Horny Mech Anime Focuses On Couplings That Could Save The World

Darling In The Franxx, one of the breakout animes of this season, makes the sex lives of teenagers a life or death affair.

The new show , which premiered on January 13 and is being simulcast on Crunchyroll, is about teenagers who live in a post apocalyptic world and who pilot giant mechs by getting in a sexual position. Pilots are grouped into pairs of men and women, and must sync together, Pacific Rim style.

Women are positioned in the front of the cockpit on all fours, while the men sit behind them and grab onto handlebars attached to the women's asses. It's not subtle.

Darling In The Franxx is clearly about sex. Pilots are named for the reproductive organs of flowers — male pilots are stamens, and female pilots are pistils. Although the overarching plot of the show is about protecting what appears to be the last human city from giant monsters called klaxosaurs, the actual drama comes from the interpersonal relationships of the characters.

Zorome is a hot head who has to learn to listen to his partner Miku. Goro and Ichigo are partners, but Ichigo clearly longs to be with Hiro. They have to sort out their relationships or die. It's like a more honest Gossip Girl. Given that the stakes are the continued survival of civilisation, dating and having sex actually is the most important thing in the world.

This show is A Lot.

Our protagonist is Hiro, who is unable to pilot the giant mechs called Franxx until he meets a mysterious horned woman called Zero Two. She has the reputation of being a partner-killer. She's extremely skilled and powerful, but no one can ride with her more than three times without dying.

Hiro doesn't care about that, or even really about piloting a Franxx. He just likes Zero Two, in a fumbling teenage way. It's a will-they/won't-they with the fate of humanity in the balance.

The show can be leering, especially toward its female characters. When we first meet Zero Two, for example, she's bathing nude in a pond, her long hair improbably covering her nipples. This is more uncomfortable because the show is cagey about how old the characters are.

They seem old enough to be starting to have sexual feelings, and the show has the trappings of a high school setting, uniforms and all. However, the adults around them refer to them as "children." To draw another comparison to Gossip Girl, while high school junior Serena Van Der Woodsen seems emotionally mature enough to have sex, high school freshman Jenny Humphrey clearly is not.

These characters seem closer to Jenny Humphrey in age and mental development, and the objectification of the characters feels grosser because of that.

But for every moment that the show is provocative, it is equally tender and thoughtful in how it portrays what is necessary for a sexual and romantic connection. In order for the pilots to work their mechs, their thoughts must be in sync.

That means male and female pilots must fundamentally respect each other. Partners warn each other not to squabble so they can be effective in battle. When the cold and cruel Mitsuru is dismissive of his partner Ikuno, they lose sync. Ichigo, the team's leader, desperately wants to be able to connect with Hiro but his connection to her isn't nearly as strong as it is with Zero Two.

There's a lot going on in Darling In The Franxx, even only four episodes in, but I'm most intrigued by Zero Two. She has an untamed, Brigitte Bardot-esque sexuality that other characters seek to control in the service of piloting a Franxx.

Her relationship with Hiro keeps the robots-powered-by-teenagers-fucking conceit from feeling too gimmicky. Where Hiro hasn't been effectively able to express his sexuality, Zero Two has too much of it, and both are ostracised by their society. Darling In The Franxx appears to have something to say about teenagers trying to understand their burgeoning sexuality, though it's not yet clear if the thesis is much deeper than "puberty is difficult." Still, I'm enjoying watching Hiro and Zero Two learn to open up to each other.


Comments

    ...This just sounds awful.

      It's Neon Genesis Evengelion except the sexual subtext is now just text.

      I'm enjoying it so far, but I can fully understand how the overt sexualisation of much of the cast could put someone off.

        No, Its Gurren Lagann, but the focus on drilling is... ummm... different.

    err....everyone forgot Vandread??

      As I read the article I was thinking "This sounds like a cheap and tacky version of Vandread."

      The description kind of makes it sound like Vandread, but the similarity is in passing only. It's not a good write-up at all. This is Studio Trigger, so stylistically it's much closer to something like Gurren Lagann, and it also has a strong Gainax feel to it in general (which shouldn't be surprising since Trigger's staff worked on shows like Gunbuster and Evangelion). It gives the strong impression that it has something interesting to say, though whether it'll actually convey it well remains to be seen (Trigger's stuff has been very hit & miss).

