Darling In The Franxx And the History of Twintails in Anime

The History of Twintails in Anime

Today is one of my favorite days. February 2nd has been designated by the Japan Twintail Association as a day to celebrate cute girls with twin ponytails on either side of their head. It’s fun to investigate the history of twintails in anime, and see where it came from. The hair style was popularized by doll maker Takara, creators of the Jenny and Licca-chan doll line, who made a doll in the “Jenny’s Friends” series named Meiling in 1988, which sported cute twin ponytails on either side of her head. The unique hairstyle was soon adopted by now-forgotten anime series like Idol Legend Eriko and Magic Angel Sweet Mint and went on to define 1990s anime through major series like Sailor Moon and Pretty Sammy. While the twintail hair style was launched in the late 80s, the name itself was taken from a classic Ultraman monster who shot beams from his raised twin tails.

As usual I struggle to keep up with all the anime series I’m following, since there seem to be more and more made every season. One show I’m enjoying is DARLING in the FRANXX, a futuristic mecha anime about humans who live in a fortress city called Plantation and who raise children bred to pilot mecha to fight an enemy called the Klaxosaurs. Because the anime is (partially) made by Trigger, I consider it an honorary Gainax work, and am thus compelled to analyze every camera angle and spoken line of dialogue. I’ve been a student of Gainax since forever, and would break their history down into the following sections.

  • The company’s beginnings, the classic Daikon III and IV opening animation. Every fan of my generation had a fourth-generation dubbed VHS in his collection.
  • The “Classic Years” when the company made bold SF-heavy works like Wings of Honneamise, Gunbuster, Nadia and Evangelion, which defined the high point of animation in each era. The influence of Hideki Anno was strong, and all was right with the world.
  • The “21st Century Gainax” era, when titles with a very different visual language were made, like FLCL, Diebuster and Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt. This pulled the company in a new direction, which some codgy old fans like me were slow to embrace.
  • The “Trigger Years,” when former Gainax staff formed a new company in 2011, giving us classics like Gurren Lagann, Kill la Kill and Little Witch Academy.

Should you watch DARLING in the FRANXX? If you like fun mecha stories, well-animated kissing sequences, love triangles and occasional themes about male performance issues, go for it!

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About the author

Peter Payne

I live in Japan and I run J-List, an anime shop famous for shimapan and Tentacle Grape. I love being able to bring Japanese culture to the world.