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What you should know about the new 'Tiger Mask W' cartoon

Images: Toei Animation/ TV Asahi

The new anime series Tiger Mask W featured the re-launch of an iconic character with a fresh take still rooted in the origins and history of the Tiger Mask story. Produced by TV Asahi and Toei Animation, the series reboots the franchise with a heavy influence from pro wrestling in doing so.

New Japan Pro Wrestling is a partner in the production which features several NJPW wrestlers in recurring roles on the show. The NJPW brand itself is also prominent throughout the series, and the role it plays in fighting an invading wrestling organization is a satire on actual current events within the wrestling industry.  

Here's how the show is set up:

- The plot involves NJPW having to face the threat of a global wrestling conglomerate trying to monopolize the business.

The foreign conglomerate has yet to fully control the Japanese market and the struggle ensues as NJPW faces the competition. The evil corporation has even recruited a wrestler from Japan. Sound familiar?

- The newer reimagined character of Tiger Mask has links to the original.

The main protagonist in the series is named Naoto, which was the same name of the original character that became the first Tiger Mask. An old friend of Tiger Mask serves as Naoto’s mentor, teaching him to become the heir apparent. That mentor’s niece, Haruno, is the manager of the new Tiger Mask and knows his true identity. She is the granddaughter of a character that played a similar role alongside the first Tiger Mask in the origin story.

- Takuma is the main antagonist in the series as he transforms into Tiger the Dark, a heel rival to Tiger Mask.

Naoto and Takuma once trained together as the story goes. The role of Takuma shifts during the series as his motives for joining the villainous Tiger’s Den reveal his true quest. Tiger’s Den is the heel stable that secretly controls the Global Wrestling Monopoly (GWM).

- The Tiger’s Den has a female authority figure, Miss X, and a mysterious puppet master of a boss, Mr. X.

The heel authority figures send monster heels to fight Tiger Mask. Subplots and more layers related to the origin story become known as the episodes progress.

The first two episodes establish the characters and the setting. Storylines set up matches involving Tiger Mask attempting to vanquish the heels. As part of the backstory, Tiger Mask also valiantly fights for vengeance and seeks justice.

Scroll past the poster below for stories of Tiger Mask W. Be forewarned: SPOILERS from the first two episodes are ahead!

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Episode 1: The Two Tigers

The story opens with the beginning of the end for the Jipang dojo during a match where Yellow Devil was raining down a slicing chop. His victim was the ace of Jipang, Daisuke Fujii. The chop slices his chest and he falls in a heap. At ringside, young Jipang students Naoto Azuma and Takuma Fujii watch in horror. Naoto is punched by Odin and told not to interfere. Takuma suffers a laceration across his face when tries to stop the attack. Naoto and Takuma then witness Daisuke being paralyzed and left near death.

Three years later, protagonist Naoto is meditating in the ruins of a dojo located somewhere in the wilderness. Suddenly, a bear emerges from the forest to attack Naoto, but he quickly dispatches the animal. Naoto's mentor, Kentaro Takoaka, arrives to tell Naoto he should fight a tiger next time instead of bear.

Elsewhere, antagonist Takuma is on a journey to the Tiger’s Den. He arrives and is met by his new manager, Miss X. She reveals to him a red and black mask, proclaiming he is now Tiger the Dark. Four henchmen join Tiger the Dark as Miss X says they are booked for debut matches in Japan.

Naoto is at home in Japan eating dinner with Kentaro and his niece, Haruna Takaoka. They see breaking news on the TV that the Global Wrestling Monopoly is running a show in Japan called Wrestle Max. The draw is the in-ring debut of Tiger the Dark and Odin defends his championship in the main event.

Kentaro explains how the GWM books wrestlers around the world and takes half of all their payoffs. He speculates the GWM is secretly controlled by Tiger's Den, and the threat is they will soon invade Japan.

In the NJPW dressing room, Kazuchika Okada is preparing for a match when a young lion, Ryu Wakamatsu, asks him about not being booked on the Wrestle Max card. Okada dismisses the thought before saying, “We'll do pro wrestling our way.”

Flying to the show on the GWM corporate jet, Miss X gives a speech to her Tiger's Den roster about their policy of only running big shows, basically to make the most profit. She lamented them still not really being accepted in the Japanese market. She vows they will seize the market at Wrestle Max. Odin chimes in boasting he is the top draw while Takuma broods and clutches at his mask.

Headed to the wrestling card, Naoto and Haruna take a detour to visit Daisuke at the hospital. He angrily objects to their plan to confront Tiger's Den. Naoto tells him to watch on TV, and vows to “show the spirit of a true man.”

Wrestle Max gets underway as Miss X plans to win over the Japanese crowd. In a locker room, Takuma asks Odin about the whereabouts of Yellow Devil. Odin throws a canned drink and cuts a promo on him for asking. Takuma puts on his mask and walks away as Tiger the Dark. In another room, Odin’s challenger awaits nervously when he is approached by Kentaro about an offer for a substitution.

