UPDATE: Real-Life “Tiger Mask” Revives Manga Legacy

01/11/2011
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UPDATE: January 14 – As of today in Tokyo there were 39 new Tiger Mask donations, one of $5,600, sent to a local district office. There are countless others now taking place throughout Japan.

A side effect of this is that since January 13 the publisher of the Tiger Mask series, which started publication in 1968, has been overwhelmed with 13,000 orders for the Tiger Mask series in the last two days.

Another upshot of the Tiger Mask movement is that Gakushu Juku, one of the largest private cram schools in Japan, has announced a donation of $56,000 to Kanto facilities for disabled and orphaned children to buy backpacks.

UPDATE: January 13 – More than 800 donations have been given to underprivileged children’s facilities throughout Japan.

UPDATE: January 12 – As of this morning there have been close to 300 Tiger Mask donations to underprivileged children’s facilities nationwide.

The mysterious donors are now using other anime and legendary character names such as Samurai Sakamoto Ryoma. The gifts include backpacks, DVDs, food, money and school supplies.

TOKYO (majirox news) – Naoto Date, the hero of the Tiger Mask cartoon series, has inspired the Japanese public. His namesake has been leaving gifts and money to more than 80 children’s facilities throughout the country since Dec. 28.

It started with the appearance of boxes containing 10 backpacks at the Central Consulting Facility for Children in Maebashi (the capital city of Gumma Prefecture). Attached to them was a note saying,”This is for the children. Please give them these,” which was signed by Naoto Date.” Children in Japan carry traditional thick leather backpacks, which cost about $350 to $550.

Date Naoto has proven to be elusive. For example, on the morning of Jan. 10 the police of Akae City in Hyogo Prefecture received a call from a man claiming to be Naoto Date. He said, “I’ve left presents in the entrance of your police station. I couldn’t figure out where the children’s facility was, so I’ve left them with you. Would you please deliver them for me?”

The police found a box with four backpacks packed in it. A note stuck on it said, “New Years Presents from Date Naoto.” The note went on saying, “although it maybe some trouble for you, please deliver them to deserving children.”

On that same day at the institution for disabled children in Tottori City (the capital city of Tottori Prefecture) a cardboard box was discovered at the entrance. It was filled with brand new stationery items including pencils and notebooks. On the top of the box was written “From Naoto Date.” Inside was a memo with some verses from the theme of the Tiger Mask cartoon series: “I’m not a child, but let me help at least in this way. You’re’ not alone in the world, and you have not been abandoned.”

The children’s institution said, “We are deeply moved by this selfless kindness.”

Tiger Mask was an orphan whose story started in 1968 when he became a successful but violent wrestler in the United States. However, one day a boy from Tiger Mask’s orphanage told him that he wanted to grow up and be a villain just like Tiger Mask. That’s when Tiger Mask changed and decided to help the boy grow up to be a hero and help other disadvantaged children, as well.

Minoru Tominaga’s, a small business owner in Tokyo, says his disabled daughter has a Tiger Mask of her own.

For many Christmases in a row, Tominaga’s daughter has also received a present from an anonymous donor. She is a certified class one disabled person, which means that she is entirely incapable of caring for herself. Her mother thinks the donor may be one of the volunteers that have helped them throughout the years and says that these acts of charity are not unusual. She noted that other mothers of severely disabled children have mentioned that their children receive gifts, usually around the year’s end from anonymous donors.

“Whoever our anonymous donor is, he must have a pretty good idea of how disabled our daughter is,” Tominaga says. “This year’s gift was a stuffed toy rabbit as 2011 is the year of the rabbit. Not too expensive, not too cheap, but just about right.

“Although Japan does not seem to have a tradition of philanthropy like the United States, or at least not that I know of, but we do have a very strong tradition of justice. I wonder if the two have meshed somehow.”

Meanwhile, Naoto Date copycats continue to leave various gifts and money that benefit the children.

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2 Responses to UPDATE: Real-Life “Tiger Mask” Revives Manga Legacy

  1. Karen on 01/14/2011 at 11:33 am

    This article brought a smile to my face. Great to hear that people have this anime character that they can look up to. Well written!

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