Kaito Daimon would be a completely average high school student except for one thing: he's a 'demon' at solving puzzles. Kaito is so brilliant, in fact, that when he's asked to take some 'special' tests of his unique ability, he immediately suspects that the test itself is a test. Kaito suddenly finds himself caught up in a lethal Philosopher's Puzzle made by the sinister group POG, a murderous maze of trap upon trap, where failing to solve the secret correctly will result in death! Fortunately, Kaito's skills prove up to the first test, both for himself and his childhood friend Nanoha, who is also caught up in the deadly scheme. But now that he has been designated as a Solver, he is pulled into a new life where he must travel the world with other Solvers, attempting to solve the latest deadly riddles left by POG. There's a new conundrum around every corner and each deception could lead to death, but once a riddle has been posed, you can count on Kaito to unfold, unravel and unlock it!
Phi Brain has one of the widest gaps between an astoundingly moronic premise and a brilliant execution that I've ever seen in an anime series.
The series can be summed up as "basically a less merchandise-driven Yu-Gi-Oh, but instead of HEART OF THE CARDS it's UNDERSTAND THE FEELINGS OF PUZZLES". Denouements for each episode are easy to see, especially if you've ever seen any other anime series in your life. The animation is bad by 2011 standards and the character designs are amateurish. By all accounts this show should be awful and a waste of time.
And yet, it is neither, due to its dedication at being hilariously over the top.
Take, for example, a flashback in the first episode wherein a certain person implores the main character to solve unsolveable puzzles and ease their pain. Or the moment, also in the first episode, where the female lead asks about what to do, to which the main character replies "Isn't it obvious? It's PUZZLE TIME!" as a salsa tune kicks in. While Yu-Gi-Oh had moments of shining brilliance such as this, they were mere glimmers amidst the sea of generic shounen merchandise glut and couldn't bring up the show. With Phi Brain, these moments ARE the sea, and just when you think the well has run dry, an unnecessary character revelation or an inappropriate phrase pops up and gives you such a giddy whiplash that you're sold all over again.
And the show is currently only four episodes in! Should it continue this trajectory for the remainder of its 25 episode run, it may end up as one of the better offerings from the Fall 2011 season.
People who complain that the puzzles are mostly solved off-screen are missing the point. The show really isn't about the puzzles, and they're given the focus that they get so that the viewer can solve it him/herself and feel like they, too, can be the GOD OF PUZZLES and not focus too much on how things like sudoku and the rush hour puzzle are presented as brain-busting puzzles that only the most brilliant of minds could ever hope to solve.
Other factors that work in this show's favor are Jun Fukuyama, who is hamming up his role so much that he probably wore a curly tail and snout to recording sessions, and the opening theme song, which is the aural equivalent of a plastic army figurine melting in a microwave.
The viewing experience of Phi Brain is akin to watching a three-legged dog energetically hobble its way down the street, trying to dodge passersby and obstacles, in order to reach a fire hydrant to piss on. You have much better things to spend your time on than watch this dog. Your brain deserves to be devoted to much better. And yet you stare transfixed at this dog, from the second you first notice it to the moment the last drip falls, and you finally know true beauty and contentment.read more
To put 'Phi Brain: Kami no Puzzle' in a nutshell, imagine watching a game of chess between two supposed grandmasters, with the added bonus of being able to hear snippets of the players' thoughts. There is just one catch: you cannot see the chessboard.
Phi Brain's concept is not out of this world: a genius highschooler taking on a dark organisation by relying on his wit to solve some of the most difficult of puzzles known to man. And the show could have been a hit, if not for the fact it decided that viewers do not need to know how the puzzles were solved. The whole kick of a psychological anime, then, is lost, as viewers simply don't feel the engagement, or the experience of sitting at the edge of your chair trying to glimpse what is going on inside the protagonist's mind.
