Hey all, and welcome to Why It Works! We’re a few episodes into Darling in the Franxx at this point, so you’ve all had some time to get acquainted with its expressive robots, sullen teens, and improbably horny cockpits. There’s a fair amount to dig into with the show, but personally, I’m still most enjoying how well it carries through on the unique strengths of all its great creators. Darling in the Franxx is propelled by what amounts to a supergroup of directors, designers, and other key creators, and if you’re enjoying any of the show’s diverse elements, I’m guessing there’s something in its creators’ past works you’d love as well. So today I’d like to highlight one great past work by each of a few of Franxx’s key contributors, and hopefully give you all something new to enjoy!
Beyond “just” being the series director for Darling in the Franxx, Atsushi Nishigori is also contributing to series composition, making him even more of a key figure in determining Franxx’s fundamental nature. And Nishigori’s contributions to this series likely go beyond even those two roles; after all, having spent a significant amount of his career at Gainax and contributed heavily to multiple Hiroyuki Imaishi shows, it’s almost certainly Nishigori’s personal connections that made Franxx such a star-studded production in the first place. But as for his own works, Nishigori’s greatest production so far is undoubtedly The [email protected], a creative, beautifully animated, and very funny show that itself benefitted from a whole host of ex-Gainax animators. [email protected] consistently demonstrates Nishigori’s clear talent for stage-setting, and is also just a beautiful, inventive, and occasionally moving ride. I highly recommend giving it a shot.
Hayashi’s biggest claim to fame as far as anime credits go is Plastic Memories, a somewhat maligned original production that he apparently wrote up the scenario for himself. But sticking to anime offers a pretty misleading view of Hayashi’s talent; his greatest works are all in the visual novel medium, where he’s contributed heavily to Science Adventure titles like Steins;Gate and Robotics;Notes. Both of those visual novels have received solid anime adaptations, but I’d say Steins;Gate is the best of them, and offers a solid introduction to Hayashi’s mix of intimate character drama, sci-fi thriller leanings, and otaku comedy. If that story is anything to go by, Franxx’s heroes are in for one terrifying ride.
In addition to being Franxx’s animation director, Tanaka Masayoshi also handled its character designs – something you could likely tell from the start if you’ve seen any of his other works. From Toradora to Anohana, Waiting in the Summer to Anthem of the Heart (and, of course, Your Name.), Masayoshi’s character designs are always easy to spot. Expressive and soft-edged, with striking eyes and jello-like hair, his designs have breathed life into some of anime’s most sympathetic characters. I’m a fan of almost everything Masayoshi has done significant work on, but personally, I’d start with Toradora as the exemplar of his work. It’s his first major collaboration with writer Mari Okada (who he’d continue to work with on Anohana and Anthem of the Heart), and also just a terrific romantic drama, full of expressive characters, human insight, and beautifully animated highlights. Masayoshi is a unique and always-noticeable talent, and I’m happy to have him here.
It’s fairly misleading to refer to Franxx as a “Trigger production” – it’s actually being handled by A-1 Pictures, with Trigger providing specific and limited support. But if any part of Franxx could be considered true “Trigger material,” it’s the show’s fight scenes, which have so far been specifically handled by the singular Imaishi. Imaishi’s reign over Gainax and Trigger likely needs no introduction, but if you’re interested in an even more bombastic spin on Franxx’s giant robot battles, you should absolutely check out Gurren Lagann. Few people do over-the-top action like Imaishi, and though his style doesn’t necessarily feel like a perfect fit for Franxx’s more subdued narrative, I’m still excited to see what he pulls off next.
Franxx has a whole lot more talent behind it than just those four, but hopefully they at least offer a reasonable introduction to the many luminaries elevating this production. I hope you all keep enjoying Franxx, and also keep exploring the terrific artists who’re making it shine!