When Kaito can no longer solve puzzles, Cubic examines him and finds that the inability is a defense mechanism set up by his brain to avoid a “reverse berzerk”, in which 100% of his brain power goes over to emotion. Despite the risk, Kaito tackles another Sage Puzzle, involving both the structure and meaning of various kanji.
You know it’s time to drop a series when you’re totally apathetic about watching it, and that it feels more like a chore than entertainment. We think we’ve arrived at that point with Phi Brain. Don’t get us wrong: there are things to like about it: the oft-clever puzzles, the soundtrack, Nonoha; but there’s plenty we don’t like, too.
This episode didn’t help matters, as the loss of Kaito’s puzzle-solving powers is basically overcome simply by…yelling a lot, something we have a short fuse for since Blue Exorcist wrapped up. The screaming is meant to imply he’s intensely concentrating on fighting his own brain’s desire to protect itself. It doesn’t really work. The villain-of-the-week was unfortunately another bland psychopath. And all th while Crossfield keeps smirking in the shadows, but we simply don’t care anymore. Puzzle Time is ovah.
Rating: 2.5 (dropped)
The POG brings Kaito to their HQ in Japan, but before he can meet the head, he has to clear a gauntlet of puzzles. Nonoha and Gammon tag along, and they do al the solving while Kaito realizes all of the puzzles are a part of his past, including one that killed his parents. This realization causes him to collapse, and only the shock of Nonoha’s cookies can bring him back. Crossfield declines to meet with him after all, and later Kaito finds he can no longer solve puzzles.
Geez, talk about an efficient drinking game: every time someone says “puzzle”, take a drink. Anyway, where do we begin? That the POG has massive tiltrotor planes? That an extremely elaborate gauntlet of puzzles was set up just to toy with Kaito? That Crossfield may not quite grasp the rules of Chess? The silliness soars to greater highs this week, and Kaito’s breakdown is as random as it is goofy and cliche’d (Gammon even refers to him as going “all Ikari Shinji”, which was pretty funny.)
All of Crossfield’s monologues as he fiddles with a chessboard are all a bit murky: does he actually want Kaito to reach the Phi Brain (whatever it is) and solve the Divine Puzzle (whatever that is)? Is his goal to purge all “ethics, common sense, and emotion” from Kaito? Yeah, good luck with that. Finally, he’s being portrayed as a Bad Guy, but what has he really done – aside from preside over an organization that builds potentially murderous puzzles – and more importantly, what’s his beef, if any?
Fellow solver Cubic, known as “Edison”, introduces himself to Kaito, attaching an armband to him that inhibits puzzle-solving. It causes pain when he concentrates. Kaito, Gammon and Nonoha arrive at the next Sage Puzzle, conceived by the giver known as the “City Developer”. They have to solve his puzzle involving finding the numbers 1-16 expressed in features of a nearby park within sixteen minutes or he’ll blow up the city he helped shape. They work together to solve it, with Kaito’s gold armband coming in handy when time is short.
Last week we met Gammon, who isn’t all that appealing a character. He’s just to loud and high strung, and he brings down Kaito too whenever they’re together; their rivalry is simply stupid. This week we’re introduced to Edison, and we can’t say he’s much of an improvement. Like Gammon, we just can’t bring myself to like the lil’ bastard. He does himself no favors with all his ridiculous contraptions, and that awful voice. More general character design gripes: Nonoha usually looks okay, but when she gets too happy, her eyes and mouth too closely resemble a muppet’s (female characters in Fairy Tail also have this problem)…and the lines beneath characters’ eyes is a needless distraction; they should only have those if they’re embarrassed or aroused.
Anyway, the episode wasn’t without its charms: Nonoha solving more of the final puzzle than Gammon was pretty funny, and the puzzle itself, which involved more number math than the last ones, was sufficiently clever. We would hope the stakes are a little lower in the future though; we didn’t believe for a second the city was in any danger. More localized peril is easier to swallow. And now that we know Gammon and Cubic, we’d prefer to see as little of them as possible, thank you very much.