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Annotated Anime: Tiger Mask W episodes 17-19

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More filler than a three-hour RAW

Tiger Mask W seems to have an ongoing struggle with itself. It seems to keep coming off the rails more times than the mine cart in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. It sometimes looks like the animators are entertaining themselves with in-jokes than putting on a show. However, when they are on point it's a good series, but there is just so much fluff. Will it keep up with this batch? Of course, it will!

Episode 17

Togi Makabe has a sweet tooth. That's it!

Okay okay. I suppose I'll keep going.

So it's fairly common knowledge to New Japan fans that Togi Makabe has a huge sweet tooth. This episode is devoted to that. As NJPW come into another town for their rural tour, everyone is running away from Makabe for some reason. Tiger and Haruna have no idea what is going on as Makabe shows up dragging Honma with him. Turns out he likes to go to the local sweet shops in the town's they are in and he blogs about it. Haruna likes the idea of stuffing her face so the four of them go into town looking for the town's local sweets.

This is the whole episode folks.

So it turns out that each place they go to, the restaurants are sold out of the thing Makabe blogged about. This goes on and on a bunch of times before one of the owners tells them that bunch of beefy foreigners bought all their desserts. Miss X's assistant randomly shows up, but the GWM aren't the ones buying up the desserts.

At this point, I will mention this is the first real showing for Honma and it's actually hilarious. They animated him so it seems like in every scene he just looks completely lost and not knowing what is going on. His voice, though.. It is not accurate so much as you can actually understand what he is saying! It's close, don't get me wrong, but NOTHING compares to the sandpaper-scraped across a gravel road tones that come out of that man's mouth.

 

So after about 15 restaurants, we find out the culprits are:

Yup. The Bullet Club has been eating all these sweets just to mess with him.

This leads to a six-man match that turns out is being sponsored by a food company. The idea of getting a tableful of all the food he missed out on sends Makabe in a rage, meanwhile, The Bullet Club are all slow and fatigued from eating all these desserts all day. Things go about as you'd expect. I'm just surprised poor Kenny didn't just hurl all over himself after the match was over. And with Bad Luck Fale, how can you tell the difference?

 

Yeah, this was a filler episode that was more of an in-joke for Makabe than anything. The sheer goofiness of the episode and Honma's constant look of "huh?" redeems it a bit, but you aren't missing anything here.

Episode 18

We finally get some payoff! Of course, it's one of the side plots but it's still some progress none the less.

So Haruna has been working out in the gym behind everyone's backs because evidently in the Takaoka residence, no one tells each other anything. Haruna gets a call from her old friends, the Candy Pair: Mint and Milk. It seems the match where they were murdered against Queen and Payne, the American divas, got a lot of people talking and the fans want a rematch. I guess the Candy Pair are gluttons for punishment. Haruna goes to the arena to cheer on her friends when Milk is suddenly struck down with appendicitis and goes to the hospital. Mint can't find anyone to tag with and Miss X says there will be a penalty. Haruna then volunteers to be the partner. Despite the fact that she has never had a match or any formal wrestling training. When even Mint is worried about Haruna getting slaughtered she whips out a big surprise.

THE HELL?!?

How in the heck did bumbling little Haruna who couldn't even lift the weights or do anything without killing herself get SHREDDED that quickly? Again, stretching that suspension of disbelief like a rubber band holding a piano from an overpass.

 

So Haruna figures out that if old man Takaoka finds out, she dead meat. She actually has a handmade mask that she was going to market to female wrestling fans on her. She borrows Milk's outfit and calls herself "Spring Tiger".  I guess bringing up the "Tiger Dream" disaster wasn't going to happen huh? Anyway, Spring Tiger and Mint come to the ring to face Queen and Miss X?!

Yup. Miss X decides to jump into this because she wanted to make things even (and also wants to kick Haruna's ass). So now we have two pros and two amateurs teaming up. This match should be a real stinker.

