if you love space operas, mechs, and a great plot twist typical of trigger, this anime is not for you.
the word casual comes to mind when i think of this series. i started watching it because trigger was involved, and i haven’t missed any of the latest trigger series – especially since kill la kill was beyond expectations. i picked this up excitedly, and held on with bated breath ready for something to make you go “oh!” unfortunately, this was not the case because the end of the series was handled by another studio, and thus it didn’t have the trigger wow-factor.
the series starts off in the oh-so-typical post apocalyptic future where humans have gotten themselves into a situation and are trying desperately to remedy it. the details are vague at first but we know that a bunch of teens are piloting mechs to protect the city from klaxosaurs. but here’s the clincher – they have to go in pairs and the girls get on all fours in front of the boys. (this kind of cheap sexual ploy is the kind i hate the most.) we learn quickly that the main character, hiro, is useless and can’t pilot because he has low aptitude causing his partner to leave him. after an accident and a sudden surprise attack we meet zero two, the only redeeming point to this series. zero two ends up partnering with hiro, and thus our story really begins.
the animation was not bad, and they did do their best to keep the integrity of the art. but unfortunately the designs were terrible. taking advantage of a very moe plot was just cringey, and the mech designs were childish and clumsy. the whole concept for the franxx robots was haphazard and continuously made me shake my head.
another issue was they couldn’t decide exactly what genre they were in. was it a serious space opera battle anime, or was it a slice of life? as someone who typically enjoys slice of life drama, i still felt it was so superficial in comparison to the true nature of the situation, and immensely immature. another issue i take with this is: i can understand a few gags thrown in during serious animes, but each episode flip-flopped between being life-or-death and a feel-good-gag episode.
after twenty-four episodes only one character really grew, zero two. the rest of the characters barely developed, the obvious pairings from the beginning held out to the end, and the plot was just tropes and archetypes. this was extremely frustrating as this barely gave you any type of conflict aside from the mistrust between the team and zero two.
the long awaited plot twist, that i hoped would save this series was disappointing. a third alien race secretly using humans was interesting, but it wasn’t as viable to make up for the plot holes. most of the things that were actually interesting about the story were already inferred, such as humans choosing a virtual life of constant pleasure over a real human life of experiences. if they had taken the story forward with this intent, it would have been monumentally better, but instead they focused on the war between the klaxosaurs and virm instead. throwing the humans into this war when they were millions of years behind both of the species in regards to technology and development, was careless. plus, let’s be honest – the idea of the entire human race resting on the lives of two beings is silly – especially when hiro was so mediocre. also, can we just say them holding hands with a statue and praying so they could send their voices to hiro and zero two was so sailor moon? i thought this was about science, not the power of friendship?
i took issue with goro getting ichigo in the end and the fact that futoshi, the resident fat boy, became a god damn baker. however, i appreciated the angle they took with kokoro and mitsuru, and them having a child. i’m relieved they didn’t decide to have them regain their memories like hiro and zero two did. i enjoyed that the human race rebuilt itself and grew again from what was left, and i will admit that hiro and zero two meeting again long in the future pulled my heart strings. i may like this type of ending but i know that there is no value in one of those “everyone-wins” endings. there’s no real lesson, no reward, and thus the store didn’t really do anything for you. it was amateur writing at best. this series was obviously written for teens who can’t distinguish that something, though convenient, isn’t right.
tldr; i would rate this series a 5/10. i don’t regret watching it, but it’s not something i would pick up again. there was only one really good attribute to the series, zero two, but otherwise it lacked proper story telling, character development, and overall substance. if you have time to kill and feel like just watching something, this isn’t too terrible – just don’t take it seriously.