It’s Tiger Mask W time and while I normally look forward to writing this column every week, this week is a bit different. To be quite honest, this episode of the show isn’t very good. I’d go as far as to say that it’s downright bad. You would think that would leave me less to talk about, but here I am having a column that comes in at right around 2000 words. Oh well. As always you can watch this week’s and all the previous episodes of Tiger Mask W over at Crunchyroll and if you want to find the rest of my recaps, you can do that here.
Episode 6 Recap
Idol vs. Heel
This episode forgoes the normal cold open and takes us right to the episode title screen. This is a very small thing, but I like that the episodes don’t all fall into the same formula. Keeping things different is a super easy way to keep things interesting. As the episode begins, Naoto (in full Tiger Mask gear) runs along the beach as the sun rises. While I may not think this episode is very good, I do think that it is important because we don’t see Naoto at all. He’s Tiger Mask for the entire show. We see that it has become less of a role for him and more of who he really is.
Back in America, Ms. X begins grooming Takuma for stardom as Tiger the Dark. She tells him that his strength isn’t enough, he has to be beautiful. Takuma takes part in a photo shoot as sad music plays in the background. It’s a bizarre scene that oddly reminded me of the newest Nicolas Winding Refn film, The Neon Demon. Like the women in that movie, Takuma becomes an object to be photographed, leaving behind his humanity in the pursuit of perfection. I’m sure this isn’t what the scene was trying to accomplish, but I honestly can’t think of another reason for it. It has to be some sort of commentary on the American wrestling scene.
As Takuma spends his night being objectified, Okada starts his day with a ridiculously large breakfast. Like, it’s so big. Young Lion, Ryu Wakamatsu joins Okada for the meal, but it’s clear that he started this breakfast with the intention of eating it all on his own. I should mention that it appears that they’re at some sort of hotel/resort on the beach. No real explanation of their location has been given yet. The titular idols of today’s episode make their first appearance as two sleepy looking school girls emerge from the hotel. Okada asks who they are and Ryu identifies them as Nama Ham and Yaki Udon. Ryu is clearly more hip with the kids. Apparently the idol group is going to be performing at today’s New Japan show. The two frolic in the water and complain about having to sing at the show on social media. Then they practice one of their songs and make shitty comments about Tiger Mask as he runs past them. They call him disgusting and assume he smells like sweat. YOUTHS!
Meanwhile at Takaoka Motors, Haruna shows off some prototypes for Tiger Mask merch to her uncle. It’s actually some pretty cool stuff that I could see myself buying if given the chance. Uncle doesn’t really seem to have an opinion on the merch and says that Naoto should decide what they sell. Haruna notes that if she heads to Okinawa now, she’d be able to make it in time for Naoto’s match. This is the first time in the episode that they tell us where the wrestlers actually are.
Back in Okinawa, we’re at the venue of today’s show where members of CHAOS take on GBH in the main event. The semi-main is a singles match between Tiger Mask and a visiting foreign wrestler named Gorilla Jeet Singh. He clearly isn’t based on any wrestler past or present. He’s completely original. Outside the venue, several wrestling fans are upset about the idols appearing on a show that they have nothing to do with. We’ve all had these moments, but I think these girls are a bit too serious about wrestling. They cut their complaining short because they need to go buy merch before it’s all sold out. They then literally run into the building. This scene is about as well written as it sounds. At the merch stand a bunch of wrestlers are doing signings and GAHHHHHH
Time to go meet some wrestl- OH GOD WHAT IS THAT MONSTER!?! pic.twitter.com/6QKByFbueb
— Kelly Harrass (@comicgeekelly) November 8, 2016
I’m sorry, but anime Honma remains terrifying. Halloween is never over when anime Honma is around. Meanwhile, Ishii holds two people in his arms like they’re balloon people. What a man!
The show begins and Ryu Wakamatsu takes on another young lion in the opening match. Ryu gets him in a key lock and begins rolling around the mat. After over sixty rolls, Ryu is completely exhausted. He breaks the hold and his opponent just barely pins him for the win. Red Shoes even makes the slowest count ever in an attempt to give the little idiot a chance to kick out. This would have never happened to Tanaka or Komatsu.
After the ring is cleared, Yuji Nagata leaves his seat at the commentary desk to introduce the two idol singers we met earlier. They refer to them several times as the “next generation idols” and I can’t help but think that would be an awesome name for a unit in Dragon Gate. As the idols are about to sing, they’re met with death stares by the girls we saw complaining about them outside of the venue. A loud chorus of BOO’s echoes throughout the arena and the idols are completely shocked by the reaction. According to the girls in the front row, Ham and Udon have “pissed off wrestling fan girls everywhere.” Apparently their social media account is “flaming” because of that, whatever that means. Ham and Udon seem rather amused with the whole situation. Nagata tries to calm everyone down, but the fangirls say that Nagata’s attitude here “is the reason the NJPW can’t seem to break out in the world.” SAVAGE!
