Takt Op. Destiny’s Tonal Shifts Need to Find a Better Balance

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Takt Op. Destiny Episode 1, "Conduct -Creed-" through Episode 5, "Equitation -Valkyrie-," now streaming on Crunchyroll.

Episode 1 of Takt Op. Destiny, strikes an elegant balance between slapstick humor, thrilling action and curious intrigue. It opens in a world where music is barely a memory and children stare at the curious relics that were once instruments. When a mysterious pianist rolls into town, his melodies attract not just an enthralled crowd, but a feral monster. Rather than flee, the musician takes to the rooftops with an otherworldly fighter, his rose-clad "Musicart" partner Destiny, to slay the beast. Victorious, the Conductor, named Takt, breathes a sigh of relief -- before hilariously falling face-first through the air, onto the pavement below.

These events kick off Takt Op. Destiny's tightrope walk between comedy and high-flying action. Destiny and Takt are whisked away by a woman named Anna, who calls Destiny "Cosette" and claims to be her older sister. It's soon revealed that the trio is on a journey to play music, defeat the monsters known as D2s and make it to New York. After Destiny jets off to kill more D2s, the remainder of the episode includes endearing odd-couple bickering between Takt and Destiny, a fight recap in the style of Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, pianos flying through the air, moonlit recitals with explosive interruptions, Neon Genesis Evangelion style abominations and plenty of beautifully choreographed fights concluded by faces meeting asphalt.

Destiny parodies Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt in Takt op Destiny

But the audience is quickly punished for finding joy in the delicate dance between these comedic and riveting moments. Episode 2 goes back to a time before the series' inciting incident. Takt, the orphaned son of the late Maestro Kenji Asahina, lives in a quiet town and is looked after by his neighbors, sisters Anna and Cosette Schneider. The latter looks exactly like Destiny, but has a far more bubbly and rambunctious personality.

Due to an invasion from the harmony-hating D2s causing public music to be forbidden, Takt has confined himself to his sound-proofed garage. At Cosette's insistence, Takt participates in a music festival put on by the Symphonica, the government initiative to prevent and battle D2 attacks. However, the heartfelt prologue turns to tragedy when D2s strike Cosette dead, making it clear that this will not be a cross-country buddy comedy.

Takt and Destiny blame each other for screwing up.

Episode 3 presents an even bleaker contrast to the premiere's charming humor. The newly revived Cosette fights back against the D2 horde in a brutal show of force, but quickly runs out of energy. As D2s surround them, she and Takt collapse on the ground. Unlike the opening gag from Takt's original freefall, the music and character reactions make it clear that they are in a dire situation. This sharp divide from the laugh-out-loud moments of the duo fainting in their debut makes audiences feel not only worried for them, but guilty for having laughed at similar moments in the first episode, despite the initial animation encouraging them to do so.

The subversion of the first episode's humor does not end there. Anna's panic-fueled protectiveness of Cosette becomes warranted when it's revealed that Cosette is essentially dead, replaced by the living weapon Destiny. Destiny's gluttonous sweet tooth turns sour when Anna explains that her homemade tarte was the only thing that could break Cosette's anxiety over moving. Even Takt and Destiny's entertaining battle banter turns into deadly recklessness, with Takt writhing in pain as she passively devours his lifeforce. Each scene hammers the lesson home -- near-death fainting is not funny.

takt op.destiny angry takt

While Episode 4 kicks off the team's road trip and lightens the mood slightly, it still highlights the grim reality of the show's post-cataclysm world with a Las Vegas where even gambling is illegal due to the state of things. Aside from the group's temporary companion Leonard jokingly pretending to be the trio's father, there is little in the way of the series' early lightheartedness.

Still, Episode 5 seems to strike a new tonal footing. Destiny's single-minded pursuit of sweets prompts legitimately funny moments where she ponders eating a cactus or skewers a chocolate mousse to savor like a popsicle. The show drops hints at potential main cast expansions with the masterless Musicart Wakure (or Valkyrie), while creating tension with rival Conductor-Musicart pairs like Shindler and Hell. Many of these moments create a truce between sincere laughs and nail-biting action. Though it may not resemble the first episode's zany eccentricity, perhaps it reintroduces enough comic relief and mystery to strike a harmonious balance with the more somber drama.

Takt Op. Destiny is an original anime, and the first work in a multimedia franchise. A mobile game, announced for a release later this year, is currently in production from Bandai Namco.

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