|Author||Ikki Kajiwara (story) |
Naoki Tsuji (art)
|Publisher||Template:Country data Japan Kodansha|
Weekly Shōnen Magazine
|Original run||1968 – 1971|
|Original run||October 2, 1969 – September 30, 1971|
|Anime and Manga Portal|
In the manga and anime, Tiger Mask (whose real name was Naoto Date) was a feared heel wrestler in America who was extremely vicious in the ring. However, he became a face after returning to Japan when a young boy said that he wanted to be a villain like Tiger Mask when he grew up. The boy resided in an orphanage, the same one that Tiger Mask grew up in during his childhood. Feeling that he did not want the boy to idolize a villain, Tiger was inspired to be a heroic wrestler.
The main antagonist in the manga and anime was Tiger's Cave, a mysterious organization that trained young people to be villainous heel wrestlers on the condition that they gave half of their earnings to the organization. Tiger Mask was once a member of Tiger's Cave under the name "Yellow Devil", but no longer wanted anything to do with them, instead donating his money to the orphanage. This infuriated the leader of the organization and he sent numerous assassins, including other professional wrestlers, to punish him.
The manga was originally created for the Bokura and Weekly Shōnen Magazine in 1968 by Ikki Kajiwara and Naoki Tsuji. The manga would be reprinted by Kodansha comics, and made available in Hong Kong. Further versions include Sankei Comics and the Kodansha KC Special. The anime would be televised nationally in Japan, while 2 movies would be constructed from reusing footages of the series. Most of the environment and characters were fictional, but real-life pro wrestlers like Antonio Inoki, Giant Baba, Michiaki Yoshimura, Kintaro Ohki, Seiji Sakaguchi were included in the manga and anime as well.
Director: Takeshi Tamiya
Screenwriter: Masaki Tsuji, Tadashi Kondo, Tomohiro Ando
Design: Naoki Tsuiji
Animator: Keijiro Kimura, Koichi Murata
Music: Shunsuke Kikuchi
The series has since been released on DVD format in Japan and Italy ,also released in the gulf country's dubed in arabic.
The movies were titled as such in English when exported outside Japan. They are by no means actual translations.
|Japanese Name||English Name||Release Date||Type|
|タイガーマスク ふく面リーグ戦||Tiger Mask: War against the League of Masked Wrestlers||July 19, 1970||movie|
While the Tiger Mask character has shown up in quite a number of wrestling video games such as Fire Prowrestling D, Toukon Retsuden 3, and Virtual Pro Wrestling 64, the video games are not directly based on the story of the manga or anime.
A continuation of the series was followed by Tiger Mask II in 1981.
The anime ended in 1971, but continued to be so popular that the bookers in the New Japan Pro Wrestling promotion licensed the character and created a real-life Tiger Mask in 1981, originally portrayed by Satoru Sayama. Sayama played the role until 1983, when he left New Japan due to his hatred for the backstage politics of professional wrestling in general, and eventually became one of the first mixed martial artists in the world. As Tiger Mask, Sayama feuded with Kuniaki Kobayashi, Canada's Bret Hart, and Englishmen Dynamite Kid, the original Black Tiger (see below), Chris Adams, and Steve Wright, as well as Mexico's Fishman.
In 1984, the rights to the Tiger Mask gimmick were bought by All Japan Pro Wrestling and given to Mitsuharu Misawa. Misawa also feuded with Dynamite Kid and Kuniaki Kobayashi, as well as Chavo Guerrero, Sr. and Atsushi Onita; he then moved up to the heavyweight division (the only Tiger Mask to do so while using the persona) to feud, albeit unsuccessfully, with Jumbo Tsuruta and Genichiro Tenryu. In 1990, after Tenryu left All Japan, Misawa gave up the mask in the middle of a match to wrestle as himself.
New Japan's Koji Kanemoto became the third Tiger Mask in the early 1990s, but was unsuccessful due to the dominance of Jushin Liger. Kanemoto was never able to win a title as Tiger Mask, and eventually lost the mask in a mask-vs-mask match against Liger in 1994.
Since 1995, the name Tiger Mask has been held by Yoshihiro Yamazaki, who was trained directly (and is officially endorsed) by Sayama. Tiger Mask IV, originally based at Michinoku Pro Wrestling, entered New Japan Pro Wrestling in 2001; since then, he has been one of the top candidates (alongside Minoru Tanaka) to replace the now-aging Liger as the top star of New Japan's junior heavyweight division, though Kanemoto is now considered to have surpassed all three to take the Jr. Heavyweight Ace role. Yamazaki's role as Tiger Mask is the most notable, as his style is very similar to Sayama's Tiger Mask days.
Some pundits[who?] credit All Japan Pro Wrestling mid-carder Samson Kutsuwada (who died in 2004) as the first true Tiger Mask, as he used the gimmick in South Korea in the mid-1970s, but since he was a heel and never used the persona in Japan, Sayama always gets the "Original" billing.
|Tiger Mask I||Satoru Sayama|
|Tiger Mask II||Mitsuharu Misawa|
|Tiger Mask III||Koji Kanemoto|
|Tiger Mask IV||Yoshihiro Yamazaki|
The evil twin character Black Tiger (using a black costume with yellow stripes) was created by NJPW to oppose the man who portrayed Tiger Mask at the time, although he did not have to have the existing Tiger Mask as his exclusive antagonist. Black Tiger has always been portrayed by foreign wrestlers: Mark Rocco (British), Eddie Guerrero (Mexican-American), Silver King (Mexican) and Rocky Romero (Cuban-American). As Black Tiger, Rocco also feuded with The Cobra (George Takano), and Guerrero also feuded with Jushin Liger and Wild Pegasus. Recently, a fifth Black Tiger surfaced in New Japan Pro Wrestling, and speculation has it that the mask is being worn by veteran wrestler Tatsuhiro Takaiwa, who had just finished a long run with the Zero-ONE promotion.
Recently Último Dragón, as a temporary break between gigs in the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), adopted the name and character Second Tiger, modeled after the original, Satoru Sayama, who was his childhood idol.
Sayama himself used the Super Tiger (in the original UWF) and uses the Tiger King and Original Tiger Mask characters in special appearances since 1996, as a means to differentiate himself as being the original.
Sayama also gave brief authorization for a female version of the character, called Tiger Dream, to be played by female wrestler Candy Okutsu in the mid-1990s. He and Tiger Mask IV also provided her with training. Since Okutsu was injury-prone and had to take several sabbaticals from the ring, however, the character was easily forgotten by the fans and eventually abandoned.
Osaka Pro has a wrestler named Tigers Mask who wears a mask similar to Tiger Mask and is portrayed as a fan of the Hanshin Tigers baseball team.
Although the manga and anime ended in the early 1970s, Tiger Mask remains a popular character in Japan.