Tattoon Master box cover

© 1996 Akihisa Yanari / Shuseisha / KSS


Available on VHS from A.D. Vision.
OAV Series: 2 episodes on 1 VHS tape
30 minutes per episode
Version I Watched: English dubbed
Objectionable Content: Mostly mild violence

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Tattoon Master

Every once in awhile I like to grab an anime off the shelf that I know absolutely nothing about. Knowing nothing about an anime before watching certainly helps with writing a review, because I have no prior expectations. Unfortunately, it also means I can get stuck with some rather mediocre titles. Tattoon Master just happens to be one of those.

Before I get into the review, I should note that like other A.D. Vision dubs, the names have been changed from the original. The two main characters were originally Hibio and Nima, but now they're Eric and Balla. Every other character also seems to have undergone a name change, but since I only saw the dubbed version I can't reference the originals.

The story involves a high-school student, Eric, whose mother ran off awhile ago and disappeared. It turns out that his mother ended up with the mysterious Tattoon tribe with whom she was given a choice: die or betroth her son to a member of the tribe. She chose the latter (natch) and stays to study the tribe. Eric's betrothed, a shapely blond named Balla, shows up one day and confronts Eric. She cuts him on the forehead, then kisses it and pronounces that the two are married. Eric, however, has other ideas. He is somewhat of a woman-hater and makes things very difficult for poor Balla, who has fallen in love with him (is he nuts? did he even look at Balla?!).

Things get a little more involved, for a girl at Eric's school, Lisa, is also in love with Eric, though she masks her feelings with outward hostility. Now that Balla is attached to Eric, Lisa feels threatened and the two of them square off. Being a member of the Tattoon tribe, Balla has all sorts of fancy magical powers at her disposal. Lisa's no slouch either, being an expert archer and armed to the teeth with arrows.

And that's just episode one. Episode two has a man named Hydra seeking revenge for his brother's death. Of course, the one he seeks is none other that Balla. And to complicate things further, he has been taught the deadliest of the Tattoon magics. Even so, Eric is still willing to risk his neck to protect Balla, no matter what the odds (though Balla could technically kick Eric's butt, so she doesn't actually need protection).

Tattoon Master strikes me as being quite... odd. It's mainly a blend of action and comedy, and there were times when I found it quite humorous (most involving Eric's pervert father attempting to record Eric and Balla on video tape). At the same time, the humor seemed a little forced in places. As a result, I often found myself about to laugh only to suddenly find myself wondering if I was laughing with or at what was happening. Even the action is not all that serious and the whole thing has a pretty high-strung tone. It's not nearly as outlandish as, say, Elf Princess Rane, but still has an air of wackiness about it.

Art-wise, Tattoon Master has a lot going for it. The animation is bright and cheery, with fluid movements and some nicely detailed close-ups of various characters preening for the camera. The dubbing was another story. Fitting with the over-the-humor comes a lot of over-the-top acting. Most of the voices fit their characters' personalities, but many went a few steps further just in case we didn't know that Eric is supposed to be jerk or Balla, a bit of a ditz. This isn't to say the dubbing is altogether bad, but it's nowhere near top quality.

Overall, Tattoon Master is about an hour's worth of dumb fun. Unfortunately, I found the moments I enjoyed to be too few to warrant recommendation. If you're looking for a wacky comedy, you could do much better, but probably a lot worse, too.

The Verdict: * * 1/2 (below average)


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