Mecha is one anime genre that has been around for quite some time, and is best characterised by the Gundam Franchise. However, with the influence of many other shows, such as Neon Genesis Evangelion, we have seen mecha rise as a genre and undergo several changes. Despite however much it may change, on a fundamental level, we’re getting a dose of something from every single mecha anime: giant robots. Darling in the Franxx is a 2018 title which depicts the unlikely pairing of an unassuming male protagonist and the horned female pilot of a giant robot called a Franxx. Sound familiar? Of course it does, that is why we’re here – to give you six just like Darling in the Franxx in case you crave more of the same!
Similar Anime to Darling in the Franxx
1. Eureka Seven
- Episodes: 50
- Aired: April 2005 – April 2006
Living in the backwater town of Bellforest, 14-year-old Renton Thurston feels eager to leave town and stretch his legs – with the wanted mercenary group known as Gekkostate. He hopes to find adventure and live the way they seem to be living in every cover of their Ray:Out magazine; however, caught between his grandfather’s expectations that Renton will become a mechanic like him, and the haunting of his dead father Adroc’s legacy, Renton only finds joy in riding the Trapar Wave Particles in the air, a sport that is much like surfing. Renton’s boring life changes forever when an object found to be a Light Finding Operation (LFO) crashes into his garage. A beautiful pilot named Eureka emerges from the robot, requesting that it gets a tune-up. When it turns out that Eureka is a member of Gekkostate, Renton’s wish to join his heroes is granted – as he is now co-pilot of the Nirvash.
Eureka Seven is one of those shows that you watch and become enamoured with how complicated the story really is, how beautiful the art looks and the heavy jet-fuelled combat engaged by people in huge robots that is incredibly exciting. Like Darling in the Franxx, this is a mecha which presents the audience with a situation where the main character becomes involved with a female main character who is quite the mystery. In both instances, these protagonists end up co-piloting giant robots and diving head-first into the battlefield.
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: April 2016 - September 2016
During the construction of Kurobe Dam, an ancient artefact was discovered. As a result, the United Nations Kurobe Research Institute was established in order to study the artefact. Shirahane Yukina is the daughter of the facility’s head scientist and while visiting her mother one day, she manages to unlock the artefact, revealing a naked Ouma Kennosuke Tokisada, a samurai from the Sengoku Period. As a result of these developments, as well as a looming alien invasion, Yukina finds herself protecting the Earth from these aliens alongside Kennosuke in his giant robot or Kuromukuro.
Kuromukuro is another installation in a long line of series involving a male and female protagonist pairing placed together inside the cockpit of a giant mech, one with a fairly interesting storyline and great art. The similarities between Kuromukuro and Darling in the Franxx are apparent in the main characters’ pairing, but as well as the concept of having a civilian who bears the missing key needed to effectively pilot a robot relic. The main difference here is the high school protagonist this time is female.
3. Neon Genesis Evangelion
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: October 1995 – March 1996
In 2015, the world stands at the brink of destruction as large biological assailants known as Angels wreak havoc across the globe. The human race’s only hope lies in the hands of NERV, a special agency under the UN who have built the Evangelion, special robots capable of defeating the Angels. Ikari Gendou, head of NERV, seeks pilots who would be compatible with the Evangelion in order to realise the robots’ true potential. 14-year-old Ikari Shinji’s life is changed forever when he is forced to meet his father Gendou for the first time in years and sent into NERV with a special mission – becoming the pilot of Evangelion Unit-01. With the fate of the human race on his shoulders, will Ikari Shinji become a legend?
Heralded as a classic, Neon Genesis Evangelion is a legendary mecha anime which introduced quite a few new things to anime as a whole; however, that’s not quite why we’re here. Having teenage characters work incredibly hard in order to become fitting pilots of giant robots in order to fend off a powerful enemy is a concept that is common to both Evangelion and Darling in the Franxx. Another, is the idea of synchronicity and compatibility – in Darling of the Franxx, it takes compatibility with your partner and the mech itself, whilst in Evangelion, it is the pilot’s compatibility with the unit which determines whether or not they are the right one to save the day.
Any Anime Like Darling in the Franxx ?
