Recap: Gremlin releases a dangerous Phantom from his imprisonment in order to get Wiseman’s attention. Meanwhile, Koyomi seems to be running out of mana rather quickly.
Aqua‘s thoughts: I wonder if Medusa is starting to regret ditching Phoenix in favour of Gremlin already. Took the little bugger less than 10 episodes to turn onto his employers and unleash Faris Badwin from British rock band The Horrors onto Tokyo. Meet Legion, a Phantom even more unhinged than the guy Gremlin replaced and in many ways Haruto’s polar opposite. Whereas Haruto brings hope to people, Legion does the other thing by being able to enter people’s Underworlds to wreck havoc and screw them up from the inside. Yeah, this show can be pretty dark if it wants to. Legion even goes as far as quite explicitly destroying Dragon and thus stripping Haruto of his magic powers. What could help our hero now? Could it be a sweet powerup?
Despite a rather predictable setup, this does result in a pretty exciting episode, for reasons both intentional and unintentional. Shunya Shiraishi gets to dig up Haruto’s flamboyant quirkiness again in the interactions with the kids and I have to say, he looks especially awesome in this episode. Is it the outfit, the slightly darker haircut or the lengthy unmorphed action sequence? I don’t know, but I might actually start liking this guy. With Haruto being the main target for an asskicking, Beast gets some more time to shine and show off his fancy new Hyper Form. Then again, this being Beast, the thing gets proven to be quite useless one episode after it got introduced. I’m starting to guess someone at the writing staff just hates this guy with every fiber of his being. Nevertheless, Kousuke does manage to contribute to figuring out the mystery behind Legion and him riding Chimaera into battle is almost badass. There might still be some hope left.
Nevertheless, this episode did have quite a few moments that made me chuckle where I was not supposed to. Haruto upstaging the little kid doing a magic trick for his little sister with actual magic was more dickish than cool, and him making the girl touch his crotch to dress her up in all sorts of outfits was all kinds of wrong. Combine that with the camera being oddly fixated on the Riders’, errm, belts and the series’ history of unintentionally making its heroes look like horrible assholes or creepers, and you get copious amounts of hilarity of the most questionable kind. Then again, for a show that introduced to us the concept of two attractive men sharing a single body riding another attractive man transformed into a motorcycle, questionable hilarity is the best kind of hilarity.
On the villain side of things, Medusa and Wiseman quickly find out what Gremlin has done and decide to punish him. Nevertheless, I don’t think this is the end for Gremlin, especially since he reveals to Wiseman he knows about the mysterious Philosopher’s Stone. It is rather obvious that Sora has a way bigger goal in mind and it would not surprise me if he staight out turned against Wiseman and usurped his title as the main villain of the show. With Koyomi’s need for mana being dragged back under the spotlight these last few episodes and Mayu’s apprenticeship with the White Wizard still fresh in our memories, I cannot help but to think that Kamen Rider Wizard is upping the ante. Is it finally showtime?
- Creepy paedo vibes aside, some of the interactions between Haruto and the kids were truly adorable.
- If Gremlin has never met Wiseman before, then who gave him the magic stone for Land Dragon Form that he gave to Koyomi? It certainly wasn’t Medusa, because she didn’t seem to know anything about Wiseman’s hand in that.
Zigg’s Thoughts: With the vast majority of the setup and powerups out of the way, Wizard can finally start cranking the main plot up to top gear and the result of that is an episode that, while enjoyable in its own right, certainly feels like the jumping off point for several major story beats. I think the most important thing here is definitely the confrontation between Gremlin and Wiseman, something which demonstrates that while Wiseman clearly has the upper hand power wise (and how disconcerting is it to see Gremlin actually look somethign other than creepy goofy?) Gremlin clearly knows a fair old buit more than he’s already revealed. The mysterious Philosopher’s Stone is a classic trope of magical stories (see Harry Potter for the obvious example) but what it actually does varies greatly from tale to tale. Regardless of that, setting up a quest for a doomsday object is a pretty solid way to build a second half story and no doubt we’ll be hearing more about that later.
It’s also a pretty decent episode for our regulars. Granted, Haruto’s upstaging of the big brother is amusingly trollish, but his interaction with the little girl, crotch touching aside, have a gentle charm to them and once again Shunya Shiraishi demonstrates a light touch that makes me believe his character would be better with a touch of flamboyance to it. Kousuke meanwhile actually gets to crank his flamboyance down a little and deliver a solid, competent outing in which he isn’t made to look a fool for a change. He does a pretty good job of fighting off Legion, trounces his mooks and is sharp enough to provide a vital clue to the Phantom’s motivations, namely that he has no interest in Gates. Beast even gets a hero moment at the end as he leaps in to protect Haruto, and then shows no hesitation in jumping into his underworld and having an awesome Chimaera riding battle. It’s a good showing for our resident butt monkey and I hope he keeps it up.
The two Riders are helped by the fact that Legion is a truly creep-tastic villain, both in his human look and his monster form. The idea of a ‘rogue’ Phantom has been explored before by Phoenix of course, but there’s a much nastier, more sinister vibe here and it definitely works well with selling Legion as a threat. His fight with the unmorphed Haruto is pretty great (despite some fairly obvious stunt doubling) and it’s nice to see our hero prove he’s badass even without his powers. He’s going to need to prove that again too, with the (seeming) destruction of Dragon meaning that he’s no longer a Wizard, hence the episode title. It’s going to take quite something to get him back after that.
- Haruto’s easy, casual use of magic in this episode is a nice little bit of hubris before the ending.
- Koyomi’s mana struggle is a pretty obvious setup for next week but it’s cool to see her get some attention nonetheless.
- Shunpei gets to wear something slightly less tasteless than normal this week.