Recap: An archaeologist discovers an artifact that looks suspiciously similar to one of Beast’s rings, but Kousuke runs into trouble when he tries to retrieve it.
Aqua‘s Thoughts: After last week’s massive bombshell, this week’s episode being rather mediocre and uneventful was to be expected if you have ever seen an episode of Kamen Rider Wizard before in your life. With second rider Beast’s upgrade to his ultimate form in the very near future, I expected this episode centred around our much-maligned friend to delve a bit deeper into the man behind the mask, teaching us something more about his passion for archaeology, having him experience an epiphany that will change his life and motivations for the better or causing him to grow into a true hero before being rewarded with a sweet power up.
Yeah, no, he’s just a massive idiot like always.
With this week’s Gate, another archaeologist, conveniently excavating his power up device for him, Kousuke decides the best way to obtain it is by, well technically trying to steal it from him. Too bad for our plucky hero, however, the archaeologist in question is equally as dishonest as he is, and quickly finds out the artefacts Kousuke wears on him in plain sight are a part of the collection he found only a part of. Being the least genre savvy person to ever have graced a television screen, Kousuke falls headfirst into the old “You give me the thing I want first, then I’ll give you the thing you want” trick and manages to get his belt stolen from him. Our hero, ladies and gentlemen!
Luckily for the Gate, Gremlin and the Phantom of the week, apparently some sort of horribly mutated Kamen Rider W, conveniently arrive right in time for Kousuke to believe they stole the belt, which is really just a gross overestimation of your average toku villain’s intellectual capacity. You really have no idea what you are supposed to do, huh, Kousuke? Anyways, Kousuke, now unable to transform, manages to suck only slightly less than when he is in Kamen Rider form, yet obviously cannot win against both monsters. Good thing Haruto’s there too, but apparently he is too stupid to use that power he has and almost always uses where he can split himself up into multiple guys when there’s two monsters and a bunch of mooks beating up a powerless Gate and an even more powerless Kousuke. Why is everyone in this show so incomprehensibly dumb?
This episode made it very clear that the writers have no idea how they can properly implement the one plot point they have to use, Beast’s upgrade to Hyper form, into the story. The long, padded-out battles and completely pointless antics with the Golem PlaMonster served only to fill up the necessary two episodes that were allocated to this one important plot point, but in the end, it will only be the actual upgrade that counts. Kousuke needs to receive a power up, but hell if anyone knows how to write two episodes about that.
Remember when Haruto upgraded to Dragon Style? Hint: It was the arc in which Phoenix kicked a car. That was not a particularly good story arc either, but at least we learnt more about his character and his unyielding desire to bring hope to others. Haruto had to overcome his literal inner demon, his most intimidating foe yet, and the trauma he was reminded of by a Gate in a situation very similar to his, and was rewarded with a sweet power up. In stead of doing something similar and trying to develop Kousuke’s character, to justify his upgrade and making people feel he deserved it, the writers really just threw their hands up in the air here, said “whatever” and quite literally presented the power up to Kousuke on a golden platter.
And even then he’s stupid enough to get it taken away from him.
- Now that he has a sweet treasure box (Buy now, kids!), Haruto doesn’t have to worry about his rings being stolen anymore! Well, unless the thieves just decide to steal the obviously decorated box, of course.
- Seriously, Haruto, when will you learn to just transform into Dragon Style by default?
- That thing in stone is obviously not a belt. It is so obviously a gun. An ancient Sumerian gun. Well, hey, ancient Sumerian spaceships apparently also existed, so I’ll buy it.
- When Kousuke is asleep, he apparently sucks his mayonnaise bottle. Yuck.
- The mana transfer scene in this episode really only served as a reminder that the writers have not forgotten about Koyomi or her little plot arc. Understandably, because the last development in that arc happened more than twenty episodes ago.
- Medusa’s fatal flaw becomes even more apparent in this episode. When the Phantom quite cleverly proposes to focus on taking out the Riders first before going after Gates, she simply brushes it off. Medusa seems oddly fixated on making sure Haruto actually fails and witnesses a Gate becoming a Phantom before his very eyes. Maybe she thinks he can still give birth to a powerful Phantom if this happens?
Zigg’s Thoughts: This is exactly the sort of episode you never want to see but there’s always one or two of in any toku series, namely the draggy, redundant filler episode. Any right thinking viewer knows from the moment that the new ring appears that this is the lead-in to a sweet powerup, so the trick the rest of the episode has to achieve is either a) Making the powerup sufficiently complex to acquire or b) telling a compelling enough B-story that we largely forget about the powerup. Neither is achieved here and as a result it really does just feel like we’re killing time until the next episode rolls around.
As ostensibly a Kousuke focussed episode this is yet again a chance for him to display some character development, and yet again the chance is squandered. There’s some lip service paid to the ‘die if you don’t eat Phantoms’ concept but really that’s been so much of a non-issue up to now that it’s difficult to suddenly believe it’s an imminent threat. Once again Beast proves he’s utterly ineffectual in battle and once again it’s Wizard’s job to swoop in and save him. It highlights a recurring issue in Wizard – all of the non Haruto characters are so satellite to him that the story has trouble operating when he’s not present. They’re defined only by their relationship with him and as such when he’s offscreen they feel lacking in depth and motivation. This is especially an issue for Kousuke, since as the second Rider he’s meant to carry a background plot. Most second Riders have their own agenda that at least partially clashes with the main Rider’s aims (revenge is a pretty popular one). But Kousuke has no long term target to aim for – there’s no plot to Beast beyond ‘survive’ and that’s such an immediate, week-to-week goal that it’s difficult to feel much continued attachment to him. He just shows up for the fights because that’s his only motivation both in and out of universe.
There’s not much meat on the bones here to make up for the Beast segments either. Our Gate this week is sort of a jerk who has an obvious arc (the discovery is his big shot at fame) and is clearly the one who stole the belt, despite Kousuke already proving that he needs it to fight off the monsters who are threatening to kill him. It’s daft and just acts as an excuse to de-power Kousuke for a bit, presumably so the eventual powerup will be more impressive. Elsewhere there’s little tidbits – we see Koyomi being recharged, giving hope that that plot arc will be back again soon, and we see Wiseman again for the first time in a bit, once again concealing his human form. Both of these developments prove there’s still some interesting points to be explored, but for now this episode was the worst in a while, and a real come down after last week’s great finale.
- I always feel it’s a huge copout when they just use ‘fear of death’ to make the Gate despair. So much of the little characterisation Gates get comes from their unique fear.
- The sequence with the lockbox is a pretty blatant toy shill even by the low standards of Kamen Rider.
- The legal drinking age in Japan is 20. Considering Kousuke’s still meant to be in college, the sequence where the Gate offers him wine seems a little suspect.
- Nice to see Beast’s saber has numbers other than one and six.