12 Days of Anime #6 – Puzzle Time

Phi Brain - Group3

What do puzzles, gay harems, apple juice and seeing the future have in common?

I devoted an entire year to puzzles. Starting from 2011 and carrying on well into 2012, I watched and blogged 2 seasons of the cult hit Phi Brain. At first, I thought I had made another grave mistake in choosing what to watch. “This is Fractale all over again” I thought to myself bitterly. I only continued to watch it out of obligation, and I steeled myself to hang on through poorly animated and completely nonsensical puzzle battles.

This was a show about a boy who used an arm band to become a genius – yet always solved puzzles by cheating anyways. Kaito was so smart that everyone loved him, and he quickly developed a harem…of men. This was further enforced by the canonical FACT that women were terrible at puzzles and therefore ignored by every single male with almost determined purpose. Things got even more ridiculous over time. At one point, there was a big reveal that Kaito’s parents were killed by puzzles which was the source of all his emotional baggage. Just let that soak in. His parents physically died trying to solve a puzzle! You can’t tell me that isn’t the most hilarious tragic backstory you’ve ever encountered. I went into Phi Brain thinking it was the dumbest show in existence.

Then it broke me.

Phi Brain 005

And I swear, in that moment we were infinite…

Phi Brain physically snapped my spine in two and left me paralyzed. Out of nowhere, it had flipped the switch from being mediocre to the work of a genius. There was no resisting the dark lure of puzzles, and I quickly found myself unironically enjoying Phi Brain with all of my heart. It’s not the sort of thing I’d suggest to everyone because it’s got the strangest brand of appeal I’ve ever encountered in an anime. It’s not “terribad” (so bad it’s good) but it’s not genuinely amazing either. It’s a strange hybrid between the two that captivates and awes all who watch it. The best part is that it’s completely self-aware at how insane it is. It really is one of those shows you either can’t stand or will adore to the point you write an entire “12 days of anime” post about it since it was the best event in anime of your year.

With my newfound addiction to puzzles, Phi Brain became something to look forward to every week. Of course, the next natural step was to find like-minded people who understood that the secret to curing cancer, ending poverty and halting war all over was puzzles. I generally take a venus fly trap approach to socializing where I just wait for someone to talk to me first, and then I will devour them respond. Otherwise, I just lurk quietly and keep my comments to myself. Fortunately, SCCSAV invited me to their Phi Brain watch group when season 2 started airing, and I got to create even more wonderful memories with them. I’m super happy that processr, swabl, Caraniel, fathomlessblue and Foshizzel let me join in on the fun, especially since I’m a bit more on the shy side. I haven’t done a livewatch for any other series, so this was a first for me and yet another reason why Phi Brain was such a memorable event in 2012. So…thanks for that, guys!

Phi Brain 010

Woof woof, motherfucker.

As the rest of the aniblogsophere looked at us with a mix of disgust, confusion, and that sort of sympathetic look you give three-legged dogs, we proudly gathered each week to talk about puzzles. This is one of those shows that improves when you watch it with others. Together we encountered wondrous events such as the unforgettable puzzle dog (a genius dog that solves deadly puzzles) and Jikukawa regaining his sanity thanks to apple juice. The promise of season 3 despite the fact this show has the budget smaller than what you’d give a 10 year old for lunch money and a tiny fanbase was also another momentous occasion. I’d love to leave it at the fact that Phi Brain’s greatest moment was every second of every episode, that is a bit of a cop out, so I will select one moment for us all to look back at fondly.

I’ll be the Giver and you’ll be the Solver tonight, if ya know what I mean~

Yes, the second to last episode of season 1. The big build up to the finale is an amazing episode that focuses on Kaito going on an outing with his extremely touchy friend Rook, who is also the main villain of the entire series. A date episode. Not with the main female character who loves him, but with another guy who has been lusting after Kaito all season and saying such memorable lines as “he’s so beautiful when he solves puzzles” and “BOKU NO KAITO!!!!”. If the term yanhomo didn’t exist before, then Rook was the one who invented the use of it. Right after the date ends, Rook reverts to yandere mode and asks Kaito to solve a puzzle with him so one of them will die so they can live on in the other person’s heart forever. This one moment of Rook going from sugary-sweet to a maniacal serial killer/stalker complete with super saiyan hair is the definition of all that is Phi Brain. Love for puzzles? Check. Homosexual subtext that isn’t even subtext anymore? Check. A lack of females doing anything important other than cooking? Check, check and check.

