Taboo Tattoo Episode 2: Fighting on Two Fronts
In Taboo Tattoo episode 2, Surprise Attack, the Selinistan Kingdom falls to a murderous hard-liner; Bluesy Fluesy makes a harsh proposal to Justice Akatsuka; Tōko Ichinose almost becomes a stalker and immediately lives to regret it; and speaking of regrets, Tom Shredfield has plenty when he answers the door.
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What Happened (Spoiler Free)
Recovering from his wounds, Akatsuka is shocked when Bluesy tells him that she and Tom are with the US military, and he either joins them or they repossess his Tattoo — and his arm along with it.
The next day, Bluesy joins Akatsuka’s class as a transfer student from Los Angeles. During lunch, he agrees to join them, but on one condition: he violently resist anything immoral.
Princess Aryabahta obliterates the world’s political status quo when she and the Sealed who follow her overthrow the king and queen of the Selinistan Kingdom and declares her intent to bring the whole world under her dominion.
Akatsuka visit’s Tom and Bluesy’s house, but she’s still at school installing Tattoo activation sensors; she asks him to wait over the phone. He doesn’t know that Ichinose, jealous of his sudden interest in Bluesy, followed him. Realizing she was turning into a stalker, she decides to go home, but a Sealed stops her — in a bad way.
At school, Bluesy is attacked so quickly that the blast separates her from her chalk. Trying to buy time, she muses out loud that while she’s fighting the Kingdom’s R. R. Lurker, someone else must be attacking her house. He confirms her theory and resumes his assault.
Akatsuka exits the basement to find Tom on the floor and soaked in his own blood. The last person he would ever expect stands over him.
The rest of this review may have spoilers, so please be careful!
What Happened (Spoilers!)
Bluesy and Tom take Akatsuka back to his home after he defeated Theodore Wilson (at the end of the last episode). Bluesy comes clean with him: she tells him she and Tom are both with the United States military, and that they’re in Japan to retrieve the tattoos. His is one of their targets. She asks him to join them or face having the tattoo removed — probably at the cost of his arm. They also tell him that his Void Maker will likely kill him if he’s not trained. Akatsuka tries to blame everything on Bluesy and the military; she responds saying that he wanted power to achieve his goals (justice) and that nothing comes without a price.
What was the price she paid? She’s trapped in a too young body forever.
The next day, Bluesy shows up at Akatsuka’s school as a transfer student from Los Angeles. Of course, she’s immediately popular, and of course, the other boys in the class react badly when they find out she already knows Akatsuka. Ichinose is displeased, too, when Bluesy acts too friendly to her childhood friend.
During lunch time, Bluesy and Tom confront Akatsuka and ask if he’s ready to join them. They admit they don’t know everything about the Tattoos. They also tell him that Tattoos are ancient relics. Driven by his desire to become stronger for the sake of justice, Akatsuka joins them, but with a stipulation: he won’t do anything immoral.
After school, Tom and Bluesy are walking home. Tom asks if they’re report Akatsuka to their superiors. Afraid he’ll end up imprisoned or worse, she says no; she’ll handle him herself.
In the Selinistan Kingdom, the king and queen, who were moderate and honorable, fall to the forces of Princess Aryabahta and her sadistic forces. She, as well as key members of her forces, wield Tattoos. As she sits on the throne, she makes it clear she won’t be happy until she rules over everything on Earth.
The next day, Akatsuka tries to sneak to Tom and Bluesy’s house; he doesn’t want Ichinose to see and get upset. Unfortunately, she does see him leave, and she tails him.
When he arrives, he’s scared to ring the doorbell. He has visions of the house being crammed full of weapons and other military materiel. Instead, he finds Tom home alone smoking a cigarette. Bluesy calls and said she’ll be there when she’s done; she’s still at the school preparing some technology to detect the activation of Tattoos.
Ichinose tailed her friend to Tom’s house. She suddenly realizes that she’s become as bad a stalker as Bluesy was last episode, and she prepares to leave. That’s when she runs into another Sealed.
Inside Tom’s house, Akatsuka’s surprised at how normal it is. While Tom’s on the phone learning about the fall of the King of Queen of the Selinistan Kingdom, Akatsuka retrieves a box from the basement. He comes back up the stairs to find Ichinose, an umbrella with a bloody tip in her hand, standing over Tom as he writhed, bleeding, on the floor. Seeing her childhood friend, Ichinose says that she’s found the trigger-less Tattoo, and that she’ll take it back for her princess.
