If like me you came into Kamen Rider by Fourze and have found the heroes of Wizard a little more low energy than the Kamen Rider Club of Amanogawa High School, then you may want to check back in with Wizard at episode 17.
This episode introduces us to Kyosuke Nitoh, a young man with far too much energy, a unhealthy love of mayonaisse and a catchphrase about turning a pinch into a chance that he is going to ram down your ears. He is so full of shonen adventure energy he makes Shunpei, the series’ clown, seem positively sedate in comparison.
He is also the series’ secondary rider, Kamen Rider Beast.
The effect is somewhat similar to the arrival of the super-serious Kamen Rider Meteor in Fourze, but in reverse. Here you have a cartoonish superhero, suddenly appear and shake up the tone of the entire show. It really has a completely different energy with his arrival. The sense of reversal also plays out in the episode’s story. Up until now we’ve had Phantoms trying to cause despair in humans, here a Phantom is the one despairing. The Manticore Phantom (a great guest appearance by Soichiro Akaboshi), sent to turn Kyosuke into a Gate, repeatedly hits the brick wall of his optimism and becomes more despondant as the episode progresses.
Finally we get the reveal of how Beast completely flips the premise of the show so far on it’s head. As the Phantoms prey on humans, Kamen Rider Beast preys on the Phantoms, devouring them and the mana they contain.
Now, obviously there’s more to this guy than a Joseph Joestar in a mask (he borrows Joseph’s “you’re going to say…” schtick at one point), as his hunger seems to only be satiated by Phantoms, so what happens when his food source dries up? Is it in his interest to allow new Phantoms to be made? But for now it feels like the show has been given a much needed energy boost in the form of BEAST.