Broken Base: Is Haruto a male Pollyanna who manages to be relatively positive and well-adjusted despite his tragic backstory, or a bland, personality-less cutout? Are Koyomi, Rinko, and Shunpei a decent supporting cast or a bunch of annoying hangers-on with nothing to do aside from being cheerleaders/kidnap victims? Is the story having a good time while slowly building itself up to something awesome, or is it all flash with no real substance? Should the villains succeed in making Gates Phantoms from time to time to make them more threatening or are they fine as they are? And the most broken of all: Is the show good or not?
The Myna Bird arc has created this for some people. Is it a nice Breather Episode filled with lots of laughs to hold you over while its final arc begins or is it an Idiot Ball filled two-parter that ended on a harsh note for some people?
While all the other Phantoms (including Medusa) are definitely no saints, Phoenix is a complete psycho who will go to horrific lengths in order to make Gates create more phantoms. This is shown quite well in episodes 8 and 9 when he beat a lady just to have a child give into despair; he takes it Up to Eleven in 9 by going the same route as Leo Zodiarts (breaking into the hospital and randomly beating up innocent people, including patients who have no connection to the Victim of the Week at all). Even Medusa is frightened of his tendencies, because he has apparently gone so far as to kill a Gate before the corresponding Phantom can manifest (this is why he is kept to an observatory role at first, rather than being allowed to directly intervene).
Sora/Gremlin, as a human, was a Serial Killer who was responsible for multiple disappearances before he was kidnapped to be made to give into despair. Normally, one a Human gives into despair and becomes a Phantom they lose almost all aspects of their former personality (such as Yugo and Misa before they became Phoenix and Medusa); Gremlin, however, still has Sora's desire to murder women with long black hair and white dresses; in Episodes 34-35 it actually seemed like he had noble intentions of protecting the Gate, but it was revealed he intended to indulge in his host's former taste, attempting to kill her for the sheer fun of it he also makes no qualms about the fact that the women he murdered he did it for fun or petty revenge.
Mayu also qualifies. Her introductory episode and character arc regarding her sister is one of the few things people praised about this season. After she was taken in by the White Wizard, many were hoping she'd become a Rider. Her return was welcomed with open arms and many were glad that she averted the Female Rider Curse.
Evil is Cool: Phoenix was one of the coolest things in the show.
Evil Is Sexy: Medusa. Just the way she speaks. It's emphasised more by the fact that Mayu (who is played by the same actress) is much more of an innocent schoolgirl.
Fan Nickname: Kamen Rider Avatar. Due to the fact that the main Rider can use all four elements.
Faux Symbolism: The way Wizard enters a person's Underworld involves putting a ring on their finger. And it's called the Engage Ring.
The White Wizard looks like the majestic kind and a embodiment of hope at first, but as the series progress, his true colors begin to emerge.
The White Wizard also resembles Wizard himself and uses a Henshin belt and Henshin Call, but he is not labelled a Kamen Rider.
Toei confirms that He is a Kamen Rider known as Kamen Rider Wiseman. Now this makes more sense.
The previous Kamen Rider, Gentaro Kisaragi, stated that he lost his parents in a car crash, but kept his optimistic personality and made lots of friends. Haruto on the other hand also lost his parents in a car crash, but got Survivor Guilt when he survived and they didn't. Three guesses as to which Kamen Rider is suffering the most.
Remember back during the Lizardman arc how they had to not let the Gate know what really happened to her boyfriend? Well, cut to the Myna Bird arc, where we see what would have happened. Adding salt to the wound? It's Played for Laughs. Gets all the worse when this happens again in Kamen Rider Drive, where it was Played for Drama, as it should have.
Yamamoto from #46-47 is played by Todoroki, and his wife (Miyu Sawai) was Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon. His love interest back in Hibiki, Hinaka (Miyuki Kanbe), also held the role of Sailor Moon before! What drives this straight into Tear Jerker zone is that while Yamamoto's wife very nearly died here, Miyuki Kanbe passed away for real.
Amadum says that the Riders (sans Gaim) represent a burning crucifix. Then Gaim comes into the picture once his Super Mode shows up, adorned with a helmet that gives the look of... well, we'll assume you put two and two together.
Actually Amadum says the riders are represented by a burning cross which is a reference to Cross Fire, a concept character designed by Ishinomori that would eventually evolve into Kamen Rider. Any Satanic imagery seen by viewers is entirely coincidental.
Mayu Imamori/Kamen Rider Mage finally averted the infamous Female Rider Curse that plagued the franchise. However, it returned with a vengeance with Yoko Minato/Kamen Rider Malika being the recent victim of said curse.
