Taboo Tattoo Episode 4: The Meaning of Friendship in the World of Tattoos

In Taboo Tattoo’s fourth episode, Distance, Justice Akatsuka injects some much-needed realism by undergoing actual training; Bluesy Fluesy struggles against her helplessness to stop the abduction of her friend Lisa Lovelock; Akatsuka and Tōko Ichinose run roughshod over Tom Shredfield’s reasonable and helpful advice; and Bluesy confronts the kidnappers, R. R. Lurker and Iltutmish.

Amazon has some Taboo Tattoo merchandise (plus another show that had good fight scenes, Sword Art Online). Please check it out!

What Happened (Spoiler Free)

Lisa's world just got a lot less comfortable. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
Lisa’s world just got a lot less comfortable. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Bluesy is working hard to train Akatsuka. Encouraging him to thwart a thief, she stands on a bridge and feeds him live commentary on his progress. Secretly, she’s amazed that he has adapted to Void Maker so quickly; she’s worried. Was he too good to be true?

Iltutmish drops from a helicopter and attacks Lisa, along with her guards. They put up a valiant fight, but how long can non-Tattoo users stand up to the likes of Iltutmish? What can Lisa herself do — even with her Tattoo — against such a killing machine?

Bluesy, in the middle of gym class, receives a distress call from Lisa’s guards. Akatsuka’s detector shows that Bluesy has activated her tattoo and he follows her. Can they protect Lisa? Or will the simply fall along side her?

The rest of this review may have spoilers, so please be careful!

What Happened (Spoilers!)

Akatsuka impressed Bluesy with how quickly he adapted to his training. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
Akatsuka impressed Bluesy with how quickly he adapted to his training. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Bluesy trains Akatsuka by standing on a bridge and monitoring him as he stops a thief. She’s amazed that he has adapted to Void Maker so quickly; she’s worried because she can’t imagine how he could adapt so quickly.

In the last episode, Iltutmish and R. R. Lurker received orders to kidnap Lisa. They attack her hideout just as she’s serving coffee to her guards; the poor guards die within seconds. Lisa tries to fight back, but Iltutmish is as skillful as she is ruthless. Soon, Lisa’s on the run. Bluesy receives a distress call and immediately leaves school to help her friend. Akatsuka follows her.

R. R. Lurker is waiting for Bluesy when she arrives. He’s set a gravity trap that pins her down. He tells her she’s affected by a system his people have developed that interferes with activated tattoos. He leaves her there, ostensibly because his friends will taunt him if he kills her so ungraciously. When Akatsuka arrives, Bluesy’s astonished that he’s completely unaffected. In a moment of weakness, knowing the risks she’s taking by making the request, she asks him to save her friend.

Akatsuka is wholly unprepared for what he sees in Lisa's apartment. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
Akatsuka is wholly unprepared for what he sees in Lisa’s apartment. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

When he arrives in Lisa’s apartment, he’s almost overcome at the sight of so much blood. He’s indignant and furious when he confronts Iltutmish on the roof as her helicopter approaches. However, his righteous anger’s no match for her cold and battle-honed technique. Only Tom’s grasp as he fell saved him after taking one of her strikes. Iltutmish and R. R. Lurker escape in the helicopter with Lisa.

Akatsuka and Ichinose both arrive at Bluesy’s house at the same time after receiving Tom’s summons. They think they’re going to help retrieve Lisa, but Bluesy handcuffs Akatsuka to a chair and leaves them with Tom. Tom tries to tell them they need to lay low — that Void Maker falling into the wrong hands could spell serious doom for all of them and for the world. Then Ichinose decides the moment’s right to declare her feelings for Akatsuka, and buoyed by that statement of trust and affection, he breaks free and escapes.

Bluesy confronts Iltutmish and R. R. Lurker as they try to board a ship with Lisa.

What I Liked

I really liked showing Akatsuka training — even if it’s against a low-level thief. Too often these shows don’t give us any sense of the work needed to fight. I even liked Bluesy’s role as watcher and commentator.

The show established some limitations to Akatsuka’s tattoo — it’s not a tattoo ex machina. It seems to fit into the series’ world in a believable way.

Lisa had her hands full with Iltutmish. Despite her years of training and her considerable power, she found herself at a disadvantage. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
Lisa had her hands full with Iltutmish. Despite her years of training and her considerable power, she found herself at a disadvantage. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Lisa put up a good, believable fight. Her tactics seemed sound and she showed off her strength. Her foe was just that much stronger and determined.

R. R. Lurker switches to monologuing mode when he captures Bluesy, but what he tells her about a system designed to inhibit tattoos is very interesting. So often devices like these tattoos just run amok across a show’s believability; but in this case, they’re trying to make them a realistic part of the world. Enemies develop their tattoos differently; they come up with different tactics and counter measures. I like that.

