Recap: Fueki and Haruto face off in battle as Gremlin desperately attempts to retrieve the Philosophers Stone from the dying Koyomi.
Aqua’s Thoughts: Kamen Rider Wizard once again shows off its straight A’s in Momentum Killing 101 and spends most of the aftermath of last week’s climactic final battle doing nothing at all. Haruto mopes a lot, Koyomi begs Fueki to cease his cunning schemes and Rinko and Shunpei… were they even in this episode? Once again, Wizard pads out an entire episode for the sake of one twist at the end, and once again, it is a twist dragged down by Gremlin having been out of the spotlight for the last five or so episodes. Over the course of the show, we have become so distanced from these characters and whatever passes as their motives, no twist is shocking enough for us to become involved. And that is actually rather sad, because as far as big twists go, this one was actually quite daring.
This twist really constitutes all there is to talk about, because the other twenty minutes of this episode did, as mentioned many times before, little to nothing to advance the plot in any significant way. After conveniently arriving on the mysterious beach Fueki teleported to (How? Why?), Haruto has his delayed rematch with the archnemesis he has no interesting chemistry with whatsoever, only to be interrupted by Gremlin, who promptly slaughters both Fueki and Koyomi. Dang. While both villainous takeovers and major (well, “major”) character death have been series staples — especially in recent years — killing off the most interesting villain and the person the hero is trying to save is a surprisingly daring move… that is, if it were not the only way to bring the story to a sensible end. Koyomi had to die, because the only other thing that could have saved her would have been a deus ex machina. After Haruto’s bizarre misstep last week, the show admitting this deserves at least some credit.
Nevertheless, the twist is severely downplayed by two things. One, no one gives a sod about Koyomi, so her death fails to stir any emotions. Two, Gremlin is not as interesting a villain as Wiseman was. When a minion betrays his boss, it is usually because the minion has more complex motives than the generic doomsday schemes of the initial baddie. Yet here, it was Wiseman who had the most complex motives. He deserved to be the main villain, and as creepy and dark Gremlin may be, his sudden takeover with only one episode to go just feels like a hasty saving throw by the writers who only now realized he was even still around. If anything, this arc feels like a sloppy afterthought, which makes Wizard‘s larger number of episodes only more grating.
- Kousuke had only one scene this episode, but it was a surprisingly nice one. He is the only character who really had some sort of ‘arc’, and has definitely become more likable over the course of the show, as opposed to pretty much everyone else.
- Everyone seems to have forgotten about that whole thing where they use their magic powers to save people from turning into mass-murdering monsters, but then again — everyone in this show is a sociopath.
- I would have loved it if the real Koyomi actually was some horrible brat who worked her father like a dog.
- Anyone knows what happened to Kizaki?
Zigg’s Thoughts: Unlike Aqua I actually quite liked the slower, more measured pace of this episode, but I agree it’s sort of draggy and doesn’t quite fit together too well. It’s definitely much stronger in the back half, what with Haruto and Koyomi’s scene on the beach. It’s a surprisingly effective reunion for our heroes, only scuppered somewhat by the fact that neither of them seems quite able to bring their a-game acting to the occasion. The fact that Haruto just randomly stumbles upon the beach where Koyomi and Fueki end up is also a pretty egregious plot hole. Yes, there’s the chance he came here because it’s the beach where she played on the swing, but that’s not made obvious and instead he just wanders in from stage left, directionless as always.
The actual fight itself is pretty good and has some cool moments – I particularly like Fueki pretty much no selling Infinity Form’s ridiculous axegun thing. The return of Infinity form allows a decent spin as well, with ‘This is my own magic i created’ angle small but appreciated in adding weight to the conflict. That’s useful because otherwise the fight feels curiously underwhelming. There’s a surprising lack of dialogue considering these final showdowns are normally at least half motive rants from both sides, and the quickness with which the battle concludes feels rather abrupt. Given that Fueki is so quickly dispatched afterwards, I do feel that there was more to come from him, and his exit before the grand finale feels like a cop-out, as if the showrunners were too scared to place anyone other than an unambiguous villain as the final boss.
As it is, we get Gremlin, which I once would have wooped over but now am increasingly apathetic about. His motivation has been cloudy for sometime and he’s failed to advance beyond his happy-go-lucky schtick as his focus episode might have indicated. As it is, his sudden triumph feels unearned – there’s no reason a character of (comparatively) little importance should suddenly interject himself into the main plot line at this point.
Really, that’s the entire problem with this episode – it’s anti-climatic. After the super-high stakes have been mostly defused, we’re left with sort of the smouldering ashes of a plot to tie up. I’m sure they’ll find some way to make it appropriately apocalyptic next week, but the long running thread that the show has relied on came to a head, and now we’re essentially just tying loose ends. The whole ‘will Koyomi live or die’ thing would be far, far more compelling if we’d been given a reason to care about the character – as it is, there’s no real reason to keep her alive. As such, I can guarantee with 10000000% accuracy she’ll be coming back to life in time for our wrapup next week.
- Gremlin’s ‘kill’ shot would have been much cooler if the White Wizard’s flute sword wasn’t one of the wobbliest, fakest looking weapons we’ve seen in a while (and that’s saying something!)
- Rinko and Kousuke’s little scenes with Mayu and Yuzuru were excellent little inserts, and I’m glad to see the two of them will be back for the finale.