Tattoon Master -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B-

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Media Blasters
  • MSRP: 19.95
  • Running time: 60
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Tattoon Master

Tattoon Master

By Chris Beveridge     August 09, 2006
Release Date: August 15, 2006

Tattoon Master
© Media Blasters

What They Say
Hibio's mother is a globetrotting adventurer who's been away from home most of his life. In order to get permission to research an ancient tribe, she must offer a special gift to its princess. Much to Hibio's surprise, he's the gift! Returning home from school one day, he finds the beautiful princess Nima waiting for him. She's come to collect her new husband, but the strange modern world and a host of rivals are standing between her and happiness!

The Review!
If there's any way to make sure a lot of skin gets seen, the best bet is to have a buxom blonde with lots of tattoos.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The stereo mix for the show is fairly standard without much of a real sense of directionality to it across the forward soundstage. It's not exactly a mono track but it is pretty much a full sounding center channel mix that sounds good for what it is but doesn't stand out much. The English mix is much the same and both tracks are basically problem free and without any noticeable dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally released in 1996, the transfer for this two-part OVA is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. With the traditional animation that's here, there is a lot of detail that's much more noticeable now that really helps the show look more fluid and alive than a lot of newer productions. The colors are fairly well reproduced here though it is a bit flat in general and without a lot of really noticeable vibrancy outside of a few brief areas. There is a fair bit of cross coloration that shows throughout both episodes, generally noticeable in faces and hairlines, but it's muted well enough that it's not all that distracting. Add in a touch of grain as well as having the original opening and closing sequences and you have a fairly decent transfer here that's showing some of its age but not in a make or break fashion.

Due to this being a checkdisc, no packaging is available.

The menu layout is simple but nicely done as it has a good looking detailed shot of Hibio and Nima arm in arm set against a mostly white background with a few squigglies here and there for a bit of flavor. The character artwork is the main draw though and it looks good here as a bit of the vocal music plays along to it. Access times are nice and fast but the disc did not correctly read our players' language presets, instead defaulting to English language and sign/song subtitles.


Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Long requested from the ADV Films catalog, it turned out that the rights had lapsed over the years and Media Blasters took advantage of that to acquire the two part OVA series and to give it life once more. An acquisition like this at least appears to be a quick and easy job for the most part as the dub for it comes with the package so Media Blasters just has to put it through some new translation for the subtitles, since scripts weren't exactly as good as they could be ten years ago, and push it out on everyone's shiny format.

Tattoon Master plays to a fairly common story setup. We're introduced initially to an archaelogist/adventurer type who wants to learn the secret powers of the Tattoon, a group of people who have used tattoo's to manipulate certain magics through them. It's a long lost art for the most part and anyone who gets to close to the secrets end up meeting some sort of evil fate. It's little surprise that this woman seems to meet such a fate as well but as it happens, a picture of her son slips out, causing the "Tattoon Master" to head to Japan to potentially eliminate someone who may have a clue about the Tattoon powers. Or at least that's what you'd think, but instead it's a gag where the Tattoon Master turns out to be a beautiful young woman named Nima who performs a particular set of attacks on the woman's son named Hibio which he discovers is a wedding ceremony.

That's right, it's the old gag of a woman insisting she's marrying a man she's never met and forcing herself on him and his residence. Hibio isn't keen on this but he's one of those good guys with a slightly mean edge to him in that he'll do good things for people in trouble but he doesn't want to get involved with them beyond that or even to talk to those he's rescued. Nima ends up being someone who won't cower in front of him so she's more forceful about their marriage and she sticks to him pretty strongly, even after he basically does his best to shout her out. She's the essence of clingy to the extreme. In a way, the premise isn't all that different from a number of other shows like Ah! My Goddess or the Tenchi Muyo franchise, but Nima as the lead female character is much more aggressive about things. She refuses to let him throw her out and she refuses to let anyone else get close to him.

Of course, there's another girl that's interested in Hibio named Fujimatsu. She's in the same grade and in the archery club but she's got practically no friends of either gender. She sort of started falling for Hibio when he helped her out once even though she hadn't asked, nor wanted the help, and has had a soft spot for him ever since. With Nima's arrival and her forced entry into school life, there's an obvious conflict in the brewing between her and Fujimatsu. Then you get to add in some additional characters such as a man who has acquired Shadow Tattoon powers after his brother disappeared while searching for the clan and a woman who is part of the Tattoon clan who wants to exact the rule of law on Nima because she left the clan. Across the two episodes it plays out some very routine and essentially clichéd pieces with just a smattering of the originality to it in the tattoo's which give way to skimpy outfits so they can be seen when used.

It's interesting to go back to an older show like this since at the time it was dubbed by ADV Films, almost none of the names are recognizable outside of certain production members. None of the voice actors are using the same names today I believe or even working in the field anymore. Even more annoying is that the dub was one that changed almost all of the names of the characters. Hibio became Eric, Nima became Balla and even Hibio's mother Masae became Maureen. The script is otherwise fairly accurate but these differences in the dub just date it badly. I was even surprised that they had an internet related gag in it from back then. Unfortunately, as good as the subtitle script is, it's similar to most Media Blasters scripts in that a lot of signs and background text is left completely untranslated, even some pieces that look like they may make some minor impact on the scene.

In Summary:
While I can certainly understand and approve of bringing the old dub out since it's a cost saving piece as well as a bit of history that's saved, I think this is a case where Media Blasters should have done a new dub as well because of some of the changes made in the old dub process. I am glad that they gave full credit to ADV Films though in the (awful looking) credit scroll since we've seen other companies barely want to even acknowledge outside involvement when similar has happened (yes, I'm looking at you Manga with your Tactics release). Tattoon Master is a title that certainly has it's appeal and to a lot of older fans who probably saw it when they were first getting into anime and have some nostalgia for it. I never saw it before so there's no draw for me there but I'm glad it's been saved in a sense. Even still, it is fairly derivative and predictable but it's well executed and the animation has a real sense of life to it with the traditional style. This is a release where it'll really vary by person as to whether they'd even be interested or have some kind of nostalgia for it.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Samsung BD-P1000 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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