|Guess who are making some cameos...|
The Yellow Devil
When it comes to iconic anime, manga, & "PuroResu" (a.k.a. Japanese professional wrestling) characters, probably the biggest is the masked man who fights for all children, Tiger Mask. Created & written by Ashita no Joe's Ikki Kajiwara & drawn by Naoki Tsuji (creator of early-60s hit Zero-sen Hayato), the Tiger Mask manga was a seemingly instant hit, running from 1968-1971 (totaling 14 volumes) & spawning a TV anime adaptation by Toei just a year after it debuted. Said TV anime would run from 1969-1971 for 105 episodes, plus an anime movie in 1970. The character was so memorable that a sequel series ran from 1981-1982 for 33 episodes about a new Tiger Mask, who donned the persona in honor of the original man.
Not only that, but around the same time New Japan Pro Wrestling got the license to the character, putting Satoru Sayama behind the mask. Sayama's run as Tiger Mask was not just a success but wound up making the character a standard in NJPW, with five men having donned the mask since (though the fourth is still the current one), and variants of the character have appeared all over Japan, from rival Black Tiger (usually portrayed by foreigners, including the legendary Eddie Guerrero at one point) to homages like Super Tiger (played by Sayama himself). Most touching, though, was what happened in 2010 & 2011, where multitudes of anonymous people around Japan donated a lot of money & toys to children's homes & social welfare centers during the two holiday seasons, with notes stating that every one of them came from "Naoto Date", the identity of the original Tiger Mask; if that doesn't melt your very soul, then you are a monster. In fact, those selfless deeds inspired a live-action movie that came out in 2013... Which then sullied the very concept of Tiger Mask by turning him into a tokusatsu-style transforming hero, instead of being a masked wrestler who simply fights for the children. Anyway, going back to 1969, what was the very first episode of Toei's original TV anime like?