The Melancholy of Dia: Change in Land of the Lustrous

Of all gems, Diamond (Dia) is the most visibly treasured by their peers. This is thanks, in large part, to Dia’s beauty, but Dia also has a sincere, genuinely nice personality that’s difficult to defy. Even when the most irreverent of all the gems, Phosphophyllite (Phos), jokes that Dia is too blinding, this is later followed up with a statement that Dia doesn’t have to change, their kindness is enough.

By examining the daily life of humanoid gems, Land of the Lustrous muses on the meaning of a life, survival, living, and purpose. No individual story is as heartbreaking or as complete as Dia’s journey by series end, giving ample fodder for discussion.

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Prunus cerasus and self-pollenization — more flower names in Darling in the Franxx

The chrysanthemum and cherry blossom are both national flowers of Japan. They’re also the names of the two plantations that “kiss” in Episode 5 of Darling in the Franxx, bringing two teams of parasites together.

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The White Camellia Princess and the Red Rose Prince (and Violet Evergarden)

From Episode 1, Violet Evergarden has relished in Victorian-era trappings. Its concern with flower language, and Victorian floriography began in earnest during Episode 2 thanks to Haruka Fujita’s careful direction and continued through Episode 4 with Iris Cannary talking about the iris fields near her childhood home that became her namesake.

In the series’ fifth episode, we see floral messages put into literal action through Naoko Yamada’s storyboards. Yamada previously employed floriography as another, unspoken form of communication throughout the film A Silent Voice. In her episode of Violet Evergarden, flowers are exchanged along with love letters between the heads of two kingdoms. Each kingdom is also represented by a specific flower.

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“A paradise within thee, happier far” — Strelitzia in Darling in the Franxx

Despite Zero-two’s reputation, Darling in the Franxx drops a lot of hints that she generally plays by the rules. Dr. Franxx calls her “high maintenance” in the series’ first episode, yet the implication is that she presses her handlers rather than defying them. Zero-two repeatedly pushes her boundaries, but doesn’t cross them until this episode. When they told her to pilot with Mitsuru, she did. When they come to take her away in the middle of Hiro’s plea to sortie with the Strelitzia, she says her goodbyes and leaves. Only Hiro’s impassioned speech — rivaling the most melodramatic of airport scenes in a romantic comedy or drama — leads her to fully defy orders.

Her defiance still shocks her handlers, another indication that she had begrudgingly followed the rules until now. Before meeting Hiro, and even after piloting Strelitzia with him in the first episode, Zero-two knows that she’s seemingly destined to be a statistic and tells Hiro as much. She doesn’t need a name, when her name won’t matter after death. She’s a special entity, but only for fighting klaxosaurs. In that same scene, Zero-two perches above the plantation scenery and asks Hiro to escape with her. “I can get you out of here,” she says. After a series of impressive acrobatics, she takes it back with a, “Just kidding.”

Strelitzia is paradise, for both of them. It allows Hiro to fly. It allows Zero-two to be truly connected to another being for the first time in her life.

However, it wasn’t always paradise for Zero-two.

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The lines drawn between us — cinematography in After the Rain

The fourth episode of After the Rain ends with two movie pamphlets. They’re both from the same movie. They’re also from two different circumstances to Akira Tachibana. The first time, her attendance was coerced. The second time, it was freely given.

Yet she cannot tell the pamphlets apart.

She laments that they’re “Definitely not the same” but with her personal context removed, they’re identical.

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