The 2012-2013 season of Kamen Rider, Kamen Rider Wizard may seem like a typical show about magic at first glance; hell the word ‘Wizard’ is even in the title. Its overall structure is the same as any toku series: a monster of the week appears up, the plot inches forward bit by bit until a big bad is found, and the world is saved. It has its pacing issues and its plot is rather rote, but there is this thing that draws me to it.
And that thing is how depression can be read into it as an important subtext.
The lead protagonist of the show, Souma Haruto, does seem aloof and silly at first. He is flippant, flirty and a little bit cheeky. But his backstory, or at least how he got his powers, would suggest otherwise. Let me set the scene for you: Haruto is forced to be part of a magical sacrifice that summons various monsters, called Phantoms, through causing mass despair within its unwilling participants. Others fall and become these monsters, however he survives. He survives because he did not fall to despair and instead clung onto hope. He now is able to use magic and has the ability to save others with this power from a similar fate, whilst also constantly reiterating about how important hope is. However he also still has the phantom that was supposed to be born inside of him; it is the reason why he can use magic.
The depression subtext is quite easy to read into the show here: Haruto’s near brush with despair is some kind of initial depressive episode, near miss or traumatic experience; then his continued existence with both the Phantom inside of him and fighting other phantoms is him managing with his depression. Each new Phantom that attacks a new victim is Haruto handling his depression again, with his saving the victim-of-the-week as him passing on his knowledge on how to deal with depression to others. He even exhibits symptoms of depression in his personality such as his general lethargic and flippant attitude.
Now I know this analysis isn’t foolproof. Haruto doesn’t want to kill himself or have constant issues with energy or trouble waking up in the morning. Hell I even feel that the show could have done things better such as having him fight the Phantom inside of him more often. But even the simple signalling the show does potentially show really means a lot to me. This is because every part of the show is about fighting despair, about not giving up and fighting the darkness in you every day. The theme song even reinforces this with lyrics such as “turn your tears into beautiful jewels”, talking about how you can go beyond your depression and using it to motivate you to do better things.
This is why Wizard is so important to me. It came about around the same time I really started feeling the effects of my own depression. It inspired me and, well, gave me hope. Hope that I can get better, do better and be amazing; it also inspired me to want to bring hope to others as much as I can, like Haruto would do. This dumb children’s show which in all honesty isn’t the best, gave me hope through showing me that even heroes suffer through depression and come out the other side and that’s honestly why it’s so beautiful and why I love it so much. If you can and are willing to wade through it a bit, I highly suggest you should check it out, you could end up having quite a magical time with it.