By John Moore
Tiger Mask W
Aired October 15, 2016 on TV Asahi/Crunchyroll Simulcast
Small note on the opening theme, at Wrestle Kingdom 11 they decided to give Kota Ibushi the original Tiger Mask theme as opposed to the opening theme of this anime, which was no bueno!
This week’s episode started off at the Takaoka motor shop where the elder Takaoka, Haruna, and Naoto were talking about Naoto’s next match against Red Death Mask. Takaoka informed Haruna and Naoto that the original Tiger’s Den had a wrestler by that name. Takaoka said he never saw him in the promotion during his stint there but he was told that the title was given to the strongest heel of the promotion. Takaoka said the old Tiger Mask defeated him which assured Haruna that new Tiger Mask would win. Takaoka also informed them that in his time there was a Mister X as opposed to the current Miss X. Naoto wanted to start training for his match right at that moment which Takaoka agreed and set up for the next day. Haruna said he can train as long as they don’t bring bears home for dinner anymore. This week’s episode was titled “The Tiger’s Legacy”…
Takuma and the yellow haired dude from GWM named “Kevin” were just chilling in Japan until the arrival of Red Death Mask. At an undisclosed location, Naoto and Takaoka entered some sort of secret training lab under an abandoned building. Naoto started to practice his wrestling with training mecha and a blow up doll…
John’s Thoughts: I know they probably wrote the anime before making Kota Ibushi the character, but it would be hilarious to think that Kota Ibushi accepted this role due to the main character training with blow up dolls. One would say that it reminds him of the great Yoshihiko.
They cut to a flashback where Naoto and Takuma were young boys in the Zipangu independent promotion. Jobber Mikasa was ordering them around and training them. Takuma and Naoto completed 1000 squats. Mikasa forced them to do some in ring work with some more experienced wrestlers. Suddenly Daisuke walked in and informed everyone that they were happy to announce some cross promotion with the United States company GWM. They were told they can use Yellow Devil on their indie show. They said they were also going to utilize the talents of Odin, Keiji Tanaka, and “Billy the Kidman” (oh gawd…). Daisuke then booked a U.S. vs. Japan indie show where he would be facing Daisuke himself. Daisuke also booked Naoto vs. Takuma in the opening dark match to hype the crowd before the actual recorded show…
1. Naoto Azuma vs. Takuma Fujii. The two young boys locked up in their debut match with Takuma claiming not to lose. Takuma made the rope break after a headlock from Naoto. Takuma made the double leg takedown and locked in the Boston crab. Takuma Fujii won via submission.
Takuma Fujii defeated Naoto Azuma via submission in about 1:00 of TV Time.
Cut to modern time where Kevin and Takuma drove to a hospital. It was the hospital where Daisuke Fujii was convalescing. He witnessed his father in a wheelchair and flashbacked to the United States wrestlers destroying the Japanese wrestlers of his indie promotion from back in the day. The commentators pointed out that GWM completely destroyed Zipangu. Mikasa was backstage with the Zipangu wrestlers and pointed out how the GWN wrestlers weren’t there to help or be honorable but rather to bury their company. Daisuke talked about how Zipangu has come so far after ten years and he wouldn’t lose. They then cut to the flashback from the first episode of this anime where Yellow Devil destroyed Daisuke in a match and sending him to the hospital after hitting the top rope Spanish Fly on him, which paralyzed him due to the spinal injury. The last words of Daisuke in that match was that he would show Yellow Devil the spirit of a real man… [C]
After the destruction, Takuma Fujii was waiting in the waiting room of a hospital where they put his father. Mister X approached him informing him that since Daisuke was injured via an accident in a GWM ring, GWM will be picking up the medical expenses for his recovery. Takuma said it was obviously not an accident since Yellow Devil continued to beat on Daisuke after the bell had rung. Mister X said that injuries are just a part of Pro Wrestling and that Death is even looming to everyone inside of the ring. Mister X insisted that it was an unfortunate accident.
Takuma tried to punch Mister X in the face for that comment but his fist was caught by the Yellow Devil. Takuma tried to kick his way out of Devil’s grasp but Devil no sold the kicks. Yellow Devil put Takuma in the straightjacket hold and offered Takuma a chance to face him. He said Takuma could face him if he joins GWM’s developmental territory, the Tiger’s Den. Devil said the only way to become the strongest wrestler is through Tiger’s Den and that’s also the only way he’ll ever be able to defeat Yellow Devil. Devil said that he sees something in Takuma, the Tiger’s eye. He asked Takuma if he’ll become a Lion or stay a loser.
Cut back to modern times where nurse Ruriko wondered if Takuma was there to visit someone. Takuma said he was just leaving, deciding not to visit his father. Daisuke sensed a presence but Takuma was gone and drove away with Kevin. At the training lab, Naoto was fighting with weighted bags and balls. They cut back to the flashback where Mikasa informed Naoto that Takuma has left overseas and that Zipangu was closing down. Naoto wanted to know how he was going to be able to defeat Yellow Devil now? Mikasa said it was impossible. Naoto went back to doing squats in an empty gym with tears in his eyes. Takaoka entered and offered Naoto a chance to defeat Yellow Devil. Kentaro Takaoka informed Naoto that he was the original Yellow Devil.
On a car ride, Takaoka informed Naoto that Tiger’s Den was once destroyed by the original Tiger Mask. He said Tiger Mask did it for the orphans. Takaoka said he was one of the assassins sent to destroy Tiger Mask and the orphanage, but Tiger Mask was able to destroy Tiger’s Den wrestlers one by one. Takaoka said against the final boss, Tiger the Great, he the original Tiger Mask, Naoto Date, lost his spirit and thought he had lost the trust of the orphans. Takaoka said that it was interesting that Naoto Azuma was also named Naoto. Takaoka took Naoto to the training lab where he gave Naoto the mask and cape of Tiger Mask…
Takuma and Kevin were admiring the sunset in modern time as a GWM private jet landed. Miss X and Yuji Nagata awaited the contents and it was the Red Death Mask wrestler. Yuji requested that Red Death Mask be the lead-in and not the main event to which Miss X remembered he did last time. Nagata said that the audience is not familiar with Red Death Mask. Pro Wrestling Reporter Hikari Kuruma said the “red death” has long devastated the country. She told Haruna that it was a quote from an author and inspiration for the wrestler persona. Kuruma said that blood will be shed in Red Death’s match…
John’s Thoughts: This overall was an exposition episode where we got some of the background as to why Naoto and Takuma are in their current spots. So far, Takuma seems like more of an interesting character since he’s the one with the goal, the motivation with his father, and conflict with infiltrating Tiger’s Den from within. Naoto is just the heroic babyface. The end of the episode did a simple and solid job in hyping the debut of Red Death Mask, but I do find it interesting how Nagata pointed out that New Japan fan would be unfamiliar with Red Death’s abilities and that’s why they don’t get the main event. The reason I find that interesting is that I hope they don’t have him job out in his first match since that would give credence to that claim to Nagata, who is being pushed as a shady booker. It also points out that they have weak heels.