Taboo Tattoo – Preview
Original Air Dates: Jul 4, 2016 to ?
Synopsis: Justice Akatsuka saves a man from a band of street punks. As thanks, the man hands Akatsuka a strange stone as a token of his appreciation. The moment it touches Akatsuka’s hand it dissolves into his skin, leaving behind a tattoo on the palm of his hand.
The next day Akatsuka runs into Izzy, a strange young woman. She attacks him and Akatsuka, thanks to the training from his grandfather, holds his own using martial arts. But Izzy’s power overwhelms him. From there Akatsuka finds himself embroiled in conspiracies centering around the tattoo now branded on his palm and talk of secret weapons developed in a war against a foreign kingdom.
1st Episode Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Taboo-Tattoo isn’t something you’ll be watching for its story, or its characters. No, that’s not the main draw, nor can those aspects even be considered bonuses. No, what you’ll be watching Taboo-Tattoo for is its stunning fight scene animation. This premiere showcased two outright brawls and both look amazing, sweeping camera action, fast paced exchange of blows. Even though I never once found the story gripping I still found that the animation really sucked me in and impressed me with the sheer visual fidelity. That said, the rest of the show’s animation varies, and there’s a bit of an issue with the blending of animation between the 2D characters and 3D rendered backgrounds that just doesn’t quite work as well as you’d like.
Linny: The beauty of the opening chase and other fight sequences are hard to miss but they also make the weaker animation in the rest of the show stick out like a sore thumb. In fact, those scenes seem to have a different shading, colouring and drawing style from the rest of the show making it almost feel like you’re watching two different series.
Tom: Justice Akatsuka (The show is painfully aware that his name is odd, putting it mildly) is our main focus of the episode. However, despite how focused we are on our lead, I have very little sense of who he actually is. As his name implies, he does seem to have a strong sense of justice, primarily on display during his brief altercation with a band of thugs at the start of the episode. We also know he lost his father when he was young and that event is where his sense of justice stems from, but at the same time I don’t feel I understand what Akatsuka wants out of life. It’s probably because he seems to be coasting through this whole secret weapon tattoo situation. While he’s caught up in these events, I never felt like I had a good idea of what he wants to happen, whether he wants this nuisance to go away, or become a part of it, or what. It’s like he’s merely there, along for the ride at whatever the series’ writer decides to throw his way.
Linny: While Akatsuka’s often snotty and teary flashbacks felt a little too hammy initially, at least they helped give him some substance and character. We get to know that he has had a tough life and continues to suffer at the hands of a strict grandfather. It raises some feeling of sympathy and makes you root for him and his newly acquired power, rather than immediately dismissing him as yet another generic do-gooder.
Tom: Akatsuka’s childhood friend/”wife” as everyone jokes, is a pretty standard “secretly in love with the protagonist” character. She feels all too familiar and while she might be more eager than others, there just isn’t enough yet to set her apart. Akatsuka’s grandfather, who trains him as we’re told through dialogue and later a brief scene, is an outright ass. He constantly reminds Akatsuka that his father was too weak to live. Another disappointing character is myself. Yes, that’s right. I, Tom appear in this anime as Izzy’s sidekick/assistant. Unfortunately their portrayal of me is so disappointing, so wimpy I’m forced into a corner and will be suing for defamation of character.
Linny: One of my major issues with the show is with its usage and insertion of comedic gags and visuals. While it starts off very dark and edgy, there is a lot of mood ruining gags randomly inserted in the middle of serious scenes. Comedy is often used to break up the tension in dark shows but Taboo Tattoo struggles to pull it off. The sudden and extreme change in mood and animation style feels too out of place and leaves the viewer confused rather than amused. I also struggled to understand some of its jokes which seemed more random than funny… and at times I couldn’t tell if the show was being serious or silly. One such case is how Akatsuka shows off his strength and fighting prowess by punching a falling leaf into pieces. It’s something that would admittedly take quite a bit of strength and skill but the thought of it kept making me laugh as I imagined him training up his strength as a kid punching wildly under a tree during autumn.
Tom: A big detractor is how fast we jump into everything. We don’t spend enough time on Akatsuka to understand his day to day life before we’re thrust into the series’ central plot. Things escalate quickly and suddenly when Izzy arrives and later on when an enemy agent shows up to take Akatsuka out. Escalation is fine, but without proper build up and tension the entire thing comes off as abrupt, sudden and lacking any real impact.
Linny: Taboo Tattoo needs better pacing and planning to become a more enjoyable show. Its combat animation is extremely impressive and attention grabbing, but it definitely has some work to do on its story and balancing its comedy to better gel with the flow of its darker aspects.
Tom: I’m finding Taboo Tattoo to be enjoyable in a “it’s so bad, it’s good” kind of way. Characters aren’t compelling, the story is rushed, and sections of the animation don’t gel well enough, but when everything comes together it has this bizarre train wreck like quality. It’s a lot like last season’s Big Order, just without the wildly offensive rape connotations.
Taboo Tattoo is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.com.