Bluesy panicked. She’s a completely cool, collected, and capable soldier. But in previous episodes, we’ve seen that she’s a little too easily swayed by her affection for her friends, and we saw that play out in this episode when she sent Akatsuka after Lisa. Bluesy knew that the cost to her — and Lisa, and Akatsuka — could be considerable, but she did it anyway. I like fallible yet sympathetic characters.

Akatsuka is still squeamish at the sight of blood. The scene in Lisa’s apartment, where Lisa’s guards lay dead of dying in various states of dismemberment, made him loose composure. I appreciated that bit of realism.

Ichinose struggles to keep up with events -- and her own feelings. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
Ichinose struggles to keep up with events — and her own feelings. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

All’s not calm between Akatsuka and Ichinose. She tries to pry as if they’re just high school students, and he looses his cool. I thought both of their reactions were realistic and endearing, as much as they were hurtful to each other.

I liked Ichinose’s somber reaction to Akatsuka when he arrived at Bluesy’s house. She’s in an emotionally difficult spot, and she’s doing the best she can, but it’s clearly hard for her.

Bluesy knew Akatsuka wouldn’t be good in a fight against Iltutmish, and she knew the risk of him being in the field. When she conspired with Tom to keep the young man in cuffs, she made the right choice.

So did Tom — he tried to clearly explain the risks to Akatsuka, but like any head-strong young man, he couldn’t accept what Tom was telling him. Sigh. Youth is wasted on the young…

The timing’s terrible, but Ichinose seizes the opportunity and confesses to Akatsuka. And in doing so, she reminds him of their relationship and his desire to protect her. I thought it was a sweet moment amid the chaos.

When he was trying to escape Tom with Ichinose, Akatsuka utterly lost control his Void Maker and destroyed Bluesy’s house. That poor rabbit was terrified! It’s nice to see a main character struggling with his newfound power. I think it’s too often that power or abilities seem to come naturally to characters. Some struggle is needed.

I like how Bluesy didn’t berate Tom for his failure. She knows how formidable Akatsuka can be. I think she was just happy Tom was still alive.

What I Liked Less

There's no way that poor thief's just walking that pain off! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
There’s no way that poor thief’s just walking that pain off! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

The hole the MC left in the thief’s chest looked fatal to me. Ordinarily, the fight scenes are the highlight of the show, so I’d like to see a little more realism.

When Iltutmish returned the kitten to the alley where she found it, it had no eye patch. Later, when it returned to her apartment, it has a patch over its eye. Where’d the patch come from? I doubt the wombat gave it to her.

So… many… butt… shots… I get this show is friendly to fanservice, and I can enjoy it as much as anyone, but I’d appreciate a little more subtly — especially when one of the subjects is a clearly underaged girl. Remember: as far as I’m concerned, when it comes to fanservice, if the subject’s in charge (think Miia), it’s cool; if it’s just a cheap-ish shot, it’s far less cool.

Why does a high school gym teacher wear tights? Okay, I shouldn’t begrudge fanservice from a male character (equal opportunity and all), but I have to wonder about this school!

Even knowing the dangers, Bluesy asked Akatsuka to save her friend. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
Even knowing the dangers, Bluesy asked Akatsuka to save her friend. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Akatsuka smacked Tom around pretty hard — weren’t Tom’s organs about ready to fall out? If you have to smack Tom around in his current state, do it gently!

At the end, when Bluesy confronted Iltutmish and R. R. Lurker, why did she bring the two soldiers with her? The two men who flanked her, even though they held assault rifles, were clearly little more than cannon fodder. Can’t say I approve of that!

Thoughts

I still think Iltutmish looks like Taiga… but with an attitude. Okay, more of an attitude. A lot more.

Was I the only one who expected Iltutmish to slaughter the cat when it came back to her? She’s not known for her gentleness…

Ichinose decides the moment's right to declare her feelings. In the middle of preparing for battle. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
Ichinose decides the moment’s right to declare her feelings. In the middle of preparing for battle. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

I wonder — when he reacted to Tom’s speech, how much of Akatsuka’s attitude came from him wanting to impress Ichinose? He’s clearly affectionate toward her, and she basically just confessed to him (interesting timing!). She reminds me a lot of Sohara Mitsuki from Heaven’s Lost Property, but with a powerful and mysterious Tattoo! And without the super weapon Ikaros to support her.

This show’s kinda all over the place. On one hand, I cringe at gratuitous fanservice shots at the expense of the character’s dignity or demeanor. On the other, we see quiet little moments like Ichinose confessing her feelings in a way that looked genuine to me. Plus, the show’s treated her struggle to come to grips with her tattoo in a way that felt realistic and sympathetic.

We also learned that R. R. Lurker’s backers are busily developing counter measures to the Tattoos. That could inject some interesting variables into the plot!

I’m still not sure how much I like Taboo Tattoo.

So — too much fanservice? Not enough? What do you think?

Reviews of Other Season 1 Episodes

Post Author: tcrow