Posted by psgels on 6 April 2012 with categories: Anime Reviews, Phi Brain



Apologies for the delay on this review, but I first wanted to get all of the new episodes this season done. Phi Brain was a series that many people probably quickly discarded. It started really silly, and the entire premise takes a lot of suspense of disbelief to accept: “yeah, there is this kid who has to solve puzzles in order to battle this evil organization”. Most of the early episodes just consist out of Kaitou (the male lead) solving a bunch of puzzles.

Now, the puzzles are obviously a very big part of this series. If you can look past the silly premise, then you’ve got a series that can be quite creative when it comes to the puzzles that it throws at its main cast. The show actually presents its big puzzles so that the viewer can try to solve them himself, but only if he uses the pause button in the middle of each episodes. The characters in this series are usually very fast when it comes to solving puzzles, and it’s impossible to take everyone into account here. At a certain point int he series this series turns its puzzles into 1-on-1 battles anyway.

In any case, those who did keep watching were rewarded in the character department, because as soon as this show starts developing its character (I’d say with the arrival of Rook, around episode 10), it never stops. Kaitou in particular grows into a very sympathetic character, and the side characters all work around him, and all of them have a good backstory with especially good reasons for their actions. The creators actually convinced me that the entire premise was at least partly plausible. There are times when this show gets a bit too sappy, but the majority was really well directed and had this great combination between action and characterization.

Were the first episodes wasted then? Nah, they’re just silly. Beyond that are very creative puzzles and good stories, although this series does have its points where it completely ignores all of Newton’s laws. The characters are all enjoyable as well, and especially Gammon stands out in his quirky antics as not your ordinary rival.

Visually this series mostly stands out in its designs. Both the puzzles as the characters look unique. The actual animation of the characters is very inconsistent, but it’s nothing special or bad. The music is very well done, though.

This remains a shounen series, and it loses points for being a bit too sappy at times, but this nevertheless this was a very interesting attempt to do something different with the genre that is usually nothing but people throwing superpowers at each other. With some damn good characterization I do recommend this if you’re looking for something in that direction.

Storytelling: 8/10 – Well storyboarded and manages to make solving puzzles fun.
Characters: 9/10 – There is a surprising amount of depth to these charcters, which especially manifests in the second half.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Great designs, decent animation, good soundtrack.
Setting: 8/10 – Creative puzzles, but completely ignores the laws of physics at times. The whole premise of this show is also really hard to buy.

Suggestions:
The Law of Ueki
Kaleido Star
Princess Nine

8 Responses

  1. marthaurion says:

    I thought it was pretty interesting, but then again, I love puzzles (I solve Rubik’s Cubes). I’m pretty wary about the second season…not sure how they’re gonna top Rook as an antagonist.

    • joojoobees says:

      I am wondering about that myself. I’m kind of curious what the new evil puzzle givers are gonna be like, so I think I’ll tune in to the first episode to see where they take it.

      I would really like to see Kaito’s friends branch out a bit on their own. Now that they have been established, they seem to have a lot of potential, but with Kaito around, they seem to get forced into mere supporting roles.

  2. gem2niki says:

    Thanks for blogging this series throughout since so many dropped it! It became such an entertaining series to follow. I’m so impressed by the great characterization that it became one of my favorite out of this season.

  3. tktym says:

    You know, I was really heading into this series to like it. . .but after the first five minutes, it came and by that I mean the female lead drop kicking the male lead, for “comedy” or whatever. That’s when I closed the window and never looked back. I am really tired of shit like that, why cant there just be Normal female leads (a.k.a. moretsu pirates) I Just found that tsundere-whatever the hell it is, poitnless crap that I have seen for the umpteenth time in anime and Im just sick of it.

    • Rolca says:

      I don’t recall gratuitous physical abuse of this sort happening too often. From episode 5 onwards the only regular abuse comes in the form of Nonoha Sweets and Nonoha is the most normal regular character of the show anyway. She doesn’t solve puzzles and gets frustrated because she can’t help Kaito. It eventually gets better and the directors promise more character development in S2.

  4. Et2012 says:

    I just wish the puzzles had been solved more methodically without magical voodoo bracelets or Yu-Gi-Oh style Egyptian necklaces.

    I love shows like Shion no Ou, where the “battle” is purely a mental challenge, but shows where the characters solve these challenges using magic or other plot devices to get through their problems without “thinking them out” step-by-step really bother me.

