「まものと王子様」 (Mamono to Ouji-sama)
“The Beast and the Prince”
You know I’d normally be annoyed at getting another character development episode in Franxx for seemingly the umpteenth time. It’s been a full season, where’s the big reveal, the death, my melodramatic teenage battlefield angst? I paid good money god dammit! And yet I cannot be mad, because by hell did Franxx give us a showcase in flashback done right. Hiro dragging out the forced amnesia and leading to another 12 episodes of ridiculous artificial drama? Not this time, the true pairing is here at last. Someone Ichigo is weeping profusely.
As anyone could have guessed from last time, Hiro is Zero Two’s original darling, although hilariously enough named that by Hiro himself. Zero Two was the test victim, viciously poked and prodded for some reason or another (read: not anything good), only to be temporarily “saved” by a curious and empathetic Hiro distraught at her pain. It’s a standard boy-meets-girl setup complete with childhood friend spice (the knife in Ichigo twists ever more), but be honest, if you’re not d’awwing at those smiles you know something is wrong. That’s a smile worth protecting if I ever saw one, horns and all. Simple or conventional sure, deliberately emotional maybe, but this flashback served its function fantastically.
Part of the reason for this of course lies in what we learned about Hiro’s and Zero Two’s past. We now know low number parasites are all special for example, seemingly separated from their high number brethren by the presence of emotions and individuality. Again this was noticeable from the start, especially when the cookie cutter squad made their debut, but it’s nice having actual confirmation. Particularly important as well is the implications of the testing in the first place. Parasites are seemingly bred to pilot Franxxs, but the testing on Zero Two and Dr. Franxx’s fascination with her regenerative abilities (that’s new) suggests something more nefarious at play. These kids are destined for something more than just S&M posturing in a cockpit (pun intended), with the teen numbers likely given preferential treatment because they’re closer to reaching this ideal state. Considering that Zero Two is almost certainly a klaxosaur in human form (just look at Dr. Franxx’s joy), my bet is on the end goal being the creation of a “perfect” lifeform combining the best aspects of humans and klaxosaurs both. Wouldn’t even be that farfetched, not with Zero Two’s humanization and Hiro’s ability to seemingly contain the beast that Zero Two has a way of bringing out. In more than one way Franxx is starting to look a lot like The Last of Us in post-apocalyptic mecha form.
Where we go from here, however, becomes the interesting question. It’s very likely the future for Zero Two and Hiro now is going to follow that heavily emphasized fairy tale picture book given the obvious hints, with Zero Two looking to stay with her darling (prince), but held back by the sacrifice she made to APE (the witch) which calls for the prince’s death if she is to keep her humanity. One way or another there’s a hefty sacrifice in the cards for either Zero Two or Hiro (hell, maybe both) in the future as both are the darlings (heh) of whatever greater purpose APE is pursuing. As both our destined pairing now realize their past relationship we have now moved beyond simple playing around to tangible action. If Hiro and Zero Two are to remain together (press F for Ichigo), how are they going to manage it? Will the likes of Mitsuru and the rest support them once they learn the actual truth? Will everyone be up for the inevitable sacrifices that must be made? Or is this all just an elaborate copout ending with everyone surviving for a happy ever after? As is Franxx’s penchant of late every answer received gives rise to three more questions, with us being nowhere near closer to figuring out the endgame. Who knew a slow drip feed could be so bloody annoying and satisfying at the same time.
Stick around boys and girls, Franxx may be teasing like a son of a bitch, but you know you
need want the answers which come at the end of this tunnel. There’s an ending here we’re all desperate to discover, and we’re going to get to it one way or another.
ED: 「ひとり」 (Hitori) by XX:me