Tiger Mask W recently finished up its 38 episode run, which means it is a great time to get a marathon session going. It’s probably not a show for everyone, but for a certain demographic out there, Tiger Mask W is going to be something they are going to like…a lot.
1. 70’s Anime Vibes
The classic Tiger Mask anime ran from 1969–1971. As a sequel, Tiger Mask W mines the existing lore pretty heavily. The villains are still the Tiger’s Den. Tiger’s Den is under the control of a Miss X. There’s a Yellow Devil. Every week the Tiger’s Den hatch a scheme to impede Tiger Mask W from achieving his ultimate goal of getting revenge on Yellow Devil, who severely injured Tigers trainer by taking things too far in the ring.
A good number of the opponents who stand in Tiger Mask Ws way are young wrestlers taking up the mantle of masked wrestlers from the classic show. It’s definitely entertaining to see some of these 40-year-old designs worked for a more modern audience.
The art style intentionally includes the use of gritty lines that add to a retro 70’s aesthetic. This subtly adds to the overall vibe. While the animation can sometimes be spotty, this type of purposeful imperfection actually makes the show more endearing and visually interesting than shows with overly perfect, occasionally soulless animation.
2. Easy Watchin’
You don’t need to know anything about Tiger Mask or his history before watching W. Everything you’ll need to know is explained along the way. At its core, W is a simple show about a student seeking revenge for his fallen trainer while encountering a great mix of nostalgia, action, humour, seriousness, and fun along the way. It was no problem at all for me to pop on an episode while eating then find myself still in the same spot on the couch 9 episodes later.
3. That Theme Song
I’m pretty sure your chances of achieving your personal goals go up by at least 117% if this song is playing in the background at the time.
Aside from the callbacks to the classic Tiger Mask villains, this show is packed with cameos from current New Japan Pro Wrestling stars. Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi and Yugi Nagata are all pretty much regular cast members. Testsuya Naito, Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma, Tomohiro Ishii, YOSHI-HASHI and ring announcer Kimihiko Ozaki all make memorable appearances as well.
5. Don’t Be A Softy
(Spoiler warning for episode #17).
In a move that seems straight out of Team Rocket’s playbook, The Bullet Club read on Makabe’s blog what sweets he is planning on eating in the next town they are working. Bullet Club gets there ahead of him and eats them all, draining Makabe’s fighting spirit before their 6 man tag team match. Seriously, this was an episode. It is amazing if you find things like that amazing. I do.
6. It Spawned The Return Of Another Real-Life Tiger Mask
New Japan Pro Wrestling has a had a string of real life wrestlers portray Tiger Mask in the ring since 1981. On October 10, 2016, Tiger Mask W made his in ring debut portrayed by Kota Ibushi. Things got super meta later when Ibushi later went on to voice himself on the Tiger Mask W anime.
7. It Just Feels Right
It’s hard to put your finger on what makes something feel like it has soul, but that’s the best term I can come up with to describe Tiger Mask W. Rather than being contrived or melodramatic it conveys an uncomplicated charm that is a throwback to a more simple time. It has callbacks to the past but doesn’t solely rely on them. It’s not high art but it’s definitely a lot of fun to watch.