REVIEW: Takt op.Destiny has Glitz and Glamor but Struggles with Story

Season aired: Fall 2021

Number of episodes: 12

Genres: Drama, Fantasy, Action, Adventure

Thoughts: Takt op.Destiny’s teaser trailer dazzled audience members when it released and generated a considerable amount of hype due to the animation, character design, and music. Famous animation studios, MADHOUSE and MAPPA, united to work on this original anime, which is part of a multimedia project that includes a mobile app game. The anime looks to promise a synchronization of visuals, story, and characters due to the backing of the two studios, and I am one of the audience members who waited eagerly for the anime to air in the fall hoping to see that promise come to fruition.

In Takt op.Destiny, mysterious creatures called D2 have attacked the Earth and ravaged entire countries. Because the D2s are drawn by music, many countries decided to ban the playing and studying of music in an effort to protect themselves from the monsters. Through the creation of superpowered Musicarts and their subsequent Conductors, the world slowly pushed back the D2s and started to recover from the aftermath. However, when the D2s suddenly start to reawaken, it forces Takt Asahina, the son of a prodigious conductor, into a cross country road trip with Musicart Destiny and childhood friend Anna to the New York Symphonica while fighting the D2s they encounter along the way.

Takt op.Destiny has various aspects to be a really great anime, but unfortunately, it suffers in execution. This isn’t like your usual mobile game-related anime in which there’s no proper plot or themes. Takt op.Destiny definitely has something to say, and sometimes the anime successfully gets its point and emotions across. However, it simply doesn’t do enough to allow the audience members to immerse in the world and connect with the characters.

Anime had a story to tell

For one, the anime doesn’t do enough to show the audience the impact of the D2s on the setting. While the scenery is still gorgeous, the world itself feels emotionally flat. They dedicated only a single episode to explore how the absence of music and the arrival of D2s had affected the overall population. That episode was one of the best written episodes of the series. It was the first time I could feel the gravity of people’s pain and emptiness – portrayed excellently by a mother whose denial of her child’s death leaves her latching onto any young woman that comes by her house and a musician who lost his entire livelihood with little hope of ever doing what he loves again. However, the aforementioned episode comes at the halfway mark, which is far too late for the audience to actually care about the world and the stakes the D2 monsters bring.

Another missed opportunity are the protagonists’ character arcs — specifically those of Takt and Anna. Takt comes off as a stereotypically angsty teenager who only cares about what he wants to care about and disagrees on everything else. However, at the root of his character, Takt is dealing with overwhelming grief. His brilliant father died because of the D2s, and the country soon banned music after his father’s death, cutting off his biggest memory and connection to his father. Tying the world’s devastation with Takt’s own internal emotional struggle is the perfect way to connect viewers to not just the actual setting but also to the character itself. It’s far more effective than what the anime opted for — Takt complaining, not listening to anyone, and obsessing over music at the detriment to others.

Anna, the babysitter of the three protagonists, also deals with a different form of grief, but she’s largely left out of the equation of the plot or character arcs. Despite getting advertised as one of the three main protagonists, she’s far more of a supporting character with little development, focus, or even much of a personality. She exists just to lecture the two other more chaotic characters and sighs in disappointment when they inevitably fail to listen to her and charge ahead.

Anna missing characterization

Overall, the anime would’ve benefited from a bigger inclusion of its supporting characters. Due to the anime’s lackluster attempt to integrate the journey with Takt’s character development, which leaves the protagonist unlikeable and uninteresting for the majority of the series, it leaves little alternatives amongst the characters for viewers to connect with. Out of its four supporting characters, two of them — Anna and Valkyrie, another Musicart — definitely could’ve been expanded on and be given proper character arcs. Any one of those two developments could’ve replaced the subplot regarding a forgettable and clichéd secondary antagonist.

The actual antagonist is better, as his actions are rooted in humanity and the grief D2s have caused to the world, but he’s undermined by the reveal of his motivations being too little, too late. The series literally explains his motivations via a montage in the very last episode.

I know I’ve written a lot of criticisms towards the anime, but this anime isn’t without its merits. First, the visual side lives up to the strong impression from the first teaser trailer. The visuals are stunning, and the production team did their research in the many American sceneries to be found in a cross country trip across America. While it is not in any shape or form a carbon copy of the country, the post-apocalyptic portrayal is beautiful and accurate to how one would imagine the US in a world of music-hating monsters.

There are some inconsistencies in the animation of this MAPPA and Madhouse co-production — broadly speaking, MAPPA was responsible for the less stellar dialogue-centric episodes and MADHOUSE was largely responsible for the exhilarating action-heavy ones — but even as a whole, the animation still rises above expectations for many of the anime that come out every year. The movements are fluid, the cinematography leaves a strong impact, and the fight sequences are thrilling.

Destiny has good character development

The merits aren’t just relegated to the technical aspects of the anime either. While I had a lot of issues with the story and characters, there are a few bright spots in this aspect of the show. Amongst the trio, Destiny goes through believable character development from a Musicart obsessed with hunting D2 into a character with a more humanistic outlook that paces perfectly with the series timing and creates a morally grey conflict that I adore. The episode where Takt’s grief finally boils over to the surface and could no longer be hidden under a veneer of “I don’t care” attitude is cathartic, and the narration does a good job at showing how people process grief in different ways and how it reflects in their individual behaviors. Conductor Lenny and his Musicart Titan are two charming supporting characters, and they light up the screen whenever they show up. One of my favorite episodes focuses on Lenny and Titan’s synchronized partnership and provides a direct contrast to the chaos of Takt and Destiny’s haphazard Conductor and Musicart relationship.

However, that’s the biggest issue. The episodes that shine like gold are hidden amongst a series of mediocre episodes. Taking the story and the characters as a whole, the execution ultimately feels flawed. For that, I think Takt op.Destiny will inevitably fall into the mountains of anime obscurity than make the mark it could’ve or likely hoped for.

Rating

Plot: 6 (Multiplier 3.5)

Characters: 7 (Multiplier 3.5)

Voice acting: 7

Art/Animation: 9

Soundtrack: 7.5

FINAL SCORE: 69

 

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