I promise this is the end of this weird posting marathon I’ve been on lately, and also the end of the stupid unwieldy titles these posts are getting. The usual end-of-month post is still on its way, likely up this weekend.
For now, however, I have one more fall season anime series I want to write about. And the show has a bizarrely written title too! What a coincidence. Yes, it’s takt op.Destiny. Or Takt Op. Destiny, or however you want to write it. Afterwards to be known as Takt because I’m already tired of thinking about how the title should be written.
Our story opens with an overview of the global situation, which is pretty shit: Earth has been invaded by monstrously strong otherworldly beings called D2s that have caused great destruction and disrupted human civilization in general. For some reason, these guys really hate the sound of music — it greatly aggravates them and sends them into attack mode, and conditions have become so intolerable that people have been scared off of playing any music at all.
This world without music is pretty fucking miserable, but there’s a man who wants to bring that music back: one Takt Asahina, who shows up in a town square one day and starts playing a piano that’s been roped off. The people around are happy to hear music after so long, but the sound of Takt’s playing aggros a nearby D2 who falls out of the sky and begins wreaking destruction around town. But Takt has brought a weapon with him: Destiny, a girl in a frilly red dress with a giant sword-gun and magical powers who he commands with a conductor’s baton.
Destiny is a “Musicart”, or a manifestation of the power of music from a particular score. As we learn in the second episode, however, she wasn’t always a monster-destroying magical girl — this Destiny used to be a normal girl named Cosette, living with her older sister Anna and with Takt, the son of a famous conductor killed by a D2 attack years earlier. Takt is an excellent pianist, and despite their seemingly thorny relationship, Cosette loves his music, and it’s also pretty clear that they care a lot for each other — but of course that’s all blown up when yet another D2 attack kills Cosette and rips Takt’s right arm off. Luckily, the spirit of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony (the really famous one, yeah — titled “Of Destiny”, so there’s where her name comes from) is around to fix Takt’s arm and to revive Cosette, though she’s no longer Cosette but rather this strange, robotic-acting Musicart warrior.
Destiny and Takt now have a kind of psychic link, though because of inefficiencies in how she fights, she has to drain his life force to operate in battle. Anna is still around for her friend and her little sister, however, and with the help of another far more experienced Conductor/Musicart pair, the group determine that they have to get from the US west coast to New York to have Destiny fixed at a special facility so she can continue fighting without killing both her and Takt in the process.
That’s quite a premise, isn’t it? Sounds a little ridiculous, even by sci-fi anime standards, to have pieces of music manifest as magical girl sorts of beings who fight killer aliens. And maybe it is ridiculous, but fucking hell if it isn’t completely working for me so far. Apocalypse/post-apocalyse? Yes. The power of music harnessed as a weapon? Absolutely. Cute girls in frilly outfits firing lasers? It should go without saying by now, but of course.
The presentation is excellent so far as well. To be expected from a Madhouse production, in collaboration with Mappa who are no slouches themselves. The fight scenes are pretty nice-looking, and the more everyday mundane scenes of Takt, Destiny/Cosette, Anna and co. hanging around, driving, and talking are nice and detailed as well. Whoever worked on Takt who was responsible for the scenes in the diner must have visited an American greasy spoon roadside sort of place at least once, because they got it exactly right, down to the massive plates of great-looking heart attack-inducing food — see above; that pancake stack isn’t even much of an exaggeration, though you’d probably have to ask for a special order to get one that high. And that’s not the only meal scene so far. Damn, another anime that’s going to go out of its way to make me hungry. I thought I’d had enough of that with Today’s Menu for the Emiya Family, but there’s no avoiding that good-looking anime food.
That attention to detail extends to the music in the show. Makes sense, music being an all-important aspect of the story, but Takt feels specially designed for musicians and especially for pianists to watch. Takt doesn’t seem to have to play the piano to fight D2s with Destiny’s help; she’s already shown that she can just detect them on her own, though music does bring them out of hiding. But then Takt naturally wants to play every chance he gets, and so far the show has indulged us with plenty of great old music (all or almost all helpfully in the public domain too) — the second movement of Beethoven’s “Pathétique” and the first of his “Moonlight Sonata”, Duke Ellington’s “Take the A-Train”, and pretty sure there’s something by Scott Joplin and a few other pieces I’m too rusty to put my finger on just now. It’s all good, though, and if I get some Chopin and Tchaikovsky at some point I’ll be very happy.
All of the above would just be a lot of fun spectacle without compelling characters and an interesting story, but thankfully, it looks like we might have those as well. I like the prickly relationship between Takt, a sullen, moody artistic type who just wants to be left to play his piano in peace, and Cosette, who’s more excitable/cheery. And even when she’s possessed by Destiny and takes on more of a robotic personality, the two still have that sort of playful bickering going on. The question of whether Cosette is still somewhere in there, existing alongside or as a part of Destiny, is also unclear — while we learn that Musicarts essentially have their memories and perhaps even their old personalities erased, we’ve also met the Musicart Titan, who’s an excitable and energetic girl with a clear personality herself. Seems like finding out what’s going on with the Destiny/Cosette thing is going to be one of the main plot points, anyway.
So while I’m not usually into the typical “aliens attacked and now we have to fight them etc” story, I’m really liking Takt so far, because it takes that form and does something different with it, and it’s something that works. It might not be for everyone with its out-there premise, but it’s certainly for me, and I look forward to seeing where it goes from here.