4. Aquarion Evol
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: January 2012 – June 2012
In this universe, humans currently live on the star Vega, living in constant fear of the threat of trans-dimensional beings known as the Abductors. The Abductors come from the star Altair. In order to defend themselves, an organisation known as Neo-DEAVA was formed. They pilot highly advanced mecha suits known as the Aquaria and they are strictly separated by sex: men and women are not permitted contact, not even on the same battlefield; however, when the Abductors deploy a mecha suit of their own, chaos ensues. Mikono and Amata are two teenagers caught in the chaos and Amata unknowingly summons an Aquaria, initialises a process known as the Forbidden Union: union between male and female Aquaria. Amata’s actions send reverberations throughout Neo-DEAVA because he brings several questions to their attention.
While the initial premise seems to completely remove the possibility of the aspect which eventually makes Aquarion Evol much like Darling of the Franxx, it is Amata’s actions which create the perfect situation in that regard. Through his unconscious actions, Amata created a situation where two pilots would be needed to pilot an Aquaria, which is similar to Hiro catching the interest of Zero Two. Like Darling in the FRANXX, the series consists of an unlikely pairing working together to combat an enemy much greater than themselves.
5. Star Driver: Kagayaki no Takuto (Star Driver: Shining Takuto)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: October 2010 – April 2011
Beneath the Southern Cross Isle, an enigmatic organisation known as the Glittering Crux Brigade often gathers in their underground fortress. They are interested in finding “Cybodies”, stone giants capable of turning into giant fighting robots in a realm known as “Zero Time”. The Crux Brigade wishes to break free of Zero Time and use the Cybodies anywhere and plot to find and shatter the seals of the island’s four seal maidens. One night, Tsunashi Takuto washes ashore on the island and is saved by seal maiden Agemaki Wako and her fiancée, Shindou Sugata. When Takuto comes to, he befriends them and attends the local academy where many members of the student body are secretly part of the Glittering Crux Brigade. Takuto bears a secret; however: in Zero Time, Takuto is capable of summoning his own Cybody – the Tauburn. With this mysterious ability, can Takuto stop the Crux from shattering Wako’s seal?
The similarities between Darling in the Franxx and Star Driver lie in the fact that they are both mecha placed in a school setting. Both shows also have a mystery main character, which in the case of Star Driver, it is Takuto and in the case of Darling of the Franxx, it is Zero Two. Both anime are set at schools where the overall influence of these mecha makes student interactions different from your average school setting, with students at Takuto’s academy featuring as hidden members of the Crux Brigade, and Hiro’s entire school dedicated to the piloting of the Franxx.
6. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
- Episodes: 27
- Aired: April 2007 – September 2007
Simon and Kamina were raised in an underground village, hidden from the surface which has since become myth to the people below. Kamina is a free-spirit who is committed to making a name for himself, while Simon is an unassuming and timid young boy who has no real goals. While digging one day, Simon comes across a strange artefact which turns out to be the ignition key for a giant robotic relic of war that he and Kamina dub “Lagann”. When their village comes under a surprise attack from the surface, the two use their new weapon, as well as the help of gun-toting surface-dwelling redhead, Yoko Littner. After the battle, the village is exposed to the world above, with the sky in plain view, which prompts Simon and Kamina to explore the surface world with Yoko in tow. However, the surface is plagued by a tribe of creatures known as the “Beastmen”, humanoid creatures who terrorise the remnants of humanity using powerful robots known as Gunmen. Now exposed to the threats on the surface, Simon, Kamina and Yoko all join in the fray to fight the Beastmen and reclaim the surface for humanity.
While different in direction and overall feel, it cannot be debated that Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is an outstanding mecha anime. That is its main similarity to Darling in the Franxx – they are both mecha anime featuring giant robots piloted by more than just one individual. From a conceptual perspective, the Gunmen which are piloted by the Beastmen are very similar to the Franxx. Both anime are set in a post-apocalyptic future in which humanity has been driven to the brink of extinction.
As shown above, the mecha genre is fully capable of assuming several different personalities and display countless tropes. One mecha trope which has not died down by any account is that of the codependency of co-pilots, as well as the codependency of machine and their human pilots. These stories include various different characters set across various different worlds and time periods; however, the fact remains: they are mecha. Are there any mecha shows similar to Darling in the Franxx that we forgot to mention? Drop a comment below and let us know all about it!