Thursday, July 19, 2018

[New][End][January 2018] Darling in the FRANXX - A Vibrant and touching Story

It's not much, But I'll take it.

Summary: In the distant future, humanity has been driven to near-extinction by giant beasts known as Klaxosaurs, forcing the surviving humans to take refuge in massive fortress cities called Plantations. Children raised here are trained to pilot giant mechas known as FRANXX—the only weapons known to be effective against the Klaxosaurs...in boy-girl pairs. Bred for the sole purpose of piloting these machines, these children know nothing of the outside world and are only able to prove their existence by defending their race. (Quote from MyAnimeList.com)

First Impression: What? Butt-Mounted Controllers? Into the Bin you go. Skipping this.

My Opinion: See first impression for my literal first impression of this show back in January. I hereby declare a prophesy that this show will forever be plagued by this exact first impression.

This post literally got so long I put red headers in to help you skip around for TL;DRFirst Look
Japan's culture is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the free reign they give to their artistic liberties allows such wonderful stories like this to find a place to take root and grow.
Whereas here in American culture, I can say with all certainty that unless you had a previously established foundation of trust, such as a highly profitable publication of any kind, no editor or publisher would ever approve of "butt-mounted controllers". I can't even type that without giggling to myself.
On the other hand, here I am. Giggling.
I think that's a wonderful thing, (*See Aside Rant at bottom \/*), because god only knows how often the 'ecchi' jokes piss me off. It's important to know and notice the difference between a cheap gag, and a well thought out joke. As far as Japanese anime goes, you can generally notice the difference based on how much screen time it gets whenever it happens, and how many different camera angles they use to show it off.

Second Look
So why am I making a post about it, singing its praises? Because I value opinions outside of my own. I always watch every review and first reaction Arkada uploads to youtube, because he shares a very similar opinion and perspective to me when it comes to choosing what anime to watch, and what kinds of anime we enjoy. I think everyone should have someone like that, a person that has a broader field of view than you, that allows you to broaden your horizons beyond your own limits. I have a job, I have bills to pay. I don't have anywhere near as much time as I once did. I also am far more obsessed with games than anime, and the two are always warring for my time and attention.

[Aside]
THE STEAM LIBRARY PLAGUE, IT FOREVER GROWS, AND YOU NEVER PLAY THEM FASTER THAN YOU ACQUIRE THEM! CURSE YOU STEAM SALES! MY ADDICTION!

[Aside end]

Back on point: I watched a video he posted on Darling in the Franxx, and while it didn't make me decide to go watch the show, I remember thinking to myself, "ah. So the show isn't just a harem-style running gag of innuendo jokes and 'ecchi' humor."
No, what got me to watch the show, was when I tripped over an Upvote Gif on imgur, made out of a scene in the show. (Specifically this)
I remember seeing that and just...being so curious. "What is that show!? I must know! I want to see it!". When I found out it was Darling in the Franxx...I hesitated. But hey, I'm a lunatic who consumed all of Naruto and Naruto Shippuden just to complete the set in my brain of its story.
(I totally waited for the second season to end and used a filler episode list to skip all the bullshit though....like, 400 episodes in. My patience could use some Maintenance, it needs a limiter.)

Beginning of Review
Now, here we sit. There were a couple of times where I worried I was wasting my time, mostly the crunchyroll comments all crying and whining about the ending on almost every episode, telling you to stop at a specific episode, or giving spoilers about what happens to certain characters.

They can all go and stuff a cactus up their arse.

Story
The story is well thought out. It's not perfect by any means, there's a few parts near the end that feel forced, but it's not a glaring flaw. It just feels that way because it leans on a more or less common anime trope to stage a raising of the stakes. A new comer would probably go 'huh?', but anyone who's been around anime a bit won't do much more than blink at it. "Ah, so they decided to use this trope eh?" kind of feeling.

It primarily follows Squad 13, and a climactic point in their lives, when their battle against the Klaxosaurs is reaching its climax, and how this begins to affect and change the way they're maturing, differently from all of the other squads. A story like this would be a death sentence without a strong cast of characters to fuel it, but there's no worries in that department.

