3 out of 5
Directed by: Yūki Itō
covers season 1
Takt Op. Destiny is fun. I don’t want to take away from that. It’s got some great beats that uniquely combine classical music with over-the-top anime action, and some enjoyable (if stereotypical) character interactions that help endear us to the main cast. The road trip structure of it provides consistently good set pieces, and the creature design finds a balance between being threatening and cannon fodder, meaning it makes for a good cliffhanger when they show up… but is also plenty believable when they get their collective asses kicked by only one or two people.
But: Takt Op. is also a big distraction game, in which a flashback structure temporarily masks what is actually a very generic setup, and a willful lack of questions regarding its alt-future logic just underlines that genericness – there’s no need to read between lines and suss out hidden depths, so though the high kicks and gun acrobatics are surely distracting, once the distraction is over, so’s any need to think about the show.
At some point, a stone was discovered that contained energy which greatly advanced mankind. From this energy, two leagues of power-imbued humans evolved or were created: Conductors and Musicarts. Musicarts are “born from music,” and tend to be personified as cutesy anime girl types – tsunderes, moe, etc. – who transform into weapon-wielding fighters when the time is right. Their abilities can be best guided by Conductors – male, baton-waiving dudes, pretty much akin to Pokemon trainers. I’m sure this sounds wonderfully gender balanced and not problematic at all, but Takt Op. thankfully just uses it as a structure to come up with some fun costume and weapon designs, and leaves most of the overt ogling and loli stuff off to the side. It’s there if you want it, but (the following said with a big sigh) it’s not distracting, and it’s not exactly the master / slave relationship as being suggested here; the relationships have their balances, with the Conductors moreso on the sidelines than dictating anything directly. But, yes, chalk this up as another way the show clouds its simplicity: the Conductor / Musicart dynamic (both part of a government organization called “Symphonica”) is not explained directly, giving us a runway of several episodes where the writers can make it seem way more complex than it is.
…At some later point, a meteorite crashed that is somewhat the opposite of that original stone: it unleashes the “D2s,” which are human-munching monsters creepos that feed on music, creating our dystopia-tinged world in which everyone is afraid to have public gatherings with songs, lest the D2s storm through and wreck everything.
Takt Asashina (Kōki Uchiyama) and Cosette (Shion Wakayama) are a newly discovered Conductor / Musicart pair, but their relationship is different, with the two’s powers acting more parasitic towards the other than is the norm. And so they hop in a car with Cosette’s big sis Anna (Kaede Hondo) to go cross country to the Symponica headquarters, and figure shit out.
Cue state-by-state battles, and drip-fed background on the premise, as well as some fomenting, world-changing threat involving the D2s.
MAPPA and Madhouse team up on animation, and though some later episodes feel subject to budget limitations, these are two notable names who deliver a lot of notable work throughout the series. The leads’ characterizations are really good, with some nice, subtle acting – well supported by the voice cast – and the action is generally top notch, especially when the beats are synced up with the various classical pieces that have inspired the Musicarts.
But, as mentioned, once the concept is established, there’s nothing more to it. The big, evil plot has an unintentionally humorous twist which discards one villain for another one… with the exact same evil plot, and the Pokemon reference is pretty spot on: once you glean to the structure of the battles, the setup just cycles, with Takt and Cosette losing some ground, learning a new tactic, besting that episode’s beastie, and then the group drives to the next state.
It’s still fun, though, and moves quickly enough to execute these distraction maneuvers without being annoying. And with those animation studios’ backings, it’s a slicker, sharper looking affair than a handful of other battle anime that might otherwise take up your time.