Tiger the Dark debuts in the ring and soon squashes his opponent. As the main event is set to begin, the challenger is introduced. Just as Odin threatens the challenger, a caped figure wearing the mask of a tiger sprints down the aisle. The masked man jumps to the top rope as his manager, Haruna, introduces him as Tiger Mask!

Tiger Mask vs. Odin

Tiger Mask subs for the challenger that was so nervous he became sick, fleeing the ring. Miss X orders a reluctant Odin to fight Tiger Mask. Miss X receives orders on her cell phone from a mysterious caller.

The match begins, Odin applies a sleeper hold. Tiger Mask easily escapes to apply a crossface chicken wing. He demands to know the whereabouts of Yellow Devil. Odin refused to say, so Tiger Mask delivered a suplex that dislocated Odin's shoulder. Miss X orders Odin to continue and told him execution awaits him if he failed.

Odin made one last charge and Tiger Mask knocked him out with a spinning roundhouse kick. Tiger Mask told the referee to make the call. With his task accomplished, Tiger Mask jumps out of the ring to grab his cape and sprint away. Miss X told the referee to ignore the TKO and count out Tiger Mask.

Watching on TV from the hospital, Daisuke told his nurse that Odin may have won the match, but Tiger Mask won the battle. The nurse said Tiger Mask was amazing. Daisuke agreed, adding he was “the spirit of a true man…”

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Episode 2: Tiger and Lion

Okada is chilling and looking at the latest wrestling magazines, all of which had Tiger Mask on the cover. The young lion, Ryu, asks Okada about the response of NJPW to the invasion of the Global Wrestling Monopoly. Okada plays it cool, basically saying they will figure something out.

While Odin is hauled away to await his fate upon losing, Miss X tells Takuma about the original Tiger Mask taking down the Tiger's Den almost fifty years ago. Takuma wants to fight the new Tiger Mask, but Miss X says not just yet. Her cell phone rings, a mysterious caller has news that management is sending Black Python from the United Kingdom to fight Tiger Mask.

Meanwhile, Naoto and crew also hear the news. Brief mention is made that Python is a catch wrestler and a submission specialist. Deciding she is more photogenic than her uncle, Haruna chooses to represent Tiger Mask at an upcoming press conference with Python.

At the NJPW office, Okada is reading a wrestling magazine when Nagata enters the room to tell him that he plans for NJPW to somehow capitalize on the return of Tiger Mask.

Black Python appears at the press conference to challenge Tiger Mask. Haruna agrees his behalf but has some demands. Watching on TV from home, Naoto and Kentaro are aghast at her demands. She wants them to promote their own show instead of Tiger Mask headlining another Wrestle Max card.

Miss X and Haruna argue about who will get to host the match. Representing NJPW, Nagata offers them a neutral ring and a semi-main event slot on a NJPW card. A deal is made and NJPW will host the match.

Later on, Nagata is determined to get a “prelude” match to build interest. Nagata books a tag team match. Miss X chooses Tiger the Dark as Python’s partner. Haruna is dumbstruck and caught off-guard by Nagata’s booking request. Nagata offers an up-and-coming NJPW young lion, Ryu, as a partner for Tiger Mask. Upon hearing the news, Naoto is somewhat worrisome having never been in a tag match himself.

In the NJPW dressing room before the match, Okada gives Ryu a pep talk. Tiger Mask enters to greet them. Later as they wait behind the curtain before their match, Tiger Mask asks about the rules of a tag match. Because of the pep talk with Okada, Ryu is confident he can help carry Tiger Mask if he gets lost out there.

In the heel locker room, Miss X tell her charges to steal the show so they can monopolize the Japanese market.

Tiger Mask & Ryu vs. Tiger the Dark & Black Python

Tiger Mask squares off with Tiger the Dark to start the tag match. After a stalemate, Ryu tags in to get pummeled by Black Python. Ryu fought to escape a bow and arrow submission hold, and he leaps over to tag out.

Tiger Mask ran wild off a hot tag, sending Python airborne on a flying mare. Pyton went for a release double underhook suplex only for Tiger Mask to flip into a springboard moonsault. Tiger Mask starts a chain of German suplexes, knocking out Python. Tiger the Dark jumps in to break it up. As Tiger Mask is tied up with his foe, he tells Ryu to tag in. Ryu does so and covers Python as referee Red Shoes makes the three count.

Watching from behind the curtain, Nagata wonders how the main event can follow that. Okada says “It's a win for NJPW. It's all good.”

Back in the ring, Tiger Mask cuts a promo telling Miss X that her challenger was weak. He asks for a stronger opponent. Miss X announces she is bringing in the mask of red death, revealing the next monster heel as Red Death Mask!

On the third episode of Tiger Mask W, a backstory explains the fall of the Jipang dojo as it relates to the cast of characters. The arrival of Red Death Mask also looms.