First Impression – Phi Brain

Magical puzzle-solving bling..what more do you want?

Fall is rolling in on us with another new anime. So… Phi Brain… I’m unsure what to expect from this aside from some puzzle action. I’m not too big on doing puzzles (on my free time) but seeing others working it seems fine enough for me. I’m hoping that this show brings some intense puzzle solving action to keep me entertained.
For the love of puzzles and Professor Layton, I have decided to take a chance on this problem-solving anime filled with all manner of dreadful hair styles. Get your rubix out and rockkk onnnn~ /cheesy puzzle slogans.

Phi Brain seeks to shatter the view that all puzzles consist of piddly little math problems or simple brain teasers by opening up with a puzzle where if you walk the wrong way, you will be destroyed. Kaito is following the proclaimed Puzzle King through this maze, and forcefully drags him away from the collapsing ruins when he triggers a trap. The whole area shifts and suddenly fills with water, making it a very close call for the two of them.

That totally wasn’t worth 10 picarats

The next day at school, everyone is gossiping about how some kid from their school saved the Puzzle King from getting smooshed. Aforementioned student is too busy casually reconstructing a maze out of desks from a strange handheld device. It’s an unsolvable maze, which naturally confuses the hell out of everyone. But wait, forget puzzles for a moment as the token female character appears and kicks the lead guy in the face. Why? BECAUSE ANIME!

Despite going off and doing whatever the hell he wants, the school isn’t very interested in punishing him. It’s not because he has any secret potential to use the Phi Brain under the Orpheus Contract or anything special like that, they just like him. Nope, no secret meetings at night to discuss his potential either! So stop suspecting things! Afterall, who wouldn’t be interested in a slouchy kid who casts a condescending gaze on everyone he meets?

Kaito’s reign of “I art better than thou” continues as he strolls into the Puzzle Club and nonchalently finishes a supposedly “super hard” sudoku in a few seconds. The club president Jikugawa finally has a word with him, and is by no means conspiring to get him to solve life-threatening puzzle sin order to unlock his potential. He also isn’t trying to tempt Kaito into solving the unsolvable Sage Puzzle and doing whatever his shiny new handheld tells him to do. Nope, nothing suspicious – aw, I give up, he totally convinces Kaito to put his life on the line for the satisfaction of being a smartass.

Don’t you know? Sudoku masters get ALL the bitches.

Kaito blindly heeds the call from Minotaur, who sends an invite to his handheld telling him to come to these totally spooky ruins at night and get out of the maze. Sounds legit, so Kaito and his ladyfriend head right to the creepy underground ruins to make it through the maze. Strategy #1 is to keep your hand along one wall and run until you find the exit. That works just fine until a giant pit opens up and nearly claims Nonoha as the first casualty of the show. Strategy #2 is to find a sketchy dead end and poke around. Nonoha is actually the one who solves the puzzle, thanks to her OCD-like attention to detail. They push some poles around the entire maze moves. I don’t think that’s how mazes are supposed to work, but they seem satisfied with that solution.

At the end of the maze is a big, ominous room. Upon further inspection, it is actually a giant puzzle with a little shrine in the middle that causes some seriously fabulous bling to latch onto your arm when you enter. Sadly, no one told Kaito this so he enters and gets a bracelet stuck to his arm. The final puzzle of the episode is to pull the correct rope in order to stop the water from flowing in and causing the structures to collapse. The pulley system is far too complex for him to process so he begins to feel trapped. That is, until his MAGIC BLING INCREASES HIS NEURAL ACTIVITY!

Bonus Puzzles:

Don’t believe in God, believe in puzzles!

Well, at least I got this 3DS after the price drop…

I didn’t know minotaurs were so self-conscious about their body


End Thoughts:

I think that I have mixed feelings about this anime. The story is pretty simple enough with it being focused on puzzle maniacs who takes the whole concept of puzzles to another level as if it would become the next competitive sport (which it seems that it already is in this show). But what cracked me up was thinking of Yu-Gi-Oh when watching the opening theme and seeing Kaito with his golden armband. But what is even more amusing is that there seems to be some kind of supernatural element in this with the armband that gives access to the whole brain of it’s holder.

The actual characters are pretty interesting enough with the various types present. I cracked up seeing Kaito being beaten up by Nonoha. The tomboy friend of Kaito, using him as a punching bag and doing wrestling moves on him reminded me of Angelic Layer’s Tamayo and Kotaro. I’m sure that Nonoha might have some hidden feelings somewhere for Kaito. The whole mysterious student council president and the school principal who seems like they’re part of some secret puzzle society who’s intermingling Kaito into their endeavors is so amusing. As well, the concept of people representing Einstein and other historic intelligent figures is kind of interesting and I want to see how it all ties in.