Bluesy was just finishing her work when R. R. Lurker, an agent of Aryabahta’s, attacks. His first strike was so fast that it separated her from her supply of chalk, which is the catalyst for activating her Tattoo. His lewd comments disgust her, but without her chalk, she can only buy time by asking if another agent is attacking the house.
Akatsuka has no idea what to do, since the attacker’s his dear friend Ichinose.
What I Liked
Akatsuka looses his temper and grabs Bluesy by the collar. He demands answers. Nonchalantly, she grabs his wrist and flings him to the floor. It’s not that I condone brutality: I liked this scene because a) it reinforced how powerful Bluesy really is and b) it showed she knew how to help Akatsuka get ahold of himself. He’s a good fighter himself, but he needs to learn that Tattoos and their users (the Sealed) are dangerous.
I give Ichinose points for smacking Bluesy on the head for illicit fondling. I’ll also give Bluesy points for taking it without fighting back. Obviously, she could have fought back, but she seems to know she had crossed a line.
When Akatsuka asked Bluesy why she was in the military, she didn’t hesitate when she answered that she wanted to stop a war. Specifically, a war between the US and the Selinistan Kingdom (a fictitious China, maybe?). That impressed Akatsuka enough to join them. I can’t tell if she was faking her conviction or not — I’m not sure she knows! I like that kind of ambiguity.
It might be cliche, but I had to chuckle at Aryabahta playing a video game as she walked through the blood of her fallen enemies on her way to sit on the throne. How bad do you have to be before human death is less important than your game score?
Ichinose realized that she was becoming a stalker, and the realization shamed her into stopping. Self-awareness is a trait too seldom seen in characters. I like to encourage it whenever possible! Unfortunately, it dawned on her a little late, when she was already at Tom’s house and in the vicinity of the other Sealed.
The chains swinging ever so slightly under the dress of the Sealed that confronted Ichinose? That was creepy! It was a simple visual effect, but it forced me to confront how other this Sealed was.
Okay, this might sound creepy, and I don’t mean it to, but I have to applaud Bluesy for wearing underwear that’s sensible for combat. Nothing frilly, see-through, or pink; she’s wearing sports underwear that’s perfect for fighting. That sensibility almost makes up for the non-sequitur with Ichinose earlier in the episode!
What I Liked Less
The opening scene, when Bluesy writes in black felt-tip marker on Akatsuka’s forehead, felt really forced to me. Even Tom going through Akatsuka’s desk looking for porn didn’t seem funny to me. This show’s at it’s best for me when they’re focused on the tattoos and the tattoos’ mysteries (oh, yeah — and the fighting!). It doesn’t seem to work when it tries to be cute (with the exception of Bluesy’s chibi-form).
Tom explains to Akatsuka that once the tattoo’s affixed to the body, it puts down roots and is hard to remove. That’s why they would need to remove his arm. Why, then, in the first episode, did Bluesy leave the unidentified man with just a bloody palm? Is Tom intentionally misleading Akatsuka? Was the unidentified man very new to tattoos? Or was this a plot hole? I don’t mind ambiguity if it’s clearly intentional — and this didn’t seem clearly intentional to me.
Why did Bluesy, a US military officer, have to aggressively fondle Ichinose’s breasts? Again, in my defense, I don’t mind fanservice, but this just seemed gratuitous.
Tom grilled Akatsuka before opening the door. Why would he not do the same thing before approaching the door when the remotely-controlled Ichinose rang the bell? That didn’t seem consistent to me.
The show feels uneven to me. There are some moments that are genuinely unnerving, like the chains swinging under Ichinose’s attacker’s skirt or the blood dripping from the top of Ichinose’s umbrella. Then, there are some almost inexplicably awkward moments, like Bluesy fondling Ichinose’s breasts or Akatsuka’s jealous friends throwing him out of the window.
On a good note (good from the perspective of being dramatic; not good for our characters), we get to see Aryabahta launch her plans and take over the Kingdom. The first episode did a good job establishing that the US and the Kingdom were really close in terms of global power, and now one of those global powers is under the control of a nearly insane despot who walks through pools of blood (some of it her family’s) while she plays video games. That’s a good way for a plot to foreshadow bad times for our heroes!
The two-front attack works dramatically, too. We’ll get to see Bluesy cut loose against a formidable foe next week (she’s done well so far even without her chalk!). And the Sealed taking over Ichinose presents our hero with a gut-wrenching choice.
The short version? We should see some serious combat next week!
Reviews of Other Season 1 Episodes
- Episode 1: Tattoo
- 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
- Episode 12: The Deciding Battle