Kamen Bike Rider Wizard Episode 40

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Recap: While Haruto and Rinko try to gather more information on the mysterious White Wizard, Kousuke teaches a kid how to ride a bike, and an old friend returns…

Aqua’s Thoughts: How hard was that now, Kamen Rider Wizard? You can, in fact, be pretty endearing to watch if you try. Less than ten episodes before its ending, Wizard finally delivered with the best episode in weeks: an exciting adventure starring a Rider finally getting the respect he deserves, a legitimately interesting Gate and one heck of a twist. I have brought the hammer down on Kousuke hard in the past, but this episode gave him some true spotlight. After his surprisingly heartfelt moment last episode, the staff seems to be keen on recasting him as some kind of “bro” and it is nice to see that this role fits Takusu Nagase much better. From his neat bike antics to his taking care of the Gate of the week, this episode finally succeeded in making me care about that darn second Rider.

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While I think the Gate’s motivation would have worked much better if they had just left out his tragic backstory, and instead just made him think he could woo a girl by being able to ride a bike, because he is an eleven-year old kid. Nevertheless, it is neat to see a Gate with some actual meat on his proverbial bones and while the Phantom initially relies on the tried, true and tediously unoriginal tactics of “fear of death will make you despair”, his schemes quickly take a turn for the morbid. The little plot never entered truly original territory — the “make the Gate think they have a particular talent, only to expose them as a fake” tactic was used on Shunpei way back in episode 4 — but it did make for an engaging watch leading up to the giant twist at the end. Previous Wizard episodes have often suffered from a tendency to pad everything out and regard the twist at the end as the only thing that counts, so it is nice to see one acknowledging all 20 minutes of its existence.

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It also results in the twist not overshadowing the best of the episode. Mayu’s being revealed as a brand-new Rider was a much-welcomed icing on the cake, though it remains to be seen how big her contribution to the plot will actually be. Judging by the trailer from the upcoming movie, Kamen Rider Wizard In Magic Land, Mayu is the first of an army of identical Riders. It’s a bit sad that Medusa’s sister does not get her own unique form, but it certainly raises some intriguing questions on her master. Could the White Wizard assembling an army of magicians? He certainly seems to be playing a big role in next episode, wielding some sort of bizarre shovel flute. If that guy is not Wiseman, I will eat my hat.

Random Observations:

  • Where exactly did Wajima earn his expertise as an expert crafter of magical rings?
  • Are you seriously telling me Haruto and Rinko browsed through a database of every 50-ish-year-old man in all of Japan in order to find the White Wizard?
  • By the way, Mayu goes by the name Kamen Rider Mage. I guess Witch was too obvious?

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Zigg’s Thoughts: Extremely entertaining episode, and one which was badly needed after some real duffers in recent weeks. I think this episode proved once and for all that Wizard is actually better when it takes its foot off of the loud pedal and tries to concentrate on meaningful character interaction. That goes double for Takusu Nagase as well, who excels in the quieter, more affectionate role he’s asked to play here. Combining this with the arc where Kousuke’s grandmother came to visit, it’s clear Nagase has been fatally miscast as the hammy, unfunny Kousuke. His friendly, affectionate scenes with Yuzuru are some of the highlights this week, building an emotional relationship with the Gate that’s been very lacking in recent times.

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It’s also a huge help that we actually have a Gate who’s sort of relatable for a change. Yuzuru is hardly a character writing revolution, but it’s nice to see a kid character be given a decent amount of depth, and his ‘girl next door’ sob story is definitely something we can all get behind. I’m on the fence about the slightly more over-the-top guilt backstory, because it’s sort of ridiculous in execution, but it’s probably necessary to make the ‘bike’ side of the story work. Regardless, it all comes together nicely – the kid is a decent enough actor, his motivation is childishly cute and his psedo-sibling relationship with Kousuke makes for a very pleasant way to pass the time. The excessive mountain-biking scenes are sort of corny but hey, if you’re 8 years old that shit is probably pretty awesome. For the rest of us there’s the terrific bike-fu scene which opens the episode, undoubtedly the best fight Beast has had in forever.

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The ending too, is a case of the show making good on a past promise to excellent effect. Mayu’s return is an outstanding scene, brilliantly shot, well scripted and perfectly placed as a cliffhanger. Yes, it’s a bit disappointing they haven’t gone the whole nine yards and given her a truly unique Rider form – the generic Rider suit she’s using has some good ideas but suffers a bit from cheap execution, especially compared to the super slick design of the main Riders. On the other hand, it’s very forgivable since it seems to be in service of the plot, and her invitation for Yuzuru to become a Wizard in the teaser is a tantalising glimpse at what may be yet to come. This episode gave me hope that Wizard’s long planted plot seeds may yet flourish and lift the finale to the level of this episode, which was very enjoyable indeed.

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Random Observations

  • Sad as it is to say, one of the reasons this episode is entertaining is that Haruto and Rinko are kept out of the limelight and Shunpei barely appears except to have his bike stolen
  • Is it a rule that everyone under the age of 16 in Japan must wear short trousers?
  • One weak point – the villain. I’m getting real tired of Japan’s obssession with camp gay baddies. It’s not scary and it’s pretty insulting.
  • Having someone in full costume dangling off that bridge is a pretty impressive stunt.
  • Got to note how incredibly gorgeous the scene set in the park is. A great little moment too as Shunpei, Haruto and Kousuke gently tease Yuzuru about having a crush.

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