As for the animation, it wasn’t that great with character designs. It just felt weird and the main character doesn’t look that cool. As well, the hair styles are not pleasant to look at. Nonoha, wtf kind of hair design is that? And Kaito, what’s with the random shades on sitting on the head not being used? But with that aside, the actual attitudes of the characters goes well with the character designs. The background designs are pretty cool, especially the puzzle designs. Seeing that last puzzle in the end of the episode looked kind of cool. I don’t have much of an opinion on the music, but it wasn’t bothersome. Overall, this anime doesn’t seem too bad but I dunno if it’s even good..but I’ll give it a few more episodes.

I’ll say that was a fairly decent first episode for Phi Brain, and I suspect it’s pretty much laid most of its cards on the table in terms of what the show is going to be about. It’s an enjoyable show with a nice blend of action and puzzles with a nice shounen flare. 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.

I’m hoping there will be some development later on, but for now everyone is rather bland. Kaito is the blasé genius who solves puzzles with his ladyfriend who is dumb and just runs on woman’s intuition. She’s useful, but she’s pretty much just there to be a liability to make things harder for him in the future. The story also seems to be pretty predictable. It’s obvious the white afro kid is his childhood friend. If you listen, you’ll realize The Minotaur is voiced by Akira Ishida so he’s clearly Jikugawa leading Kaito towards unlocking his powers. I have a general idea how half of the series is going to unfold from one episode. It’s frustratingly predictable, and the plot covers for being shallow by using a lot of stupid jargon to feign originality. Orpheus, Phi Brain, Sage Puzzle…in other words, some punkass kid had too much time and risked his life TO SOLVE PUZZLES. It’s Yu-Gi-Oh! levels of ridiculous. So far the solving of the puzzles haven’t been integrated very well either. I want a puzzle where they try and get the watcher to solve it as well, so we can at least realize how hard of a puzzle it was and appreciate Kaito’s intellect. I guess they can’t have puzzles just floating onscreen like Professor Layton for us to mull over, I suppose. Anyways, I’m hoping we get less awkward “I specifically hired like 20 engineers to install this puzzle because I want you to solve it” and more natural puzzles where they simply have to be innovative and resourceful to get out of a pinch. But based on the preview, it’s going to be a lot of “puzzle duels” that are head-on confrontations.

It has a lot of flaws when you scrutinize it, but it’s still fun. My brain dislikes it, but my heart likes it. It’s one of those “just forget about logic and enjoy it” sort of things.  It actually does have moments where it really gets the momentum going, such as when Nonoha nearly fell into the pit and Kaito’s badass “solved” catchphrase at the end. It’s not brilliant by a long shot, but it’s COOL. I’m going to see if this series has the potential to grow, so I’m going to keep blogging it week by week to see what puzzles are on the table. If it starts to suck hard, well, expect some crack-filled posts as I attempt to amuse myself. PUZZLE TIME NO HAJIMARI DA~

Preview: New character introduction time! Galileo is the newest addition to Kaito’s team, although he seems a bit brutish to be able to solve anything harder than a maze on the back of a cereal box. Still, they don’t seem to have much choice but to rely on him, because they’re in some sort of pinch where they must moves cars on a grid to solve a puzzle! Oh man, I hate those things. Good luck guys!

Puzzles can hurt loved ones and destroy relationships. If a loved one is suffering from an addiction, please call now.


We live, laugh, enjoy and strictly believe on "more the merrier". When together, we usually come up with very chatty, conversation-based episodics and interesting posts.
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36 Responses to “First Impression – Phi Brain”

  1. Joojoobees says:

    “Don’t you know? Sudoku masters get ALL the bitches.”

    See this is what I actually like about Phi Brain. I think it is goofy fun. Example: According to this show, going into the Puzzle Club can end up in some sort of fight, so going in knowing that makes Kaito a Bad Ass! But reality clearly shows that going in to the Puzzle Club makes you a geek/nerd/otaku.

    Essentially this show is some grade-schoolers fantasy about high school, and I’m down with that! Especially because the direction is very good. Phi Brain certainly isn’t the most mature series of the season, but it is silly fun.

    • Overcooled says:

      You have to tell the critical part of your brain to shut up if you’re gonna enjoy it, that’s for sure XD Interesting, I think it really does seem like what a little puzzle-obsessed grade schooler would concoct. “…and then he gets a magic bracelet that makes him the most smartest person ever!” I wish solving puzzles was that important in real life.

