In Taboo Tattoo’s final episode, The Deciding Battle, Princess Aryabahta’s sisters get a terrible headache; Justice Akatsuka learns a valuable life lesson about revenge; Bluesy Fluesy has terrible luck with prosthetics; and Tom Shredfield steps forward as the show’s pivotal character.
Look. I’ll be up-front and honest with you. This is going to be a negative review. I admit I was foolish to hope the ending would somehow turn things around. So it you don’t care of negative reviews, no hard feelings if you want to skip this one.
What Happened (Spoiler Free)
Why did Akatsuka lose his battle against Aryabahta at the end of the last episode? We find out at the beginning of this episode: the Princess spells out for him exactly what trait prevents him from becoming more powerful. Is it too late for Akatsuka to make adjustments?
Meanwhile, Sanders considers detonating the nuclear weapon he stashed in the ruins. Tom tries to talk him out of it as Bluesy and Tamaki try to battle the Princess.
How will this final battle end? Will anything that happens make any sense?
The rest of this review may have spoilers, so please be careful!
What Happened (Spoilers!)
The last episode opens just before Aryabahta impaled Akatsuka on stone spikes at the end of the last episode. She uses giant stone hands to bat him around, cat-like, as she tells him that he capped his power when he settled on revenge as a motivator. Why? Because that a Tattoo’s power thrives if its user is altruistic. Since she’s willing to give her life for her goal of destroying humanity, Aryabahta is apparently altruistic.
Unwilling to let go of his thirst for revenge, Akatsuka hits the limit of his power, and she impales him.
Bluesy and Takami arrive to rescue him. Seeing how badly beat up he is, they decide he can’t continue to fight. Tom picks up Akatsuka and tries to escape while Bluesy and Takami attack the Princess. They make almost no progress; Bluesy loses her left arm (again).
Sanders‘ men rescue him against his will. As the Princess rises out of the ground, carried on some kind of winding structure, Sanders sees no other alternative; he pushes the detonator on the nuclear warhead. It does not detonate.
Akatsuka leaps out of the helicopter and embraces Bluesy, who was plummeting out of the sky. As he literally falls through the air, he figuratively falls into despair and asks that he be allowed to sacrifice his life for Bluesy’s, just as the Princess’ Tattoo beast tries to eat them.
That single act of altruism is apparently enough to satisfy his Tattoo, because they easily burst out of Aryabahta’s creature. Wiseman decides the time has come for him to act, so he remotely activates the pills that he tricked Akatsuka into swallowing in the last episode. The grow to consume Akatsuka and Bluesy and form the core of a new Tattoo beast that tries to fight the Princess’ Tattoo beast.
Even then, Akatsuka began to falter. It took Tom cheering him on to help him focus his efforts.
As they fight, Akatsuka realizes that the Princess’ sisters’ souls are helping power her attack, and that they will be in pain. To lessen the impact on them, he tries to bring the battle to an end as quickly as possible.
Wanting to help the Princess and to stop her sisters being in pain, Aryabahta’s oldest sister did something to disrupt the connectivity to the Princess’ Tattoo beast. Akatsuka rips her beast open and tries to punch her; she disappears.
They win the final battle.
What I Liked
Would it be bad for me to say that I like that this is the last episode? I hope not, because I do! So very, very much…
I’ve always liked the sound effects and editing in this series, and this episode was no exception.
So, we find out that altruism affects how powerful a Tattoo user can become? And that Akatsuka’s focus on revenge artificially limited him? Okay, I can buy that. Not so much that Aryabahta’s altruistic, but I can buy that a positive mind-set can positively affect power output. Still, it would have been nice to have some kinds before-hand.
Akatsuka gets pushed to the point of despair and turns kinda altruistic — enough to offer his life in exchange for Bluesy’s. That works for me. I don’t know why the Princess let everyone live that long, but I guess Akatsuka and Bluesy are beneficiaries of her lack of thoroughness.
We get to see that Wiseman’s plan to “poison” Akatsuka pay off by turning Akatsuka and Bluesy into a Tattoo monsters. So, they get to fight the Princess’ monster on equal footing. Except for the hundreds of souls powering the Princess…
Now that their relationship isn’t presented as a surprise, it was kind of nice seeing Bluesy get a chance to say goodbye to Brad Blackstone (a.k.a. BB).
What I Liked Less
Aryabahta? Altruistic? Despite her doublespeak definition, I’m not buying it. Between her pathologically molesting underlings to her brutal murder of her parents, I think altruism is foreign to her.
