Just a word, this post is long, but the first part is the general part for those of you who just want to know the gist of it and want to decide whether or not you should read the manga. The second part goes into full details.
For those of you who has seen the anime, I’ll keep it general.
Warning: the following section contains major spoilers for the anime.
The manga is an ‘alternative’ version of the anime. Many of the main events are still the same, but with variations. For example, in the anime it was Goro who ejected Ichigo out when their FranXX was swallowed by a Klaxosaur, but in the manga it was Ichigo that saved Goro. A lot of events were also trimmed out for the sake of length and keeping the story focused. The wedding wasn’t there, Mitsuru and Kokoro didn’t get amnesia, Hiro’s blue horns weren’t kept a secret, and so on. It is definitely worth a read if you liked the anime and want some supplements. Even more worth a read if you like the Nines. They get a lot of extra scenes.
Also, there are a lot of unnecessary nipple shots in the manga so if you’re into that kind of stuff then this might be for you.
The manga does the interpersonal relationships and the character development so much better than the anime. A lot of the characters behave more logically and their relationship were better than that portrayed in the anime. Despite the last 10 chapters being quite rushed, it managed to wrap everything up quite well. I felt that if we don’t count how rushed the last 10 chapters were, FranXX is excellent as a standalone manga.
As for the ending, yes, the manga ended where I felt the anime was supposed to end: right after the Gran Crevasse battle.
No, Zero Two and Hiro does not die. Nobody did except the Klaxosaur Princess and Dr. FranXX. I thought I wasn’t going to cry, mate, but Klaxosaur Princess was so endearing in the manga and they didn’t do her the justice she deserves.
For those of you who won’t bother reading, I’ll spoil everything here.
Warning: the following sections contains major spoilers for both the manga and anime version of Darling in the FranXX.
One of my top favorite things about the manga is how they developed the Nines. In the anime, they were just kind of there as the rival group, and even at their last scene, it didn’t pull any punches because we weren’t given any opportunities to care for them as people. However, in the manga, they were given their own mini-arc which really highlighted how each of the Nines really cared for each other’s lives and well-being, not just about bugging Zero Two. It also served to highlight the Klaxosaur Princess’s quirky, no-care personality. As she dealt a direct attack to Alpha’s cockpit, she’s just like ‘welp this is what you guys do when you attack Klaxosaur cores, no?’ Even though the rest of them aside from Delta were just kind of left out, Alpha was given the chance to shine in the manga, and he really did shine.
The Nines’ sacrifice finally made sense, they didn’t just pop out of nowhere to die (esp. Alpha) while everyone else was like ‘uh…thanks?’ They gave their lives for each other, not for some dumb stuff instilled into their heads. The Nines weren’t introduced as Papa’s loyal slaves, so they don’t seem as smug and come off as respectable elite pilots instead of a gang of jerks. Well, Papa still tried to get rid of them but squad 13 and Hachi protected them, so there’s less gang rivalry there. No, Ikuno did not have a reason to smack Alpha’s face anymore. No, Alpha did not give a damn about Kokoro and her curiosity about reproduction.
Two of them survived in the manga, but since the FranXX they used in the final battle were made from scraps of all the Nines models, I guess they fought together until the very end, which was really touching. The manga really did the Nines justice.
Actually… you know, I kind of want AlphaxIchigo to happen… their chemistry in the manga, even though it was only for one scene… oh no I can’t start another ship… nope, nope. This one won’t sail. Nope. Shit, I cant see the AlphaxDelta fans out to get me…
One thing I also like is that it was actually Futoshi who suggested the partner swap with Mitsuru, with Ikuno’s consent. The manga also gave us some of Futoshi’s inner thoughts, and we see how he really cares for Kokoro. Remember that scene in the anime where they pan the camera so that Kokoro is in Futoshi’s hands?
Yeah, that was my impression of anime Futoshi. Manga Futoshi is also overprotective of Kokoro to a certain degree, but in the end he placed his friend and his partner’s well-being above his own feelings, which is really… painful, but very respectable.