      Anyone who remembers Vandread is alright in my book!

  • This comment is not available. This comment is not available. This comment is not available. This comment is not available.

    This comment is not available.

    So its yet another anime that is bordering on pedophilia?

    Im genuinely curious. Is pedophilia not treated as seriously as it is in western countries?

      Depends what you mean by seriously.
      The basic age of consent in Japan is 13 so it's common for sex to be seen or implied (or built in to a fucking robot) in the highschool setting.
      Technically it's not pedophillia since it's not adults having sex with underage children and the target audience isn't adults, though it's undeniable that the ages of the people who consume them aren't always teens and the characters are often drawn as children in highschool uniform.
      One might argue that Teen Sex dramas/comedies and coming of age films that explore sex would also fall under the same scrutiny also.
      American Pie for example?

      I'm not defending this kinda stuff, my first reaction was, "are you fucking kidding me?"
      Just answering your question.

        It just seems to me that pedophilia is treated like a joke in Japan. An adult male lusting after an underage child is treated as okay in their culture. They treat young underage girls as fair game for older men.

          The simple answer to this is that you are correct, Japan is very relaxed on their sex related laws. Parental consent essentially allows you to have sex with a minor above the age of 13. The age of consent is usually raised by the prefecture but it's not enforced. And most rape offenders avoid jail by paying damages to the victim, that's if they're even convicted in the first place which is rarely.

          That, and there's no laws regarding the legality of it in a drawn setting.

          Last edited 07/02/18 11:13 pm

          By "their culture" do you mean "some pervy anime I have seen"? Two different things, just quietly.

            By "their culture" do you mean "some pervy anime I have seen"? Two different things, just quietly.

            No. Anime is only a small part of it.

              Shh! You will show veneration towards those that make anime for us! Do not question them - only grovel and say thank you~!

          There's a huge number of factors. Criminalization of actual child pornography didn't happen until the late 1980s IIRC and I'm not sure if possession was ever made illegal, just production. The country also strongly protects artistic expression, so drawings are generally not subject to those laws. More importantly, Japanese society is still deeply misogynistic (this is slowly changing) and aside from a few years under occupation, they were never heavily influenced by puritanical ideas the way that especially US society was, so sexualization is really not seen in the same way. You see this also in Idol culture, where there's a really troubling double standard where a lot of those girls are heavily sexualized in order to have male audiences lusting after them, but woe betide the idol that's actually caught with a boyfriend, she'll be seen as 'tainted' and forced out of the industry. There's also an argument that because of the rapidly aging population, youth is increasingly prized as an attractive trait. "Older" women being considered unmarriable spinsters is halfway between being a running joke and an actual serious problem (the standard joke is to refer to them as a 'Christmas Cake' - not desirable after the 25th).

          Beyond that, bear in mind that late-night anime (the bulk of what people that watch "anime" are watching) is decidedly not mainstream, and additionally the target audience for it is (horny) teenagers. Sex sells, and generally speaking it's much easier for a teenager to relate to a teenage character. Same reason why everything is a school setting even when it's a stretch (it provides an easy frame of reference) and why so much of it is escapist power fantasy involving an everyday nerd transported to a world where they're suddenly all-powerful and capable and the locals practically throw themselves at them.

          Beyond that, bear in mind that the internet has this amazing ability to take things that are actually niche or obscure and amplify them massively, so that they seem like a huge trend when they might not actually be reflective of the majority or of reality at all.

        The basic age of consent in Japan is 13

        This isn't actually true. The penal code sets it at 13, but the Child Welfare laws set it to 18, and additionally every prefecture has its own laws that set it much higher (18 in most places).

          Hence the word basic.

          I'm not going to sit here and list every prefecture and regional difference when it doesn't explain why highschool and sex are so ingrained in to anime.

    makes the sex lives of teenagers a life or death affair
    Just like in real life!

    Yeah, I don't think I'd get away with watching this at home.

    Why would they bring back Aquarion? Wait, you mean it isn't?

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now