Why did Aryabahta gave Bluesy and Tamaki any consideration? Why didn’t she just swat them as she says she could have? Has she never read a single point from the Evil Overlord’s site? Rule number 40: “I will be neither chivalrous nor sporting. If I have an unstoppable superweapon, I will use it as early and as often as possible instead of keeping it in reserve.”
Why did Aryabahta just hang there in the air? Why didn’t she take out her opponents? Again, she should have consulted the Evil Overlord’s site.
Why was Bluesy floating in the air? How was she in a position for Akatsuka to grab her? What was he hoping to achieve? Why was the Princess grinning at them? Why did they fall so slowly? Too little in this show was coherent enough to make an emotional impact; instead of feeling anything for the characters, my poor brain was trying to figure out what was going on.
I don’t understand this equation: the Princess draws on the power of all of her sisters’ hundreds of souls (based on the shot of so many dormant sisters in stasis pods). So how can Akatsuka even keep up? Why isn’t he obliterated in the first punch? Why didn’t the show invest some time in letting the viewers know more about the basic Tattoo mechanics?
The fight between the two Tattoo monsters was perhaps the least effective of all fight scenes in the whole series. There were too many confusing closeups and too many repeated camera angles. Half the time I didn’t know what was going on; the other half I understood too well because i’d seen the same move just a second before — maybe several times!
I’m not sure how Akatsuka could hear Tom yelling over the roar of the helicopter or the Princess’ monster’s pounding. Tom may be a good cheerleader, but I don’t see how he could violate the laws of physics.
Why is anyone celebrating Akatsuka’s victory when they know the Princess is still alive? They know her power’s unbroken; she just lost a single fight. She’ll obviously be back. So what are they cheering about? That made no sense to me.
What was with the chants of “USA?” What was with the shot of a maniacal US President saying that we have the most powerful military in the world? Why are Tamaki and Bluesy fighting the Princess at the South Pole? Who’s the old scientist saying the last battle is about to take place?
What does “What do the remaining two think?” Two Tattoos? Last remaining two viewers? Okay, that last one was cheap — but I kinda mean it!
The last minute and 30 seconds seem to say: See! The series wasn’t that bad! It could have been much worse! I watched show from start to finish; I watched each episode at least 3 times; and the final bit make zero sense.
At around 22:30, you can see Bluesy’s breathing fast — maybe she’s excited the series is over?
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I really wanted to like this show. The models are attractive; the fight scenes are well choreographed; the sound and music were solid. But the characters and plot?
How did this happen?
The show threw relationships at us as if their mere existence would be enough to provoke an emotional investment and response. Remember Lisa and Leo from episode 8? It came out of nowhere just in time for Leo to die. And I was supposed to care?
That’s not the way emotional investment works!
We saw it again in this episode. Aryabahta’s eldest sister (may have) sacrificed herself to save her sisters, including the Princess. But I had only met her once; I had no emotional ties to her. So her gesture felt empty, almost as if it were a plot checkbox.
Someone has to sacrifice themselves. Eldest sister buys it. Check!
The parts of this episode that resonated with me benefited from a long and slow development: Akatsuka finally understanding that revenge was “A Bad Thing” and his apology to Bluesy and BB, for example. Those are moments that were brewing since almost the first episode.
Put simply, the show lacked all emotional connections. It didn’t seem to have enough plot or character to encourage me to become invested in any of the characters or situations.
And don’t get me started on the last minute and 30 seconds of the episode. Just what in blue blazes was that? What did any of it have to do with the episode or the series? Why was the American president portrayed as a leering, maniacal madman? How did Bluesy and Tamaki get to the South Pole to fight the Princess? Who was fighting Akatsuka and why? Why didn’t they just run the credits and let us out of this madness?
I’m just glad it’s over.
Am I being too harsh? Was this really the work of a genius too subtle and amazing for me to comprehend? Or am I actually being too generous by wanting to like it? Let me know in the comments!
Taboo Tattoo Other Posts of Interest
Other Anime Sites
- Reddit: [Spoilers] Taboo Tattoo – Episode 12 discussion – FINAL
- Manga Tokyo: Taboo Tattoo Episode 12 (Final) Review: The Deciding Battle
- 100 Word Anime: Taboo Tattoo Episode 12
Reviews of Other Season 1 Episodes
- Episode 1: Tattoo
- Episode 2: Surprise Attack
- Episode 3: Misery Loves Company
- Episode 4: Distance
- Episode 5: Rescue
- Episode 6: Reunion
- Episode 7: Storm
- Episode 8: Creator
- Episode 9: The Past
- Episode 10: Letter of Challenge
- Episode 11: In the Palm of the Hand