Part way through, they have a 'special episode' where they do an interview with the Animation Studios director in charge of the show, and then it starts to go over the shows production and interview voice actors and stuff, but I'm going to watch that after I write this. Once I had heard the directors thoughts on the show, I was well satisfied, and moved on to the next actual episode. That was when I found out that this is an Original Anime, which is to say, it wasn't adapted from a novel or manga comic. I think a lot of the quality and fresh feel of it can be attributed to that.

Characters
The characters in this show are amazing. You will wildly flip from absolutely loving them one moment, to hating their guts the next, to forgiving and forgetting in record-(and heart)-breaking speeds. They crammed so much humanity into the central cast, I'm surprised they didn't explode at the seams. I dig that, in case you couldn't tell.

So, to get to the point. Does this show crack vaguely lewd or innuendo jokes? Sort of. The central premise of the show is the Apocalyptic future, and that everyone has mostly forgotten what words that were chosen as names for things mean. Not because it was hidden or a secret, but because it was considered unimportant or irrelevant to their survival, and was never taught. It's literally at their disposal to find out what they mean, and they often do.

I think that's something that helps lend credibility and maturity to the show and the character arcs as it progresses. The joke is there for the audience to appreciate if they want, but it's not just a joke. They actually built it into the worlds lore. I think that's amazing, and it would have taken a lot of thought, way more than most studios/authors seem to give, that just stop at 'hey wouldn't it be funny if X, Y, or Z?' and then just cram it into the show. In other words, telling the joke, for the sake of telling a joke, and nothing more. For some shows, it works. For others, not so much. No amount of cheap gags can save a shitty story with a shitty cast of characters.

Plot
The only other worry I had, was when the show sort of hit a mid-run climax, like Alice and Zouroku did, and I was afraid it would follow the same path. The comments didn't farking help that. But it didn't follow in that shows footsteps. I'm here writing because this show is Fantastic from start to finish. An emotional roller coaster to be sure, and that's not everyone's preference, but I won't let the crying babies opinions be the only voice heard. Good people quietly live their lives, but idiots and criminals scream the loudest, and thus are we convinced that the world is always worse off than it is.

I find this a hilarious juxtaposition with the shows own setting. It holds nothing back about telling everyone it's set in a apocalyptic future, and yet all those crying people seem to have just decided to ignore that. The characters were always in a horrible situation, from the start of episode one. I guess they all just decided this was a 'Shounen'-style show and wouldn't go too deep, and weren't ready for the roller coaster to peak, and then jet away at full speed with their fragile hearts and minds. Me? I live for the challenge in my games, and ever since I was a wee mortal, always seemed to insist on taking the harder choices in life for myself, but never the hardest. So I guess I'm more durable these days, decades down the line.

So, for the sake of being thorough:

This Show will Hurt you,
but it will never try to completely crush you. Obviously, this show is
Great

and receives a Recommendation,

with the caveat that you too will taste the curse that no one outside of the anime fan community will ever listen to you recommend it farther than 'controllers mounted on girls butts'.


I spent a lot of time trying to think of what to call this show, and I finally settled on a title. I had to revise it a little to prevent spoilers, but I would call this show, a Space Opera.
[Aside]

id est via Wiktionary:
1.
(initially derogatory) A subgenre of speculative fiction or science fiction that emphasizes space travel, romantic adventure, and larger-than-life characters often set against vast exotic settings.
[Aside end]

At what point did we decide that being fake and exaggerated was a bad thing? I think maybe that's the appeal of Japan's anime, that they go all in with that part of it, and we've forgotten or rejected it, and are stagnating in the 'gritty' and the 'realistic' being dumped out of hollywood. Perhaps a tertiary relation to why the Marvel movies are so popular recently? A throw back to a previous time, made more accessible for a wider audience?
*shrug*



[^Aside Rant on my Views of Culture and Education]
Maybe it's just me, and my isolationist ways, but it feels like my culture shies away from anything vaguely sexual, if not outright ostracizes it, if you aren't past an arbitrary age marker that varies from state to state. Then, when you cross that marker, the reins are off, and you're just dropped into it to run rampant however you want with no one to stop you, like you should have just naturally figured out self-moderation and how the world works on instinct because you are the specified age.

