Tiger Mask was a manga series penned by Ikki Kajiwara and illustrated by Naoki Tsuji, and published by Kodansha in 1968. Tiger Mask starred a professional wrestler named Date Naoto, who wore an identifiable tiger mask over his head.
Over the years, Naoto has inspired wrestlers in real life to wear a tiger mask similar to him. In the manga, Date was originally part of an evil organization named “Tiger’s Cave” that would train wrestlers in exchange for royalties. Ultimately, he ended up leaving the organization and set out to establish his career on his own, using his earnings to donate money to the orphanage he grew up at.
Angered by his betrayal, Tiger’s Cave began to hunt him, sending assassins and other professional wrestlers to do away with Tiger Mask.
Similar to Tiger Mask’s fictional heroics, this past Christmas, somebody in Japan secretly left 10 brand new school bags in boxes, gift-wrapped, at a welfare facility for children in Maebashi, Gunma Prefecture. The donor identified himself as Date Naoto, the Tiger Mask.
The event inspired hundreds of other Tiger Mask copycats to spring into action as well, making donations across all of Japan to welfare facilities and city offices, each of them under the name of Date Naoto.
Following this turn of events, Kodansha have been flooded with orders from consumers for the Tiger Mask manga series to be republished, with orders as of Friday surpassing 13,000 copies. Naturally, Kodansha are gladly republishing the series, this being their third time to do so.
Food for thought:
If you’re a fan of No More Heroes creator, Suda 51, you’ll know he has a fascination with wrestling, too. Perhaps this is why some of the characters in Grasshopper’s Kinect game, Codename D, wear tiger masks over their heads?