Darling in the Franxx

The Cactus Flower and revisiting flower language in Darling in the Franxx

In previous posts, I’ve written about flower language in Darling in the Franxx, including floral reproduction, basic genetics, and the names of the plantations themselves. The series’ use of floriography has been a straightforward roadmapDarling in the Franxx eschews subtleties for directness both visually and in its use of symbolism or literature.

There are a few flowers that have gone unmentioned that are far more relevant now — the hibiscus flower and the cactus — in addition to revisiting Kokoro’s Franxx robot: Genista. Hibiscus and various cacti appear multiple times in the Mistilteinn garden alongside the Franxx robots’ various namesakes. These flowers make up the backdrop of Kokoro’s conversations with Mitsuru, which later leads to their partner reassignments and, in the most recent episode, a sexual partnership.

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The Golden Bough and Darling in the Franxx

From its first episode, Darling in the Franxx uses flower language and plant genetics to frame the entire series. It’s not subtle about any of these trappings, which continue to appear in each passing episode week after week not only in commonly-used titles (like pistil, stamen, etc.) but also in flowers found in the on-site greenhouses, in various rooms, and the series’ most recent ending sequence.

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The Flower Language of the Darling in the Franxx Women

Whether working directly with the language of flowers through naming schemes of the series’ mechs or framing its narrative with floral genetics and reproductionDarling 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.

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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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“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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