Taboo Tattoo Episode 5: The Struggle of Hopes versus Dreams

In Rescue, the fifth episode of Taboo Tattoo, Princess Aryabahta arrives in Japan to check on Iltutmish (among other things); Bluesy Fluesy tries to rescue her friend Lisa Lovelock and causes quite a stir; Aryabahta pits Tōko Ichinose’s dreams against Iltutmish’s hopes; and ping pong. Yes, ping pong.

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What Happened (Spoiler Free)

At some point, I assume that Akatsuka will learn how to fight. Sadly, that day doesn't seem to be today. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
At some point, I assume that Akatsuka will learn how to fight. Sadly, that day doesn’t seem to be today. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Bluesy confronts R. R. Lurker, who, with Iltutmish, kidnapped her friend Lisa. While she fights the man she calls vulgar, Iltutmish begins exterminating the US soldiers supporting Bluesy. Justice Akatsuka arrives in time to confront Iltutmish, but his tactics soon turn against him, and he finds himself face-first in a growing pool of his own blood. How will he defeat Iltutmish, known as Schrödinger’s cat, if he’s bleeding out? And why is his tattoo speaking to him?

Later, Ichinose engages Aryabahta in a high-stakes came of ping pong with her pride on the line.

Their house destroyed, Bluesy and Tom Shredfield have to find a new place to live, and Tom’s not at all happy about it.

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

What Happened (Spoilers!)

Tom tried hard to coordinate the troops, but Iltutmish was too fast. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
Tom tried hard to coordinate the troops, but Iltutmish was too fast. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Princess Aryabahta arrives in Japan while R. R. Lurker and Iltutmish face off against Bluesy’s troops. Iltutmish attacks the non-tattoo using troops while Tom Shredfield tries to coordinate their defense; but she’s too fast for him to keep up. Bluesy, too, seems to have her hands full with the vulgar R. R. Lurker as he shrugs off her point-blank gunshots to his head.

Justice Akatsuka and Ichinose arrive. She hides while Akatsuka engages Iltutmish. After Ichinose gives Akatsuka an ear-piece, Tom gives him the secret to defeating Iltutmish: she’s known as Schrödinger’s cat because her power’s based on the uncertainty principle. That means if our hero closes his eyes, he should be safe, because her position will be uncertain. Unfortunately, Ichinose was also an observer to the fight, so Iltutmish is able to deliver what looks like a fatal blow.

Unknowingly, in her terror at her friend’s state, Ichinose invokes her tattoo and is able to knock Iltutmish aside. In that moment, Akatsuka’s tattoo tries to convince him to negate his enemy — indeed, negate the entire world! That’s what the power is for, it tells him. Firmly opposed to that idea, he plunges his tattoo into his own bleeding guts. That both powers his tattoo and seems to heal his wounds. He goes on to defeat Iltutmish just as Aryabahta arrives.

I've heard that applying direct pressure to a wound can stop the bleeding, but this is ridiculous! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
I’ve heard that applying direct pressure to a wound can stop the bleeding, but this is ridiculous! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

The princess doesn’t attack. Instead, she tries to recruit our hero. He’s taken aback because he had assumed she and her followers were all blood thirsty maniacs. She takes Iltutmish and withdraws.

Bluesy has had enough of R. R. Lurker. She begins striking him not with bullets, but with shots of  explosive compressed air. She had been using her compressed air as a shield because she didn’t want to injure her friend Lisa. Now, she pummels her opponent until he falls. Unfortunately, She isn’t ready for the trap he set: the same device that had pinned her to the roof in episode 4. Lisa, having just escaped from being tied up in the back of the military vehicle, helps Bluesy destroy the device and defeat their enemy.

Perhaps establishing a pattern for how she’s going to do things, the princess arrives out of nowhere to collect R. R. Lurker. To quash Bluesy’s protests, Aryabahta shows them the Sealed of the trigger-less tattoo. She encourages Akatsuka to keep learning about tattoos because the Source wants him. Then she takes her minions and leaves.

Ichinose can be quite forceful when she wants to be. And here, she wants to be. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
Ichinose can be quite forceful when she wants to be. And here, she wants to be. Yes, those are the green eyes of jealousy. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

The next day, Ichinose and Akatsuka go shopping. He’s still trying to understand everything the princess said to him. As they’re walking to the grocery store, the princess and Iltutmish, dressed in street clothes, step out in front of them. Ichinose sends her friend to buy groceries as she challenges Aryabahta to a game of ping pong. The stakes? The princess leaves Akatsuka alone if she loses. If Ichinose loses, she’ll give up her breasts to the princess.

Shortly thereafter, Akatsuka and the three women sit in a park and talk about tattoos as the princess massages Ichinose’s breasts.

Because he destroyed their home, Akatsuka has to allow Bluesy and Tom to move in with him. He’s remorseful that he destroyed not only their home, but Tom’s collectibles and Bluesy’s favorite stuffed animals.

As he’s jogging later that day, Akatsuka encounters Brad Blackstone (BB), who easily parries all of our hero’s attacks before knocking the young man unconscious.

What I Liked

The fight scenes were energetic and fast-paced — as usual for this show. The fights all seemed to take great advantage of the various kinds of tattoos, too. The show seems to take the various skill seriously, and application of the skills changes the fights in realistic ways.

For the first time, we got to see Tom trying to coordinate a battle plan. I like that we get to see some attempt at tactics. I think they’re using the wrong people (see What I Liked Less, below), but I appreciate even the attempt to make this aspect of the fight realistic.