Not only that, but certain events revealed in the endgame of the show have caused similarities to be drawn between the two Rider shows that Madoka is compared to.
Ironically, whereas it's a plot point that the people who fall into despair are female in Madoka, the female-to-male ratio of Phantoms, who are monsters born from Despair, is staggering... Only two females were ever Phantoms, especially with Phantoms with clearly female mythical origins (Valkyrie, for one).
Wizard getting attacked by his own dragon apparently foreshadowed the upcoming cameo by Wakana Matsumoto aka Airi from Kamen Rider Den-O, after which a different dragon (Ryuutaros) will be after his blood...
At the start of the series, many believed and hoped that the secondary rider would be female, this would turn out not to be the case, but then in #24, Kosuke, in an attempt to hide his identity from his grandmother while fighting as Beast, adopts a high-pitched voice and pretends to be a girl. Then Grandma Nitoh assumes that Koyomi (who some hoped would become a Kamen Rider) is Beast.
However, in #27, Mayu, Misa's sister, is taken in by White Wizard to be his apprentice. She comes back at the end of #41 to face off Medusa as Kamen Rider Mage.
It's funny that while Wizard went about subverting the "monsters are good people" trope, its sister show played it straight.
It's very ironic that the previous show, a very light and soft show, had the villains manage to turn students into full-fledged monsters (Including one of the main characters) with some of them being subject to a Fate Worse Than Death, but this show, a pretty dark and edgy show, the villains failed to even create one Phantom.
Karma Houdini: Depending on whether you're sympathetic to Sora's back story or not, the Karma in question was being a part of the Sabbath Ritual, where he becomes a Phantom instead of being killed and impersonated by one. He still dies in the end of the series though.
"Bitch, Please." Sometimes "Flame (or whichever ring), Bitch."
Comparisons between the White Wizard's Hamel Cane with the Dragon Dagger.
Mood Whiplash: The ending of #37 mixes Nightmare Fuel with Crowning Moment of Funny in a way that causes motion sickness for some. While the Gate breaking up in despair is supposed to be a comedic punchline, the fact that his face cracks in the most scariest way possible, followed by how in the other times it happened (especially the last time, where it's used as a villain's Moral Event Horizon), it's meant to be more scary and played with no comedy whatsoever, and it's like the writers forgot that this is supposed to be a bad thing.
If Phoenix didn't cross it when he nearly killed Hiroki's parents, then he definitely did it when he tried to burn Rinko alive after convincing him to stop taking orders from the Big Bad.
Medusa crossed hers in one fell swoop, first by revealing to her Gate's sister that she killed her parents and caused her to cross the Despair Event Horizon, and then by preventing Haruto from helping Mayu and forcing him to watch as she succumbs to despair.
Gremlin/Sora passed his in his backstory before he became a Phantom with the revelation that he was a sociopathic Serial Killer. His moment afterwards? How about killing Koyomi?
If not there, he definitely crossed it be going on a rampage through Tokyo, on the rationale that the Gates will be driven into despair and become Phantoms and the normal humans will just die. What makes it worse is how much Gremlin's clearly enjoying every second of it.
Where was Wiseman's, you ask? Was it when he turned his own daughter into a vessel for the Philosopher's Stone? Creating the Phantoms in the first place? Holding the Sabbath? Manipulating everyone and causing countless murders and deaths for the sake of making Phantoms and Wizards? By that point, kidnapping someone a kid is the equivalent to jaywalking for him.
Most Wonderful Sound: The repeated 'infinity' chant can be heard as this to some instead. This is because the only time it happened is when Haruto first become Kamen Rider Wizard Infinity Style.
Narm: Shabadooby touch Henshin!, which quickly becomes dissonant during the more serious fights. They don't happen often, but when they do, it kills the drama like no other.
The creators themselves seem to have become aware of this — lately, they appear to be doing their best to cover up the sound effect by blasting the Ominous Choir soundtrack over it, and in #19 he actually swipes the ring the moment the switch is turned, jumping the gun.
After episode #39, they've been forgoing the sound effect entirely.
In episode #46, White Wizard is fighting against Gremlin, and is essentially clobbering him. White Wizard strikes the finishing blow, and Gremlin dramatically falls to the ground...only for him to immediately stand up again and run off.
Paranoia Fuel: As shown in the first episode, the Phantoms can impersonate the person they were born from almost perfectly. The person who was your friend, partner, or family member? They could've been driven over the Despair Event Horizon and killed, then replaced by a monster seeking to do the same thing to others, all without you even knowing it!
