In this installment in the long running Kamen Rider series, a young police detective named Rinko Daimon discovers a race of monsters living in secret on the streets of Japan called Phantoms who are born from human despair and the one person who can stop them, Haruto Soma AKA Kamen Rider Wizard. After a brief mix up the two join forces to try and stop the Phantoms, unravel the mystery behind whois leading them, who gave Haruto his powers, and why the police are covering up the existence of the Phantoms.
Cast & Credits
- Shiraishi ShunyaHaruto Soma / Kamen Rider WizardMain Role
- Okunaka MakotoKoyomi FuekiMain Role
- Nagase TasukuKosuke Nito / Kamen Rider BeastMain Role
- Hirata HiroakiNarratorMain Role
- Ikeda NarushiSou Fueki / Kamen Rider Wiseman / CarbuncleSupport Role
- Ogura HisahiroWajima ShigeruSupport Role
...I'm still waiting to see what show they're talking about, cause this isn't it.
Story (4/10): Wizard, by far, has one of the worst handled stories I've seen in any toku show. While the base story is interesting and yes, there are some good episodes, there are just too many problems that stick out. To short list them all-
* There are literally no side-plots. You get the main story and that's it.
* Character development is also null and void. The only characters that change are the side-side characters, like second Rider Kosuke and the Mages. In fact, main Rider Haruto LOSES characterization as the show goes on, making what they were aiming for (a sort of snarky, but fairly normal guy) into a bland hero who preaches 'hope'. Everyone else enters the show the same way and leaves it just the same as well.
* Filler here is obnoxious. Unlike most Rider shows, the filler episodes in this show are truly forgettable, have no character development or plot movement, and have some of the most annoying Victims of the Week that I've ever seen. (Of special note on episode arcs to avoid, episodes 32-33 and 36-37 are overwhelmingly terrible.)
* Padding is at it's worst here. It clearly wants to adhere to the Neo-Heisei formula of 2 episode arcs and the like, but while W, OOO, and Fourze work well with it, it bites this show in its ass. The plot is basically railed into chunks and feels like it's either moving too fast or too damn slow. Also because of this, some plot points are telegraphed to the audience so hard that it's almost embarrassing that the show wants you to be surprised about it.
If the series were only, say, 24-26 episodes, none of this wouldn't stand out as much. But at 51 episodes (the most of any Hesei era show), it's just...bad. It just feels like the writers got lazier and lazier as the show went on. What's depressing is that the first 10 or so episodes showed a lot of promise, but when I can only say that AT 10 episodes, it means that the show peaked way too early and just never picked up again. While there are some redeeming factors to the show, to me, they just can't trump the average to awful parts.
(Also I'm pretty sure that this show took a lot of inspiration from Puella Magi Madoka Magica, but at such superficial level that it's kind of sad.)
Acting/Cast (5/10): While no one on the cast is bad (per say), you get the feeling that they really don't care about their roles all too much. It just seems like they went into work and said 'Alright, lets just get this over with' and went with it. I hate to bash someone for their acting (when really, a good director is essential for good acting as well), but there really isn't anything that stellar here. Probably the only people who really did a good job were the actors for Phoenix, the Doughnut Shop owners, Kosuke, and the Mages. Everyone else is at a level of average (Haruto, Rinko) to horribly annoying (Shunpei, Gremlin) to lumps on the set (Wajima).
This show also holds the lovely privilege of having the worst casting choice I've ever seen: the actress for Koyomi is an idol, so she's pretty busy with stuff. Instead of getting an actress who could be in all the episodes she's needed for, Toei went with her anyways and the story suffers for it. We don't get to spend any time with the girl who is our main female lead for at least 3/4 of the show. She herself is a good actress (she's probably one of the better ones in the show, if I may say), but Toei really dropped the ball on this one.
(Also, you ever notice that during the run of a show, you'll hear about how much fun the cast is having? Like when W, OOO, Fourze, and the currently airing (as of this writing) Gaim were on? Yeah, I didn't hear crap all. Kinda says a lot.)
Music (5/10): Music in Wizard is alright as well. The main theme Life is Showtime is good, but it really needed a good hook to make it great. Otherwise everything else is just OK. Probably the best songs in the show are Beast Hyper's theme and the Wizard Infinity theme by the Kamen Rider Girls. I will say that the show makes the mistake of using a large chorus for the battle theme of the show and while it can make some things epic, it's WAAAAY too overused. To the point that I literally cringed when it came on. Wizard really needed a specific musical theme to tie it together and I'm not sure what they went with was the best.
Rewatch Value (1/10): I really can't stress how much I never want to see this show again. I'm always a firm believer that any show is someones first introduction to Kamen Rider or what have you, but this is a terrible example of the franchise. I'm inclined to believe that I'm jaded since I watched for the full year it was on, and that made it just unbearable. Maybe watching it all in 2/3 days is easier and less disappointing, but I'm not subjecting myself to it again. And I know it doesn't show, but it really saddens me that I had such a bad time watching this that I can't go back and watch it like I do with other toku shows I've seen.
Overall KR Wizard is just...disappointing. I know from my review that it doesn't seem like it, but it kind of pains me to rip into a show that was just average at best. In fact, the most fun I had with the show was the Hyper Battle DVD, a 15 minute bonus short with Haruto and Kosuke learning how to dance to the main show theme. It started out with so much promise but faltered too early and never picked itself back up. The story is either not there or all over the place, music and acting is average at best, the action isn't that great, and it exemplifies the worst of the Neo-Heisei series. If you're a Kamen Rider fan, watch this once so you can say that you've seen it, but there's really nothing to come back to. If you're a non-toku fan wanting to get into the genre, there are far and beyond better series to start with.
Overall: 4.5/10, with a non-recommendation.