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This Week in Anime
Is takt op. Destiny A Poor Man's Symphogear?

by Steve Jones & Monique Thomas,

Stunning character design, cool fight animations, and a beautiful soundtrack isn't enough to win over musician Steve Jones this week. Instead, takt op. Destiny only serves to remind him another music-themed anime...

This series is streaming on Crunchyroll

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network.
Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.

@Lossthief @mouse_inhouse @NickyEnchilada @vestenet

Well, Nicky, it was only a matter of time before our Disney overlords recast Wolverine, and like much of the MCU, I can't say I'm very excited about the direction they're going in.
Well maybe after they kill all forms of music via money and copyright law. Y'know, after every other form of mass media entertainment is dead?

But cynicisms aside, this week we're opening our ears and our hearts to this musically powered modern fantasy: takt.op. Destiny!

Every anime season needs at least one title this nonsensical, and takt op. (as in opus) slings those consonants, vowels, and punctuation in service of an anime about fighting blue monsters who hate music very much.

And if that looks like a generic gacha game grunt to you, congratulations! We do indeed have a ~mixed media~ project on our hands with a mobile game tie-in already in the works! How novel and exciting!!
I'm pretty sure if I didn't know anything about this anime other than the visual or the title, I would mistake it for a Type-Moon spin-off (don't hurt me). Though knowing that it's a tie-in for an upcoming gacha game doesn't help.
I think it's natural to draw some comparisons to Fate. The premiere especially has a lot of polish and gloss flavored similarly to that which ufotable applied to their adaptation of Unlimited Blade Works (here in takt op. provided by a collab between MAPPA and Madhouse). Also this character design is the correct amount of ridiculous to be a Grand Order Servant.
Yeah, I don't really feel bad making that comparison because it's certainly something a lot of people would recognize. And similarly, this show shares a lot of other anime-action hallmarks, like the fact that the protagonist has about the same consistency in his personality as a piece of wet bread.
It'd be nice if that stopped at the protagonist! Every character here is written about as thin as the strands of horse hair in my bass bow. Everyone gets one personality trait: Takt loves music. Destiny loves desserts. And Anna hates both of them.

Tho at least she's sympathetic in that regard.
Yeah there's not a whole lot of depth or originality between both the cast and the premise of takt.op – even the opening exposition about space rocks doesn't add a whole lot to the actual story. Basically good rock made the Musicarts and the bad rocks made the mobs that the pretty music girls have to fight, aka the D2s.

But the story is actually this awkward road trip through an anime version of America. That's what I find more novel about takt op.
It reminded me a lot of the similarly-premised (and underrated imo) Garo -Vanishing Line-, and go figure, Kiyoko Yoshimura does series composition on both of them. I guess someone watched a lot of Westerns and on-the-road movies.

And I can't say I hate the uncanny Americana valley the show often dips into.

Yeah stuff like seeing an anime woman in a nationalistic-flag bikini is pretty funny. And not exactly wrong. For some reason, along with the connection to music, takt.op reminds me of watching one of MAPPA's previous series Listeners, which is also about music history. Though that one is MUCH weirder and totally fumbled its ending to boot. Anime girl Kurt Cobain deserved better!
It has such a weird—and occasionally on point—energy. So like, Las Vegas, for example, gets torn up by monsters and becomes a humble farming community. Sure, fine. But then the mayor or whatever steals all the government corn subsidy money and reopens the casinos for rich and privileged high-rollers while the workers tend the crops none the wiser. And if that ain't the American way, I don't know what is!

I can't even tell if this is deliberate satire because the episode devolves into a nonsense fight scene like the rest of them, but I applaud the accuracy either way.
And then there's like this moment when traffic cop says "Oh, Jesus" while cradling his shotgun and it's just an alien experience seeing your own country being abstracted through this distinctly Japanese medium we call anime.
I mean, I imagine it's what any average Japanese person thinks anytime a Western TV show or film takes a detour across the Pacific, but this reverse case does happen a lot less frequently, to be fair.
Now my brain is just thinking about the Bollywood versions of 9/11 so I'm just gonna leave everyone with that nugget of impulsive thoughts and not comment any further. Except that yes, I think Bollywood is comparable to anime.
Damn, tho, they really nailed how our entire economy and society is built on corn. And if you don't believe me, just ask Twitter user @SwiftOnSecurity.

