Phi Brain: Kami no Puzzle – 06

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)

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