Author Note: This article was published shortly following the release of episode 10 of Darling in the FranXX. Future developments within the show may age the stances and topics discussed here, though hopefully it will still hold value as a snapshot in time and address larger concerns within society and approaches to media in general.
It’s been a while, fellas. I normally don’t write up mid-season thoughts for the blog outside our regularly-scheduled articles, in part because I rarely have the extra time, and also because I can cover most of my feelings on individual shows in those. But in a season stacked with more anime-of-the-year contenders than I think I’ve encountered from any one season in years, I want to discuss a title that isn’t working out as well as many people, myself included, thought it would. You know the one: Darling in the FranXX. Pre-season hype for it quickly faded to skeptical optimism and, more recently, persistent doubt. It’s a divisive show and my opinions are pretty divided on it as well. Virtually all the criticism I’ve seen of it is deserved.
But today, I’m not solely going to echo that. I’m going to defend its existence as well.
This will all make sense, I swear.
“We kissed and clung together / Then tomorrow was another day / The morning found me miles away / With still a million things to say / Now when twilight dims the sky above / Recalling thrills of our love / There’s one thing that I’m certain of / Return I will to old Brazil”
– “Brazil” – English adaptation by Bob Russell
I’ve linked Cornelius’ take on “Brazil” there because his version of it is a personal favorite of mine, though that’s far from the song’s only rendition. Originally composed by Ary Barroso in 1939 as “Aquarela do Brasil,” it’s since become one of the most-covered songs in the world, with names as notable as Frank Sinatra, Santana, João Gilberto, Arcade Fire and many many more lending their take to this timeless classic about timeless feelings. Love and longing are cornerstones of art because they’re cornerstones of the human experience, and even the tritest of concepts can become enthralling when delivered with heart. The right ambiance and a couple of curveballs don’t hurt either.
And let’s get one thing straight, Michiko & Hatchin, coincidentally set in some sort of pseudo-Brazil, is enthralling, and yet, much like that song, it’s not anything you’ve haven’t seen before. Sure, there are gang fights and hokey drama and all that good ol’ pulp action stuff which makes it a versatile tale that fans of several genres can find something to enjoy in, but it’s not about shootouts or revenge or any of that.
It’s about running. More accurately, it’s about running to a phony destination to try prolonging the inevitable.
TW/DISCLAIMERS: This piece is mostly centered around The Dragon Dentist’s discourse on death and refers to suicide. Some of the image links contain war imagery as well. Use your best judgment if you think either of these things will affect you.
Obviously this also contains spoilers for The Dragon Dentist, so if you haven’t seen it yet, consider spending your next 90 minutes doing that, then coming back to this. And of course, this is my (Yatahaze’s) own personal reflection on the series and not necessarily reflective of everyone else here at For Great Justice.
DISCLAIMER: This piece contains major spoilers to Your Name. and potential minor spoilers to two of Shinkai’s earlier films, 5 Centimeters Per Second and The Garden of Words. If you’ve not yet seen Your Name., you should frankly leave now. I don’t want that kind of blood on my hands. Regarding the other two works, continue at your own risk, though I don’t think I discuss anything that can’t be inferred from their synopses and opening minutes.
Also this piece is my (Yatahaze’s) own personal reflection and not necessarily indicative of all of us at For Great Justice, though we did all enjoy the film, so take that as you will.