In Taboo Tattoo episode 6, Reunion, Brad Blackstone (a.k.a. BB) hurls Akatsuka at a building; Princess Aryabahta takes a long walk underground with her friends; and BB reveals the true, terrifying extent of the power behind the tattoos.
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What Happened (Spoiler Free)
Brad Blackstone (a.k.a. BB) kidnapped Justice Akatsuka at the end of the previous episode. Akatsuka awakens in front of a building that BB says is the heart of the Kingdom’s research in Japan. What does BB want with Akatsuka here? Will Akatsuka emerge alive? Will Bluesy Fluesy be able to find him?
Princess Aryabahta takes Iltutmish and Cal Shekhar, one of her most loyal servants, into an excavation. She stands before a giant glowing, translucent blue crystal. It’s the source of power for the tattoos that came from that site. What happens when she enters it? Will she bend it to her will, or will it consume her?
The rest of this review may have spoilers, so please be careful!
What Happened (Spoilers!)
At the end of the last episode, Brad Blackstone (a.k.a. BB) kidnapped Justice Akatsuka after beating him into unconsciousness. When episode opens, Bluesy Fluesy is frantically searching for Akatsuka when she receives a phone call. She recognizes BB’s voice when he announces that he’s going to borrow her friend for a night. She looks terrified.
Akatsuka wakes up in a stopped car. BB calmly explains that the building in front of them is the Kingdom’s research center in Japan. They experiment on humans to build devices like the Noise Canceller, which uses a human brain to power it. We saw it in action during the previous episode to temporarily disable Bluesy’s tattoo. Akatsuka’s ready to become indignant at BB’s hubris when BB says that he’s no longer with the Kingdom and wants to destroy the building. He kidnapped Akatsuka to help him.
Akatsuka uses Void Maker to blast a hole in the wall, but his control is still imprecise, so he ends up doing more damage than intended. BB shows off his amazing combat skills without resorting to using his tattoo as they disable guard after guard. Akatsuka’s impressed. The two end up in a large room. They can see an observation deck high up near the ceiling. Standing there is a drooling man who call
himself a genius; his assistant Manisha backs up the claim. After bragging about how smart he is, Karam (Mr. Genius) unleashes berserkers with tattoos — individuals, who used to be Japanese citizens, whose egos he stripped away so they’d be vessels for his will. If our heroes knock them unconscious, bombs within their bodies will explode.
While they’re fighting, Princess Aryabahta takes Iltutmish and Cal Shekhar, one of her most trusted lieutenants, into an excavation. Apparently, she’s found the fourth site (of four worldwide) that produces tattoos. The United States controls one; her Kingdom controls two; and she’s trying to make it three. At the bottom of a shaft, she disrobes and enters a blue glowing crystal.
Back in the Kingdom’s lab, BB shows just how precise his control over his power has become. While in combat, he voids the bombs in their bodies and knocks all of them unconscious. Mr. Genius being powerless without his minions, BB knocks him out and calls in the authorities.
BB begins training Akatsuka how to use his tattoo. While the young man practices, BB tosses a portable drive with the data gathered from Mr. Genius’ lab to a man in a lab-coat. The man’s name is Wiseman, and he was the one who gave Void Maker to Akatsuka.
Bluesy eventually tracks them down. With Akatsuka still off practicing, Bluesy demands to know why BB, a former United States military officer, defected to the Kingdom. It becomes clear that her anger is mostly personal and that she’s still in love with him.
The news he gives her is surprisingly bad: the Princess intends to rewrite the entire world using the energy of the tattoos. She’ll need all four Sources, and she has three now after her successes in the excavation. Bluesy’s shocked.
He leaves after promising that he doesn’t plan to harm Akatsuka or ask him to do anything evil.
Days later, Akatsuka’s training so hard that he falls asleep in the dojo. Tōko Ichinose and asks if it would be okay if she stays by his side. He agrees, though his expression suggests reluctantly.
What I Liked
BB seemed to scare Bluesy, and she doesn’t scare easily. That made me feel like Akatsuka was really in danger!
