Taboo Tattoo
Episode 6

by James Beckett,

How would you rate episode 6 of
Taboo Tattoo ?

I think the most frustrating thing about Taboo Tattoo is that it has the potential to be good. The characters are just shy of being engaging. The action and direction is almost exciting. It's true that the plot would probably never be more than just “okay,” but okay isn't bad! My point is, with just the slightest shift in direction, Taboo Tattoo could very well be a perfectly enjoyable, disposable bit of popcorn entertainment.

Alas.

This week's episode isn't the complete mess that last week's was, but it certainly wasn't good. It suffers from the same tonal and directorial problems that have been plaguing the series recently; they're just much more manageable this time around. This plane is no longer in free-fall, but there's still quite a bit of smoke pouring out of its engines.

In large part, the issue is the show's pacing. The jarring transitions between action-heavy spectacle and shlocky, fanservice-fueled comedy can be irritating, but it's a problem that I might be able to overlook if the story remained compelling. Taboo Tattoo's biggest problem is that it's trying to do far too much, far too fast. Characters are introduced and wedged into the plot with little to no grace, and we're expected to find them interesting or cool without the show having actually earned any of that.

BB is the perfect example of this. Seigi meets this mysterious Tattoo user after being kidnapped and escorted to one of Selistan's secret Tattoo laboratories, ostensibly to take out its leading mad scientist and the experiments located therein. BB is decked all in black and waxes philosophic about what it means to be a “Hero of Justice”, while also expositing more on the nature of Tattoos and how they function. He's the stereotypical all-knowing mentor figure that usually pops up in these kinds of stories, even more nebulous because we can't be sure exactly what his motives are. He's supposed to be equal parts cool and wise and tough, and both Seigi and Izzy seem to adore him (though Izzy seems to be romantically interested in him too).

The problem is that he isn't any of those things, at least not in this episode. We know what the story wants us to think, but it's rushing so fast through the proceedings that it doesn't have any time to deliver that material. Seigi's admiration feels forced, and Izzy's feelings towards him feel like they come from nowhere. If we'd gotten a little more time to know Izzy or to see Seigi struggle to learn his powers, adding BB to the cast might have felt natural, even welcome. As it stands, he's just another vaguely defined character in a roster that grows increasingly unstable.

Also, his full name is Blood Blackstone. While I understand that Taboo Tattoo has a penchant for bizarre naming choices, the silliness just doesn't sit well with me. The language barrier makes figuring out the intended tone of these decisions difficult, so I won't harp on it much more. It's just that I'm already having a hard time engaging with a lot of these characters, so the over-the-top names aren't helping.

Overall, I'm very worried about the direction the show is headed. The series keeps adding new characters without bothering to flesh out the old ones, and the general conflict is getting murkier and less interesting every week. The season isn't over yet, but after this episode, I'm not going to get my hopes up.

Rating: C-

Taboo Tattoo is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

If James were in Taboo Tattoo, his name would be Shades Darkmace. Captain Shades Darkmace. You can find him on Twitter, and on his blog.


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