They really should have clued in Ichinose before trying to implement a plan that required no observers. Bad communications had a predictable result!

Turns out Ichinose's tattoo has combat capabilities after all! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
Turns out Ichinose’s tattoo has combat capabilities after all! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

We got to learn a little more about Ichinose’s tattoo. Seems that it’s triggered simply by her will power and emotions! I’m curious how that’ll play out; treated lightly, her power could become too great and drive down the drama. Treated well, it could make for some enjoyable trade-offs.

Akatsuka’s tattoo seems to be intelligent and sentient: it tries to convince him to slaughter everyone. Is it like a demon that’s trying to possess him? An artificial life form that just knows what it’s been programmed to know? I’m looking forward to seeing this play out.

I’ve often thought that our hero has been incredibly naive — and the princess seems to agree. She verbally puts him in his place — he seems shocked at how little he really knows!

Bluesy has impressive skills, training, and experience! Too bad she couldn't save more of the poor soldiers. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
Bluesy has impressive skills, training, and experience! Too bad she couldn’t save more of the poor soldiers. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

On one hand, I really like how Bluesy eventually lowered the boom on R. R. Lurker and called him “small fry.” On the other hand, a lot of soldiers paid for her delaying tactic. Not only that, but I have no idea how holding back protected her friend. Wouldn’t eliminating the enemy be the best way to protect Lisa?

Bluesy couldn’t keep hiding Akatsuka from her chain of command forever. I’m glad that he’s out in the open now, and that General Sanders decided she should take responsibility for him as her punishment. It’s reasonable (the army gets a powerful tattoo user) and it makes her aware of the consequence of her decisions.

According to the princess, large breasts are full of dreams, while small breasts are full of hope. The opinion sure made Iltutmish happy! Is this the same princess who killed her mother and father? Did visiting Japan put her in a better mood?

Bluesy finally put the stakes on the table: the US military wants to be the dominate player on the planet, and they’re going to use tattoos to do it; just like Akatsuka and her kingdom. They’re equivalent, at least in terms of goals; and Akatsuka rejects both. However, he does agree to side with Bluesy, simply because she’s his friend. I suppose that’s a good reason. She seemed touched.

She's a trained military officer with extensive field experience. But she can't resist the appeal of an anime hero's affection! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
She’s a trained military officer with extensive field experience. But she can’t resist the appeal of an anime hero’s affection! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Also a nice detail is how Bluesy and Tom move in with our hero after he destroyed their home. Plus, Tom’s furious about the whole thing not only because the whole situation is cliche (I mean, Akatsuka’s childhood friend and romantic interest lives next door), but because his home’s destruction cost him his collection of figurines.

What I Liked Less

I still don’t understand why the US military sent so many non-Tattoo users in with Bluesy to retrieve Lisa. Predictably, the bad buys slaughtered them.

Ichinose seems to have adjusted quickly — too quickly, I think — to seeing dead bodies. She took the ear-piece off the dead soldier without flinching. That struck me as unrealistic given her character.

Akatsuka catches Ichinose as she falls into the void under the street, and she’s blushing because he’s holding her like a princess? Sigh.

If he’s about to pass out from blood loss, why did Akatsuka stagger over to the princess? Was he thinking, “Must… hug… hot… princess…?” Why not just sit down where he stood? Or was ending up in the princess’ embrace his plan all along?

So, Akatsuka plunging his tattoo into his own eviscerated abdomen and using his own blood to power up his tattoo also heals him? When did that start? That seems awfully convenient! It’s like a cannibal eating his own arm to keep going. Sooner or later, the math isn’t going to work out…

And Ping pong?

You read it right. After all the death and dismemberment, they played ping pong. For groping rights. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
You read it right. After all the death and dismemberment, they played ping pong. For groping rights. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Ping pong?

They played ping pong? After a battle that resulted in the deaths of many soldiers, after so many near-death experiences for them all, they played ping pong? Over a boy? With Ichinose’s breasts as part of the ante?

And then the princess sat there kneading Ichinose’s breasts while talking to Akatsuka about tattoo lore?

I don’t know what I’m watching.

At the very end, after the credits, after all he’s supposedly learned, Akatsuka’s first reaction on meeting another tattoo user is to attack? And then keep attacking when it’s apparent that his technique isn’t working? He’s supposedly a well-trained fighter. That last scene made him look foolish and inexperienced.

Thoughts

What’s the Source? Why does it want Akatsuka, but not Bluesy or her allied tattoo users? I think this development is the most interesting thing in this episode.

Akatsuka agrees: the ping pong battle was incomprehensible. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
Akatsuka agrees: the ping pong battle was incomprehensible. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

My least favorite? Why does this show continue to be all over the place? Is it a comedy? Ecchi? Political commentary? Action/thriller? I wish it would pick one or two and stick with it! It’s apparent indecision is giving me a headache.

Where’s the helicopter going at the end? The princess flew into Japan on a private jet. Did it run out of fuel? Or is the helicopter taking her somewhere in Japan? Apparently, she was in no hurry, because she had time to “bleep” Iltutmish first. I wish the show had given me some insight into why that scene was important.

We’re five episodes in, and I’m beginning to wonder if the series will settle into a rhythm. I don’t need it to go in any particular direction, but I would seriously like it to pick one direction (or maybe two!) and stick with it! If you take all of the ecchi out of this episode, I think it worked better — I could see more forward motion. Or, take out the political commentary and leave the ecchi in. That would have helped, too. Focus, people!

But ping pong? I’m still shaking my head over that…

Reviews of Other Season 1 Episodes

Post Author: tcrow