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.

The Law of Ueki
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


Mail will not be published
  • AidanAK47
    (Tuesday, Oct 13. 2015 01:48 AM)
    @Kevin, you sure seem fond of that word. Anyway still see you that you keep coming back and playing the same old tune.
    Blah blah blah circlejerk, blah blah blah get lives, blah blah blah
  • Kevin
    (Tuesday, Oct 13. 2015 12:29 AM)
    Man you guys are still doing your dumb ass circlejerk. How much semen do you guys have left what the hell
  • Bam
    (Monday, Oct 12. 2015 09:23 PM)
    @Joe: also note that a lot of the old famous ones were already reviewed by psgels and still up on the site. Don’t bother with the catalogue down there, just search them.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Monday, Oct 12. 2015 08:01 PM)
    I have begun reading the heavens feel route of fate/stay night because I was told that it may be one of the fate related things I’d actually enjoy.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Monday, Oct 12. 2015 07:38 PM)
    I think I’ll try that wait and see thing with the new Garo before watching any more of it and content myself for the time being with just utawerumono and subete.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Monday, Oct 12. 2015 07:36 PM)
    I still think you should watch texnolyze Aidan and put up a review of that show on here.
    Also I think by choosing to cover subete you’ve kept in the spirit of this site by doing so.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Monday, Oct 12. 2015 07:34 PM)
    I think Joes got it right with his wait and see approach and I really should adopt that approach when watching some shows, waiting until they are halfway through or finished their run before starting to avoid bothering with a disapointment.
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, Oct 12. 2015 07:23 PM)
    @Joe, Big problem with that is that I seen a vast majority of old anime. I don’t want to go too old anime and I would prefer to devote my time on my massive backlog of steam games. I might re-watch some old favorites and put a review of them in the future.
    I may complain about the this season but while the majority is pretty weak we do have four shows with the potential to be great.
  • Joe
    (Monday, Oct 12. 2015 06:52 PM)
    @aidan: I don’t blame you. I’ve always found it hard to watch currently airing anime because so many start well but become terrible at some point. I prefer shows that are already completed so I can see what other people think about it. Maybe you should try doing some older anime?
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Monday, Oct 12. 2015 03:18 PM)
    How unfortunate, the anime for perfect insider is only getting 11 episodes. That j-drama for it had double the time because of the episode lengths to tell the story.
    This does not bode well….

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

Featured Posts

Gangsta. – 58/100

Gangsta is an anime with a lot of things going for it. A mature cast, gritty themes, a interesting setting and a trio of main characters who can carry the show. However due to a number of factors it never quite reached its potential. The main trio of characters are unconventional and quite interesting with […]

Gangsta. – 12

Normally one expects a final episode to be well…final. Right from the start you could tell Gangsta wasn’t going to make an effort to form some kind of ending with it wasting far too much time on things that don’t really matter at this point. By episode’s end I was actually questioning whether this truly […]

Gakkou Gurashi! – 80/100

Gakkou is one with a good facade as promotional material would have you believe it was some dime a dozen moe slice of life. I was one who wasn’t fooled by the cute cuddly exterior but I was truly surprised with just how good this anime ended up being. Gakkou is one of those rare […]

Gakkou Gurashi! – 12

The ending to Gakkou leaves me with a feeling similar to that I felt after watching Madoka’s final two episodes. The ending isn’t inherently bad but I can’t help but feel like I have been cheated. When you tease darkness and provide instead light its hard to appreciate. Contract to popular belief, not everyone loves […]

Gangsta. – 11

Gangsta has a serious problem on its hands. So far the past 11 episodes have been building up something and it’s clear that this buildup will not be utilised in the remaining episode. We got a setting, characters(though aside from the main trio a number of them need development) and an antagonist but we don’t […]

Gate: Thus the JSDF Fought There! – 12

  It’s a good thing a second season of Gate was announced as it ending on this episode would be a poor round up to the series indeed. The biggest hanging thread is the Dark elf and her dilemma of returning to the village to tell them that help is not coming or resorting to […]

Gakkou Gurashi! – 11

Abandon hope, all ye who enter here. Things are looking grimmer and grimmer for our four heroines as Yuuri can’t bring herself to kill Kurumi, Miki is trapped on the lower floors and zombies have subsequently knocked out the power and overrun the school. Leaving a surprisingly stable Yuki to save everyone’s hides. The zombies […]

Gangsta. – 10

So our girl Erica turns out to be the twin of Delio and I wouldn’t be surprised if you can’t remember who Delio is. He’s the white haired guy who’s a weak twilight that works as a bodyguard for Monroe. It’s revealed that she was abducted when she was a kid and this is the […]

Gate: Thus the JSDF Fought There! – 11

If it’s one thing this episode has taught us it’s that you should never cockblock a Goth-loita demi-gods plans for the night. Anime truly is the greatest teacher one could have, even more so than a yellow squid creature that moves at mach speed but not quite on the level of a gangster leader with […]

Latest Reviews

Gangsta. – 58/100

Gangsta is an anime with a lot of things going for it. A mature cast, gritty themes, a interesting setting and a trio of main characters who can carry the show. However due to a number of factors it never quite reached its potential. The main trio of characters are unconventional and quite interesting with […]

Gakkou Gurashi! – 80/100

Gakkou is one with a good facade as promotional material would have you believe it was some dime a dozen moe slice of life. I was one who wasn’t fooled by the cute cuddly exterior but I was truly surprised with just how good this anime ended up being. Gakkou is one of those rare […]

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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]