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Phi Brain: Kami no Puzzle – 01

OP Sequence

OP: 「Brain Diver」 by May’n
Watch the OP!: Streaming ▼

「迷宮にひそむ契約」 (Meikyuu ni Hisomu Keiyaku)
“The Contract Hidden in the Labyrinth”

There weren’t any real surprises in the premiere of Sunrise’s original puzzle series, but the studio delivered the premise they described and made it pretty interesting to boot. That’s largely in part to how they didn’t waste any time introducing the characters and dove right into the thick of things with self-proclaimed puzzle master, Daimon Kaito (Asanuma Shintarou), getting caught up in a twisted labyrinth in the mountains behind his school, Root Academy. He’s nearly killed while saving an actual third-rate puzzle solver, after which he seeks out the student council president and Puzzle Club president, Jikukawa Souji (Ishida Akira), demanding to know what he was invited to by the portable puzzle game he was given. Without any real explanation, Souji just tells Kaito it’s a puzzle that he’ll have to risk his life to solve, and uses his pride to convince him to give it another go. With the help of his childhood friend Itou Nonoha (Shimizu Kaori) and her remarkable memory, Kaito’s able to get through the labyrinth and obtain the Orpheus Bracelet, just like his school principal Kaidou Baron (Fujiwara Keiji) anticipated he would.

In short, it was basically everything I outlined in the season preview, except the additional implication that Baron and Souji — the latter of whom is likely Minotaur judging from the voice — are the ones responsible for getting Kaito involved in the twisted games of the mysterious organization POG. What I can’t quite describe is how entertaining it was to see things play out, from the simple stuff like a Sudoku puzzle (with that many starting numbers!) to more complicated brain teasers. In addition, Kaito’s arrogance wasn’t as annoying as I thought it would be, seeing as he showed concern for Nonoha first when he was put on the spot with the life-or-death puzzle at the end. It’s also reassuring to know that Nonoha isn’t there just to tag along and be saved by Kaito, as I can already see her being crucial to solving puzzles in the future with her photographic memory. Together, they form an interesting tandem in a story that is pretty engaging if you suspend your disbelief a bit. The suspense is definitely reminiscent of Kaiji, albeit not as nail-biting just yet. I can only imagine it’ll get better from hereon, now that Kaito has some mysterious power that allows him to fully utilize his puzzle-solving skills.

The rest of the puzzle solvers look like they’ll be slowly introduced in the upcoming episodes, starting with Sakanoue Gammon (Fukuyama Jun) next time, but we’re already given something to look forward to with Kaito’s memories of “Shounen X” (Koyasu Takehito), who presumably got him into puzzles, and Luke Banjou Crossfield (Sakurai Takahiro, childhood: Satou Rina), whom the official site reveals is a member of POG. So right from the get-go, Phi Brain has already established its premise, provided a good taste of it, given us something to look forward, and left off on a cliffhanger. No matter how you slice it, that’s a pretty good start in my books. I’m actually pretty excited to see where it’s headed now. Productions values are pretty good too, as are the opening and ending themes by May’n and Kiyoura Natsumi respectfully — the latter of whom I haven’t heard any anime songs from since Sasameki Koto. Phi Brain may not be quite like the psychological thriller Cube, but it looks to be suspenseful enough.

 

ED Sequence

ED: 「ホログラム」 (Hologram) by 清浦夏実 (Kiyoura Natsumi)
Watch the ED!: Streaming ▼

Preview

October 2, 2011 at 10:38 pm
35 comments »
  • October 2, 2011 at 10:56 pmJoojoobees

    Definitely an enjoyable first episode. I’m looking forward to more.

  • October 2, 2011 at 11:04 pmricz

    I enjoy the first episode too

    Anime that has genius on it always amazes me :p

  • October 2, 2011 at 11:20 pmGridlynk

    Maybe it’s just me but I find the character designs incredibly ugly. So ugly that it’s putting me off from watching the show. Something about them reminds me of the designs in Noein, which I thought were very unique and interesting, but here not so much.

    • October 3, 2011 at 9:03 amricz

      Tsk looking for the graphics not the story
      well it’s your choice

      • October 3, 2011 at 4:32 pmGridlynk

        Not really. I can deal with watching a show with a good story but poor animation. This show looks to have a good story and quality animation. However, my issue lies with lack of aesthetic appeal of the character designs. I just cant past the look of the main character. I suppose it’s my loss if the show turns out to be good, but each to their own.

  • October 2, 2011 at 11:22 pmZen

    The dynamic between the heroine and the main character has me hooked; Nonoha doesn’t seem like she’s going to be your typical “Ming Vase” damsel in distress. Instead, she proactively helps the male lead in solving puzzles- and is a crucial element to their success. It’s not often that you get a pair of main characters who work together this well, let alone a lead couple, so I’ll be looking out for this one…

  • October 3, 2011 at 12:16 amx

    This one looks surprisingly fun. I think I’ll watch a few more episodes at least…

    @Gridlynk I guess there are no pretty boys or girls in this one for you. Personally, I like the art style. It’s kind of refreshing.

  • October 3, 2011 at 12:40 ampingpongrio

    A puzzle anime? Well Ill keep watching since it seems interesting

  • October 3, 2011 at 12:48 amWhatthetrash

    I really enjoyed this episode. Lookin’ forward to more! :)

  • October 3, 2011 at 12:51 ambullrogg

    damn divine, cranking these first episode blogs out. the week just started XD

    i felt bad that i actually tried to solve the puzzle by pausing. I wondered why that big gap was there but with all the sliding around i knew that the map was shift so i gave up.

    cool ep, cant wait for next week.

