Review: Taboo Tattoo’s downfall
Genericism is a very interesting thing. Shows we label “generic” are almost always inferior, so it is only natural to wonder why every season, without fail, there is an overabundance of them. One of the most common symptoms of genericism is that you can easily predict more things than should be predicted simply by taking a glance at the synopsis or poster. You might take one look at Taboo Tattoo’s poster and promptly dismiss it as generic, but I’m here to tell you that it is not. It may seem like it, it may start of like it, but no, I assure you, it isn’t; nay, it is much, much worse than anything you’ve ever dismissed before as “generic”. If you would be oh so kind to indulge me, let me explain to you to the glorious calamity that is Taboo Tattoo.
Taboo Tattoo is the asinine abomination of a show produced when a poorly written, generic sub-par show tries to have make fun of itself; it’s like if Sword Art Online tried to be Konosuba. It tries to be self-aware and become a parody of other shounen action anime but relies way too heavily on the tropes and clichés it is trying to subvert — it just feels like it doesn’t know what it wants to be. Now once you top it off with over excessive incessant fan service and wish fulfillment and drastic changes of tone and atmosphere multiple times in an episode, you get the worst show this season. The worst part is, unfortunately, that this show is not bad enough to be considered good.
The show’s beginning is as generic as it can get, seemingly nothing different from anything else you’ve seen before. It’s got your starter pack of shounen action anime tropes
- Begins with unexplained fight scene ✓
- Beta-male randomly given mysterious power ✓
- Said power is the strongest one ✓
- MC is the “perfect match, almost like a god-sent” for that said power ✓
- Childhood friend (with obvious crush on MC) MCmust protect ✓
- Evil organization after MC’s power ✓
- Killer lolis ✓
- Fan-service (massive bouncing boobs, panty shots, low angle shots) ✓
- Yuri action ✓
- Tentacle groping ✓
But from this bland and overdone setup the show manages to transcend itself above the descriptor of “generic” and enter a new realm of inferiority that is rarely ever reached in the medium. There are an innumerous amount of things that make this show difficult to consider “good” let alone “mediocre”, I’m not even sure where to begin.
The plot progression is unreasonable with oddly placed fight scenes and illogical character motivations. The events that happen are so bland and simple that it’s paradoxically difficult to suspend my belief. The main character, Seigi, really just gets his Taboo Tattoo power after saving Dr. Wiseman (yes, that’s really his name) from getting beaten up by a couple of thugs. How and why was he getting beaten up? Good question, never answered. Why does Seigi defend this man and potentially risk his life? Good question, thinly answered.
The show then proceeds to nonchalantly introduce a country that doesn’t exist in real life, and not once does it ever expand on it in a more meticulous fashion, because who really cares about world building? The Tattoo power is explained using convoluted logic that boils down to “it’s magic” that is so unimaginative in nature that the show would actually have been better off leaving it unexplained. New abilities of that Tattoo power are suddenly introduced with little explanation and things just escalate into ludicrousy of epic proportions.
The wish fulfillment aspect of this show cannot be emphasized enough; everything that happens is some sort of wish fulfillment or the other. Without spoiling anything, there is literally a scene where Touko, or how I like to call her, BigBoobs-chan, goes to meet Seigi, or MC-kun. MC-kun is passed out in his Grandfather’s dojo and BigBoobs-chan sits next to and watches over him. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a pale red blush overtakes BigBoobs-chan’s face as she promptly muses to herself “it is a woman’s shame to ignore a man offering himself!” and proceeds to lean over MC-kun, confining him between both her legs and arms. What BigBoobs-chan (who is a middle schooler, mind you) was trying to accomplish, I can’t for the life of me figure it out. Anyway, naturally, MC-kun wakes up at this time and says “BigBoobs-chan?” another blush, this time maroon red, invades BigBoobs-chan’s face and she, in embarrassment, stops leaning over MC-kun and sits down. But where does she sit down? Of course, it has to be on MC-kun’s groin! Because who really cares anymore? This is just one of the scenes I have mentioned, there are even more titillating and salacious scenes throughout the show as well (token tentacle groping scene included), so if you’re into this kinda thing I’ll just tell you to go for it.
This unrestrained wish fulfillment naturally leads to an overabundance of fan-service. Now, of course, as present in almost every single anime, there is fan-service. The only reason I am discussing it is because of how abundant it is. Literally, there will be at least a couple dozen fan-service scenes per episode. Yeah, you read that right, per episode. The worst part? It is never limited to solely basic fanservice stuff like panty/butt/cleavage shots of likes, no, it is more like straight up girl on girl action. Of course, there is a difference between “fanservice” and expressing a character’s “sexuality” but nobody behaves like our Yuri-loving princess antagonist, Aryabhata. She will straight up grope her loli companions out of nowhere, randomly getting prepared to sleep with them numerous times throughout the show. Again, if you’re into this kinda thing, I’ll just tell you to go for it.
