Taboo Tattoo is set in a world where people use ancient weapons, called Spell Crests. The main protagonist is given one such Spell Crest and soon finds himself caught up in a fight for survival. The story takes place in what looks to be modern times–or at least close to modern times. And then the show managed to drop a bombshell on me that made me realize just how far “modern times” has come since I was a child.

[Note: This article contains minor spoilers for episode 2 of Taboo Tattoo.]

In the second episode, after the main character, Justice, learns the dangers of the Spell Crest he has obtained, he agrees to work with the US army agents, Bluesy and Tom. Bluesy then instructs him to come to their safehouse after school the next day where they will discuss what to do next.

Upon arriving at the safe house, Justice is surprised to find that it is decorated like a normal home, complete with retro video games and a pet bunny. Justice suddenly receives a call on his cell phone from Bluesy telling him that she is out and will be back shortly. In the meantime, Justice is to learn about what’s going on from Tom. Bluesy hangs up and immediately a rotary home telephone suddenly begins ringing. Tom remarks on the coincidental timing of the call, to which Justice responds, “Huh? That thing’s a phone?”

That’s right. Justice doesn’t know what a rotary phone is.

Granted, Justice is a Japanese junior high school student, which means he’s anywhere between thirteen and fifteen years of age. It’s true that cell phones have become so much more prevalent over the past couple of decades that some younger children may be unaccustomed to using land line phones. In Japan, it’s become more convenient for many households to forgo having a home phone completely and let every family member have their own cellular phone instead.

Still, to see it pointed out that a millennial doesn’t recognize a rotary phone was kind of a shock for me. What stung even more was just how casually throw-away the gag was. Justice notes his surprise that that black object was acutally a phone, and Tom simply moves on, asking Justice to bring up a cardboard box from the basement. No chuckle from Justice’s ignorance, norĀ a sigh at having the generational gap pointed out to him, nor even an acknowledgement of Justice’s momentary confusion. Life just goes on, leaving the comment in the dust like tumbleweed.

It’s often joked about on the internet how TV used to have dials, only three channels, and signed off for the night. How there was a time before the internet existed. I grew up in the 80s, so while I may laugh at all these “old technology is old” jokes, a little part of me dies every time. Justice doesn’t know what a rotary phone is. I may be laughing, but those tears in my eyes aren’t because it’s funny.

Old man is old.

Taboo Tattoo airs for free in the US with English subtitles on Crunchyroll.

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