Seigi is an ordinary teenage boy in Japan (who is of course trained in martial arts) who is given a tattoo that has some mystic powers and then gets caught up in a battle between nations that may or may not have world ending consequences.
If you followed my week to week posts you probably already know my opinion on this one. While the first two episodes were generic and cliché, they didn’t really do anything too wrong but everything after that went down hill. Given I’ve already done the episode by episode break down, I am not worried about what might be a spoiler so if you haven’t watched this yet and you intend to, maybe pass on the reivew. Overall opinion is to give this one a miss.
Let’s start with the plot because this is probably a good study in how not to write a story. Firstly, let’s introduce way more characters than we actually need and ensure that they each take up screen time while we introduce their particular one note quirk (because that’s how you distinguish characters) and then let’s ensure we knock them off unceremoniously and without any reason in a battle we aren’t going to explain or justify other than these two groups are opposed. And then let’s do it again only bigger and with less purpose. And let’s splinter off one group from the two main ones just so we are clear on which characters are going to somehow survive even though they also serve no purpose.
The motivation driving the characters is weak, generic, or insane. At no point do the writers ask you to care about why the characters are doing things because the explanations are dreadful and actually make you care even less. The consistent introduction of characters who are unlikable and fairly pointless (and their pointless deaths) just disconnects you further and you cease even trying to remember the names of the latest character/victim who has entered the scene. Trying to give us a ‘mentor’ type character mid-series was an improvement but I’m still not actually sure what his goal was or why he though Seigi (the apparent protagonist) could pull it off or why Seigi felt any sense of obligation to adopt his goal so all and all while BB (the mentor) did help improve the show nothing was going to save this ship from sinking.
The villain is equally unrelatable. Her goals make no sense (I’d even prefer the old I’m going to destroy the world because I’m evil motive over the I’m going to save the world by destroying it) and her actions make it impossible to believe that she actually thinks she’s saving anything. More importantly, why did she turn into that monster thing in the last episode. Seigi did (apparently) because the science guy made him drink something and then activated it during the battle, but given advantage it gave Seigi during the battle it made no sense for the Princess to follow. And the throw away explanation that somehow Seigi and the Princess linked because she kissed him however many episodes ago does not make sense.
And that is the problem with the plot. The logic behind it has failed horribly and completely. It doesn’t even work using narrative logic in which rules are established early in the plot (that may not make sense) but are at least consistently adhered to. This show just throws new ideas and new rules at you to justify increasingly illogical actions and powers until we are literally left with two monsters pounding each other into the ground before one of the characters runs away. The end.
I’ve touched on the character flaws already but beyond them having no sensible motivation or taking appropriate actions, they just aren’t good characters. Even if we ignore the side-note canon fodder characters the ones we are asked to care about give us little to no reason to do so.
Somewhere from the first three episodes to the last three we are asked to transition our thinking about Izzy. She starts off as the brazen person in charge who sweeps in and changes Seigi’s whole life. Then, mostly through the introduction of BB and that story, we’re somehow supposed to start seeing Izzy as a victim(?) of the tattoo’s and someone who needs to be saved. Why does there need to be someone to save? Because Seigi is apparently completely incapable of seeing bigger pictures and needs to fixate on something concrete and childhood friend girl get’s knocked off during the first major battle. If this transition in Izzy’s character had been dealt with well maybe the series could have pulled it off and some of that last episode might have made sense (maybe). However, the transition is clunky and after one flashback it is as if the writers just assume the audience have made the leap and they don’t bother trying to do any further development they just give her the new character.
The Princess is… who knows. She leers and makes speeches and occasionally kills people but in honesty I have no idea what I was supposed to think about her. Was I meant to see her side but dislike her methods? Was she supposed to be a monster? I am absolutely clueless as to what they were trying to do with that character. Which makes it really, really hard to care about events when the villain is that clouded.
Before I move on from characters I am just going to touch on Tom. He’s there from the start but is not important, interesting, and he does not develop. He exists only to ask question, scream, and occasionally carry another character. Why?
Having failed to deliver a plot that makes sense or characters who are interesting or develop in any kind of logical fashion, does Taboo Tattoo succeed at anything?
Episode 1 would have you believe that the fights will be visually impressive. Does that standard get maintained? No. Battles become increasingly messy affairs with a focus on reaction shots rather than combat and then we just shed any kind of elegance for two giant monsters flailing at each other in the final episode.
The music is forgettable but not back. I don’t know why they felt the need to play the opening theme over the final battle (maybe it was to avoid more character dialogue but who knows) given it didn’t seem to match the tone at all, but that’s the least of the show’s problems.
There are some themes touched upon that might have been interesting but the messages are buried (when they aren’t entirely contradictory) beneath poor plotting and characters.
Alright, I hated this. I don’t say that very often, because usually I find something to appreciate in a show I’ve watched all the way through. But there is just nothing. Episode 1 was okay but everything after that just got worse and worse.
Feel free to disagree but I am interested in what you thought of Taboo Tattoo if you managed to make it through.