Tiger Mask

TV (105 eps)
1969 - 1971
3.4 out of 5 from 336 votes
Rank #8,484
Tiger Mask

Tiger Mask, an unbeatable wrestler who always wears the mask of a tiger is a true friend to orphans. Nobody knows who he really is.

Source: Toei Animation

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This is the first wrestling anime and its themes are basically all about fair play. In fact, the hero is fighting FOR fair play as a role model for the newer generation. But first things first; this has NO relation to Tekken’s King character. It is just a tribute at best despite having similar backdrops. So the story is a wrestler who always hides his face with a tiger mask during matches. He has gotten really cocky because of his victories and is now fighting brutally and even cheats as the matches are usually fixed. He is having the fun of his life up until he realizes how much a kid hates him for being a cheater and how overrun with corruption his favourite sport became. Performing a U Turn, he now decides to fight for justice and takes on corrupted athletes while trying to be a good role model for the newer generation, without ever revealing his real identity. As cool as it sounds, it is nothing much in practice, since it is almost entirely episodic. It is basically inspirational for little kids who dream of becoming athletes themselves, as he is showing how true talent is greater than cheating with cheap tricks. Each episode is partly about him giving good advises to little kids and the rest about taking on the ring cheating wresters, where he wins with talent (or loses but still is the winner for being fair; thus it is a win-win situation). There is nothing to make things more complicating than that despite the short termed schemes the evil wrestlers plan from time to time. Hell, it is over a hundred episodes and the finale feels like the end of another day.On the other hand, it is not exactly family material as many battles tend to be brutal. There is occasional bleeding and grabs, throws, kicks and punches where it looks like bones are breaking. Why are little kids even watching this with their families? This is not children material! Anyways, another thing that stands out is the animation style. Partly because of the fashion of that era and partly because anime where still not with their own unique style everywhere, the setting and the characters look rather French. Furthermore, because there was no aid from computers back then and the wrestling matches were really complicating in choreography, most of it was left sketchy… literally. The battles look like they were drawn with pencil and left as such without the final inking stage, as if it is all still in beta version or something. Ok, I kinda understand that it is very hard to have fluent animation in every episode just so you can entertain a few kids. I mean most anime are full of frozen panels even today so you can imagine how harder it would be back then. I can’t say it is a bad thing; in fact it makes it look artistic in a way. Too bad the show is aimed at kids who probably don’t know, don’t understand, or don’t care about art. They want to see muscular guys beating the crap out of each other… And I doubt their parents will be next to them enjoying all that.I eventually came to dislike Tiger Mask, not for its episodic structure as much for his mask. I mean why is he even hiding? Is he afraid he will be killed by the villains? Why isn’t any of the wrestlers ever try to pull it off? And it is rather lame to be constantly staring at a guy with an expressionless mask. And the mask ain’t that cool to begin with; sometimes it even looks ridiculous. Eventualy Tiger Mask never made much of an impact on the industry. A few years later Ashita no Joe and Hokuto no Ken came out and thus its few fans dumped it for something with more violence, more story, and more drama. I say it is ok for historical reasons mostly, being the first to show wrestling matches and all, but its episodic structure and pencil battles get tiresome fast. Plus, there is no way your mother is going to take you on a friendly wrestling match. And as for that cool WWE competitions, please, they are more fixed and fake than any Tiger Mask match.

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