It is nearly impossible to review the characters because they barely qualify to be called so.
Seigi is just a distressingly bland “I want to be a hero of justice” archetype with zero personality outside that; in short, he is a self-insert. The only development he receives is contrived and at the cost of reducing other characters to plot devices.
Touko is the “I want to be with my childhood friend no matter what!” archetype, and outside of her big boobs, she is nothing but the waifu for the self-insert.
Bluesy Fluesy — I kid you not, that is really her name — is just a trained and skilled soldier trapped in a middle schooler’s body, because this show wouldn’t be complete without an underage female who’s prepubescent panties we will never see enough of.
Blood Blackstone (or BB), the only decently written character in the show (not saying much). Compared to the rest of the cast he’s more complex than a labyrinth and more deep than than BigBoobs-chan’s cleavage. His character backstory is engrossing enough to keep you invested as well (one of the better episodes of the show).
One of the antagonists, Aryabhatta, is a prideful princess who’s also a lesbian and sexually promiscuous, as she readily and regularly gropes her loli companions in good fun.
I suppose I should also mention how this show degrades their female characters, not that many viewers really care, but I feel obligated to mention it.
Hm? What’s that? “What about the other characters?” Nah, these are the only “characters” that are involved in this show. One thing I can compliment the show for is that it isn’t afraid to do stuff other action shounens wouldn’t normally do, like killing of major characters and severely injuring others. Even this is done in a forced way (killing characters in stupid ways) but I have to give credit where credit is due; the removal of certain characters certainly made things a little bit more interesting.
This show is also very ostentatious. Taboo Tattoo tries to explore ideas concerning “justice” and how it is perceived differently depending on position of the person; this leads to the show suddenly humanizing comically evil villains in a very heavy handed approach. The show is never subtle with its themes, moments are contrived in an obtuse manner just to culminate in a preach given by a character on the “delicacy of justice” and how “I won’t stop others from their own justice”. And again, as I mentioned, the show also tries to be satirical and often makes fun at regular storytelling tropes — so how can it try and have resonant themes about justice? The two just don’t click together.
Literal forced drama, never seen emotional catharsis from characters in a show more contrived than this. Characters that are seemingly unrelated suddenly reveal to be in strong platonic or romantic relationships with one another and expel more cringe inducing lines of dialogue like “you never change” out of nowhere. The jarring tonal shifts in the show are consistently present in here as well, as one moment will be some serious (yet boring) exposition scene and suddenly the music accompaniment changes to slow, sad piano music as one of the characters suddenly talks about how much he/she missed the character.
Drama and problems that arise in the beginning episodes (and are resolved) suddenly come out of nowhere during conversations because the writer doesn’t know how to form real dialogue between characters. “Is it okay if we stay together?” is said multiple times throughout the show, for no reason other than to contrive some unnecessary and predictable drama between characters that achieves nothing. There are no character dynamics whatsoever, every conversation bounces between either exposition or some unfunny joke.
The animation is unremarkable, the character designs are generic and bland, the colour palette is unnecessarily monotonous, the fight choreography is annoyingly inconsistent, yadda yadda yadda. It has its moments with insane CG cinematography where the camera pans around in all sorts of degrees, but those are few and far between.
If you liked the abundance of action scenes, the Tattoo as a superpower, and the whole concept of good vs evil organizations clashing, then I’d point you to Bungou Stray Dogs. It’s far from exceptional by all means but does everything Taboo Tattoo tries to do a bit better, which unfortunately isn’t saying much but overall Bungou Stray Dogs is the better version. If you enjoyed the moments when the show pathetically tried to be satirical, then I’d point you to One Punch Man (but let’s be honest, who hasn’t seen this already)/
Taboo Tattoo is very impressive in its own right. It is honestly difficult to write a show that can pierce this untapped sphere of atrocity, not even inexperienced and first time authors can write shows this bad. It feels like the writer of Taboo Tattoo was intentionally trying to create a story that was B-level, schlock entertainment, but like I said in the beginning of the review, this show is just not that bad enough to be considered good. Maybe if it didn’t take itself so seriously, or it was more consistent with its self-awareness and poking fun at action anime tropes, then it would have been a great satirical parody of the shounen genre; but no, unfortunately Taboo Tattoo is just the perfectly well-rounded package of trash.
I hope this review was informative and helpful.