  • October 3, 2011 at 1:19 amJD

    I find the premise of the story interesting. I would like to know what catch there is with the Orpheus Contract. And I hope that their fusion of Western (Orpheus) and Eastern (mandala) myth is not just for face value.

    The music is good. Animation is good. Seems to be worth the while. I wonder if this will create a puzzle craze.

  • October 3, 2011 at 1:57 amTaiakun

    Hands up those who paused the show and tried the Sudoku puzzle, only to finish it in less than 5 minutes, wondered why the hell it took the creator a whole day to solve it, then wondered if you would be considered a genius in their world and score some ladies from the puzzle club.

    *Puts hand up*

    • October 3, 2011 at 10:29 amx

      It demonstrates how low a level they are at. How it’s probably all just vanity, money and leaning on someone else’s authority. If they were really skilled at puzzles, all sudoku puzzles (yes, I mean each and every one of them) with that configuration is down right easy.

  • October 3, 2011 at 2:25 ammeiji-era

    The story is good but the animation is a bit dull. It seems that NHK lacks funds for their animes.

  • October 3, 2011 at 2:27 amTSouL

    This gives me a similar feel to Professor Layton, but I do hope there will be more logic to solving the puzzles (like the labyrnth) instead of magically having the answer pop in the character’s head (like the 3 switches).

  • October 3, 2011 at 2:54 ambearzerger

    This one really isn’t my cup of tea. The whole notion of the “hard-boiled puzzle solver who’s too much of a badass to join the club” seems stupid to me and the execution of the first episode didn’t convince me otherwise. If atleast the puzzles were interesting, but there was nothing tricky about them, they were just math puzzles and the like. And those just aren’t interesting to the audience.

  • October 3, 2011 at 4:12 amLitho

    Lol … Pea-Brain

  • October 3, 2011 at 4:19 amPandorakun

    … The evil organisation is POG. Why am I giggling?

  • October 3, 2011 at 5:45 amBass.EXE

    Who else got Yu-Gu-Oh vibes?

    • October 3, 2011 at 6:43 amcybersteel

      The hair, hand gestures, Millenium idol thingy and yeah the mind crush during the Op.

      Doesn’t shonen x resembles Byakuran from KHR?

  • October 3, 2011 at 10:24 amkoager

    I agree about the Sudoku. I saw that it had so many starting numbers and was like “What? That’s suppose to be hard?”
    Not a big fan of the character design but I like the theme and it is interesting so I’m keeping it

  • October 3, 2011 at 1:07 pmSheapy

    Didn’t like the first episode TBH. It’s kind of lame how all the puzzle solving is pulled from thin-air.

  • October 3, 2011 at 3:38 pmRei

  • October 3, 2011 at 4:31 pmPhosphatide

    It really does feel like Professor Layton, but a tad worse.

    Making sudoku look that hard? Really? And it took you a day to complete it? Most people I know take maximum 20 minutes.

    Otherwise, it’s not too bad I suppose. But I have been shown the world of Layton where superb writing and notably difficult puzzles rule the game, so I’ll just wait for the new game to come out in two weeks to satisfy my puzzle-story combination.

  • October 3, 2011 at 5:14 pmShirt

    I haven’t seen Cubed yet but this was pretty cool. I think it would be amazing to have your brain power multiplied by blastia-like jewels that you can wear. Great idea and I’m looking forward to the next episode. :D

  • October 3, 2011 at 6:21 pmkaon

    XD

  • October 3, 2011 at 6:21 pmFallenrock

    Lol you keep dropping hints that we should see that old thriller/suspense movie “Cube”, albeit it was friggin awesome, it still amuses me.

    Seems that production value is the name of the game this season; havent seen so many special effects since the last star wars movie!

    I can already hear the beginnings of Phi’s the catch phrase “Its Puzzle Time!”

  • October 3, 2011 at 10:12 pmSOSAnimeBoy

    Interesting. But it’s just full to the brim with your cliche shounen characters, including a perpetually over-caffeinated male lead and his childhood friend sidekick. And from the looks of the preview, there’s a lot more testosterone on its way.

    I also wanted to bash my head against the screen every time someone said “puzzle” in engrish. It sounds really irritating like the sound of scratching a chalkboard.

    Still, it was mildly entertaining.

    • November 13, 2011 at 9:26 amRandomanon

      Pah-zulu? Ru labu pah-zulu?

  • October 4, 2011 at 12:02 amJo

    I enjoyed it. Can’t wait for the next ep.

  • October 4, 2011 at 6:28 pmconyo985

    I think this show is overrated. I felt kinda left out because the puzzles didn’t involve the audience. I’ll give this show a chance though. It might grow on me.

    • October 4, 2011 at 7:13 pmAdrienne

      I’m hoping that they do start involving the viewer with the puzzles. Possibly because this was the first episode they just wanted to show how fast the main character was at solving them.

  • October 5, 2011 at 12:58 pmMizuiroKuma

    puzzels are just awesome and so is the anime ^^

  • October 17, 2011 at 8:31 pmGimpyhair

    Surprisingly, I’m really enjoying this show so far. The only thing I like less is the Orpheus thing, which makes me think it’s kind of cheating. I will wait to see how it’s going to work out once the whole nakama is introduced. Are you going to write more reviews about this show?

  • November 1, 2011 at 10:14 pmnn

    is it me, or does this guy look strikingly similar to that character from yugioh?

    http://www.oocities.org/kitzaku/otogi_09.jpg – Otogi (Yugioh)
    http://images4.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20111017023017/phibrainkaminopuzzle/images/f/fa/Kaito_Featured_Article.png – Kaito Daimon

    Complete with armband and everything…