Whether working directly with the language of flowers through naming schemes of the series’ mechs or framing its narrative with floral genetics and reproduction, Darling in the Franxx has never hidden its floral influences. It’s also not a subtle show, so when the entirety of Episode 8 is framed by Kokoro talking specifically about floriography — the flowers used for the robot names have always been present in the Plantation 13 gardens — the series is effectively painting a gigantic arrow that says “pay attention” pointed at flowers used within the show.
This is punctuated by an ending sequence that resembles Kiznaiver‘s, assigning a flower to each of the women in Darling in the Franxx. There are a lot of similarities between Kiznaiver and Darling in the Franxx — I’m personally inclined towards Kiznaiver since I think people generally have more trouble fumbling through empathy towards each other than sex — floriography being one of them. Where Kiznaiver used flowers as another frame of reference, dropping hints at the individual pasts of its female characters, Darling in the Franxx uses them unsubtly as possible, going as far to include this small shot at the beginning of this latest ending sequence, again telling us to pay attention.
In case you hadn’t caught on due to her blushes around Ichigo, Ikuno is far more into her team leader than any other parasite in Plantation 13. Ikuno and Mitsuru have always had synchronization issues, and a large reason for this is that Ikuno is not attracted to Mitsuru sexually in any way. According to the way Darling in the Franxx frames her, Ikuno is likely not into men at all.
Last week, Ikuno held up a notebook and gestured directly at Ichigo during a conversation. The conversation itself isn’t important, but the visual placement of the notebook, which is decorated with white lilies, couldn’t have been more obvious. The use of white lilies as a symbol for yuri relationships are well-documented in anime. White lilies (shirayuri) represent lesbian love, purity, and chastity. If Ikuno had been assigned any flower other than the white lily in this ending sequence, I would have been surprised.
Zero-two is framed by white daisies, which are also shown earlier in the ending sequence, held by all of the young women. Daisies are said to represent a childlike innocence and hope. In Japanese hanakotoba, they symbolize faith. As a legendary pistil and special project of the elders, Zero-two has a lot more insight into how the world works — she is the one who tells the Plantation 13 parasites that they will die — but also visibly longs to be a normal adolescent. She is full of childlike innocence and vacillates between dispensing knowledge to Plantation 13 while opening up emotionally to Hiro.
In a way, Zero-two is the most innocent of them all, despite having a greater awareness of the world and what is at stake. Since she’s been treated as either a monstrous pariah or an ideal specimen, her interactions with Plantation 13 are seemingly her first attempts at being human, and she says as much to Hiro in this episode.
The crepe-like quality of Kokoro’s flowers leads me to believe that she’s likely framed by white poppies. White poppy flowers were most recently featured in The Ancient Magus’ Bride, and are commonly used at funeral or memorials for remembrance. A white poppy can also mean rejoice, or celebration. We don’t yet know a lot about Kokoro outside of her curiosity towards flowers, but she seems like a joyful person who appreciates a lot of details that are lost on other parasites.
Miku is framed by a white anemone flower. A white anemone can mean death, bad luck, or a forsaken relationship, but it can also symbolize sincerity. Miku has difficulty being sincere, especially with her partner Zorome, who struggles with the same thing. She often says the opposite of what she truly means, or goes about hinting at what she wants in a passive-aggressive way. Underneath this veneer, Miku is a remarkably sincere individual who not only cares for Zorome but also the entirety of Plantation 13.
Of all of the flowers in this ending, Ichigo’s were the most difficult to identify. The first thing that came to mind was a white poinsettia but the petals are far too close (and actually petals, not leaves). I then skipped to gardenia (secret love) and have hesitantly settled on a jasmine flower. Jasmine comes from the Persian yasmin, meaning gift from god. Jasmine can have many, sometimes conflicting, meanings but in Japanese hanakotoba it primarily symbolizes grace and friendliness.
As the team leader, Ichigo tasks herself with being as graceful as possible at all times, even in defeat. If this flower is a gardenia, then a secret love, or crush applies towards her feelings towards Hiro.