The idols continue to provoke hostility from the crowd by slapping their butts at them and making faces. The fangirls chant for the idols to go home as the rest of the fans start to lose their cool. The ring begins to fill with trash as Nagata stands there, clueless as to what to do. The garbage stops flying when Gorilla Jeet Singh emerges from the back with a guttural roar and his sword in hand. He runs through the crowd, terrifying the fans. What a completely original creation this guy is. Never have we seen a display like this. Okada and Ryu attempt to stop him, but he just brushes them aside and makes his way to the ring. Nagata stands in front of the idols to protect them. Singh swings his sword at them, knocking them all down. He licks the blade of his sword and eats some flowers that where left in the ring by Ham and Soba. He’s CARAAAAAAAAAAZY! And gross. Mostly gross.
He keeps licking the sword as he walks towards the idols. If he wasn’t supposed to be like a crazed animal, I’d say he was licking it rather suggestively. The girls cower in terror until Tiger Mask makes his heroic entrance. While Singh is distracted, Okada and Ryu pull Ham and Soba out of the ring. Red Shoes tells Singh to lose the sword, but he’s knocked to the ground for his efforts. Gorilla looks like he plans to cut the referee’s head off, but Tiger Mask intervenes with a dropkick. After TM knocks the sword out of Singh’s hand, he kicks it out of the ring. This seems extraordinarily dangerous seeing as it almost hits a fan and the tip is sharp enough to stab itself into the floor.
Tiger Mask W gave me a new reaction picture for when I watch Raw. pic.twitter.com/5V5cGSz0rP
— Kelly Harrass (@comicgeekelly) November 8, 2016
The idols talk about how much they hate wrestling as Tiger Mask whips Gorilla into the ropes and knocks him down with a lariat. Tiger Mask springboards off the ropes and drives his knees into the chest and stomach of Singh. Tiger doesn’t let up on the offense, hitting a pretty brutal looking kick to the face. Gorilla Jeet Singh drops to his knees and begs forgiveness of Tiger Mask, but it just turns out to be a ploy as he punches him right in the dong. Gorilla punches TM in the face as Red Shoes tries to step in, but gets a kick to the gut for his troubles. Tiger Mask tries to come back with a dropkick, but Singh catches his ankles as he falls to the mat, throwing him off balance.
Gorilla gets to his feet first and puts the boots to TM. Singh goes to the top rope and tries for a crazy flipping knee drop like he’s Mike Bailey. Tiger Mask rolls out of the way and Singh screams in agony as his knees collide with the mat. TM catches the injured Gorilla with a German suplex and wins the match. Singh’s reaction is priceless, yelling “Oh no! Why, Japanese referee?” at Red Shoes before leaving the ring to grab his sword. He attempts to gets back at Red Shoes for what he’s done, but thinks otherwise after a stare down with Tiger Mask and runs to the back. TM dons his cape and heads up the ramp as the idols remark how cool he is.
Okada climbs into the ring and begins to deliver a nonsensical argument for why the idols should sing their song. Okada asks the fans twice if they’re all wrestling fans. Then he says as wrestling fans they should listen to the song because he’ll listen too. The fans then agree with Okada’s infallible logic. Ham and Udon perform their song and, oh boy, it’s bad. It’s really really bad. Ryu seems into it though. Then again, that idiot lost a match because he rolled around too much so I would take his opinion with a dump truck of salt.
After the show, Ryu leads Ham and Soba through the backstage to meet Tiger Mask. They thank TM for saving them and then ask him to accompany them to thank Gorilla as well. The girls seem convinced that Singh will be calmer outside of the ring. In the real world they would be right, but this is the anime universe and Singh roars at them like a wild animal. In the lobby of the venue, Haruna finally made it to the show. She walks past the merch stand and apparently in the anime universe, New Japan has Rey Mysterio on their roster.
I guess New Japan sells Rey Mysterio masks now? pic.twitter.com/oTVTFHcShn
— Kelly Harrass (@comicgeekelly) November 8, 2016
Ryu once again asks out Haruna and she immediately blows him off. This was the high point of the show for me. Out on the beach, Tiger Mask stares at the moon. The idols tell him that they like wrestling a bit now. He responds by asking them if they’ll like it even if he smells like sweat, revealing that he overheard them talking shit about him earlier. The girls call him a meanie and run away. Haruna finds Tiger on the beach and asks him his opinions on the merch. He asks her if it will sell, completely invalidating Haruna’s choice to see what he thought and pretty much making her entire day a waste. The episode ends and I’m sure that I feel much the same way Haruna does; a mixture of annoyance and disappointment.
I feel pretty safe in saying that this was the worst episode of the series yet. Between the lame story featuring the idols, the terrible matches, and making Naoto seem super weird at the end, this was all around bad. As the series goes on, I really hope Naoto will become less clueless about how the wrestling world works and about human interaction in general. This is the first episode to not really contribute anything to the ongoing narrative of the series. What was really accomplished? We’re only six episodes in and they’re already putting in filler episodes. I don’t think this bodes very well for the quality of the show going forward. I hope I’m wrong.