Kamen Rider Wizard – Finale

It’s time to finish this series off once and for all so I can move on and watch other tokusatsu. That’s really the only reason I’m writing this ’cause I’d rather forget Wizard even exists.

It’s been a while since I wrote the second post for Kamen Rider Wizard. And before that it had been a while since I wrote the first post for Kamen Rider Wizard. My point is that Kamen Rider Wizard has never been much of a priority in my life. It took me forever to watch to begin with as well so that should tell you right off the bat how I feel about it. That said, let’s talk about my final impression on Kamen Rider Wizard.

Kamen Rider Wizard LogoKamen Rider Wizard
(Toei Company, 2012)

Kamen Rider Wizard is a tough cookie to eat and digest because it’s so incredibly uneven. I’ve talked about it twice now, once here and a second time here, and the first time I pretty much wrote it off completely and the second time I found some glimmer of hope. But that kind of only compounds the problems I have with the series which is that there was definite promise in there and they had the tools to make it happen but either chose not to or fumbled the whole thing.

From here on out, there will be tons of spoilers so keep that in mind. I’ll try to keep it light but still, it’s the finale, I’m going to talk about the plot and the resolution so keep that in mind.

 

No, seriously, here be monsters(poilers).

 

 

Kamen Rider Wizard KoyomiThe first thing I need to talk about is the plot and how it relates to Koyomi. In my first post I said it was obvious she was going to turn evil and go on a rampage with Haruto saving her through love or friendship. And… well, there’s no easy way of saying this but I was wrong. She doesn’t turn evil nor is there any hint of it.

Instead it’s revealed that the White Wizard was behind all of it and that he’s actually her father. Or rather the real Koyomi’s father as she passed away a few years back and the ritual that turned Haruto into Wizard was intended to bring her back to life but only succeeded partially, thus she needs a regular dose of magic to stay alive.

It’s not much of a spoiler, once the plot gets going in a more serious way it’s so heavy handed in its exposition and foreshadowing that they might as well have painted “Koyomi is dead” and “White Wizard is her father” in big, neon letters. It does lessen the impact of the reveal somewhat but the resolution of this plot is still very emotional and I’m surprised they went the way they did with it. I totally expected them to turn around and say “Haha, just kidding!” but they never did.

And if you don’t want to know what that resolution is, you should just skip a few more paragraphs here. Let’s return the use of Spoiler Line! If you’re unfamiliar with this concept, between this line and the next thereare TONS of spoilers. Like, so much. So just scroll down until you see the second line.

 


 

Unfortunately the resolution of said story is NOT the end of the series. Or even the finale, really. Haruto stops Koyomi’s father from sacrificing all of Tokyo and it’s thanks to Kosuke Nito that the world is saved, ready to sacrifice his life in the process to do so. It was a very worthy end to Kosuke’s arc and one I wholeheartedly approve of. Him sacrificing his powers of Beast, the one thing that made him unique, was great.

Kamen Rider Wizard GremlinAnd then the show continued because it turns out that the final boss of the show wasn’t White Wizard but… Gremlin. He turns on the White Wizard, also known as Wiseman, and kills him and powers up. And… it’s really boring. Before this we had Kosuke almost dying, Koyomi ACTUALLY dying (sort of) and a huge plot of someone almost sacrificing a lot of Tokyo to bring back his daughter, a really emotionally charged plot where you kind of go “I get where you’re coming from, dude, but really? Mass murder to bring back your daughter?”

Then Haruto fights Gremlin in a big fight and… that’s your chosen ending… OKAY THEN! It just completely deflates the drama and if anything should’ve happened before the big reveal. Gremlin was cool, his backstory fantastic and his nature very fascinating but he shouldn’t have become the big bad. Especially not in the way that he did. It’s been building towards it, true, with Gremlin constantly playing his own game rather than dance to the tune of Wiseman but he never earned the right to be the big bad, in my opinion.

 


 

But the show doesn’t even end there, suggesting to me that the writers simply didn’t know how to end the show for whatever reason. Or Wizard was caught trying to change the show’s formula a bit which… I can like if they keep it up. I guess I’ll find out.

The two last episodes instead follow Haruto as he goes on a journey following the conclusion of the last episode. Hearing the cries of children coming from a magic rock, he enters the rock and finds himself in a different reality, a world of monsters. Trying to help two children stuck there, he comes face to face with multiple Kamen Riders including Kosuke from an earlier point in time as well as Decade. However, the biggest twist is that he meets a new Kamen Rider who goes by the name of Gaim.

Normally a new Kamen Rider is teased in one of the previous movies but here we instead get a glimpse of Gaim just before his series start and… I actually really liked this. Instead of a brief tease we’re actually introduced to the character, what he looks like and his basic arsenal in a fun, familiar way. Instead of going in cold like you would normally, it’s a very gentle easing into the new series. Plus, if you like the character you’re that much more excited to actually watch the show. Kind of like I am right now. I so desperately want to watch Gaim after this.

So in essence the show had three endings. And that’s just… bad all around. Two endings would be fine if there was one ending for the plot and then the end of the series where they introduce the next Rider.

