Taboo Tattoo is a mix of martial arts, and action genres. The main character Seigi is a martial arts student following after his father, who had died. We aren’t told about how he died, just that he wasn’t ‘strong enough’.

After rescuing a bum from a couple of thugs, Seigi is given what looks to be a piece of glass with a design embedded. When the bum places it on Seigis skin, it melts into his skin, leaving the mark on his palm like a tattoo.

Life resumes for Seigi, he attends school where one of his classmates tell him about the secret American weapons that resemble tattoos.

Later that day he runs into a woman he had seen earlier, and she steals his phone. Through his confrontation with her she reveals that the mark on his hand is one of the American weapons. The two engage in a battle of martial arts, as acquaintances do, and Seigi loses.

With the information on the tattoo he decides to use it to become stronger, but is unable to activate it.

The animation in this episode was all over the place. There were CGI scenes where the ‘camera’ panned back quickly down a street, or passed over a larger crowd of students.

Other scenes had characters on a separate layer than the background, making it easy to slide them across the screen without the actual character moving. This was used either in whole or partially for characters; a motionless arm sliding into frame. Other animation types used was the ‘visual novel’ type of animation, where the screen cuts to various parts of one whole image before panning out to reveal the whole image.

Despite the different types of animation used, it was all cohesive. What wasn’t cohesive was when the ground moved faster than the character running; a little roadrunner-esque.

The body movements were animated well. The tattoo image would bend depending on how Seigi bent his hand, and the posture and motions of the other school kids felt very comfortable. The reactions and motions of the martial arts fighting was done well too. Character facial expressions changed during the violent exchange, corresponding with either confidence or pain.

The ‘camera’ angle also changed depending on the situation. When Seigi is planning his strikes, the animation becomes slow motion and the camera focuses on his face, following the itinerary of hits planned. In the heat of the battle the ‘camera’ makes large swooping arcs across the screen, like in Mortal Kombat or other fighting videogames. It made it really interesting.

The music was okay, it wasn’t as helpful to the mood as it could have been, it was just kind of there. Yes there was heavier music during the fighting scenes, but it didn’t ramp the viewer up like it could have. Motion sound effects were in full swing. Every hit, every block, every step had a corresponding sound and that mixed with the ‘camera’ movement made the fighting scenes really enjoyable.

The special effects were interesting. Aside from clouds and the animations of a tattoo activating, the characters seem to radiate light when in dark spaces, like bioluminescence, with no clear external light source.

It appears those who have stolen tattoos are being hunted, like in Dimension W with illegal coils, and like Atsushi in Bungou Stray Dogs. Seigi will probably be recruited to the US Army Tattoo Retrieval Unit, as per plot clichés.

Rating: B+

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