The world of DARLING in the FRANXX is not one that values human connection. While the Franxx pilots have to work together to make their mechs work, the adults of the world don't seem to care about their feelings beyond how it influences their effectiveness in battle. The adults themselves live cold and sterile lives, largely remaining apart from each other beyond what is needed for practical purposes. In spite of this, the very connections that the adults ignore are where Hiro and Zero Two draw their strength.
From the moment they meet, Hiro and Zero Two are drawn together by their shared past. Even though each doesn't recognize the other from their shared childhood moment, the draw leads them to pair up and pilot Strelizia, a feat neither were completely capable of alone, Hiro unable to connect with any other pistil and Zero Two consuming her co-pilots over the course of 3 sorties. When they're together, the two of them easily mow down klaxosaurs. Zero Two moves in with the rest of Squad 13, and the two gradually grow closer as they pilot Strelizia more and more. Even then, there's still something missing in their relationship.
Affectionate as they are, Hiro and Zero Two don't truly connect at first. Zero Two continually sets herself apart from the rest of the squad and only seems to concern herself with the physical side of her relationship with Hiro. She's physically affectionate with him all the time, but rarely talks about her own emotions or anything more personal than what she finds fun. Even though they remain together for quite some time, Zero Two keeps herself emotionally distant. Hiro mostly goes along with this because he doesn't fully understand love or any of the other emotions he feels around Zero Two, but things change as he learns more. He starts to reach out to Zero Two out of a desire to grow closer and help her with her problems, but Zero Two continually rebuffs him and only focuses on the physical side of their relationship, which is all that she seems to care about.
Things come to a head when Zero Two begins to grow desperate in her quest for humanity, refusing to follow the plan or work with Hiro, and attempts to take control of Strelizia alone. Strelizia takes on a bestial form, only reverting back when Hiro and Zero Two remember their time together as children. This is also where we learn that Zero Two's single minded desire to become human ultimately stems from the same yearning to connect with someone else Hiro's feelings come from. She ultimately realizes that Hiro's feelings mirror her own and finally starts to reach out to him, only to by stymied by Ichigo and the rest of Squad 13, who fear what could come of Hiro and Zero Two's continued saurification.
What follows is an episode full of nail-biting tension as the two repeatedly try to be together and are kept apart, both by external forces and their own emotions. Hiro is paralyzed by his own hesitation, while Zero Two turns all her feelings into rage against klaxosaurs. It's only when Hiro enters Zero Two's room and sees the damaged walls and broken mirror that he understands the self-hatred and insecurity driving her. Finally understanding that she holds the same desire to connect with someone else that he does, Hiro seeks her out on the battlefield, and the two finally open up about their feelings and pilot Strelizia once again.
The moment where they finally come together can only be described as complete and unbridled joy. Strelizia powers up and tears through the klaxosaurs with more power than ever before, but that barely registers to Hiro and Zero Two. As they pilot Strelizia, they're constantly calling out to each other, declaring their love, and rejoicing in the feeling of finally connecting with the person they were always so drawn to. To them, fighting the klaxosaurs and saving the Plantation is just another thing they can do together. Zero Two's sly and mysterious attitude is replaced by pure happiness, while Hiro declares his love for her without a care in the world. Their happiness is a bright light that shines through all the angst, deceptions, and conspiracies populating their world to let them be completely together.
Being together doesn't solve everything; the klaxosaurs are still a threat, the adults are still keeping secrets, and nothing has happened to stop Hiro and Zero Two's saurification, but none of that matters. Wherever Franxx goes from here, Hiro and Zero Two will face it as one.
Skyler has been an anime fan since he first saw Naruto on Toonami. He loves action shows and strong character writing, and finds writing about himself in the third person awkward. Read more of his work at his blog apieceofanime.com and follow him on Twitter at Videogamep3.