Mamerto Adan is an engineer by profession, but a writer by night. He loves toys and knives, and has a martial arts background.
Initially, I’m not too excited about the Darling in the Franxx. I thought the opening was too generic for a mecha anime and there was too much fan service. I would say that the Darling in the Franxx is a childish (and more sexualized) version of the Neon Genesis Evangelion. Nevertheless, the series began to grow in me as the series progressed, partly to that pink haired girl with horns.
Apart from the part that she reminded me of a real person I met (a hyper female office mate), Zero Two stands out from the rest of the female characters in the series. For one thing, she is eye-catching. Her character design which incorporates red and pink shades, not to mention horns and fangs sets her apart from the already attractive, but more muted designs of her peers. For another, she got a great personality. Zero Two is a complex mix of character. She is laid back, liberated, fun loving, rebellious, tomboyish, flawed, strong, fierce, and sometimes unsympathetic before becoming more humane. And speaking of humane, her character development was lauded by fans and critics alike.
All in all, I could say that Zero Two was what drawn me to the series. Darling in the Franxx is not a perfect series, and it still need a lot of work to match the Evangelion Series, Macross, and even the Gundams. But character-wised, she is a memorable waifu material that rekindled my interest to mecha anime outside my personal Big Three (Gundam, Evangelion, Macross). Soon after I finished the series, I still can’t move on and I wanted to know more. Whether or not we will see a sequel is still debatable, but after surfing the net to know more about the horned chick we love, I managed to compile some secrets behind the girl we call as Zero Two.
And below are some of those.
1. She Was Originally Designed with Black Hair
Aside from the horns, the eye markings, and the cute sets of fangs, the pink hair is another distinct feature of our beastly babe. And it is hard to imagine Zero Two missing her brightly colored crown, but during her initial concept design, Zero Two was presented as black haired. In fact, as Masayoshi Tanaka (the character designer for the series) explained, they first had an image of a “badass transfer student”, a more muted and subdued Zero Two. Back then, Zero Two’s initial design was a small and quiet girl, wearing black uniform that matched her flowing black hair. We could just picture a parallel reality, with fans watching an alternate Zero Two that is different from the Zero Two we knew. Eventually, the team decided that the design won’t work, and they dropped the black haired Zero Two. We then ended up with the striking, and more colorful Zero Two, with more personality than romantic appeal.
And by the way, the black haired Zero Two, wearing black uniform is a stuff of nightmare. She looks more demonic and sinister!
2. Her Color of Choice has Deeper Meaning
Zero Two’s pink hair helped well with the marketing, as was always intended. And her hair matches her red uniform well.
And speaking of red, in Japanese culture, red symbolizes heroism. In the case of Zero Two, red helped flaunts to the world her strong personality, her liberated nature and her being hotblooded. This is a rather aggressive chick, which contrasted the rather passive Hiro, and red is a clear indication. Red also means a clear and present danger, as Zero Two proved too dangerous to other male characters. She is as dangerous as she is alluring.
Bear in mind that in mecha anime, red color is always worn by a special kind of character. The Gundam anti-hero Char Aznable made red his official color, and coincidentally the original Zero Two was portrayed as an anti-hero in the beginning of the series.
3. Her Animal Qualities
Bestial is the best word to describe her. The wild girl has horns and fangs, not to mention feral habits. Sometimes, her horns could be ears, and her penchant for licking likened her to a cat. Plus, the Stampede Mode of her mecha Strelizia is a big cat, a lion to be exact.
But if there is one animal that best described her, it’s the spider Black Widow.
Like the venomous arachnid that kills its mate, Zero Two is a partner killer. She is alluring, but deadly to work with, and the way she ensnared the hapless Hiro is comparable to how a spider traps its prey. The theme song “Kiss of Death” fits the show indeed!
And if Zero Two became notorious for partner killing, then she is the mecha anime version of a known horror character.