(Bypassing the category of Art, which is really not noteworthy) OP song is apt, ED song is generic, and the soundtrack is nothing amazing to speak of. The factor that adds points to the sound factor is actually the casting of voice actors, which are generally appropriate and convincing.
Like everything else in this show, the characters are run-of-the-mill: a reluctant hero with a supportive female sidekick and a rival who is always trying to outdo him. While I will not go so far as to state that they are completely one-dimensional, they are predictable enough that interactions quickly become bland.
Despite all these mediocre qualities, Phi Brain does provide decent entertainment. The caveat though, is that you have to see it as an average highschool action/game anime and approach it without expectations of seeing Death Note's level of analysis, or Liar Game's level of sheer genius.
While this anime obviously flopped when it tries to provide a mental ride for viewers, I have to be fair and say that true psychological masterpieces are rare. For all its merits, Phi Brain is not bad; it just induces you into the familiar state of passive viewership. And if Phi Brain was even trying to be intelligent, there would probably be no greater insult. read more
Phi Brain is all about solving puzzles, however if you think that you'll be able to solve puzzles along with the protagonists, then I'll put that hope to rest now; you're not. Whilst you'll get the occasional glimpse at the whole puzzle, they are for the most part exclusively for the characters.
The character designs are very brash and crude, very much like the show itself, and whilst I am hesitant to call them outright bad they are certainly below average. This is a low budget anime, and so the animation and art is poor, expect to see many off model shots every episode, which are often so bad that they are distracting. Whilst this is the case, the animation level doesn't detract too much from the anime as a whole.
The music is worlds apart from the art, the opening "Brain Diver" is a catchy and energetic song that fits the series well, and the ending, "Hologram" is a pleasant track that grows on you as the series progresses. The soundtrack is also pretty good, which at points makes up for the appalling animation quality. It isn't amazing, but is remarkable considering the budget, and works well to make the action scenes tense.
During the first few episodes you will find yourself hard pressed to like the main characters, as the first few episodes focus on making Kaito look as cool as possible by having him casually solve difficult puzzles and the like, to the point where it feels like they're trying to force it down our throats. Gammon comes across as loud and obnoxious, and Cubic seems like an arrogant child prodigy. However as the series progresses past the first few episodes and onto the main plot, the characters become much more likable. This is because they stop trying to outdo each other in both arrogance and in puzzle solving and start working together against the antagonists of the series, the POG.
The story starts off very simply, the POG will set Kaito a puzzle and he'll proceed to solve it using his Orpheus armband, often with the help of one of the geniuses that Kaito meets during the first few episodes. Fortunately the plot becomes more engrossing before too long which makes the series more interesting and reduces the repetitiveness. Don't expect anything deep or complicated from the main plot of Phi Brain as it's still straightforward and standard shounen, but it's an improvement. The puzzles act as a way for the characters to fight each other, and in later episodes "battle puzzles" are introduced, where the two contestants directly match their wits. This is quite entertaining at times, however, the fact you can't see the puzzle in its entirety is frustrating, as it alienates you from the tactics employed.
Phi Brain improves as it progresses, but it never reaches the level of quality I would have liked, however that does not mean it's bereft of entertainment, and although it doesn't have the gripping battles of wit it was aiming for, it's a simple shounen that you can find fairly enjoyable if you aren't feeling too critical.read more
Isn't it weird that a show about puzzle solving "geniuses" turns out to be one of the dumbest anime to date... But it's all in good fun if you don't take it seriously.
*This review goes up to episode 4, and will update as more episodes come along*
STORY: Yeah, it's puzzle time! We get a lot of mystery anime involving solving shit coming our way and a lot of them are, well, blegh. That's the response you would get from any character in this anime, despite the "fact" that they are "geniuses" and they can solve puzzles, it isn't a mystery to say that Phi Brain is pure brain rot.
You can't get anymore stupider than this anime, it's absurd, it's a poorly told story, the characters are "geniuses", however it's, honestly, quite fun.
