3 Episode Rule – takt op.Destiny

3 Episode Rule is a series in which I watch the first three episodes of a new anime and decide whether to stick with it or drop it based on those three episodes alone.

Takt op.Destiny comes from both MAPPA; who are responsible for Yuri on Ice, Jujutsu Kaisen and Zombieland Saga and was made in co-development with Madhouse; the studio that brought us A Place Further than the Universe, Death Note an the incredible first season of One Punch Man. I’m not usually a guy who follows studios too closely, but these two coming together to make this anime was reason alone for me to take an interest in this one.

As with many shows like this, the first episode takes place after the second and third, giving us a taste of the setting and kind of show this is going to be going forward. This happens so often, in that the first episode of a new series will end up feeling like a short, self contained movie that could just exist on its own. Like it was the proof of concept the animators turned into the pilot episode before the series started in earnest.

And like these onboarding episodes for new seasonal anime tend to be, this one is super impressive. As you expect from the two studios that came together to make it.

Set in a near future United States of America where “black stone” monsters have descended to Earth and have not destroyed humanity per-say, but forced them into a new way of living. While the much of the west and east coast seem normal, a lot of middle America has become a dead zone, filled with these monsters called D2s. Alien creatures with a powerful hatred for all things musical and rhythmic. It sounds a little weird granted, but given the tone of the show it works pretty well for its purposes.

Our main character is Takt; a young man whose father was an orchestra conductor. One who died in an attack from the monsters ten years prior. In the time since his father’s death, Takt had shut himself at home and just played the piano day in and day out. At the expense of his own basic needs such as eating and hygiene. I think he’s only kept alive by his childhood friend Cosette and her older sister Anna.

In Calafornia, where I’m assuming Takt lives, humanity are back to ticking over as normal. Just with the caveat that music no longer be played in any form. At least until the “Symphonia” are able to fully eliminate the D2s. And yet, despite the dangers, this seems to be a world where pianos are just left out in the open streets, jukeboxes are left powered on with a “do not use” sign on them and towns hold festivals where they allow people to play a grand piano on stage.

In the past, this would have seemed so freaking dumb to me. You’re living in a world where monsters could show up at any moment and destroy an entire city if they hear any kind of music. You’d have thought everyone would have destroyed anything out of fear and panic that can make any kind of sound. And yet they leave all these things out that could bring their doom at a moment’s notice.

That was then though. Today, I find this behaviour much more believable. Having lived through the previous two years and seen how people reacted and behaved during a real global pandemic, this reckless, almost delusional behaviour that they’re somehow except from the very real dangers happening in the world seems to much more (depressingly) believable.

One day, during an audaciously staged festival, Cosette and Anna draw Takt out of his home by dragging his piano to the park and almost forcing him to perform in front of the crowd. His eventual playing is a real moment of joy, both for the audience and for Takt. This series uses a lot of classical music and makes fantastic use of it. Which is a lot of the tone of the show. It treats music like this beautiful gift, one that humanity is much lesser for when being denied it. It likes to spend its time and marinate in the playing.

Despite them being in a “safe zone”, the festival is inevitably attacked. Centring on the stage where Takt and Cosette had been playing.

Takt’s arm is broken and Cosette is fatally wounded saving his life. I didn’t mention it before, but in the show’s intro they explain that before the black stone fell from space, other, brighter, stones also fell to Earth. Stones that seemed to react to sound and music. Such a stone Cosette wears around her neck. A stone that reacts and transforms Cosette into a “Musicart” named Destiny; something of a combination of a Magical Girl and Battle Angel Alita. Linked to Takt as her conductor, she fights off the D2s until she and Takt falter and ultimately need to be saved by another conductor and his Musicart.

While it seemed like the transformation had saved Cosette’s life, in the aftermath we learn that she is now an entirely different person. A Musicart that has occurred naturally in the world and not in a lab, made by the “Symphonia”, who are revealed to be warrior music conductors who make and control the Musicarts.

Thus kicks off the drive of the series. Takt, Cosette/Destiny and Anna begin a road trip from one side of America to the other, New York specifically to where the Symphonia is based and discover if Cosette’s previous bright personality can return from the now almost robotic actions Destiny takes. As well as figure out why she drains Takt’s life force when she transforms, two actions other Musicarts never need worry about.

Verdict: I wasn’t expecting anything from this one and was super impressed by it.

I suppose I may need to say this, but this is a fantastic looking show. You can usually tell that by the amount of images I was able to pull and fill the post with. With the studios behind it, you’d assume it’d be a given that the action sequences be amazing, in the first episode especially. It’s not just that though, behind all the goofy bickering between Takt, Destiny and Anna and the amazing battle sequences, this is a show about a love and admiration for classical music.

It’s music that’s the only thing that brings Takt joy, and a shared loved of that same music that made him finally realise he may have feeling for his childhood friend Cosette, the one thing that could bring him out of the ten year funk he’d been in since the death of his father. Only for her to tragically be taken from him just as he comes to this realisation.

And then for her to be replaced with an entirely different, devoid of any personality and an almost machinelike drive to destroy any D2s she senses nearby, without much thought as to the physical cost it has upon Takt’s body.

I came into this one expecting it to be one of the shows I end up dropping. “A series about classical music, this isn’t going to be for me”. That’s what I thought, but that’s the whole point of this 3 Episode Rule series isn’t it, for me to take shots on series I’d never previously have bothered with and to be surprised by them.

I have a feeling this might be one of my favourite shows of the season already, despite the extensive list of shows I’ve still got to watch over the coming couple of weeks. Based on the first three episodes alone though, this is definitely one I’d recommend people check out, the first episode alone is something I feel people should check out as a real impressive visual showpiece.

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