"There is so much writing in English on Japanese cinema that can't be accepted at face value — not because the writers are careless, but because the differences in culture and language are just too intricate. When I see August Ragone's name on a piece of writing, it gives me permission to place my faith in it completely. Among Japanese fantasy film historians, he's the best working in English." —Tim Lucas, Video Watchdog

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Legendary Masked Wrestler Rises... Again!


The Tiger Mask Rises... Will this new incarnation survive the legend?

Yesterday, the Japanese entertainment website, Eiga.com, obtained exclusive coverage for the upcoming live action adaptation of Ikki Kajiwara and Naoki Tsuji’s popular manga and anime series, TIGER MASK, starring Eiji Wentz (Ge-Ge-Ge-no Kitaro). Ark Entertainment also announced that the film would see nationwide release in Japan in November, but will have it's world premiere at this July’s Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal.

Striking February 1971 Tiger Mask cover of Bokura Magazine.

The original manga was serialized in Bokura (Our) and Weekly Shonen Magazine between 1968 and 1971, and was one of the highest rated animated television series at the same time, achieving a record 31.9%, after gaining national attention. Beginning production in November of 2011, the new film was kept under wraps for a year and a half to fully convey the overwhelming presence of this “Tiger Mask for the Heisei Era.”

DVD jacket for the original animated series that ran for 105 episodes.

The star had to study for the role before donning the mask and changing into Tiger Mask. At first, Wentz, who is playing Naoto Date, the alter ego of Tiger Mask, was unfamiliar with the original source material. "After receiving the part, I read the original story that introduces a new Tiger Mask, so I decided to create my own image for the new Naoto Date,” he said. Wentz went on to add, “I thought, so even for those generations who are unfamiliar with Tiger Mask, like myself, this will be a film that even they can enjoy.”

Eiji Wentz as Naoto Date, the new man behind the Tiger Mask.

Production wrapped at the end of December 2011, helmed by director Ken Ochiai (Blood Ties), the first Japanese native to win the Special Jury Prize from Directors Guild of America in 2010 for HALF KENNETH (2009). “We were able to achieve quite a bit, from cinematography to visual effects, and it was a quite a good experience,” he recalled.

Natsuna as heroine Ruriko Wakatsuki, Naoto Date's love interest.

As Naoto Date, standing in the center of this arena of high stakes and black money, Wentz is joined by Natsuna (Gantz) as Ruriko Wakatsuki and Sho Aikawa (Zebraman) as Mr. X, who are among the star-studded cast, as he dons the special hood to become Tiger Mask. Even the life of his friends, the heart and soul of Naoto, will be robbed by ruthless enemies, pushing him forward in his determination to maintain his belief in justice, while embracing intense hatred.

Here's the first teaser trailer for the upcoming live action version.

Visit the official TIGER MASK website.

Source: Eiga.com, translation by August Ragone.

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