Welcome to Hokkaido, where women aren’t allowed to eat
That’s right….I am…BRAIN DIVER!!! Come on, you have to admit that’s a lot more catchy and amusing than “It’s Puzzle time!” The nonsensical engrish just adds to the flavour of the show, enriching the whole experience. It will probably never be so much as uttered in the show, but a girl can always dream, right?
While idly watching a commercial for a puzzle resort/hotel, Kaito accidentally stumbles into his next puzzle adventure. The spokesperson for this wonderful hotel and puzzle combination is none other than the self-proclaimed Puzzle King he saved in episode one. The main attraction of the hotel, aside from puzzle-themed EVERYTHING is a Sage Puzzle. Before they release it to the public, they want to make sure the hotel staff knows how to solve it, so they employ the help of boy genius, Kaito. With that, Nonoha, Kaito and Ana pack for a fun-filled trip to Hokkaido!
Why is Ana there? He says someone is “calling him” and constantly shoots pained glances at all the construction sites in the middle of the beautiful forest. In other words, he’s being a weird-ass hippie. Just ignore him. He quickly forgets about the environment when he arrives at the hotel anyways, as it’s quite a nice little place to settle in. Puzzle souveneir shops, puzzle theme parks, puzzle menus…the only normal part is the bath. Because Sunrise is always known for being completely heterosexual, Ana and Kaito end up having some interesting interactions in the outdoor bath.
After some hard-earned crab (none for Nonoha, as she couldn’t solve the puzzle), they turn in for the night. Ana is a bit restless though, and wanders the construction site with a melancholy look on his face. The owner of the hotel greets him and tells him about his GREEAAATTT future plans for the hotel. Ana looks unconvinced at first, but seems a little more nice after she sees…an owl.Dude really likes those birds. Despite his serene expression after the conversation, he turns up missing the next day.
Do you restlessly wander creepy construction sites at night, too?
Nonoha goes to find Ana, while Kaito commences the solving of the Sage puzzle. So far it’s pretty easy, and he breezes through them. The first one is a lantern puzzle with numbers to represent which ones are lit or not. The next two are solved equally fast – one involving bamboo and the other involving a maze drawn in sand. Throughout the puzzles, Kaito starts to wonder why the hell everything is so easy. He comes to the conclusion that this isn’t a typical Sage Puzzle and that he can drop his guard since it feels “warm and friendly.” Oh boy, if only he could sense people from the POG spying on him like he could sense puzzle’s feelings.
Meanwhile, Ana is having a bit of a…moment. He’s basically possessed by a dead spirit and ends up painting an old landscape painting. He says nothing, just quietly paints with tears streaming down his face. Even Nonoha can’t disturb him when she finds him. In fact, he just runs on his merry way as if she isn’t there as soon as he’s done the painting. It’s kind of lucky that Ana is a magical being who controls spirits and animals though, because he manages to convince a pair of deer to let them hop on for a ride. With their trusty steeds, they head off to find Kaito.
Nonoha doesn’t get art unless it’s animu
Of course, we only find out they decided to ride these deer when we see them saving Kaito, but I’m getting ahead of myself. The final challenge is heading to a gate to enter the password from the previously solved puzzles in the hotel. Kaito successfully finds the bridge that leads to this final area, but a POG goonie has cut the plank of wood and the string. As he crosses the bridge, he falls into the canyon….that is, until Nonoha tackles him across with her deer. There are deus ex machina moments and there are WTF moments.
Wait, guys, is that a WILD STALLION?
With nothing left to get in their way, Kaito simply inputs the codes from the 3 puzzles before. The prize…is a barren wasteland. That’s when Ana steps in and finally explains all her bullshit. She shows the hotel owner a painting of him with his father in the same scenery that used to be in this very spot before he called in the construction team to build a giant puzzle resort. He cries, realizes the error of his ways, etc. etc. Ana is a magical crazy cat lady that can converse with anything EXCEPT normal human beings. THE END.
Bonus Nature Trails:
IMBECILE! I asked for 2 milks and 1 sugar! You gave me 1 milk and 2 sugars!
This is lame, I can’t even fit in this maze. There’s not even a minotaur.
*swanky jazz music starts to play*
At least she didn’t end up in the penalty acid pit
End Thoughts: That was a surprisingly tame episode, especially compared to the preview I saw last week. It was actually quite serious and the whole “moral of the puzzle” thing was a lot more prevalent. I guess they realized that teaching children that you can’t hand someone a crossword without pointing a knife at their throat is a bad example. Having the whole environmentalism shoved down my throat wasn’t really that fun. You knew it was coming and you knew it would be stupidly sappy, which made sitting through the whole revelation all the more yawn-inducing.
Not to say that there wasn’t any of the usual WTF moments and eyebrow-raising logic. That deer tackle. JESUS CHRIST, WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT? No, I’m not mad, it was awesome! It came out of nowhere and made me burst out laughing. Truly, it’s a moment to be remembered in the history of this anime. Also, Ana can talk to ghosts. Not only that, but they show him pictures! Or maybe it was the puzzle talking to him, I don’t know. All I know for sure is that Ana is just a strange, strange character. Don’t even get me started on him feeling up Kaito, followed up by a night scene of him practically naked on the bed. Did they really need to have Kaito’s hairless, asian legs in the same shot as Ana looking outside? Intentional or not, it was amusing. Phi Brain provides the best unintentionally funny moments.
When it’s trying to be intentionally funny, it often fails. I hate the “King of Puzzles” so much, the sheer volume of my hatred could kill him…if hatred could be measured that way, and used for murder. He’s annoying, and played a predominant role in the episode too. Less of him please. I’m also not a big fan of Herbert, who seems to just want to kill Kaito. Uh…okay…Furthermore, he has the nerve to throw coffee on his underling because they didn’t predict that a DEER WOULD HEADBUTT HIM ACROSS THE CHASM. Yeah, that’s like number 1 in the “don’t overlook” section of the henchmen handbook for sure. He’s such a typical villain with such a typical goal (kill the hero). I miss Rook, who at least was nice to his subordinates and seemed more inclined to let Kaito live at the end of each puzzle. Rook, baby, I miss you and your snowball afro. Come back to me!
Preview: I CAN’T.
I JUST CAN’T