Posted by psgels on 26 September 2012 with categories: Anime Reviews, Phi Brain



So, Phi Brain. A show that baffled me for the past year more than any other series, and it did so in many ways. It was the source of many frustrations, but also many surprises. When the first season started it seemed like just an ordinary shounen series with very good characters. Then a second season got announced and things started. The thing is that the first season was very conclusive and didn’t really leave many plot threats behind. On top of that, it was all about Kaito and his history, and it really had this storyline that used its main cast at its best. So how on earth were they going to top that?

Well indeed, the second season didn’t turn out to be as good as the first, but it did so for complete different reasons than what I imagined. The creators actually came up with a new set of very good villains here. The charm of the first season, it surprisingly good characterization: it stayed here. There was cheese, Oh GOD, there was cheese, but it used this cheese really well to create memorable villains and actually ended up very heart-warming with a very good chemistry between all of the different members of the cast. The themes were great and it ended with a satisfying climax that really exceeded my expectations. So what went wrong?

Well, the balance is all over the place. The thing is that the stories of the first and second season are about equal in size, but the way in which they spend their time is very different. The first season had random stories: a first half of completely unrelated stories to flesh out the cast. In the second season however, every episode is important to the plot in a direct way. The problem however is that this show doesn’t have the material to fill 25 episodes. The result? Well, four episodes of solving the exact same puzzle over and over again. In a series that prides itself with its creative puzzles, that indeed is as fun as it sounds.

On top of that, the way in which this series manages its cast in this season is really bizarre and questionable. It all works out in the end, but oh boy, it has a lot of hurdles. Most importantly, the central focus of the plot is brainwashing. The entire cast of villains is brainwashed into acting weird and illogical. You do not want to know how long it takes for this to get properly fleshed out and some actual depth, because this series has spent nearly its entire airtime to get to that point. At the start the characters come off as shallow stupid and illogical bastards.

And then there is the great cast of characters of the first season, who honestly have trouble figuring out what to do in the sequel here. In one way it’s good, because the characters who did not have a focus in the first season can now really shine here (with the best example being Ana Gram), but it also is a bit of a shame to see once strong characters wander around slightly aimlessly and looking for things to do. Gammon especially suffered here, but also Nonoha is pretty bad. She keeps wanting to do something, and yet the creators hardly ever let her, despite hinting at how she still is important. Only near the end does that start to matter, and in the meantime she is just there for the token female to cook dinner.

Beyond that, the usual issues with Phi Brain still stand: when you think about it, it just makes no bloody sense. Especially the way in which this series seems to think that you can hack anything and do some mumbo jumbo in order to gather data are really bad if you start thinking about it even once. This show just has a story to tell and doesn’t care how illogical it gets, and yet it does this better than the likes of Horizon, because the story it does end up telling becomes pretty damn good when it wants to and is actually focused. I mean you can say a lot about Phi Brain, but it has a damn good cast of characters.

Storytelling: 7/10 – You call that balance?! Riddled with issues, way too long (we’re at 50 episodes now and a third season has been announced!), yet surprisingly focused and well built up.
Characters: 8.5/10 – The saving grace for this series. Very good and heart-warming all around. A bit too heavy on the cheese though.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Definitely not Sunrise’s dream team here, though it has its moments at the beginning and end where it looks really pretty.
Setting: 8.5/10 – I have to give points for this series: it took a setting that seemed impossible to make believable: people fight using puzzles and brainwash each other in order to evolve human kind. And it pulled it off. Sure it took a lot of trouble, but it did.

Suggestions:
The Law of Ueki
Spiral
Suteki Tantei Labyrinth

6 Responses

  1. sushiyassin55 says:

    With all due respect psgels, I find it sad that you give a series like Phi Brain an 80. I mean, it’s too cliche; wouldn’t a score like 70 be fairer?

  2. Mormegil says:

    At least Nonoha let her hair down.