Replacement Scrappy: Gremlin, who is pretty much Shunpei for the villains. Some think he isn't as awesome as Phoenix. And then he got Rescued from the Scrappy Heap for people and got a lot more terrifying when it's revealed that he's still got his humanity, or what's left of it considering his human self was a serial killer.
Firstly, we could have seen whether Phoenix could survive death after Kamen Rider Beast or Medusa absorbs mana from him.
Secondly, the Myna Bird arc ends with the Gate succumbing to despair, but almost nothing comes out of it. He doesn't become a new Phantom and not even having Haruto or Nitoh go in his Underworld and slaying his Inner Phantom... Just going to the next episode that's completely unrelated.
It can be perfectly assumed Haruto and/or Nitou took care of it. It'd be out of their characters not to.
Thirdly, Dragon becoming a Phantom made of hope shot down the whole "using the Dragon Forms increases the chance of Haruto falling into Despair" idea and showing consequences for using the Dragon forms.
Fourthly, Medusa only used her Taken for Granite ability once, and that was against Phoenix with special permission from Wiseman, on whom it didn't work. In #47, she's Killed Off for Real.
Gremlin in general, there was a lot of potential for his character after his reveal as a Serial Killer they could have changed his character showing his psychological instability making him flip between being his normal Sissy Villain self to an unstable psychopath creating real menace to a group of villains that had reached Incompetence, Inc. status, but nooooooooo..... he continues to act as annoying as ever completely ruining the writers chances to make the villains seem dangerous again.
Special Effects Failure: It's only for a second, but when Bahamut is defeated, he can still be seen lying on the ground after he explodes.
In 49, Haruto struggles with a handcuff that he could obviously just slip his hand through.
Though possibly just practicality's sake, as once he's forcibly transformed into Wizard, the cuff is the perfect size to hold his wrist with the armour's wristcuff added on
What an Idiot: Sure, Beast, trust what the Phantom tells you without question. They couldn't possibly be lying.
Continuing with Beast, you have to wonder if the ancient Wizards were smoking something funny when they made the Beast Driver by making its main Finishing Move be based on luck. Nitoh counts as well, since it's been shown that his Kick Strike is much more reliable than his Dice Saber.
His finisher is based on luck, sure, but that has proven that 6 isn't a sure-win nor 1 is an Epic Fail at all times. At least once his "1" roll on Falco resulted into a single magic falcom coming out, only to get huge and beat the Phantom.
Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Fueki, who acts as the Big Bad in both his White Wizard and Wiseman guises, commits all his crimes to try to revive his daughter. His actions, however, are horrifically heinous and he has no regret for anything he does, making it difficult not to completely hate him. This is despite the fact that it's clear the writers want you to feel a little sorry for him, but he just comes off as a selfish sociopath with a God complex. Sora killing him can be very cathartic.
The Untwist: Hands up, did anyone not see it coming that White Wizard was Wiseman? It didn't help that this exact same plot of a rider's mentor being affiliated with the villains but having a distinct anti-villain goal was repeated twicebefore.
Values Dissonance: Many Western viewers see Nitoh putting mayonnaise on donuts as a Squick moment... but Japanese style mayonnaise is much sweeter than Western style mayonnaise and probably wouldn't be half bad on donuts.
The Cait Sith Phantom did not want to make any Gate fall into despair and was not even interested in making new Phantoms. Like any cat, he just wanted to slack off. On the one side, he's forced to go after the Gate under threat of death by his superiors, especially when it was shown he couldn't hide nor flee from them, and on the other side, there's Wizard ready to swoop in to finish him off. The guy just couldn't catch a break.
Jerkass Woobie: Of course the guy was the one to suggest they just kill the Gates outright and forgo the despair part.
Mayu is a more straight example. Not only did her sister die and get reborn as a sadistic monster, but then her parents were killed by said monster. Soon, she gets targeted as a Gate and her whole world turns upside down. It's hard not to feel sorry for her when she starts breaking down into tears.
Iron Woobie: Then, she has the phantom starting to grow inside her, but instead of giving into despair she forces it back. Why? Because she refused to let Medusa, an impostor of her twin sister, get her way. Now the White Wizard training her to be an apprentice so that she can avenge her family.
Yuzuru also had the same trappings as Mayu. He nearly fell to despair after seeing that he hurt his friend, but stopped when he saw that she was better, making him an Iron Woobie... Unfortunately, his woobieness continues when he doesn't want to be a Wizard... Good luck with that, buddy.