The United States is one big corn party and you're invited whether you like it or not.
Well, as a Mexican-American, I'm not one to complain. As long as I get to bring enchiladas, which I've yet to see in this anime of food spreads. Though we get to see a variety of food porn but it's mostly a lot of American comfort food, and of course, sweets!

The plot reason for this is because Destiny/Cosette runs a high mana cost and has to constantly eat in order to keep fighting (and keep Takt from dying).

Which also means they have little time to waste trying to make their way to New York before the both of them just flat collapse on the road.
I like anime food and perpetually hungry anime girls as much as the next nerd, but here they leave a sour taste in my mouth. This is, again, all the independent characterization Destiny gets, and it's a joke that runs its course well before the curtains fall on the first episode.

Man, how many times have we done the emotionless female lead who nevertheless somehow warms up to our protagonist's complete lack of charm? You gotta give me more of a foothold than that, takt op..

The red eyeliner is ALMOST enough, but not quite.

Yeah, as I said, most of the actual characters or the premise aren't exactly original, except for the music and the Americana stuff. Some of it just feels like elaborate excuses to see some action and hit some plot beats. But despite the fact that it's shallow, I can't say I'm having a bad time. It's not enough to constitute a meal but it feels like a light snack – it's not heavy at all and it goes down easy. Call it popcorn, if you will.
It's fluff, and I don't mean to be too harsh on fluff, but it just rubs me the wrong way. It annoys me ~as a musician~, if I may don my pretensions for a moment. You have this framing where music is the most important thing in the world—our sole defense against the D2 menace—but there's zero musicality in the show's writing or composition. All of the music references are surface-level, the classical pieces are lazily incorporated, and music doesn't even factor into any of the fight scenes. They use swords and guns while a guy swings a conductor's baton like an idiot. It squanders anything that might make it stand out from the crowd.

Ah yeah, that is one thing I noticed that's different from something like Listeners, Those Snow White Notes, or Kids on the Slope. All of which definitely take the music part of their stories very seriously. We do occasionally get to hear a great piece of famous music in takt op. For example, I really enjoyed the recent episode where Takt plays "Rhapsody in Blue" in an underground jazz bar and gets lectured about the greatness of music from the bartender. It's nice, but it feels like platitudes. We get to hear a little of "Rhapsody in Blue" but it quickly cuts out before going back to it in a later scene.

Music isn't my expertise, but I understand how that can be pretty frustrating. Compared to something like Those Snow White Notes where the performance is absolutely the centerpiece.
Yeah, like, I love Beethoven's "Sonata Pathétique." It's one of my favorite pieces I've ever learned to play. So you would think its presence here would endear me to the show, right? And it might have, if this dialogue didn't make me want to throw up.

Also, they only ever quote the second movement. You'd think, if they wanted to explore this metaphor, they'd do it through the piece itself, but nope. It's all telling, no showing, and the telling is treacly to the point of nausea. One point in takt op.'s favor, however: the finger mocap for the piano playing shots is actually pretty decent. Gone are the days of Forest of Piano's dreaded sausage fingers. Hello, Takt's yaoi hands.
Sometimes the CG hands look more CG than others, with some extra sakuga in the mix, but overall the show looks very good. Including the few performance pieces we do get! MAPPA has always been well known for its stylish animation.
And the show can, on occasion, dazzle with its color and composition. Destiny's awakening scene uses her rose motif in a striking and grotesque way that I dig a lot.

As for the characters, the backstory is that one time Takt was playing the piano with his childhood friend (who he has a crush on) on stage and then D2s came and she died, transforming into the Musicart Destiny and losing every ounce of (non-existent) personality she had.
The sole interesting part of Takt and Destiny's relationship is that she's gradually eating him alive every time she uses her powers. The show, of course, hasn't done anything with that besides mention it, but I'll throw them the tiniest of bones for doing something cannibal-adjacent.
Now, normally that's not supposed to be happening nor are Musicarts just supposed to suddenly appear outside of the controlled environments of the Symphonica as we soon learn. But Takt gets to be one armed w/ cool burn marks that look like thorns, so it's got its benefits.