 

What the hell? Despite the fact that Haruna doesn't actually have any real wrestling training she starts cracking out a bunch of leg locks and holds on Miss X. At ringside Fukuwara Mask says that Spring tiger has an "old style" offense of going after the legs and then the arms. So did Takaoka actually train her at some point or not? Anyway the match isn't as terrible and sure enough, Haruna actually gets the first real victory over the GWM by whooping Miss X's butt. Afterward, we get a shower scene of Haruna and we see all the bruises she acquired in the match. How the heck is she going to cover that up?

So while this had pretty much nothing to do with Tiger Mask (Tiger and Tiger The Dark were only briefly shown), it actually forwarded a plotline in the series. It's a really bizarre episode in the timeline of things, but I wonder if this story of Haruna becoming a wrestler will continue or not.

Episode 19

Hell in the Hole time!

So after talking about the subject for weeks, we finally start "Hell in the Hole" that the GWM trainers have been threatening all this time.

The episode cuts in some other stuff to break things up, though. We find out that Takaoka expressly promised Haruna's mother he would never let her be a wrestler when he finds the article about Spring Tiger. We get several looks at a lunch date between Naoto and Ririko that really only shows the Max Done has a big shopping mall and a bunch of restaurants in it. I guess that explains why the building looks so much bigger than the 20,000 seat arena we were told about earlier. We go down to the base of the GWM mountain to find Takuma, Odin, and others in jail cells getting mail. We actually get a touching scene with Odin (who we find out is really named Henry) where he gets a letter from back home saying his family is worried that he hasn't had any matches on TV in a while. You feel bad for the guy.

 

But the real point of this episode is Hell in the Hole. The concept is actually fairly simple. GWM takes it failures and rejects and lets them loose on the side of the mountain. If they bump into each other and fight, the winner of the fight gets granted a weapon. If someone dies, so be it. They are racing up the mountain to meet a mysterious gatekeeper and to challenge them. Cameras are also following them so back at the base a bunch of rich people can make bets on who is going to survive and who is going out. We are introduced to the "party" and....

What the hell? Who is that? Is that Tiger King from the original show? What in the world is going on with this? Whoever he is, he seems to be in control of the whole thing, despite Mr. X being right there. I dunno. Anyway, we get introduced to the nine competitors: Black Python, Red Death Mask, Takuma (not wearing his Tiger the Dark gear), Kevin Anderson, Ricardo (The guy Takuma threw off the mountain in episode 1), Billy the Kidman, Odin, and two other shlubs named Cox and Phantom. A funny moment as they are introduced as Black Python and Red Death Mask are given big applause while Odin barely gets anything. Poor guy just can't get a break.

This is the part where the series enters that violent and unnerving area again. Much like the match with Red Death Mask a number of episodes back, the show doesn't really pull any punches here either. They don't expressly say that guys are killed, but they come pretty damn close. It gets bloody in some parts as well. The episode finishes with four of the wrestlers left face off, much to the enjoyment of the rich bastards watching the whole thing.

 

This episode is much needed. After weeks of goofy filler episodes, we finally get down to some real plot and moving the story forward. We haven't seen much from the GWM side of things and Takuma has been overlooked in this series for a while. Hopefully, things start getting back on track. 

But wait! We have real world Tiger Mask news as well!

New Japan Pro Wrestling announced that on March 6, in Ota-ku, Tokyo (get it?) IWGP Champion Kazuchika Okada will face Tiger Mask W in the main event of the NJPW 45th anniversary show! Okada laid down the challenge after the Feb. 5 show. The match will be nontitle. And as an added bonus,there will be a"preview" on March 1, Okada will team up with his manager Gedo to face Tiger Mask W and Tiger Mask IV. For the first time, old school and new will team up in a real life ring!

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Soul Tsukino
Soul TsukinoContributor   gamer profile

Soul Tsukino lives in the state of Maine. When not enveloping himself in a new fiction story he also comments on happenings in the animation and Otaku fan scene. A creative writer since he was yo... more + disclosures


 


 


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    Filed under... #anime #Annotated Anime #Crunchyroll #feature #puroresu #Recap #Toei

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