    I remember learning a ton about the game of Shogi from Shion no Ou. What can I really learn about puzzles from Phi Brain? Do I need to become some kind of sorcerer to solve advanced cross-word puzzles?

    • Rolca says:

      You actually don’t learn much about puzzles from Phi Brain itself because there’s a side-show airing after each episode that does it instead, and that side-show doesn’t reach us. There’s also an episode-related weekly puzzle on the official site.
      The first episodes are classic sudokus and such. The characters occasionally tell a little about how to solve it, but it’s probably nothing you didn’t know of already. The later episodes, as said above, are more akin to fights, but there’s no narrated strategizing, so no luck on this side either.

      All in all Phi Brain is a series about puzzles where you don’t learn about puzzles. A strange thing that isn’t what you expect but for the better.

  5. Hogart says:

    Wow, this really improved. I’m glad I gave it a second chance.. it felt almost like Letter Bee or Kobato in that respect. It was a bit too campy for my tastes, but they really managed to handle their drama and characterization pretty darn well.. much better than most of the stuff that aired that season, that’s for sure. They made really good use of the childhood symbols and events, and I even liked a few of the crazier puzzles near the ending. Here’s hoping season two feels this oddly cohesive.

Leave a Reply

Shoutbox

Name:
Email:
For:  
Mail will not be published
  • AidanAK47
    (Tuesday, Jul 26. 2016 09:35 PM)
    @Krista, relax. He’s the only one that riles people up like this. Normally this chat is fairly civilized.
  • Krista
    (Tuesday, Jul 26. 2016 09:24 PM)
    The chat’s becoming too angry for me, thanks for the recommendations guys! I’m gonna try to find another place for this kind of stuff.
  • AidanAK47
    (Tuesday, Jul 26. 2016 09:03 PM)
    @Vonter, Personally I only give a score to stick to Psgels format. If up to me I would just give a recommended or not recommended verdict.
  • Vonter
    (Tuesday, Jul 26. 2016 07:37 PM)
    Ok, then now it’s more clear. Since from what I’ve heard in-between critics some say comparisons is the path of unhappiness. Or so I’ve heard.
  • K-Off
    (Tuesday, Jul 26. 2016 07:29 PM)
    @Vonter It’s a hodgepodge of our personal experience with a particular show alongside the “objective” goods and bads, coupled with comparisons to anything else that we have reviewed.
  • Vonter
    (Tuesday, Jul 26. 2016 07:14 PM)
    I just want to ask one small last question in the lines of criticism and opinion. What does the score entitle in here now? Is it an overall number weighing the quality of the experience or is it an average of the good and bad aspects of that show.
  • mamamoo
    (Tuesday, Jul 26. 2016 07:00 PM)
    Kevin, is it that hard for you to actually log off?
  • Kevin
    (Tuesday, Jul 26. 2016 06:17 PM)
    Only because you keep saying some dumb shit about me. If you really want me to not come here anymore shut your mouth for once in your life
  • AidanAK47
    (Tuesday, Jul 26. 2016 06:04 PM)
    See. You are back. I was right.
    Much sooner than expected. Normally one leaves when they say they are leaving.
    The door is right there. Fly, my pretties. FLY.
  • Kevin
    (Tuesday, Jul 26. 2016 05:43 PM)
    Go suck your moms dick. Fucking asshole. Stop baiting its almost like you want me around you fucking gay.

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

Featured Posts

91 Days - 03 4

91 Days – 03

Seeing as things didn’t quite go to plan for Avilio last episode, it’s now time for him to prove his innocence to Nero. Avilio is playing his cards right and things would have gone to plan if it wasn’t for the man who lead them to Fango before. He states out of curiosity that he […]

Re Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu - 17 4

Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World – 17

While I did enjoy this episode and think that some interesting things have been brought up, I must admit that even my patience is starting to run out. I blame this mostly on the fact that I am watching this weekly instead of binge watching it all as the progression in these episodes has slowed […]

EVA 01b

Neon Genesis Evangelion – 01

Truth be told, I’ve never seen any of the EVA franchise, and it’s not normal since EVA is a must for any anime viewer. I don’t really know the reason why I keep myself from watching it, maybe both because mecha is not my favorite genre, and the hype of EVA is just overwhelming that […]

Berserk - 03 2

Berserk(2016) – 03

Forgive me for the delay on this particular post but I must admit that in light of Berserks quality my interest in covering it has somewhat declined. I know that for every episode to come I will have to dance around the elephant in the room but this series isn’t making that easy for me. […]

