There are two kinds of super heroes: those who are born to it and those who are made. Superman and Wonder Woman are examples of those who were born to it; The Flash and Spider Man are those who were made, by some bizarre accident or event. This show, “Taboo Tattoo”, is about ‘ordinary’ people who possess super powers, granted by a special mark that they receive.
We start off with Justice “Seigi” Akatsuka (1), who has a strong sense of justice in wanting to help those that are downtrodden and beaten upon. One night, he saves a downtrodden and beaten upon homeless man. Ahh, but things are never as they seem and for his efforts, received a special mark or ‘tattoo’ on his hand. This is actually a special activation crest for a weaponized ancient artifact of great power which can shift the balance of power in the world. And you though no good deed goes unpunished.
Now, his is like super special crunchy awesome, as this tattoo was the latest in technology. His Power Crest (Void Maker; they all have to have some ultra-cool name to go along with it), allows him to create black holes and regenerate from injuries, and it doesn’t require a trigger like the other tattoos need. And, yes, only one tattoo per customer, so no sneaking back in line!
He then meets Bluesy “Izzy” Fruesy (2). She’s a U.S. Army lieutenant in charge of recovering the tattoos in Japan. Despite appearing to be of high school age, Izzy is older than people think, a side effect of her Power Crest which is stopping her from aging. Along with Tom Shredfield (4), they are not only trying to recover tattoos, but prevent the forces of evil from do the same for their nefarious schemes. I guess we should look at those Dark Side people.
It is actually folks from the Kingdom of Selinistan, which I assume is somewhere between Wattalottaland and Lower Volta. Led by Princess Aryabhata (5 or “Arya” to her friends….if she had any friends), she is a nationalist who desires world domination. To this end, she seized power in a coup d’état which killed both of her peace-minded parents.
She admits to Seigi that she wishes to change the world to suit her own ends regardless of what others may think or feel. She is assisted by Iltutmish or “Il” (3) and they will either co-op or kill those who stand in their way. The show is about the struggles to reacquire the tattoos and resist the machinations of those who bode ill of others. Live in peace or rest in peace.
It’s just that having these powers must be frustrating, as you can’t do a lot with them and they can be easily held in check with a wad of chewing gum or a joy buzzer. Tom’s power allows him to negate the abilities of other users. However, he doesn’t have the chops for fighting and get flatted out with clockwork regularity.
Some of the Independents (there are about 13 tattoo users out there) also come along with tons of baggage and are not going to help Seigi understand his powers and how to use it best. We have thrown him into the deep end of the pool and it’s time to sink or swim. Glub, glub.
I also was uncertain as to what they were trying to present. The Princess is such a flat character with her relentless evil streak that she becomes less scary and more petulant. This is what she wants and she’ll hold her breath and turn blue until she gets it. Even Seigi is not really certain what ‘justice’ means to him at the end of the day.
Also the serious undertones of the show get diverted by some humor that, although needed, seemed to be mistimed for a better effect. It could have been more than just one of those ‘us vs them’ situations. A lot of anime is that, but how you handle it makes all the difference. It is not only the external battles that are being fought, but the internal ones as well, as you wrestle with greater issues than you had initially imagined and try and get along with your co-workers. I need them guys to get the job done, but they really are a grouping of low-grade morons.
I can run down a list of shows like that (“God Eater”, “Sousei no Onmyouji”, “Big Order”, even “Fune o Amu”), but the key is how you can tie it all together so we accept our circumstances and will work against the fate that we are heading towards. And with the hanging ending, the promise of a second season is out there so we can restore the world to its normal equilibrium….more or less. Whether we see it or not is another matter.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 7 (Got a bit too moody and shadowy)
Plot 7 (Rather typical)
Pacing 7 (Almost too frenetic)
Effectiveness 7 (Goals are set, but not actively pursued)
Conclusion 5 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 5 (A similar show would be “Maburaho”)
Overall 7 (Undone by its own uncertainty)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. I need that tattoo.