Real life 'Tiger Mask' strikes again for Japanese orphans

Real life 'Tiger Mask' strikes again for Japanese orphans

A second mystery donation of school bags in Japan is attributed to the manga hero
tiger mask school kids japan
Japanese school kids have been using the same satchels for decades, as this shot of Tokyo's schoolgirls in the 1950s shows.

A second batch of Japanese school kids got a surprise over the holidays thanks to a mystery donation by someone claiming to be Naoto Date, the human name of manga character Tiger Mask.

On Christmas day 10 gift-wrapped school bags -- traditional leather Japanese knapsacks usually costing ¥30,000 -- were left at a welfare facility in Maebashi, Gunma with the name Naoto Date credited as the donor.

Then a further six appeared outside a local government building in Odawara, this time with a letter stating the gifts were "inspired by the case in Gunma," and "It would be nice if the 'Tiger Mask' movement continues."

tiger mask school kids japanTiger Mask went from villian to hero.

Manga inspiration in real life

The Tiger Mask character, which debuted in 1968, tells the story of an orphan who becomes a successful but vicious wrestler in the United States, until one day another boy from the same orphanage expresses a desire to grow up as a villain like Tiger Mask. 

Tiger Mask then has a change of heart, wishing the boy to grow up a hero, and begins to do good by donating to the orphanage.

Officials at the Odawara child counseling office have said they will give the bags to new kids who enter the welfare facility in April.

It is the second story recently of regular Japanese impersonating manga characters, though in the other case, three teenagers replicated the villain Phantom Thief Kid from Detective Conan, ending up arrested.


Robert Michael Poole is a specialist on the Japanese music and entertainment scene.

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