The Gundam Franchise epitomizes the Mecha anime genre, which has existed for quite some time now. We have seen, however, that the influence of many other shows like Neon Genesis Evangelion has caused the genre of mecha to rise and change. It may change a lot, but giant robots will always be a part of mecha anime, regardless of the series. Unassuming male protagonist and horned female pilot of a giant robot called a Franxx pair up in Darling in the Franxx (2018), a title that depicts the unlikely pairing. Does this sound familiar to you? The Franxx gives you six like Darling in the Franxx in case you want more of the same! Of course it does. That’s why we’re here.
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1. Eureka Seven
As a teenager living in the sleepy town of Bellforest, Renton Thurston yearns to escape and join the mercenary band Gekkostate. But, torn between his grandfather’s expectations that Renton will become an auto mechanic like him and the lingering ghost of his deceased father Adroc, Renton can only find joy in riding the Trapar Wave Particles in the air, a sport that is eerily similar to surfing. A Light Finding Operation (LFO) that crashes into Renton’s garage changes his boring life forever. When Eureka, a stunning pilot, emerges from the robot, she requests that it be serviced. Once they discover that Eureka is a Gekkostate member, Renton’s wish comes true: he is now a co-pilot on the Nirvash.
For those who enjoy complex stories, beautiful art, and intense jet-fueled robot combat, Eureka Seven may be a show you’ll become enamored with if you’re anything like me. Similarly to Darling in the Franxx, this mecha shows the audience a situation where the main character becomes involved with a mysterious female main character (FMC). They end up co-piloting massive robots and plunging into battle in both stories.
During the construction of the Kurobe Dam, a prehistoric artifact was found. It was for this reason that the United Nations Kurobe Research Institute was created. While visiting her mother, Shirane Yukina, who is the facility’s head scientist’s daughter, manages to unlock the artifact, which then reveals a naked Sengoku Period samurai named Ouma Kennosuke. With these developments and an impending alien invasion, Yukina is forced to join Kennosuke in his giant robot Kuromukuro to defend the Earth from the aliens.
KUROMUKURO is a new video game in the long line of series that have featured male and female protagonists sitting together in the cockpit of a giant mech. Aside from their protagonists’ relationship, Kuromukuro and Darling from Franxx have a lot in common in that both feature an ordinary citizen who holds the key to controlling a robotic relic. The main difference is that this time around, the high school protagonist is a girl.
3. Neon Genesis Evangelion
The year is 2015, and the world is on the verge of a catastrophic biological attack known as Angels. All hope rests with the United Nations agency NERV, which developed the robots known as the Evangelions, which can defeat the Angels. The head of NERV, Ikari Gendou, is looking for pilots who are compatible with the Evangelion so that the robots can reach their full potential. Evangelion Unit-01 is the first time in years that 14-year-old Ikari Shinji is forced to meet his father Gendou and sent into the NERV with a special mission – becoming its pilot. Will Ikari Shinji go down in history as a hero or a villain bearing the weight of the human race on his shoulders?
NGE is revered as a classic mecha anime that introduced many new ideas to the genre as a whole. However, that’s not why we came to talk about it today. Two anime series share the concept of having teenage characters work extremely hard in order to become fit giant robot pilots, all in the name of battling a powerful foe. Another is the concept of synchronicity and compatibility; in Darling of the Franxx, it’s your compatibility with your partner and the mech that matters, while in Evangelion, it’s the pilot’s compatibility with the unit that determines whether or not they’re the right one to save the day.
4. Aquarion Evol
According to the story, in this universe, people live on the planet Vega under constant threat from beings from other dimensions known as the Abductors. Those responsible for the kidnapping are from the star system Altair. Neo-DEAVA, a self-defense group, was formed in response to this threat. As pilots of the Aquaria mecha suits, both men and women are strictly separated by sex on the battlefield. When the Abductors deploy a mecha suit of their own, however, chaos ensues. Forbidden Union: The union of a male and a female Aquaria is initiated by Mikono, who unwittingly summons one. There are repercussions throughout Neo-DEAVA from Amata’s actions because he raises several questions.
