One of my friends asked me when I was going to write another Darling in the Franxx post and I wasn't really planning to, except maybe at the end of the series. We're now about seven episodes until the end, but something did happen that I think is worth posting about.
This episode just aired this Saturday, so if you're wary of spoilers, stop here!
What I'd like to talk about in today's post is what's happening with Hiro.
It's very common to have inter-species relationships in fiction. Sometimes they're very different species, but usually they're between a human and a character who has a human-ish form. Also, if one of them is to cross the species barrier to become more like the other, they overwhelmingly feature the inhuman female becoming human to be with her male human love. The reverse option is rarely considered.
The Little Mermaid serves as the model for a children's tale Zero Two learned as a child. A princess of beasts falls in love with a human prince at a distance, and sees a witch to have her wings removed so she can become human and be with the man loves. However, the princess is unable to remain a human forever because that is not what she truly is, so she is given the choice to kill the prince and live, or to spare the prince and die. Like the Hans Christian Andersen mermaid, she chooses death.
Though Zero Two does not seem to be overly concerned that she is the princess of her own tale, she likewise met a human, Hiro, when they both were children. He was nice to her when everyone else treated her like a test experiment, and she recognized that they were fundamentally different. Though the series hasn't explained how Zero Two lost her scaly red skin (yet), she files down her horns to the nubs they usually are and presumably does the same with her teeth and nails.
Zero Two's driving motivation for much of the series has been to become human so she can be with her childhood darling, and she's been fighting the alien klaxosaurs because she was told that eventually if she killed enough she would become human. (I have to ask why she would believe anything the military told her, considering how she otherwise behaves around them, but I guess that's a question for another day.)
Now Zero Two and Hiro have been reunited, they remember their shared past, and something is happening to Hiro as well. The reason he's able to partner with her, and can only partner with her, is due to him having ingested her blood when they were children (he was trying to clean a scrape on her knee by licking the wound). This also has the effect of increasing his "saurification."
The series hasn't fully explained the link between humans and their klaxosaur enemies yet, but Zero is somehow a hybrid of the two and we see the results of her own saurification after she devours a few dozen more partners. Her horns grow into antlers, she has fangs and claws, and her mind is almost completely feral.
Until this Saturday's episode, Hiro looked fine, though he was briefly hospitalized. He has heavy bangs though, and in Episode 17: Eden, Zero Two brushes them back to reveal that he appears to be growing horns as well, currently small enough that they haven't broken the skin.
Zero Two seems to be saddened by the fact his fate has changed due to meeting her, but Hiro does not seem to be bothered at all. He's never been put off by her appearance (not even when she was a feral little girl with red scales), nor has he ever asked Zero Two to become human like him.
I was really afraid that this series would end with Zero Two becoming human in some fashion so she could be with Hiro (assuming she doesn't die due to the fairy tale motif), because that would be pointless when he never asked that of her. But I would be perfectly happy if Hiro continues transforming to be more like her. He didn't ask for it, but he's not doing it for her either. It just happened and he's okay with it.