4. Zero Two is Like a Vampire
Anyone knows how vampires operate. They seduce their victims before draining them of their blood. The same fate awaits the partners of Zero Two, when she drained them of their life forces until they are goners. In fact, Zero Two once described Hiro as “Fodder”.
And going back to her chosen color of red, coincidentally red is also associated with vampires, and look Zero Two’s fangs are great analogue to the vampiric fangs.
5. She Resembled an "Oni"
Again, her favorite color red also denotes her nature as half human. Because in Japanese folklore, red is the skin color of a yokai known as Oni (demon). The Oni has a lot in common with the western iconography of a demon, like horns, claws, fangs, and wild hair. And Zero Two clad in her red uniform will bring in mind an Oni.
And just wait till you see her other versions.
As a kid, she never just resembled an Oni. She was an Oni, she looked barely human, from the weird eye color to the red skin. And her full demonic glory was also revealed in episode 12.
And it seems that an Oni has a special place in the mecha anime universe since the rise of the Evangelion series. The famed EVA units are based on Onis themselves, and coincidentally, the Darling in the Franxx seems to be following in its footsteps by featuring a demonic character.
But in my opinion, Zero Two reminds me of a Hannya Mask.
6. And “Zero Two” Could be Translated as 0-Ni (Demon) in Japanese.
Here’s the fun part. We know that Zero Two got Oni features. And if her code will be translated to Japanese, it will appear as 0-Ni. Now in Japan, the number zero will appear as what it is as in the west, As “0”. But the number two in Japanese is “Ni”. Hence, if you will translate her name in Japanese, and write it in Hepburn (non-Japanese character), it will appear as 0-Ni. Which resembles Oni, the Japanese demon.
7. Zero Two is compared to Rei Ayanami
Zero Two is also a classic example of a mysterious and overpowered mecha leading lady. We got C.C. in Code Geass and Rei Ayanami in the Evangelion series. Though some fans likened her to Asuka Langley of the EVA series due to her womanly aggression, Rei Ayanami is a better fit for her. Like Rei, Zero Two shared a special bond with the rookie male protagonist. And yes, their other halves are rookies while they got all the skills and experiences. Both are also overpowered half human that could trigger the apocalypse if they want to. In fact, I’m just looking for a fan theory that Zero Two was an alternate version of Rei Ayanami, and Klaxosaurus are just clones of Angels.
8. The Odd Couple
It’s becoming a trend in the mecha anime since the 90s. There were probably more that came before them, but Heero Yuy and Relena Peacecraft was just the start. Shinji and Asuka came next, and more followed. The thing here is we have an unconventional couple with an unnatural romance life (“I will kill you,” as Heero said). And the Hiro - Zero Two love team made my head itch. Their story is basically Beauty and the Beast, gender switched, with Zero Two serving as the female beast. But then she is also the beauty, but better if we never dig deep to the issue.
Oddly enough, we have a masculine girl here and a feminine boy here, with the boy turning into a human Klaxosaur near the end of the series.
9. Left-handed and Talented
10. Zero Two is The Tallest Girl in the Squad
Again, just in case you haven’t notice, this girl is taller than any of the female members of their squad. Zero Two was described as tall and athletic. She is even taller than most of the boys and she towers above her consort Hiro. Again, this seems to reflect their “masculine girl, feminine boy” pairing. The more refined Hiro got an aggressive, rebellious, and somewhat outrageous girlfriend. And if being an amazon is not enough, her klaxosaur blood enabled her to throw their misbehaving squad members around. I mean she almost killed Ichigo, though this might please most fans.
Special Mention: She Reminded me of some Fairy Tale Character
The girl wants to be human, that’s why she wants to kill as much klaxosaurs as possible because she believes that this will make her human. Ironically, it made her more bestial, or more savage up to a point where she becomes more and more like a klaxosaur. If you are a fan of classical Fairy Tales, you will be reminded of Beast from Beauty and the Beast. Which comes as no surprise as the Darling in the Franxx is basically its gender swapped version. Then there is Pinocchio of course, and his desires to become a real boy.