In the following chapter, we also see Futoshi yelling ‘do your best, Ikuno!’ before she goes off on this really badass choreography instead of the awkward air they had in the manga, which is a major improvement in my opinion. Futoshi and Mitsuru also cleared it up between themselves. He’s also really kind and funny. We get a really small shot of him with his future girlfriend at the end of the manga as well.
Kokoro did not become a creepy teen mom in the manga (thank god) and her relationship with Mitsuru felt like one of genuine support. Remember that Mitsuru and Hiro promised to pilot together when they get older? Yeah, they kind of got that opportunity when Mitsuru had Hiro in the cockpit while Genista drop him off at Zero Two’s place. Kokoro was like ‘I’m happy for you Mitsuru-kun’ and she was also the one who suggested that Mitsuru go talk it out with Hiro. I went and read my older review of Kokoro and Mitsuru and the manga didn’t make their relationship seem like ‘that one man close at hand would be the father’ kind of deal because Kokoro wasn’t that obsessed about pregnancy (she also didn’t get pregnant). There’s some real affection going on, and even without the wedding scene, I feel that their relationship is more wholesome.
However, I felt that even though the manga did almost everyone justice, they didn’t do so well on the Klaxosaur Princess. They made her really endearing with her spunky personality, but they had to end the story with her as the main villain when she actually wasn’t meant to be. We really sympathize with her throughout the whole ordeal. Well, at least she managed to chase away the last of the VIRM and destroyed everyone and everything who’s wronged her(+Zero Two). She also got to witness the radiance of the ‘bird that shared its wings’ thingy at the end and protected the world her kind worked so hard so save, but it was rushed as hell. Okay, her death is passing the baton over to the kids who’re the last survivor of mankind. Okay. But man, I still feel like her death was rushed too much. She really didn’t deserve to go like that.
Another thing was the VIRM. Nobody gives a shit about VIRM here and they didn’t really have to chase them into space because they were suggested to be there as ‘catalyst for human sin’ or for destruction of the earth. Earth was destroyed by humans and they left. They were treated as ‘the force which you cannot comprehend’ kind of deal in the manga, so I don’t think the manga really needed to go through that whole space robot unicorn waifu ordeal just to wrap the whole thing up. Although I don’t get the dystopian showdown (Papa vs the kids) I wanted to see in this series… you know, it would’ve been perfect if the APE were just like ‘y’know, Klax Lady? Since we already put the virus in you and we’re pretty sure you’re gonna blow up anyway, you can kill us. We don’t care since our objective is already complete. We’ll disappear and laugh at your demise in the afterlife.’ And then Klaxosaur Princess blew them up without bothering with the VIRM stuff (just please, cut the VIRM out from DarliFra. Please.), then Hiro and Zero Two destroys her to prevent the world from blowing up. There. Perfect. No loose ends with the VIRM. Nice ending for the Klaxosaur Princess. Now she dies to protect the world not to uh… just scream at the VIRM?
One of my biggest complaints with ending the story at that point is that Goro and Ichigo didn’t happen. Oh well, at least they got a thumbs up at the end. It’s just the beginning of it all. At least Zero Two didn’t turn into a giant robot unicorn waifu and she can live the life she’s always wanted with Hiro, squad 13, and the two survivor of the Nines, and who the hell ever that made it out of that apocalypse. It was a fulfilling ending but it was too rushed. Maybe 4-5 more chapters, slow it down, and it’d be perfect.
Is the manga or anime better?
I dunno, I think they’re supposed to complement each other. Those who saw the anime will appreciate the manga for its alternate version of the story. Those who only ever read the manga will discover more worldbuilding details in the anime. Also, the manga felt like a ‘rewrite’ of the anime where they fixed the character interactions and plot events that were just ‘wtf?’ But in the manga, we don’t get the gorgeous animation or music or Haruka Tomatsu screaming ‘Darling’ every ten minutes.
If we’re judging purely on the story, to me, I like the manga’s version of the story more.
That was the gist of the manga. Thanks for sticking around.
For all of my Darling in the FranXX posts, you can check here.