Kitaro's Eiji Wentz to Star as Wrestling Hero Tiger Mask (Updated)

posted on by Egan Loo
Wentz plays manga hero who fights for orphanage; Show Aikawa, Natsuna also star

The Sports Hochi newspaper reported on Sunday that 26-year-old singer/actor Eiji Wentz (Gegege no Kitarō, Brave Story) will star in the first live-action film adaptation of Ikki Kajiwara's classic wresting hero manga Tiger Mask. Show Aikawa (Tokyo Zombie, Zebraman) will play Mister X, and Natsuna Watanabe (Kimi ni Todoke, Gantz) will play the heroine Ruriko. Director Ken Ochiai will begin shooting this film on December 1 for release next year.

"Tiger Mask" is the alter ego of the character Naoto Date, a pro wrestler who goes against an evil wrestling organization and fights for children in an orphanage. In the new setup for the film, Date dons a special suit and "transforms" into Tiger Mask with enhanced mobility and muscle strength. His mask has also been redesigned with a nod to American comic action heroes such as Spider-Man and Batman. As an origin story for children who have never read the manga, the film will devote about one-third of its screen time to Date's roots in the evil wrestling training organization Tora no Ana (before he turned his back on the organization).

The original manga ran from 1968 to 1971 in Kodansha's Bokura magazine, Weekly Shonen Magazine, and other magazines. Along with the baseball manga Kyojin no Hoshi, Tiger Mask is considered Kajiwara's life work. The 1969 television anime series recorded 31.9% as its highest rating. There are even real-life wrestlers who have been inspired by the manga and anime to compete under the Tiger Mask persona.

The manga became a popular topic in the national news in Japan this year after an anonymous donation of backpacks at a child guidance center sparked a charity movement. The "Tiger Mask movement" spread to almost every corner of Japan.

Update: More information added.

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