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Annotated Anime: Tiger Mask W episodes 5-7

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The good, the bad, and the kitty

Heya Japanator readers! Welcome to our look at the Tiger Mask W anime with episodes 5-7. When we last saw our hero, Naoto, under the mask of Tiger Mask, he got the crap beaten out of him but was able to defeat Red Death Mask in the end. Meanwhile, Tiger the Dark is being overlooked. Ley's see what happens next!

Episode 5

This seems like a tale of two kitties.

The big thing about this episode is that despite the complete BLOODBATH that occurred in the last episode. It's completely ignored. Wakamatsu getting his skull crushed and then ran into the ring post? He's perfectly fine! Tiger Mask bleeding worse than the infamous Muta scale match with Hiroshi Hase (look it up on YouTube if you aren't squeamish)? Nope, he's all good. I know Japan is known for wrestlers not selling big moves but C'mon!

Anyway, the big story point here is that Tiger Mask has joined New Japan Pro Wrestling officially. Before his first match, he runs into Fukuawara Mask. An odd trickster type character who bares a striking resemblance to real life wrestler Ebbasan from about ten years ago.

We see Fukuwara mask wrestle Wakamatsu in a match and totally trick Wakamatsu in getting carted out. Tiger Mask ends up fighting Tomoaki Honma.. and of course, pins him after Honma misses the Kokeshi headbutt. Well, give the producers points for accuracy there!

At a different arena, the GWM is having a show. Tiger the Dark crushes some guy and it turns out things are not united with the GWM wrestlers. Seems the vets don't like how a newcomer like Tiger the Dark is dominating his opponents, especially the main guy Bosman. It is now apparent that Tiger The Dark (Takuma), Kevin Andersen, and Mike are an island unto themselves in the GWM.

This leads to both Tigers being in different battles royal (the proper way to plural battle royal according to Gordon Solie). Tiger the Dark draws number one in a royal rumble style where a new man enters the ring every few minutes (facing 18 nobodies and Bosman) and Tiger Mask is in a regular battle royal where we see Okada, Wakamatsu, Honma, Ishii, Fukuwara Mask, Makabe, and Nagata as an in-ring competitor. They are fighting it out for...rice. Seriously, the biggest wrestling names in Japan are fighting over rice.

This episode is short on story. Other than having Tiger Mask join NJPW, there isn't a lot of exposition here. It is a much lighter episode than the last one, but they pretty much ignore everything that happened in that episode too. No healing, no revenge, no nothing. Really detracts from the flow of the series.  Hopefully, this branches into something bigger.

Episode 6

Straight up, this episode makes little sense and is so not important to the story it seems to be spoofing itself.

So now that he has joined NJPW Tiger Mask's next opponent is Gorilla Jeet Singh. A scimitar wielding psychopath that barely speaks any decipherable language and grunts a groans a lot. Of course, this is a spoof of Tiger Jeet Singh, a wrestler originally from the Punjab (later living in Canada) who was recruit by Antonio Inoki to play a foreign bad guy against him in the '70s, despite not having a whole lot of actual wrestling skill. He would run to the ring carrying a fencing saber and attack fans in the crowd. He wrestled (brawled would be more accurate) for over 30 years, most of it in Japan.

Anyway in the lead up to the fight, NJPW is going to have "the next generation of Idol singers" sing a song before the fight. These two little brats are Nama Ham and Yaki Udon, you know their names because they say it constantly and speak in the third person. They hate wrestling and even send out a message on their website about how they were tricked into doing the show. They arrive in the ring for the show and the women wrestling fans damn near boo them out of the building and throw trash at them in the ring.

What does any of this have to do with the plot of the series? Red Shoes, got any ideas?

Yup. That sums up my feelings on this one.

Tiger Mask fights the guy, and the only good thing out of this episode is Gorilla signs voice acting. It is hilarious. One the other hand, the idol singers look and sound awful. I still can't figure out if they just act that way to get attention, they are trying to "play heel", or if they really are as big of brats as they sound. They also both sound, and are animated to look like they are 30 years old.

Short and sweet, you can skip this episode completely and you won't lose a thing.

Episode 7

This episode was titled "Naoto and Naoto" and promised to be something more about the original Tiger Mask anime. Did it live up to its promise?

This episode thankfully has way more purpose than the last episode did. It does have a lot going on with more than one storyline at work in this episode. There is a lot of mention of the past, but it isn't the sole story being told here. Tiger Mask and Haruna are in Okinawa for a New Japan wrestling show. The Main Event is Tiger Mask and Yuji Nagata facing Okada and his CHAOS buddy Yoshi Hashi. But before any of that, we see the reporter  Hikari digging around in some archive and then asking a distracted Haruna for an interview with Tiger Mask. The interview is very brief. Hikari tells the story of the original Tiger Mask to him and asks if he is from the Tiger's Den, if he is related to Tiger Mask, and why use the name. He answers he is not from the Den, not related to Naoto Date, and he answers that she should be able to find out why he took the Tiger Mask name on his own.

This episode also gave us some background on the bad guy side of things as well. In a follow-up from two episodes ago, Tiger the Dark gets his shot at the GWM US title, thanks to winning the battle royal. He is facing off against Bosman (in the "Kow Bell" arena in Texas) and beats him for the belt. His rookie buddies Kevin and Mike congratulate him backstage \and soon the other wrestlers do too. Bosman is demoted to indy shows and Miss X is called to Mr. X's office. He then explains the story of the original Tiger Mask from their side of things. Original Tiger Mask beat the then top executive of the company Tiger The Great, and nearly sank the organization, leading to the original Mr. X to die is despair. He doesn't say how he became Mr. X or how Miss X got to where she is, but between this and the earlier scene, it does get us up to speed a bit on what has happened since the original show.

The other ongoing plot here follows an old street vendor and his granddaughter. The old guy is banged up after a drunken argument over wrestlers being stronger than karate guys. This leads to him seeing an ad about the new Tiger Mask wrestling and he thinks it's the original. His granddaughter follows him to the show, and it's her first wrestling event. She's enthralled but the old guy is skeptical of anyone using the Tiger Mask name. He watches the main event and starts having flashbacks when he sees Tiger Mask use the back suplex just like the original did.

Like I said earlier, this episode had a clear purpose of linking the shows together, and it worked. However, it didn't take the clear path to do it, and that's good in this case. An episode like this in most other shows would literally be two characters talking with a mountain of flashbacks and not much else going on, but this show not only breaks things up with stuff going on like Tiger the Dark winning the title and The tag match, but we even got to see the events of the original from both perspectives of the story.

And look who also shows up?

Speaking of the flashbacks, I give credit because they did these scenes perfectly. The flashback scenes were animated to look as close to anime in the early '70s as possible. The animators here did an amazing job with the retro style in these scenes and I believe having that distinction really made the flashback scenes work. Big Kudos for doing that.

So this was easily a much better and more productive to the story episodes than the last one. It had a purpose and fulfilled that, and didn't take the easiest road to do it either. Hopefully, this means we are back on track after going off the rails a bit.

Overall These eps were a mixed back. Episode 5 was alright, but a let down after the bloodfest of the previous episode. Episode 6 is a totally skippable wash, but Episode 7 gets it right.

Fight On Tiger Mask!

[Catch Tiger Mask W on Crunchyroll.]

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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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