  2. BlackBriar says:

    This anime looks like fun. Finally, a show that challenges the viewers intelligence as much as the main character’s even though his arrogance level is already through the roof. Where do they sell those arm bracelets? It would be great to unlock all my brain’s potential. My favorite kind of puzzle is word search, where you circle a row of letters to find the word.

    Watching the setup at the end of the maze and the inside of the temple, I felt as if I was watching the puzzles and machinery from the Prince of Persia games, mainly Warrior Within and The Two Thrones and they worked my brain to the max trying to figure out the next step. It was awesome.

    I’m curious. Is this really a 13 episode series? I asking because the site where I usually download my anime videos says it’s a 25 episode series and I’m comparing that to the Fall Anime Catalogue. Just checking after being trolled by Ao no Exorcist which turned out to be a 25 episode series instead of 24.

    • Overcooled says:

      So far they haven’t really challenged the viewer to try and solve any puzzles themselves enough, but I hope they can make it become a common theme. After all, how the hell are we supposed to know the maze can just MOVE? The puzzles seem very video-game like, which is awesome. Video games with good puzzles (aside from purely puzzle-based games like Professor Layton) can be hard to find.

      ANN says it’s 25, and I always believe them. Sorry, our catalogue meant to say 25 <_<

  3. Foshizzel says:


    Interesting first episode can’t wait to see what other puzzles games get thrown in, the next episode preview I was like THAT GAME?! I KNOW THAT ONE! Ahahaha nice! I would say the only thing I did not like were the character designs those eyes are freaky to me. But this might be a cheesy series to follow these characters remind me of Sacred Seven xD

    • Ness says:

      Yes! I think I forgot to mention about the puzzle for the next episode. I totally know that one.. it’s like Traffic Jam or something. Haha, I’m not good at it<_<;

  4. Yvoon says:

    WOOT!! PUZZLES!! Hell yeh! Bring it on!! XD

    REALLY looking forward to this! The art wasn’t as bad as i had expected but Kaito reminds me Yu-Gi-Oh and the dude from Bakugan (dont know his name) which is not a pleasant memory since i sat through dubbed versions of it and it was HORRIBLE.

    Other than that, the puzzles seem to be interesting and i just love detective/mystery solving. 😀

    • Ness says:

      Hahah yeah puzzles… so intense that if you fail to solve it, you can diiiiiiiieeeeee~ I think the whole concept is somewhat interesting but it all depends on how they continue to play it out.

  5. Samantha Zan says:

    Ahh man Puzzles YEAH!! Getting pumped up with puzzles xD

    Anyway, I don’t think this show is bad, the character desgins are wierd, but not horriable. The show itself, well I thought the armband thing was just kind of very shounen-like, or like main-brand series shounen like. Overall I do like the 2 characters, though I do see there placement in the anime world, like Nonoha being Kaito’s sidemate all the time. I’m okay with that, since I’ve seen other shows with that type of scenerio too, and they don’t usually bother me THAT much XD.

    Alright show, I’m going to continue watching it for now. But Nonoha is such a badass, that kick se did to Kaito was just beautiful *_*

    • Ness says:

      Yes, Nonoha is like the comedy relief in this who probably has a crush on Kaito too. You know what they say about people who constantly pick on someone xD

  6. Kitty says:

    Don’t believe in God, believe in puzzles! <– HA!

    I actually wasn't going to watch this, I dropped it from my Fall line up but everyone kept going on about it, so I had to give it a try. I was pleasantly surprised. I agree with you Ness the minute that arm band was on I was all about the Yu-Gi-Oh. He ever has the right hair!!!! Thou he MUST have stolen those shades from one of the digi-geeks. Secretly I wanted him to put them on and pull a Bossum XDDD

    My main question is: What is Sunrise doing!!! First Sacred Seven, jewels saving the world crap, puzzles that determine lie or death and lets not forget about the chibish Gundam Age. What happened to their standards???

    • Ness says:

      Yes! Kaito almost has the same hair as Yugi! Haha yeah those shades made me think of digimon first season, forgot the kid’s name<_<.

      I'm unsure what Sunrise is thinking but they have other shows that we can look up to… I think. As for Gundam Age, I'll see what I think when it actually comes out. But we can't forget that Gundam is franchised mainly to kids in the first place xD

      • BlackBriar says:

        I’ve been digging into my memory and figured out the answer. The kid with the shades’ name is Tai and his partner was this yellow dinosaur named Agumon. Really, that was a long time ago, back when it used to have fun things to watch on TV.

        • Kitty says:

          Omg does anyone remember the horrible dubbing for Sailor Moon? Oh childhood memories of anime on TV.

