart from people involved in the battle like Nana and Hatchi. Those two talk about what the children will do next, surprised at their own concern and desire to keep guiding them. They’ve found their future role (so they probably won’t die next episode). Mitsuru has found, even with his memories gone, that his future lies with Kokoro, who at first resists and then accepts it. The Alphas have nothing but battle, so they happily die in a blaze of glory, helping Hiro reach Strelizia Apus, where he and 02 have their own stylized, storybook argument, before 02 happily accepts him. The other children have more choices for their future, but first they’ll finish the battle.
The battle, meanwhile, looks pretty. Lots and lots of spaceships and super-rays and explosions, but I could never really connect to it, even with the sacrifices and acts of bravery it takes to get Hiro to Strelizia. Sometimes enemy ships would land on Strelizia and do … whatever, and get blown away. I never got the impression that Strelizia was in trouble. I only began to worry when the two living beings who are suppose to run it won’t agree, so it wouldn’t turn on. When it did, it was fun but ludicrous. Streliza turns into a sexy, armored, live 02 in space! Flowing hair and all! Almost as weird is when the wormhole appears (the klaxasaurs seemed to have figured this all out) and Hiro/02 (the latter’s giant head saying the words–in space!) say, “Well, gotta go to the bad guys’ home and end the war. Bye bye!” leading all the characters (and myself) wondering what the hell’s up. The episode ends. The voice-over suggests that they haven’t returned yet. What is the finale going to give us? Will we see the battle? Will it be 24 minutes of the remaining children farming? I have no idea.
Hisone to Masotan finishes in grand style, confusing though it be.
The girls learn that Hitatsu, the massive dragon, needs a sacrifice as part of the ritual, and that means Natsume, who gamely goes through the motions but you know her heart isn’t in it, and that’s important. The pilots are stunned by the inhumanity and you-know-who decides to put a stop to it. Interestingly, Masotan has no qualms about delivering her to Natsume (I thought he might refuse, but maybe he’s on the girls’ side), whereupon Hisone and Natsume get into a quarrel about Okonogi. And so Mitatsu isn’t lulled to sleep, so it’s all ruined. Er, except it’s not. Apparently the pilots, with Sada, come up with an alternate plan, which also almost fails (stupid torpedoes), so they release Mitatsu’s binds, or something, and it’s Hisone, of all people, who stays (well, with Masotan) to do the final thing, after announcing that she’d be back. Months later, Okonogi goes to the new island and there are Hisone and Masotan! What they were doing for three months isn’t explained. So the ritual really seems to be kind of a sham. I suppose Mitatsu needed a guide to his new resting place, but the sacrifices were, apparently, completely unnecessary …
Well, good for them for figuring that out. I’d hate to see anyone actually die. However, it does make the romance angle, and the decisions of what or who to love, or to love at all, a little confusing. We see Natsume, later, as just a high school girl, figuring out her career path in a scene mirroring the series’ first scene. She makes no mention of Okonogi. Happy to see Hoshino and Zaito clear the air … I guess in the end everyone ends up with what they want, more or less. Except Hisone and Masotan are still a team, so where does that lead Okonogi? At the end, Masotan swallows him, so he’s with Hisone inside, so does that mean Masotan’s accepted the current relationship? Or was it all the cell phones he had with him?
Yes, a messy ending that ignored the situation and the decisions the characters would have to make. Or rather, the characters ignored the situation and made their own ending. I always cheer when characters ignore or reject what fate tells them to do, but here there was no setup for that, no suggestion that there were alternatives. … It really doesn’t matter whether or not the ending was satisfactory. This was a terrific series from beginning to almost-end. It managed to work in serious issues of love and duty but kept the tone so light that I was chuckling throughout. It had a cartoonish look to it that belied the depth of the characters and the sophisticated art and animation. I found myself liking all the characters, even the unpleasant ones, though I wish Ririko had had more to do. And finally, the dragons managed to be both formidable and cute. Ah, I’m sorry this show is over.