Orange 03d

Orange – 03

So this week we finally encounter a love rival. Of course with a romance drama show like Orange there had to be someone who would stand on their way right? Except there’s not much of a rival really since Naho never stands a chance against the new girl Ueda. As she learns hard and clear […]

91 Days - 02 2

91 Days – 02

At this point I think it’s clear what kind of show we are getting. It’s not Hitman Reborn which essentially uses its mafia inspiration as window dressing for shounen battles. Nor is it Baccano with a silly yet funny atmosphere combining the prohibition setting and supernatural. No, what we have here is the old school […]

Thunderbolt Fantasy 02d

Thunderbolt Fantasy – 02

Sometimes there’s a show that so campy and fun that you just can’t help but enjoy watching it, and then sometimes there’s a show that completely takes you by surprise by how unique it is. Thunderbolt Fantasy offers both of these in a neat package and further showcases the richness of animation as a medium […]

Re Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu - 16 2

Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World – 16

Looks like the new opening and ending won’t be getting much use in this second cour either, not that I am complaining of course. This week I  wouldn’t be surprised if people were getting sick of Subaru as his actions continue to be erratic and destructive. The ending of the last episode gave hope that […]

Fate Kaleid Liner PRISMA ILLYA 3rei!! - 02 3

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya 3rei – 02

It is safe to say that to get the most out of this series, you have got to be a Fate fan. There are numerous little easter eggs calling back to it, even Kirei’s signature “Rejoice” line. However I say even casual fans could get something out of this series as well. Provided they made […]

Latest Reviews

The Murder Case of Hana & Alice a

The Murder Case of Hana & Alice (2015) Movie Review – 85/100

Welcome to the third installment of World Animation section, but this time we head back to Japan for my favorite anime movie out of last year. If anything, I have always wanted those reviews to be a recommendation if you want to look for something different. So if there is anyone who would check out […]

Untitled-1

Legend of Legacy Review – 80/100

Oh Square Enix, this is the kind of avant-garde work you need to do. Developed by Furyu with the people behind SaGa, and written by Masato Kato of Chrono Trigger, I knew I was in for a unique game right from the start. But its gameplay is certainly divisive and for good reason, as this […]

My Life as a Courgette a

My Life as a Courgette (2016) Movie Review – 82/100

It’s never easy to make a good family’s animation. For movies aim at adults, the filmmakers can easily get themselves loose, go crazy and the audience can still get it. But for kids, these movies might be one of the first movies they’ve ever seen and that’s a huge responsibility. They have to aware of […]

Red Turtle a

The Red Turtle Review – 93.5/100

Welcome to my first movie review on World Animation section, the column where I wholly dedicated to indie/ art-house animated features around the world that hardly got coverage anywhere really (but rest assure our since sometimes I will review anime movies as well). And what’s a better way to start this section by reviewing one of […]

Flying witch 09d

Flying witch Review – 86/100

As I mentioned in one of my weekly posts, most of the reason why a slice-of-life anime show don’t work well is not because there’s nothing happen, but more because the cast isn’t interesting enough or the show tends to repeat the things that we already know. I’m happy to say that this is not […]

Bungou Stray Dogs 12a

Bungou Stray Dogs Review – 62/100

Well, we don’t usually give a review on the first cour of anime show, given the fact that the second part will air next autumn season. But since I’m not certain I would cover its second half, plus I don’t think this series will improve itself, I might as well give Bungou Stray Dogs a […]

Kiznaiver - 12 1

Kiznaiver Review – 60/100

Kiznaiver is a very different faire from Studio Triggers other works in that it takes a more serious tone and has a writer who tends to go more for the melodramatic. This is a tale about a group of very different people gathered together and have their pain linked to one another. In an effort […]

Joker Game - 12 2

Joker Game Review – 50/100

When experiencing the wave of new anime each season it can get rather tiresome to notice all the teenagers fighting supernatural forces while gathering a harem through seer luck or similarly tired concepts. So when something like Joker game comes along and takes a road less traveled with it’s story, naturally I am well on […]

mayoiga 07b

Mayoiga Review – 78/100

Mayoiga has to be one of the most misunderstood shows in recent years. On a surface, the premise alone has a lot of potential. The idea behind putting 30 people, each of them has very different set of personalities, together in a bus to a mysterious lost village, in order to start over new life […]