  3. sam says:

    I can’t believe you finished Phi Brain but not Bakuman!

  4. psgels psgels says:

    I disagree. Phi Brain had things that set itself apart, and it realized it was completely stupid. Bakuman kept trying to do things to stand apart, but this turned it into this dull soap opera broken up by a really slow pacing. Phi Brain at least delivered when it mattered.

  5. Hououin Kyouma says:

    I completely agree this time with Psgels! Phi Brain did somethings unexpectable and it is fun to watch excluding the beach ep for example. But Bakuman just goes up and down each week!! It’s still nice, but nothing risky anymore.

Leave a Reply

Shoutbox

Name:
Email:
For:  
Mail will not be published
  • AidanAK47
    (Sunday, Aug 30. 2015 03:43 AM)
    Well as we all know, personal attacks end every argument ever on the internet…and pigs fly, hell has frozen over and Half Life 3 has been released.
    Though to be fair inserting Japanese phrases into English sentences is one of the most annoying things on the planet.
  • ;(
    (Sunday, Aug 30. 2015 03:27 AM)
    @Jerkoff: kindly do so as well please. Preferably the latter, you cause your parents nothing but grief anyway, so this is actually the best for everyone.
  • jerkocaust
    (Sunday, Aug 30. 2015 02:11 AM)
    @Miyabi Talk like a normal human you faggot or kill yourself you pathetic weeaboo
  • miyabi
    (Sunday, Aug 30. 2015 12:41 AM)
    Ne mina-san I recommend Be My Sweet Darling it’s such a kawaii manwha desu~
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Aug 29. 2015 09:52 PM)
    @Mintopia: A yes that one, I recommended it on here recently.
    Though I need to read more of it myself.
  • Mintopia
    (Saturday, Aug 29. 2015 09:48 PM)
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Aug 29. 2015 03:51 AM)
    Fury, like blackhawk down, weren’t really of note, they were just action movies, never poor, never great.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Aug 29. 2015 03:49 AM)
    Theres an old French documentary, it might be from the 50s or a bit later than that which dealt with the holocaust.
    Shoah is another long loooong doc about WWII.
  • ;(
    (Saturday, Aug 29. 2015 03:46 AM)
    Haven’t heard of men behind the sun.
    And I actually didn’t want to watch inglorious basterds because I was certain it was gonna treat a serious subject unseriously.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Aug 29. 2015 03:45 AM)
    @;(: I had to watch boy in the striped pajamas twice to really appreciate it.
    Pianist is more my thing because its bleaker and in general I’m quite the fan of Polanski’s films.

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

Featured Posts

Gangsta. – 08

Some focus on Alex this time around as with the drug out of her system she remembered that she had a younger brother. A pretty startling revelation for her as forgot about him the whole time she was under Barry’s control. It was done well on just how much this shocked her but I must […]

Gate: Thus the JSDF Fought There! – 08

Itami continues to be a mystery as he is shown not only to be a ranger but also a member of special forces. Its not really confirmed whether he is a genius in hiding or a slacker who was tossed into high profile positions and got through it with minimum effort. The big part of […]

Gakkou Gurashi! – 07

This episode has been a weaker episode than those so far. The opening has gone through a number of changes now that we have reached over the halfway point. Megumi’s part of the opening has been replaced by a shot of her grave, the colourful transition after showing the title is now a series of […]

Gangsta. – 07

Now the past has been mostly revealed, Worick’s friendship with Nicholas has become a more complex thing. Worick seems to see him as a good friend yet resent him for going kill crazy and murdering his whole family. Though the murder of his father looked to be an order he himself made to Nicholas and […]

Gate: Thus the JSDF Fought There! – 07

I understand that for an anime adaption some character designs need to be simplified in order for an easier time to keep them in proportion in animation. But while the characters who suffer in this episode because of this are indeed minor characters, its really a shame to see them become something unrecognisable. The two […]

