Kamen Rider Wizard Episodes 46 & 47

"Hey, how ya doin'?"

Recap: Koyomi tries to hide her wounds from Haruto and the others while Mayu’s frustration reaches a breaking point.

Aqua‘s thoughts: Only the very best of stories manage to properly pull off a twist the likes of which you have never seen, a shocking swerve that changes everything you know and puts the entire plot on its head. This is not that twist. No, this is the twist that became as clear and obvious as the stench of sheer laziness wafting out from the writing staff’s office half a year ago. I suppose the only people who did not see Wiseman and the White Wizard being one and the same man coming were the other characters, which really says something about how competent they are. Credit where it is due, however, as Wiseman’s revelation takes place in a well-directed scene that uses clever lighting and camera placement to create a sense of dread and ambiguity. Whose side is this man really on, and what does he want?

Wiseman and the White Wizard have always been the most interesting plot threads keeping Kamen Rider Wizard somewhat together, and seeing them play out does manage to raise some anticipation. Fueki is a clever and forward thinking antagonist, both straightforward and mysterious, whose relatable motives are tied to the very fundamentals the show is built upon. On the other side, his manipulating of both sides does give off the impression that every single other character in the show is completely useless. Haruto and his enemies are in se the guys to whom Wiseman outsourced his work and nothing more. It is most definitely not the first time a Kamen Rider show has its heroes played around with by a higher force, but the very least we can do is expect them to eventually make their own decisions and overcome their enemies using their own talents. There is little of that to be found here, because Haruto was never allowed to get involved in the plot. He never failed, nor did he ever change the status quo enough for the show to change paths. He never did anything more than tedious busywork, and most importantly, never developed as a character.

Haruto saves the girl from death and Earth Style from eternal oblivion.

It would be more acceptable for Haruto to be a mere pawn too if he were an interesting character, with believable motivations, strong development and splendid chemistry with his allies. Yet he is a complete blank slate, a literal puppet without facial expressions or drive of his own. When Haruto seems — that is the only appropriate term I can use for Shunya Shiraishi’s emoting — desperate about Koyomi’s abduction, we don’t buy his feelings for a second, simply because he never had any chemistry with Koyomi in the first place. On the other hand, Fueki successfully manages to shift the status quo in a considerable way. With him, Kamen Rider Wizard finally has a character who is somewhat consistent and well-written enough to carry the entire show on their shoulders. Too bad it took all of your average Kamen Rider show’s run time to get there, and given Wizard‘s reputation, I am not anticipating a particularly satisfying ending to this slog.

Random observations

  • Medusa’s desperate pleas upon realizing she has been a pawn all along did make me appreciate Erina Nakayama quite a bit. Thanks to her double role as both Misa and Mayu, she already established herself as the best actress in the entire show, and her performance in this arc actually made me feel a bit bad for her character.
  • Makoto Okunaka is so good at looking absolutely miserable you start to wonder how she ever managed to become an idol. After all, aren’t these supposed to do the exact opposite thing?
  • I would say I am surprised Mayu never bothered to try out Haruto’s Infinity Ring against Medusa in stead of trading it in for Fueki’s completely useless Holy spell, but then again, I guess I am expecting too much if I expect the characters in this show to be competent.
  • In grand second Rider tradition, Kousuke dishes out some sweet wrestling moves in this arc. He even gets to eat the Phantom of the week! … Yeah, that is a plot thread that went absolutely nowhere, isn’t it?

THE WHEEL OF FATE IS TURNING! REBEL ONE! FIGHT!

Zigg‘s ThoughtsWizard deserves credit for taking a twist we knew was coming all along and nevertheless delivering it well and with decent impact. Perhaps the thing I appreciate most about this development is that it comes deep enough in that the motives of all involved make sense. Fueki has been playing the sides against each other for his own benefit, a classic evil genius move. He encourages the creation of Phantoms in the hope that he’ll find those able to resist despair and become wizards through a process of trial and error. He also seemingly doesn’t care about the huge collateral damage or the possibility this will genuinely aid the Phantom cause. That’s great character writing, displaying desire, cunning and a shocking lack of empathy at the same time, and the steely single mindedness of the man is very apparent.

The problem is, as Aqua so aptly pointed out, this sort of reduces the rest of the cast to puppets who have been strung along for most of the show. It’s completely OK if one of your main characters is like that – that’s Mayu by the way, who nevertheless seems a lttle too naive here – but having your hero, his sidekick and basically everyone else operating as pawns of the baddie is somewhat galling. All along we’ve criticised Wizard for a lack of heart and get-up and go motivation, and that slothfulness looks especially damning in light of this revelation. The only way you could have saved this if Haruto and company had been characterised as rebels from the start, fighting against the suspicions of a system. But no, they’ve just sort of happily operated inside a status quo, just like the show.

That is a face of utter despair if I've ever seen one.

What’s even more disappointing is that this arc throws into sharp relief how many intriguing plotlines have been abandoned on the way to get here. The ultimate end of the Medusa/Mayu arc that held such promise is a complete damp squib. These two have already faced off too many times for this latest showdown to hold much weight, and the conclusion being them shooting crappy magical energy at each other is just unbearably lame. Not only that but by having Mayu ‘steal’ the Infinity ring they compromise her character, as well as eliminating a McGuffin in the most blatant way possible. Having White Wizard killsteal Medusa is a poor end to the feud and an unfitting sendoff for the most consistent villain throughout the run.

With everything lined up and ready to go, it only remains to see how the cards fall for Wizard‘s final two arcs. There’s actually big potential for a dramatic finish here, but the question is can it overcome our long-standing apathy towards the characters. I’m going to say, alas, probably not.

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