Aquarion Evol looks to be an impossibility on paper, but Amata’s actions create just the right conditions for it to happen just like Darling of the Franxx did to Aquarion Amata unintentionally created a situation in which two pilots are required to fly an Aquaria, similar to Hiro attracting Zero Two’s attention. Similarly to Darling’s story in the FRANXX, the series follows an unlikely duo as they team up to take on a foe far greater than themselves.
5. Star Driver: Kagayaki no Takuto (Star Driver: Shining Takuto)
The Glittering Crux Brigade, an enigmatic underground organization, frequently gathers in their underground fortress beneath the Southern Cross Isle. Stone giants with the ability to transform into giant robots are being sought in the “Zero Time” dimension. It’s the Crux Brigade’s goal to free the Cybodies from Zero Time and use them to locate and destroy the island’s four seal maidens. Seal maiden Agemaki Wako and her fiancé Shindou Sugata save Tsunashi Takuto after he washes up on the island one night. The Glittering Crux Brigade recruits Takuto when he arrives, and Takuto joins the local academy, where many students are secret members of the Glittering Crux Brigade. When it comes to Zero Time, Takuto has a secret ability: he can call upon his very own Cybody – the Tauburn. Can Takuto stop the Crux from breaking Wako’s seal with the help of this enigmatic ability?
Darling in the Franxx and Star Driver have a lot in common because both of their mecha are set in a school. Star Driver and Darling of the Franxx both feature a mysterious lead character, either Takuto or Zero Two. Animes Takuto and Hiro both take place in schools where the overall influence of the mecha changes the way students interact, with Takuto’s students serving as secret members of the Crux Brigade and Hiro’s entire school devoted to learning to fly the Franxx.
6. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
For the people below, the underground village where Simon and Kamina were raised is a myth. Simon is a shy, unassuming youngster with no real ambitions, while Kamina is a free-spirited young man determined to make a name for himself. After some digging, Simon comes across a mysterious artifact that turns out to be the key to a massive robotic war memorial they name “Lagann.” As their village comes under attack from above, the two rely on their new weapon and the assistance of Yoko Littner, the gun-toting redhead who lives on the surface. It’s clear that Simon and Kamina, along with Yoko, are eager to learn more about the surface world after the battle has concluded. The surface, on the other hand, is overrun by a race of humanoid creatures known as the “Beastmen,” who use powerful robots known as Gunmen to terrorize the surviving members of humanity. Having been exposed to the outside world, Simon, Kamina, and Yoko join forces to take on the Beastmen and reclaim Earth for the human race.
This mecha anime, despite its differences in style and tone, is incomparably superior to others like it. That’s where it most closely resembles Darling in the Franxx: both feature massive robots that are piloted by a group of people rather than just one. The Beastmen’s Gunmen, which are conceptually very similar to the Franxx, are piloted by the Beastmen. It is set in the near future after the end of the world, when humanity is on the verge of extinction.
The mecha genre, as demonstrated above, can take on a variety of personalities and employ a plethora of tropes. The codependency of co-pilots, as well as the codependency of machines and their human pilots, is a mecha trope that hasn’t gone away, according to reports. These stories feature a diverse cast of characters from a variety of settings and eras, but one thing remains constant: they feature mecha. Do you know of any other mecha shows like Darling in the Franxx that we missed? Let us know what you think in the comments section below!
Hoshi-kun is the author.
I’m a South African with a penchant for anything having to do with Japan, with anime being my primary focus. Sometimes, I create art on my own. Some people refer to me as Naledi, which is actually my given name. Because I rarely smile, people assume I’m a stoic (I do sometimes). Languages are something I enjoy learning. It’s as if Hoshi-kun and Naledi are one and the same.