I actually think there could be an interesting metaphor about grief in all of this, like the fact that he is unwilling to accept this new person in his life because of the loss of his father and then his not-gf, or that maybe the real Cosette is somehow still in there and that Destiny is somehow preserving her by eating at Takt instead, but the show hasn't commented on it much because there's very little that goes through Takt's head besides music notes.

And zooming out, the core structure of the show is fraught in a lot of different ways. Like, even ignoring the uncomfortable gender politics of male conductors being needed to rein in and command the unruly and otherworldly female Musicarts, the dudes don't contribute anything to make the battles look or feel any better onscreen. They seem to exist solely to justify the identity of the player character in the eventual mobile game.

As an aside, I do kinda love Titan's Trix yogurt hair and Nerf shotgun, though.
I also really love her Maestro, Lenny, or at least his design. He's basically a mother hen who takes Takt under his wing to try and tutorialize his new partnership.
Yeah it's not like he has any extra depth to him, but he is at least likable, which is a bar that most of takt op.'s other characters fail to clear.
It helps that he's also pretty competent and seems to actually want to know what's going down with the Symphonica. He is a member but is deeply suspicious of the organization. I would be more interested in that if he didn't have to leave the show to go do his own thing. Also he's implied to be gay and may subtlety play into some stereotypes that could make people less happy, but I overall found him to be a very cool and mature mentor for the gloomy Takt and pushes him to be more serious about music.
Meanwhile our other main exposure to the workings of Symphonica is this guy, who is both a higher-up and a eugenicist. As if we don't have enough of those in our government already.
Later he calls anywhere where poor people live to be garbage dumps to his Musicart, who has another great design if it didn't remind me so much of a human Rouge the Bat from Sonic the Goddamn Hedgehog.

Oh yeah, it's revealed her name is literally "HELL" (Jigoku).
She an over-the-top breath of fresh air. Everyone else in the show is so tepid, but here she is, literally named Hell, ogling the main character, threatening to rip people's eyes out, and kicking ass with her giant heelys. Finally, some evil with charisma!

She's almost good enough to a Symphogear villain. And, by the way, Symphogear is the version of this series that doesn't suck. Go watch Symphogear.
I can't condone watching idols (unless they are zombies) so don't rope me into this. I refuse. Not even my significant other could make me watch Symphogear.
They're not idols! (Well, not all of them.) They just have to sing in order to fight, so you've got a team of girls shouting about giant bazookas in 4/4 time while another one of them punches the concept of God so hard that it disintegrates. Everyone can improve their lives by watching Symphogear.
Anyways, Nicky's pride points aside, we're not here to talk about other shows right now.
Actually, I still am lol. I was so disgusted by Destiny's ignorant condemnation of donuts here.

Let's hear from a REAL expert.

Thanks as always to Aquarion Evol for your timeless championing of this humble pastry.

I think private detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) has some words to say about that. Side note: Knives Out is also a good movie, especially for family holidays.
takt op., on the other hand, I can't say I recommend, over the holidays or otherwise. Too many other anime do what it does better. Maybe it had a dash of extra flair going for it at the start, but seven weeks of flat characters and flabbergasting worldbuilding have all but snuffed that flame out.
I think of it as decent anime junk food, just because it looks so nice. And I think good junk food anime that actually has the production values to pull off being enjoyable is starting to feel pretty sparse. Anime is a sea of endless trash where even good shows suffer from stiff or middling productions and it takes the whole wind out of them, especially for fantasy and action fair. We've had so many bad fantasy shows in the past few years, I can see where even a shallow show that's done 6/10 "good enough" makes me feel normal.

Though that all depends on whether you like the characters or not. Anyone who bounces off of them immediately isn't gonna like this show.

However, there's also never a bad time to go through your backlog. Especially if an anime season is particularly slow.

Yeah feel free to hit me up for recommendations! But for now, I'm putting takt op. out to pasture.
Rest in Pieces, Takt. Until next time!

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