Takt Op.: Destiny: Anime Review

Takt Op: Destiny – the first part pronounced “Takt Opus” – is the second of the two anime I watched this season based on a mobile game – specifically a mobile game that wasn’t out yet. Unlike Pride of Orange – this was a show where how the ultimate game would work out in practice felt like it was a little more established from the get-go. This still left the question of whether we’d get a solid story out of the bargain.

Takt Op. is set in a post-apocalyptic future where mysterious alien entities known as “D2s” have come and are attacking anywhere on earth where there is music. Consequently, across much of the world, for the pure sake of pragmatic survival, humanity as a whole has given up music. The only force that can fight against them are Conductors, who are partnered with Musicarts – magical entities created from music and given human (normally female) form. The Musicarts do the fighting, while the Conductors help guide them in battle.

This is, in particular, a cause of disillusionment for the protagonist, Takt Asahina, the son of conductor Kenji Asahina, who died when an orchestral performance he was conducting was attacked by D2s 10 years before the start of the series. Takt ends up withdrawing into his (now soundproofed) garage, spending all his days playing the piano, with his childhood friend Anna Schneider coming, along with her younger sister Cosette, to check in on him, in his house in the US (in what appears to be California).

Conductor Takt and Musicart Destiny from Takt Op.
From Left: Takt, Cosette/Destiny

A little before the start of the series, Takt gets to perform in front of an audience for the first time during a festival done under the protection of the Conductors – only for a surprise attack by D2s to disrupt the event, and in the process seemingly killing Cosette and costing Takt his arm – except due to oddness around her death, Cosette ends up becoming a Musicart, named Destiny (taken from Beethoven’s 5th), with Takt as her conductor. However, the bond between the two isn’t completely stable, with Cosette simultaneously drawing power both from the intake of calories and also from Takt’s own life force. This leads Destiny, Anna, and Takt to go on a cross-country road trip across the United States.

For a show like this, it lives and dies by three things. The music, the fight scenes, and the characters (especially the Musicarts, since they are clearly what you’re going to be using your gatcha pulls on). First off, the fight scenes are tremendously well done. The show is done in a partnership between Madhouse and Mappa, two studios that have built their reputations on animating impressive and dynamic action scenes, and Takt Op. is no exception. The movement of the participants is quick and fluid, while still maintaining a solid sense of geography and perspective between all the participants.

All of this is underpinned by some solid music, combining original compositions by Ryo of Supercell, and use of pieces of classical music – in more than a few cases using the music that various Musicarts come from as themes for those characters. This is used particularly well for Destiny, especially since the opening of Beethoven’s 5th is so tremendously recognizable. At least on Earth anyway.

(Okay, I admit, I just wanted to use that bit from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)

And then there’s the characterization. A good road trip story, unlike an actual road trip, needs to have the right amount of friction between the participants. They need to get along well enough that they won’t go their separate ways but need to rub on each other just well enough for them to have some bickering to make the scenes of them in the car humorous and engaging. Thankfully, Destiny, Takt, and Anna have that chemistry. Destiny is tremendously literal-minded, with a focus on fighting D2s, eating sweets, and X-Factor’s lack of respect for walls. Takt is deadpan, focused, and obsessive with his desire to make music. Finally, Anna is the sole adult in the room at all times, stuck with having to rein in this manchild and a superpowered weapon.

It’s such an engaging story that it’s a damn shame that it stumbles on the ending. It’s not bad, it’s just poorly executed. We have motivations for the ultimate antagonist which feel like “Nihilistic Anime Antagonist #2 – I’m doing this horrible act that will kill tons of people for the greater good, and saving further lives. I’m just making the tough decisions.” Yes, there are situations where people in positions of authority in wartime have had to do pragmatic and difficult decisions, and you’ve already done the big one by banning music.

I do hope that the game does get an English release (if only because, as someone who listens regularly to my local classical music station, I wouldn’t mind playing a gatcha game where I’m drawing characters based on music I’m somewhat familiar with) – and I also hope this show gets a follow-up series down the road, much as the Fate/Grand Order prologue did.

Takt Op.: Destiny is currently available for streaming on Crunchyroll.

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