Phi Brain: Kami no Puzzle – 05

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?

Rating: 2.5


Phi Brain: Kami no Puzzle – 03

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.

Rating: 3

Phi Brain: Kami no Puzzle – 02

With the Armband of Orpheus, Kaito is able to quickly solve the sage puzzle, saving himself and Nonoha. He then passes out, and she carries him home. Principal Kaidou tells him he is now a “chosen solver” with the title of Einstein. He meets Galileo, a loud, bombastic windbag; the two develop an instant dislike for one another. When Kaito heads to his next assigned puzzle with Nonoha, Galileo is already there. Kaito solves the puzzle with the help of the armband again, and decides to accept his new title.

This was a pretty good episode, though not as strong as the first. If nothing else, it’s because of this Galileo clown who really grinds our gears. For chrissake, nobody acts like this. Except Black Star. If they did, people would call the cops. At least their food-ordering contest was pretty amusing. It’s also the greatest boon of having a title thus far; free meals as large as you like? Sounds like a pretty good deal to us. Oh, and his “baka” morse code was pretty funny too, once we realized what it was. Still, cops.

A couple other things: Jikugawa is always hiding in the shadows with a juice box, which is…weird. Also, Nonoha is turning out to be a really badass, loyal character. Carrying Kaito home on her back, then holding him in a full nelson to avoid a brawl? Maybe that armband thingy will allow Kaito to open his eyes and see the future wife in front of him, amirite? Finally, Kaito had a flashback whose only purpose was to tell us the white-afroed guy who shows up in the end as a POG bigwig was a childhood friend of his. Hopefully the remaining three characters will be more appealling than Galileo.

Rating: 3

Phi Brain: Kami no Puzzle – 01

Daimon Kaito is a puzzle-solving genius with boundless potential. His classmate Jikugawa lends him a PDA containing a series of puzzles, which he proceeds to quickly solve. When he does, he is invited by the “Minotaur” to a grand puzzle with many stages, but with this one, his life is on the line, as well as his friend Nonoha’s, who tags along. With her help, he clears the initial stage, and he is then furnished a golden armband and a red seeing eye, which will help him use all of his brain to solve the puzzles to come.

We here at RABUJOI love it when are expectations are exceeded. Basing our assumptions on little more than the title, we thought this was going to be a somewhat childish romp involving puzzles. Turns out…well, it kinda is, but who cares? It kicks way more ass than we predicted. Kaito is a somewhat Bossun-looking lead, and while his promise to his dad (solve those poor lonely puzzles 0_o ) it’s clear this is just a kid whose brain needs to be constantly challenged. The fiery Nonoha kinda reminds me of Miyoshi from Bakuman – but is voiced by Lain!

Let’s face it, none of the character designs are super original, but they are well-executed and attractive, and full of life and energy, too. The animation was excellent, the soundtrack was very eclectic and as for the puzzles, well, let’s just say it felt like we were watching Myst in anime form, what with the tricky practical puzzles where you may die if you screw up. The system underlying Minotaur – Einstein and Orpheus and whatnot – still somewhat escape us, but this was a great introduction, and we’ll be watching next week.

Rating: 3.5