There's substance and good action to Shinjiro's Taboo Tattoo, but it does some silly things that make it a wait and see.
Title: Taboo Tattoo
Genre: Fantasy, Action
Publisher: Media Factory (JP), Yen Press (U.S)
Serialized in: Comic Alive
Translation: Christine Dashiell
Original Release Date: January 26, 2016
Review copy provided by Yen Press.
One of Taboo Tattoo volume 1’s most standout scenes is, as the main character is chasing down a girl who swiped his phone, his childhood friend finds a recipe for a complicated curry dish. The main character is obviously not there. She is very angry. And we see her anger from an upskirt position, just so we can see her rage and her panties.
We should only be thankful there’s more to Taboo Tattoo than that and another scene involving girl on girl action (in a classroom no less), but there still needs to be more than what’s happening in this first volume to recommend it going forward.
One reason for the interest is in its characters — Seigi Akatsuka is a middle school kid who’s being taught how to fight by his grandpa, and he uses his skills to save people. He happens to save some man getting jumped, and gets rewarded by having a tattoo seared into his hand. The next day, he runs into a girl while on his way to school. Later in the day, he runs into that same girl, which kicks off the whole stealing the phone thing, but he soon finds himself utterly worked over by her. To then complete his day, he gets worked over by his grandpa at his dojo.
And all of this because he’s been given a spell crest.
Taboo Tattoo’s world is set between America and a fictional kingdom, which could be on the brink of war. There have been rumors of a technology that the army has been making to combat them, but it just so happens a handful of people know about this, yet Seigi’s classmates do — that is a problem. This is a problem that Bluesy Fluesy, the girl that beat up Seigi, has to solve. So, with this brand new power, and his brand new troubles, Seigi’s world is about to change, and he’s gonna have to deal with it.
So far, every character has the usual personality, but the situations they get involved in change them. Touko Ichinose, the childhood friend, is the friend that’s so in love with the main character and won’t admit it, but she actually stands up for herself when it seems unexpected, and that’s cool. Bluesy Fluesy is the girl that acts cute and conniving but can also be destructive in a fight. She’s also A) apparently older than she looks, which she says is the after-effect of her spell crest and B) in the army. Volume 1 doesn’t say the why’s or how’s, but I assume it gets explained later.
All I know is that the characters can fight — the action scenes in the first volume 1 flow well together, and yes, getting kicked in the face looks as brutal as it should be. There is a bit of a cliche mind game trick that also happens towards the end of the volume, but based on the situation, it’s fine. The characters look well drawn, and even the comedic scenes are done well.
But I still wonder about this story. It has a ways to go to build itself up. I have to wrap my head around how the army is creating this technology, and how a random man was able to get enough of it and spread it to different people without getting caught, and then why he would spread it. Just who is this princess of this kingdom and why does she want to go to war? How important is it to see Seigi and his relationship with his grandfather, who manages to remind him of his dead dad at unnecessary moments? As expected, the worldbuilding is taking place, but for now, I only wonder how Seigi can use his ability better, and then I wonder how America and this kingdom will deal with each other.
I also wonder about its downtime moments — it tries to play one of Bluesy’s subordinates, Tom, into someone important but basically it’s nothing but jokes every time. It then has Bluesy grope Touka’s breasts (because I guess that’s what girls do), and then even do more than that, in the classroom. Apparently I needed to know whenever Bluesy drinks milk she becomes cat tongued. These moments should be funny, but they weren’t. Is this the part where I mention Taboo Tattoo’s running in a seinen magazine?
Not that it’s beneath a seinen to do shounen things, but it’s moments like that that detract from some awesome things that happened in this volume. I think volume 2 will decide whether it’s a series worth following though.