Then we discover that BB wants to borrow Akatsuka to help destroy the Kingdom’s heinous lab in Japan. So, is Bluesy afraid because of what BB might do to Akatsuka, or afraid of what he might ask Akatsuka to do? I like that ambiguity — it makes me want to keep watching to find out what’s going on. Don’t tell me that Taboo Tattoo can be subtle!
Akatsuka still can’t fully control Void Maker. On one hand, it’s really annoying; he seems to still be so ineffective! On the other hand, it’s realistic. People don’t master new techniques instantly, so Akatsuka taking time is reasonable. Especially with something as powerful and nuanced as Void Maker.
So, (Karam) Mr. Genius even has an intro routine? I’m not sure whether to accept it as humor or be really annoyed. I’m leaning towards annoyed…
I’m glad we get a little more background on the tattoos. There are four ancient sites where the tattoos can be found, and each site accounts for one Void Maker. One site’s in America, and two are in the Kingdom. The fourth is suspected to be in Japan.
BB’s control of his Void Maker is so precise that he was able to remove bombs from his attackers’ organs during combat. That’s an interesting development. It presses home just how inexperienced Akatsuka really is.
BB knows Wiseman, the man who gave Akatsuka his tattoo. And he blames Wiseman for it. Wiseman warns BB that he may die soon — that he should already be dead — but BB waves him off because Akatsuka’s there now. I wonder what that bodes for our hero? BB promised Bluesy that he wouldn’t misuse her friend, and so far, BB’s been honorable. But as he says, power changes people — did it change BB?
What I Liked Less
The Princess tries to force a sexual encounter with Iltutmish in the middle of an operation? Like Cal Shekhar said, how does the Princess lead anyone with that lack of self-control? Any why isn’t she at home consolidating her power base after the coup? I can’t say I care much for her character.
Karam drools as he talks? Sigh. The application of genius takes at least some discipline. Someone like Karam doesn’t strike me as having any discipline. He doesn’t seem like a genuine genius; he feels like a poor caricature to me.
All of BB’s talk of Hero of Justice reminded me of Jirou Hitoyoshi from Concrete Revolutio. What it means to be a hero of justice was a central theme for that anime, and its exploration there was both subtle and far-reaching. I’m afraid that Taboo Tattoo suffers by the comparison.
Bluesy had romantic feelings for BB? And the long coat she wears was his? That strikes me as a bit cliche. And she complains that he won’t listen to her? Why is it that a strong female character has to appear weak and foolish like that? That’s not like her! She’s stronger than that.
She must have seriously altered his old coat, because he’s a good half meter taller than she is. Otherwise, the coat would be dragging on the ground! Continuity is important.
This episode was another mixed bag for me, though its lowest moment can’t compare to the ping-pong game from last week. *Shudder!*
On the plus side, we got to learn more about the tattoos. Originating from just four sites, their combined power could destroy and remake the world (what I gathered from the term “rewriting”). By the end of this episode, the Kingdom has three of the sites under their control. Looks like a major confrontation with the United States is in the cards!
We also got to see the scope of Void Maker’s power. Despite Akatsuka’s fumbling attempts that nearly resulted in his own death (and the death ofTom Shredfield’s adorable bunny), BB’s able to use his similar power to punch perfect little holds in a strand of hair. That’s precision!
On the down side, why did Bluesy have to have been in a relationship with BB? That felt obnoxious to me. Why couldn’t they have been commander/subordinate? Mentor/neophyte? Something other than romantic! It made Bluesy feel all mushy, and that’s not Bluesy at all.
I really want to like this show. The animation’s solid and the fight scenes are a blast. With the introduction of some details about the tattoos, I feel like the plot’s trying to find its footing, but the characters just aren’t coming together. A Princess who leaves after a coup and tries to seduce underlings at the drop of a hat? In front of other underlings? A “genius” with his own staged intro? A tsundere (Cal Shekhar) as captain of the guard for a sex-crazed princess? It’s just too much to take in — and it seems to offer too little dramatic payback!
But, guess what? I’m still going to watch episode 7. And the rest of the episodes after it. Guess I’m a sucker for good animation and attractive models.
Egad! I’ve embraced cliches for entertainment!