          Its hard to believe that something like Gundam Wing / 00 was aimed at kids, what with all its warish themes and killing. Gundam 00 was brutal if I remember.

          • BlackBriar says:

            Let’s not forget we also had shows likeAstro Boy , Blue Dragon, Dragon Ball Z, .hack//Roots, .hack//Sign, Rurouni Kenshin, Tenchi Muyo , Tenchi in Tokyo, Tenchi Universe, YuYu Hakusho, Zoids: Fuzors, Chaotic Century, New Century Zero and other anime that were playing on Toonami and Adult Swim such as Trinity Blood etc.

            We were all watching shows like this years ago and is certainly the reason we love anime so much now.

            • Overcooled says:

              Nostalgiaaaaa~ Did anyone used to subscribe to Shounen Jump? XD

            • Kitty says:

              @OverCooled: Omg yes! I used to get it weekly! I even tried to send in drawings onces XD

              @BlackBriar: HA! Tenchi I remember that one! It was soooo good! Oh and let’s not forget Slayers and POKEMON!

            • Joojoobees says:

              Yes, I’m with you. This show could be good for making more tiny anime fans. Then we can conquer the WORLD! Mwahahaha!

            • BlackBriar says:

              @Joojoobees: I second your anime ambitions. Now, to build the troops!! LOL. We can make Overcooled one of the commanders because we need a leader with sadistic tendencies.

            • Overcooled says:

              lol you guys XD

              LET’S REVOLUTIONIZE THE WORLD! Stick by me, and I shall hone your abilities to their sharpest so that we may conquer all with our own two hands! Huzzah!

            • BlackBriar says:

              YES, MA’AM!!! We will follow you to the end until our conquest is complete!!! We might need reinforcements. I nominate Fosh, Jrow, Hime, Karakuri, Anaaga and Kyokai for support!!

            • kitty says:

              Aye Aye Captian OverCooled!! Command us ruthlessly!! MWhahahaha!! Viva la Revolution.

  7. Moni Chan says:

    lmao It’s like Yu Gi Oh without card games,But puzzles. I have a feeling imma drop this anime.

    • Overcooled says:

      …I kind of loved Yu-Gi-Oh! though, despite how much of it was crack-filled XD I’m going to keep watching and see where things go.

  8. Renn says:

    If this show let the audience figure out the puzzles, this would be great. As is, it’s a show about watching a punkhead genius figure out puzzles. It would be more exciting if he could actually pull monsters out of cards like Yu-Gi-Oh.

    Sticking around for the neat aesthetic and Sato Junichi, but really hoping it gets better soon!

    • Overcooled says:

      I would love to actually be challenged with some puzzles, but I doubt Phi Brain is going that route. All the puzzles are solved with a mix of intellect and MAGIC and i can’t exactly do that. I hope their “brain powers” get more ridiculous later on and manifest as monsters ahahaha. The more this is like Yu-Gi-Oh!, the more I will enjoy it XD

  9. umi_no_mizu says:

    This show was like the first season of yu-gi-oh (season 0 technically) but with less random killing people and minus the sketchy art skills that made yuugi look like he had a potato for a head >_>

    all in all I liked it =P The characters, while super-stereotypical-shounen, were still pretty likable. I have a feeling that if they mix in enough plot and don’t make the show episodic, it could turn out to be really decent =D

    • Overcooled says:

      Season 0 was surprisingly dark (minus the wobbly line art. lol potato head) and had the same “win this game OR DIE” attitude. I really can’t help but compare phi brain to Yu-Gi-Oh!, they’re just incredibly similar.

      It won’t be a 10/10 anime, but it could be fairly good. XD

      • BlackBriar says:

        Yeah, I loved the original Yu-Gi-Oh! I still remember the Blue Eyes White Dragon and the Dark Magician. Each arc had an insane bad: Maximillion Pegasus, Yami Bakura, Marik and Darts. And each arc of the show was great. It was either win the game or end up in the Shadow Realm.

  10. Dan-go says:

    Way better than i expected, sticking it out alittle bit. i hope the show actually gives us a chance ourselves to solve the puzzles though, thats half the fun of it

    • Overcooled says:

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who would love to take a crack at these puzzles too XD I just wanna scream COME AT ME BRO at the tv.

      • Dan-go says:

        Did anyone else see the Rush hour puzzle in the preview? I am the GOD of rushhour

  11. Kushi says:

    I watched this and lol’d when the main character’s reason for solving puzzles was because a Rurouni Kenshin lookalike told him that unsolved puzzles were unhappy and he made a promise to someone that looked like the kid version of Knives from Trigun.

  12. […] “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 […]

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