But all of Wizard is like this. There’s so much false endings that are supposed to be meaningful but most often aren’t. Phoenix was easily my favorite of the villains but he’s rather unceremoniously written out and NEVER heard of again. And his ending was brutal. kamen-rider-wizard-phoenixLike… properly terrifying in a way, dying constantly from now until… well, until the sun dies. And unable to do anything about it. But… nothing is ever done with it. Phoenix’ build up as a threat comes more from him being a threat to Rinko than to the world. And if one of the Phantoms should’ve been the last boss instead of the White Wizard, it should’ve been Phoenix, not Gremlin.

It’s even established that he gets MORE powerful with each death and if he’s up there in the sun, dying and being reborn constantly, just imagine what kind of terrifying beast he’ll be when the sun does die, millions upon millions of years in the future. Haruto might actually have doomed the entire universe! I mean, I’d forgive them if they were planning to set him as the villain for the next crossover movie but… no? I checked and… no? Really? No?

I mean, come on, REALLY?

Medusa’s plot goes absolutely nowhere, her backstory is dealt with and is actually kind of interesting but it goes nowhere… again. She’s set up to have a twin sister and this is really emotional and for a moment I thought they were going for a redemption arc with her but then… NOPE! Phoenix was the same way, oh, maybe they’re doing a redemption ar- NOPE! I wouldn’t mind so much if there was payoff in some other form but there simply isn’t. Even Gremlin is kind of like this, we’re told he was actually a serial killer when he was a human but… once this is revealed and dealt with, nothing is really done with it. If this factored into him becoming the big bad, I would’ve been fine with it but his demeanor doesn’t really change nor does the revelation factor into his ending.

kamen-rider-wizard-kosukeAnd this should be the point where I talk about Haruto’s evolution but there really isn’t much evolution to his character. He remains virtually the same from beginning to end. Instead it feels like everything important is given to Kosuke Nito, Kamen Rider Beast. And I have to say, I severely misjudged his character as he turned out to be the most interesting one towards the end. His inner struggle is really compelling and his potentially final moments said A LOT about him as a person. And his relationship with Haruto is possible the best defined relationship and we actually see it grow.

None of his other sidekicks gets this much development, even Koyomi is underserved in terms of actual character building outside of the main plot. Rinko and Junpei are never really important to the plot in anyway except for occasional monster of the week stuff (and Rinko with Phoenix) and the jewel store owner… well, I don’t even remember his name, that’s how important he was.

But even if I like Kosuke, he suffers from it too. Like I said in a previous post, he’s supposed to be an archaeologist but it never factors in and is NEVER important to the main plot as it should be. Him studying old things could’ve been worked into the show so easily as exploring the ancient past of the Phantoms, how they’ve influenced the history and when they’ve tried something similar. But nope, Kosuke gets his powers on an expedition and that’s it, that’s all we ever get from it. Hell, how his “ancient magic” relates to the Phantom in the present could’ve been hugely interesting but is rarely mentioned and only plays an important part… once or so. While it should be a hugely important part of his character.

kamen-rider-wizard-closeupAnd speaking of another aspect of the show I didn’t particularly like, the humor in this show was just… a bit on the lacking side. Well, I shouldn’t say lacking but rather… not funny. To me, at least. I know a lot of people really liked it but while some of it made me chuckle, a lot of the returning jokes, like Kosuke’s mayonnaise, was just outrageously unfunny, especially as they dragged on. And many of the close up reaction shots that were used for comedic effect… well, often fell flat on their face. Now, I know that Japanese have their own sense of humor and sometimes I just have a really hard time getting into it. But here it was really in your face, they definitely wanted this to be a funny series but… it just got in the way more than it worked.

If this all comes off as a bit ranting then I apologize but Wizard really annoyed me. It had serious issues finding a middle ground, either sucking outright or actually being kind of awesome. There were a lot of good parts and a lot of bad parts but the good parts never came together in a cohesive way to balance out the bad. Every so often you’d think “Oh, that was pretty good. I wonder if this is the turning point.” and almost always you went “Nope.” the next episode or the one after that when they returned to form. Great ideas are left smoldering on the floor while bad ones get to burn brightly and for much longer.

It’s like they had so many good ideas that they wanted to introduce that they fired them off as soon as possible, like machine gun, but after the smoke settled they realized that they didn’t have a plan and took the longest time to figure something out.

That’s why it’s taken so long for me to actually write about Kamen Rider Wizard. I didn’t know how to approach this post, what to say or how to say what I wanted to say. And it’s been so long since I saw it that… well, some things stick out more now than ever before. So… it’s a bit more ranty than I usually like.

And it’s been super painful not to have this post done until now. Why? Because I took a look at a few of the episodes of Kyoryuger, the next tokusatsu show I was going to watch and… I REALLY liked what I saw. But I have a rule, don’t watch the next tokusatsu until you’re done with the previous one or it will never get done.

The same applies to Doctor Who, incidentally, gotta write up my thoughts on the Third Doctor.

So I didn’t like Wizard despite its good parts. I saw the good parts, I enjoyed the good parts but it kept finding ways to rob me of that enjoyment. It felt incredibly cobbled together, a bunch of single pieces forced to fit together with a saw, hammer and glue.

kamen-rider-wizard-duo

So I’m not particularly sad to see this show go. I don’t hate it, i just don’t like it. If I ever go back to watch old Kamen Rider, I’ll not look forward to this, perhaps even skip it. I guess we’ll find out eventually.

In the next series we’re going back in time in more ways than one. You know what they say, everything was better in the past!

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