Summary: Kousuke kidnaps the Gate and takes him back home, where he explains his predicament. Haruto tracks them down and reveals the truth to Kousuke.
Aquagaze‘s Thoughts: I think it is save to say that Kamen Rider Wizard suffers from three big flaws. These flaws show up in almost every episode to the point of seemingly being the writers’ intention. If there is anything substantially irking you about an episode of Wizard, any episode of Wizard, chances are likely it is one of these three problems.
1. The side characters don’t do anything substantial.
The main characters already keep themselves artificially alive with stock backstories and going around beating up bad guys because that’s their job, but Shunpei and Rinko have no real personality, no real purpose and no real screen time either. Some of the interactions between the characters are certainly fun, but overall you just keep asking yourself why they even included these two if they aren’t allowed to do anything. While it could be said that most of the powerless characters in toku are just there because the writers need someone who can ask questions, that doesn’t mean that they have to be completely pointless. Take Akiko from Kamen Rider W, for instance. She hardly ever helped Double beat the bad guy, but she still had a personality, a backstory, character development and a role in the story all of her own.
2. The acting, with the exception of the Phantoms and maybe Koyomi, is not very good.
I’m pretty sure Shunya Shiraishi has realized this as well and has just given up on trying to have a sliver of fun playing Haruto. He’s not particularly good at hiding it either. Tasuku Nagase still thinks he’s in a grade school musical and enjoys ham about as much as a vegetarian. On the other hand, we’ve praised Phoenix’ delightful glee and Medusa’s subdued malice plenty of times already, and it’s great to see them enjoying their roles. The cheerful fedora-wearing Phantom, played by one Matakahisa Maeya, is by far the most interesting (and intimidating) character in the show right now.
3. Kousuke is a complete and utter imbecile.
I mean, just read the plot summary. Read it. He kidnaps the Gate by grabbing him and flying off. He doesn’t even know how Phantoms work. He eats mayonnaise on everything. He is a threat to the intelligence of the human race. Sadly enough, it does not seem like this is going to change anytime soon. In stead of going down the interesting route and heeding Medusa’s words — which, honestly said, would have made him an even bigger idiot — Beast simply decided to assist Wizard in fighting the evil Phantoms while maintaining some sort of half-assed one-sided rivalry in who gets to destroy the villain first. Problem solved? Beast’s mana consumption schtick was a great schtick, but sadly enough not a very well used one. Aside from being pretty much the only thing making his character interesting, it has quite simply been shoved aside by the power of friendship, as Kousuke’s dilemma has in no substantial way been resolved. It remains to be seen whether Kamen Rider Wizard will pick this plot thread back up when Kousuke seriously starts to be at risk due to a lack of Phantoms around for him to eat, but I’m afraid his personal arc — just like Haruto’s — is considered entirely wrapped up.
These three main ‘problems’ marred this week’s episode, just like they marred almost every episode before that and probably will mar every episode to come next. That’s just the name of the game. Nevertheless, in terms of actual writing, Wizard doesn’t fare too badly. The Phantom and Gate mechanic is well thought out, and some individual episodes play around with it very neatly. The morals, while often rather predictable, are consistently well implemented and delivered. The reasons for despair and hope are believable, human, often rather touching and at times even surprisingly pragmatic, given the genre.
What also remains consistently cool are the fighting sequences. Wizard always has at least one neat trick up his sleeve, and this episode did well to make me question just how the transformation sequences are played out, as there seems to be none of the usual cutting involved. This episode also marked the debut of Land Dragon Style, which was admittedly a bit underwhelming, but that is irrelevant because it gives Haruto giant dragon claws. Anyways, I’m still looking forward to see what’s next, having pretty much accepted Wizard‘s flaws by now (not). Looks like next episode will see Haruto becoming an actual magician. Fabulous!
Dragonzigg’s Thoughts: Aqua’s already said most of what needed to be said about this episode, so I’ll keep it mercifully brief. This is functional but hardly an outstanding episode of Wizard, which seems to worryingly becoming something close to a pattern recently. In the good column this week, we have a decent backstory for the Gate. Sure, dead family member is pretty much the easiest way to milk sympathy for a character, but there’s some nuanced writing and performance that makes this pretty well done. The action is good too, with Beast’s mook beatdown and subsequent journey into the underworld for giant, flashy CGI action. Elsewhere, acting continues to be a real problem here – Haruto and Kousuke’s face-off would be much more dramatic with a bit more emoting.
It’s a little disappointing that the shine has come off of Beast so quickly (no pun intended) although I do hope that there’s a little more to the character than has heretofore been revealed. Wizard really needs to start cranking up the arc plot at this point. I’m just not compelled enough by the character interactions to be held to it week in, week out. Rinko in particular seems criminally underused basically since the show began. With what now should be the complete team in place, let’s hope that this will lead to some slightly deeper insight into the characters and what drives them
- Shunpei’s idea that Haruto could just go in and destroy Kousuke’s Phantom is surprisingly clever. It also confirms that Chimaera is a Phantom, despite the fact he appeared from the Beast Driver rather than Kousuke. Does this still mean he’s an embodiment of Kousuke’s despair? Guess we’ll have to find out.