Anime Review: Phi Brain Episode 1

Anime Review:
Phi Brain Episode 1

What this is about: Watching all of the anime shows so you don’t have to! For more information about me and my reviews, click here for details on what I am reviewing.

Series Premise: Phi Brain: Puzzle of God is an original weekly anime television series starting in October 2011, airing on NHK Educational Network. Kaito is a master at his high school at solving all kinds of puzzles. Along with his assistant Nonoha, he discovers a massive “unsolvable” puzzle near his school, and ends up battling the mysterious “Puzzle of God” for his very life.

Click on the thumbnails below to view the picture in full size in a new window:

Spoiler-free set-up: Kaito Daimon has a reputation at his high school of being a genius at solving puzzles. After encountering an “unsolvable puzzle” behind the school, along with his trusted assistant Nonoha he enters an underground maze. At the center of the maze, he enters a chamber where a golden bracelet is attached to his arm, and he is commanded to solve another puzzle before the room is filled with water.

My Impressions: Let’s cut right to the chase: I’m underwhelmed by Phi Brain.

So, here we have an anime show that is centered around all sorts of logic puzzles and games. Sudoku, number games, mazes, sliding shapes, you name it, they’ve got it. Sounds like something that could be right up my alley.

Fair enough…except that the main character, Kaito, is insufferable in his smarmy holier-than-thou self-superiority. I’m not exactly digging his spunky-but-not-so-bright assistant, either. It also doesn’t help that I dislike the character designs of any of the characters themselves, either. There’s something distinctly unattractive about every single one.

But that’s not the most unappetizing part of Phi Brain, which is the story itself. Despite the potentially intriguing premise and the constant presence of tension throughout the episode, it never really seemed to capture my interest. For a show that is all about the puzzles, the viewer isn’t engaged in solving any of them, instead just sitting back and watching as the main character does that voodoo thing he does and solves them. Ho-hum.

Honestly, I am sort of struggling to write up any sort of coherent review or list of impressions, and I guess that just shows how little of an impression it made on me at all. Which is fine by me, because it really doesn’t deserve any sort of in-depth investigation. I’m hoping the pilot episode is an aberration and the second episode shows more promise, and I’m willing to give it another chance for the puzzle geek in me. But as it stands I suspect it will instead become nothing more than another tepid “shounen” adventure aimed at twelve-year-olds featuring unlikeable characters doing boneheaded things.

The verdict: …well, at least for now.


For more information:

Sampling of Online Reviews:

  • “You’d think the puzzle aspect would open doors for some potentially interesting storylines, puzzle-solving segments and badassery. However, the show is plagued by shallowness and it’s hard to take anything seriously in world where everyone is BATSHIT ABOUT PUZZLES.” – Metanorn
  • “It actually reminds me of Kaiji, another survival/game anime that I highly enjoyed. While both shows are pretty far-fetched, Phi Brain breaks the bounds of reality even more, which makes it creative, fun, and teeming with potential.” – Meeping Anime
  • “The episode itself is meant to be engaging but it just lack the excitement. It would have been better if the audience is allowed to figure out some one the puzzle as well. The grand idea is there but they sort of fail at the execution. Grade: 6.2/10.” – Conspicuous Klux
  • “The Puzzle themselves are a little cheesy and Kaito is a bit too fast to make thing even remotely believable, but a little cheesiness never killed anyone. Even if the puzzle are not meant to be solved by the audience, I think this could be just a good action show.” – Angry Anime Bitches
  • “At this point the puzzles this series espouses is nothing more than a gimmick, especially with the sudoku puzzles and the secret maze that brings about death. I guess this wouldn’t be a shounen series without the main character making some stupid, irrational decisions, but hey, I guess walking into a maze filled with death traps makes perfect sense… Grade: 6/10.” – Emory Anime Club
  • “I don’t know if a puzzle show can work if the audience isn’t allowed a chance to solve the puzzles on their own. I can see the show getting stale quickly, even for people who enjoy the Shonen formula.” – Otaku in Review
  • “The main problem is the characters, who have so little presence and are so uninteresting that even the plot – while vaguely interesting – doesn’t hold up. Even being a ‘puzzle genius’ is pretty bland when it comes to anime, especially considering said puzzle genius is the brooding teenager I am so sick of seeing in anime.” – Moeronpan
  • “It looks good in that generically polished Sunrise way. But nothing that happened in the first ep made much of an impact – not the mystery of the labyrinth, not the premise, and not the characters.” – Lost in America
  • “This was pretty much the best opening episode of the new season to me. I mean, this is a series with a strange premise: the main character is really tempted by just puzzles. But that’s the thing: it’s creative, and it showed in this episode. Potential: 90%” – Star Crossed Anime Blog
  • “Throughout the entire episode I was waiting for it to display something extra that would make me sit up and take notice, but it just didn’t happen. ” – Caraniel’s Ramblings

ROUND ONE RESULTS FOR THE FALL 2011 SHOWS:

Thumbs-up for Round One: Un-Go, Chibi Devi, Working Season 2, Bakuman Season 2, Mirai Nikki, Shinryaku Ika Musume Season 2, Ben-To, Chihayafuru, Guilty Crown, Phi-Brain

Thumbs-down for Round One: Morita-san wa Mukuchi Season 2, Kimi to Boku, C3: CubexCursedxCurious, Mobile Suit Gundam AGE, Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere

Coming up next: Last Exile: Fam the Silver Wing, Fate Zero, Majikoi Oh! Samurai Girls, Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai, Shakugan no Shana III, Hunter x Hunter, Mashiro-iro Symphony, Tamayura Hitotose, Persona 4, Maken-ki, Cross Fight Bedaman, Digimon Xros Wars II

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2 Responses to Anime Review: Phi Brain Episode 1

  1. Pingback: Anime Review: Recap of the Fall 2011 Season (after watching the 1st episodes) | This Euphoria!

  2. Pingback: Anime Review: Phi-Brain Episode 2 | This Euphoria!

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