We fear "corrupting the youth" too much. To a certain extent, as someone who's single parent had a very hands-off approach to letting me grow up so long as I stayed out of trouble, I can see the perspective that philosophy comes from, because I took a very long and strange road to sexual maturity, because it went unnoticed since in every other way I was slightly above-average(when the average was idiot, but that's a story for another time). It's not often that someone is telling the truth when they say,
(PG-13 white out in case you'd rather not, but highlight for a funny snippet from my life.)
"The first time I had a wank was when I was 26 years old. I found it thoroughly unimpressive, and a massive waste of time better spent playing games, which are much more fun, and don't leave behind a mess for me to clean up."
(white out end)

However, that was not a problem of me being exposed to sexual themes or ideas. Literally everyone is at some point in their lives, and it hardly destroys anyone. No, the problem was that it was unsupervised and unadvised. Mother isn't going to be a good one to ask about guy problems, yeah?

As it is, I think the problem is this 'total avoidance' the general public will seem to go with when you amalgam enough peoples opinions and votes together. It's a valuable part of the human experience, and yes, it can distort some peoples lives when they get obsessed with it or exposed in a traumatic way. But that's no more different than gambling, drinking, drugs, or literally anything in life. You can destroy yourself with anything at all, if you've a mind to. With wise moderation however, all of those things can be an enriching part of life.
To summarize, since this is already a monstrously long post, I abhor and condemn the 'bubble-boy' idea of child raising and education, or "shielding" you could call it. The idea that we should totally shield kids from everything, until they're "ready" or "old enough" for it. By making such a big deal out of it, you only attract their attention to it, and then you have to clean up the mess left behind when you've given them conflicting messages about it, later on. How exactly are they suppose to become 'ready' for something they've literally never been exposed to? What happens if those in charge of deciding when they're "ready" are suddenly unable to anymore?(an absence of a parent for instance). You might as well be throwing a baby into a vat full of leprosy . Sure, it could develop an immunity. It's far more likely to come out of it horribly deformed by the experience.

Still, humanities ability to adapt is a fundamental part of our existence. If you've never heard of it before, look up the human eye's Blind Spots. There's literally a spot our eyes are physically incapable of seeing, but our brains are just naturally programmed to fill in the blank with what's around it, so we never notice it except in highly specific situations. That's what I attribute to me fixing myself up just fine, once I got out into the world and started interacting with people. Sure, the general public is about as smart as a box of rocks, but that's precisely why I was made to notice, "wow. All of my problems seem really small and petty compared to how amazingly these people are screwing up their lives...and still getting by with it."

I think that's something we should incorporate more in our lives, and the raising of the Youth. The more you try to hide something from a child, the more curious about it they often become, and it's precisely that curiosity eventually hitting critical mass and exploding, that causes them to often run head first into way more than they can handle. It's suppose to be a parents responsibility to watch them closely, and keep that from happening, or so I think any way. I think it would be better if things were made to be fed to them in bits and pieces at a time, with the promise of more later.

Not "I will tell you when you're older" because you don't want to bother with explaining something to them you're not sure they'll even understand and are worried will be bad for them(or are just lazy). Rather, "I'll tell you a bit now, but you'll need to wait till you're older to learn about the rest of it, okay?" Sure, there will be kids that won't settle for that. But the greatest flaw of the public education system is that it expects everyone to be cut into shape to fit into a round hole. There's a hell of a lot of square, diamond, and other colorful shapes that go through torture and hell because of that. We all are different, get bloody well used to it.

There's no easy one-size-fits-all solution to teaching people and growing up, the only good way is going to be individualized tweaks and patching as needed, however much harder that may be. You won't make a better mouse trap by saying 'it will be so hard to improve it any further...'
Imagine if we had settled for computers that were built like the old Macintosh, where everything, screen, keyboard, and components, were all a solid block. None of us would have these fancy Smart Phones that are literally getting to be a dime a dozen now. A better tomorrow isn't often found just laying by the side of the road. You usually have to work for it.
[Aside end]
IN CASE YOU COULDN'T TELL, this show was very inspiring for me, or so I am led to believe after re-reading and spell checking this monster of a post. But hey, I haven't posted in forever, so it's fine...right? Oh well, I tried to break it up with headers anyway, give me some credit for that. So. Much. Editing.

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