Gakkou Gurashi! – 06

Well the story continues on from the flashback, showing Miki first joining the club. Right off the bat the episode pushes to answer the question of Megumi’s existence. It’s a answer that was pretty obvious by this point as the foreshadowing was pretty heavy on this particular detail but this episode makes it crystal clear. […]

Gangsta. – 06

When taking into account the show so far, I find that the quiet character moment stand out far more than the over the top fight scenes with knife wielding psychos on rooftops. The dialogue between characters is much more engaging that two characters jumping around like Bleach Soul Reapers. In particular it great seeing Worick […]

Gate: Thus the JSDF Fought There! – 06

Richard Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” is a fairly iconic piece of music in pop culture. So much so that after Apocalypse Now (1979) whenever there is a helicopter assault in any piece of media, it’s practically obligatory to play Ride of the Valkyries. Even just today when finishing Far Cry 3 and had a […]

Gakkou Gurashi! – 05

As these episodes go on it really is something to wonder about the matter of Yuki being a hindrance or a help. I have said previously that she does push the group in the right direction but it is still a case where her mentality is dangerous. The group need to come up with excuses […]

Latest Reviews

Little Witch Academia The Enchanted Parade – 81/100

I wonder when it was that a film being childish became a flaw. As a medium grows it takes steps to aim to mature itself and seek a more intellectual level of presenting entertainment. Animation did it as Anime aimed to explore terrontry that cartoons refuse to explore and video games only recently broke away […]

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks Review – 85/100

For a long time now this adaption has been the dreams of many a Fate fan with many believing it would never come to pass, but now that it is here is it everything that we dreamed? Short answer to this is no, long answer is nearly. I feel this show will have many divided […]

Shirobako Review – 80/100

When you see a harem anime and sigh as the breasts of the female lead jiggle with every step and wind that can flip a skirt it’s easy to forget that somewhere in Japan a group of people worked hard to get that jiggle right and draw each frame of animation. The hardships of the […]

Clipboard06

Nerawareta Gakuen Review – 84/100

Let me talk a bit about Ryousuke Nakamura. For a long time, this guy was my hero. He started off as an assistant director to Monster, in my opinion a big reason why that series got such a ridiculously solid adaptation, and then in 2008 he came with the groundbreaking Mouryou no Hako. No TV-series […]

Clipboard03

Kick Heart

Okay, so I didn’t want to exit 2013 without having seen Masaaki Yuasa’s Kick Heart. It’s only twelve minutes anyway, and I consider him to be one of the best anime directors out there. The story here is pretty silly and mostly serves as a backdrop, so I mostly want to talk about the nature […]

Clipboard01

Kyousogiga Review – 90/100

Everyone’s taste is different, and that’s a wonderful thing because that allows us to have so many different forms of media that all aim toward their own niche. My blog is obviously written from the perspective of my own taste, and even when a show doesn’t cater to it (which is nearly always), I love […]

Clipboard04

Ore no Nounai Sentakushi ga, Gakuen Lovecome o Zenryoku de Jama Shiteiru Review – 80/100

Noucome! You do not want to know how long I have been waiting for a series like this. More than half a decade, at the very least. Finally a series comes along and puts the incredibly overused harem genre in its place. And it actually does it well. Thank you! So to elaborate: the harem […]

Clipboard01

Pokemon: The Origin Review – 75/100

Normally I try to avoid spoilers with these reviews, but screw it, it’s Pokemon. Pokemon The Origin is a bomb of nostalgia. If you haven’t played Pokemon Red, Blue or Green, then you will not enjoy this one slight bit. This really is made as pure undilluted fanservice for the fans of the first games. […]

Clipboard08

Tamayura – More Aggressive Review – 75/100

I’m not going to dedicate a post for my impression for the final three episodes of this series. It was just too boring to write much about. I guess that that gives a pretty accurate indication of what I think about this series. Right at the start of Tamayura’s second season, I asked one question: […]