You would have to be quite an idiot to take this anime seriously, especially when lines like "Solve those poor puzzles, set them free" or the classic, "This puzzle wants to be solved!" are spoken. This anime takes itself deathly serious, there are no jokes or even tongue in cheek moments, it's serious shit, especially when a whole town can be blown up if a puzzle can't be solved! But, this is some really silly, silly, silly shit, and not even an ounce of seriousness should be applied here at any time, it's completely goofy, and from this point of view, it is incredibly fun to watch as good popcorn entertainment.
But, any who, the story is about a high school teenager Daimon Kaito who can solve any puzzle and just can't resist the urge to solve them no matter what the risk, life threatening or not (No matter how ridiculous that sounds).
And one day, he is challenged to solve a super puzzle called a sage puzzle, and, of course, solves it, with the help of his trusty female side kick Nonoha, and an arm band that he obtains that makes him into an even more bad ass puzzle solver (This is something I never would have thought to call bad ass, it's also the equivalent to how Yugi from Yugioh turns into the bad ass card dueling pharaoh, but almost not as ridiculous, almost), and also later on obtains the title of Einstein, which has to be part of a hilarious satire... I wish, as other characters (More puzzle solving bad asses) with titles like Edison continue to show up.
The main characters consists of Daimon Kaito, the bad ass puzzle solver, Nonoha Itou, the plucky female side kick who can be more than just a side kick chore holder, Gammon, the insta-frien-emy-rival who likes to show up to solve puzzles too and contribute to comedic situations, and several others that will be revealed along the way.
To be honest, this anime already feels like it's gone on long enough, the puzzles of life or death situations are tiresome, it isn't really fun watching Kaito solve everything in seconds, and just feels like a waste of time, but, it's still silly enough to enjoy all of that, and not even one brain cell to required to have in order to enjoy this anime, it's pretty simple, but it's dumb enough to kill brain cells if you try to apply one to the show while watching it, and it's a 25 episode series, so there's going to be a lot of puzzles, more ridiculous moments, and did I forget to say puzzles? Because this anime has a one track mind only focused on the stupidity and ridiculousness that comes along with the dangers of puzzle solving, if that makes any sense...
ANIMATION: While the character designs are very distinctive, they are bit rough looking, but animated well enough. There are a lot of still frames and crude animation though, but it still good animation none the less. Most of the backgrounds are settings at typical looking schools and cities, but there is a lot of interesting (That word is being used as loosely as possible) puzzle related animation segments going during puzzle time, so it's not hard on the eyes in the slightest.
SOUND: Kinda what you should expect from any shonen anime, though this is one about puzzles, it is just anything not really noticeable, background music wise. The opening theme song, Brain Diver, however, is incredibly catchy. The voice acting is okay, but of all the characters, Gammon sticks out the most as a crazy sounding puzzle solving lunatic who speaks random english from time to time. And if anything, the dialogue is simply the best thing about this anime, the characters are so serious sounding all the time, yet it's completely mind boggling in why would they say stuff so ridiculous.
+ Puzzle solving shonen show, something different.
+ Goofy and silly as it can get, go into this without taking it seriously and you're in for a blast.
+ Hilarious dialogue, and awesome theme song.
+/- Goofy characters.
- Simply one of the stupidest shows this year has to offer, story is too simple for it's own good.
- Too ridiculous at times, Daimon is a little too fast at solving puzzles to the point of getting repetitive.
Maybe this show works because it's so stupid, I mean the writers couldn't possibly be taking this seriously, so it's surely all for fun, and you would be stupid to get mad at it this for being silly and absurd, after all, the dialogue is just too silly to get angry over. "Save those puzzles!"read more
Written by Yuu Kamiya, No Game No Life is an adventure and comedy series set in a fantasy world. It is a story of two genius "hikikomori" siblings who find themselves in the mystical world of Disboard to unite all sixteen races of the Exceed and challenge Tet, the one true god.