Kamen Rider Wizard Episodes 48 & 49

[Over-Time] Kamen Rider Wizard - 49 [AFA16468].mkv_snapshot_12.40_[2013.09.09_16.32.21]

Recap: With his gathering of juggaloes wizards now complete, Fueki moves to begin the Sabbath once more.

Aqua’s Thoughts: We have been very hard on Kamen Rider Wizard as of late, and not unjustifiably so, but credit must be given where it is due: Wiseman’s arc is not even all that bad. His manipulation of both heroes and villains alike makes perfect sense, and make him into a very threatening antagonist. Haruto’s transformation into a Wizard during the first Sabbath serving as the inspiration for his disturbingly diabolical plan neatly makes the story come full circle, too. I do wonder if saving his daughter Koyomi truly is his sole motivation. Killing off an entire town just to save one girl seems a bit too much, especially for an anti-villain like Fueki, and we should not forget about the fact that Koyomi is the Philosopher’s Stone. Is the Stone merely used as a catalyst for mana to fully resurrect her, or does she need to be resurrected so Fueki can use the Stone to achieve some other goal?

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Nevertheless, the Wiseman question cannot hide the fact that these episodes suffered from Kamen Rider Wizard‘s trademark issues quite a bit. Rinko and Shunpei once again excelled in doing nothing at all, Wiseman having artificially created his Phantom with science is a lazy way out of a massive plot hole and the whole thing felt like a finale, despite there being two episodes left. Most baffling, however, was how Haruto got almost completely shoved aside in favour of Kousuke. While the hero of the show spends most of the arc getting his backside handed to him, the second Rider actually manages to safe millions of people and defeat the big bad guy all by himself. In fact, he even gets to deliver the hope-filled speech Haruto should be giving!

Kousuke’s moment of glory is extremely strange, yet it somehow makes perfect sense in the context of the story. Fueki does not care about Kousuke in the slightest, because he was never involved in the obtaining of his powers, and Chimaera being able to consume mana has been (poorly) alluded to during the entire show. I never thought the fact that Kousuke’s need to feed his Phantom mana would ever turn out to be relevant again, after being forgotten about for most of the series, but his allowing Chimaera to eat the mana supporting Fueki’s Eclipse spell was an actually sensible way to bring Kousuke’s “arc” to a passable close, even allowing him to pull off nearly every feat a true hero has to pull off while Haruto is rendered completely useless.

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The fact that Haruto has not yet been able to face off with Fueki is the only indication that this story is not yet over. Sora is still around as well, of course, yet it seems unlikely he will do anything of real interest. Kamen Rider Wizard has failed to become something memorable, but with the interesting ideas these final few episodes, despite their glaring flaws, have provided, it should at least be able to provide a satisfying finale. Yet whether it is actually willing to do so, that remains a wholly different question altogether.

Random Observations

  • There are actually four episodes of Wizard left, yet the plot will wrap up with the next arc. The final arc will be a special starring Tsukasa Kadoya, aka Kamen Rider Decade, and the new Rider, Kamen Rider Gaim. Colour us interested.
  • The prop department did not do their greatest job on the “crosses” Haruto and the other Wizards are tied to. Also, why did their shackles randomly fall off when Wiseman was defeated?
  • With Medusa out of the picture, is Mayu even still going to do something?

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Zigg’s Thoughts: It’s a testament to everything about Wizard that these episodes manage to present the show at both its best and its worst. Let’s, in a rare change of pace, concentrate on the good stuff first. Although it wasn’t entirely leak-proof and relatively predictable, the culmination of the Fueki plot is exceedingly solid and manages to punch all of the tickets needed for a grand finale. Fueki’s motivation is believable but just far gone enough that it tips his scale from likable to slightly insane, and the grand plan he’s devised is appropriately epic. It also fits in well to his motivations throughout the show, and the threat is large enough to give these episodes a real sense of heightened tension and drama.

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The weaknesses that Wizard has suffered in character development can’t be covered up though, and we get a series of extraordinarily strange narrative choices that don’t do the story any favours, It’s difficult to root for Koyomi’s survival because she’s been such a non-entity throughout the show that we’ve have no affection for her. If we liked or were attached to her then the conflict between saving her and saving millions of lives might be more pronounced, as it is, Haruto looks like a complete idiot for not simply prioritizing the needs of the many. His utter capitulation to Fueki’s plans is completely moronic and totally morally dissonant with the idea of being the hero. The fact that he doesn’t realise the Sabbath will kill more people than just the four pillars is moronic in the extreme – after all, he was almost one of the victims of the previous Sabbath, which killed dozens, if not hundreds of people! And even if we accept he had no idea of that, he’s still condemning three other people to death (two of whom are children) just by co-operating. The show has always been terrible at making Haruto believable as a hero, but here he comes off as a stooge and an idiot.

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Ironically, there is an excellent heroic showdown for this episode, but it’s Kousuke rather than Haruto who gets to shine bright. His arc has all the trademarks of the final battle — his guilt over a previous failure (Yuzuru), the epic showdown speech and even the heroic sacrifice at the end. Granted, he doesn’t die but he does lose his powers, which presumably is to rule him out of the actual upcoming finale. In short, he acts of his own initiative, looks brave and saves the day at great personal cost… all things Haruto should be doing at this point.

In short, this was a pair of episodes that did a lot right but still felt wrong, and while mechanically they’re sound, there was no punch the air moment here. The detachment from the characters is so great that even when we get a mechanically sound story there’s little emotional investment to be had. This is where Wizard reaps what it has sown – no matter how epic your finale, it can’t create attachment.

[Over-Time] Kamen Rider Wizard - 49 [AFA16468].mkv_snapshot_22.06_[2013.09.09_16.34.53]

Random Observations

  • While the twist is generally sound, the ‘I created an artificial Phantom using SCIENCE!’ bit is complete bullshit on so many levels it’s hard to articulate. For a start, if you just created a fake Phantom, why did ‘Wiseman’ have so much power and sway over other Phantoms?
  • Kousuke even manages to be beaten by Yuzuru in episode 48 in perhaps the most egregious display of power drain yet.
  • The insane stone circle cum sculpture thing where the ritual takes place is a very, very cool location (that was previously seen in Kamen Rider Fourze).
  • Hey, remember when Gremlin appeared important to the plot?

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