Season 3 is coming soon, so I’m sure there will be even more wonderful moments for 2013. You still have time to catch up! It’s weird, and has a certain barrier of entry, but once it wins you over, you will become a diehard fan and start seeing sudoku as if they were scorched onto the backs of your eyelids. If you’re a fellow Phi Bro, then tell me what was your favourite moment of 2012 from the show was! What was it? Puzzle dog? Freecell’s final puzzle? Pinochle getting bitchslapped? Let us relive the glory of puzzle time until the long-awaiting S3 airs!

Phi Brain - Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone! Make sure to have puzzle time with the people you cherish most!


A neuroscience graduate, black belt, and all-around nerd. You'll either find me in my lab or curled up in my rilakkuma kigurumi watching anime.
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34 Responses to “12 Days of Anime #6 – Puzzle Time”

  1. skylion says:

    Never had any desire to watch this; but I’m just gonna leave this here:

  2. Moni Chan says:

    them puzzles…

  3. BlackBriar says:

    So it’s the lady sadist’s turn on the “12 Days of Anime” list. So you brought out Phi Brain. I guess you can use this as an apology to the Phi Brain cult for running off with Psycho-Pass (LOL. Just kidding. That anime rocks as well and you’ve shown a year of blogging devotion to be swayed that easily). Life through puzzles is the way to go!! Those who have time to burn through 50 episodes, do it now to be in time for season three.

    Whoa! Sounds like you developed severe Stockholm syndrome for this. So terrible at first that it got good. Like you and surely a few others, I wasn’t sure if watching this was a good choice but it became entertaining every week. One of things I love about this show is different, deadly puzzles that spring up to challenge Kaito. The guy who creates them is a genius and I imagine at the end of season 2, his brain was on fire after 50 episodes. One of the disturbing things was Kaito’s inexplicable ability to attract obsessed stalkers, friends and enemies alike. Some to the point of wanting to kill him.

    With this, I’ve now reached my 2000th comment. I got to it a lot faster than I originally thought and that’s surprising. As you hoped, Overcooled, I made sure it would land on one of your posts. As a way of saying thanks for taking me in Metanorn after my first comment on Shiki.

    • skylion says:

      2000 comments? You set a high bar, BB. I’m sure I’ll be there soon. With Highway in the mix as well.

      It makes me a bit sad that I cannot drum up the interest for this show.

      • BlackBriar says:

        The more, the merrier. I’ve come a long way to get this far and if I can do it, so can you.

        Hopefully you’ll be able to find some interest. It’s a fairly good show to watch.

        • skylion says:

          Well, thanks to Kyo, and Lvlln, it’s behind Fate/Zero and Hidamari.

          And I did 900 in the space of a year. So yeah.

          • Overcooled says:

            @BB: CONGRATS! YES! And it was on my post! Good, or else I’d be jealous of whoever you posted your 2000th comment on lol. Anyways, thanks for supporting Metanorn for all this time and all these wonderful comments!

            @skylion: you’re next! Keep up that pace and you’ll get 2000 in about the same time it took Briar. Phi Brain is a weird show that I always hesitate to recommend to people…but those who love it REALLY LOVE IT. Try it if you’ve got time to kill after F/Z and Hidamari!

            • skylion says:

              Indeed. Thank you.

            • BlackBriar says:

              Thanks, Overcooled. I could’ve made the 2000th comment a lot earlier but I was waiting for one of your posts to show up. Yikes! It’s not a good idea to make a sadist jealous, especially the ones that watch certain shows where there’s a village and delights in watching the villagers die one after the other. Bad for my health. LOL.

              And this blog site will always have my support.

    • Highway says:

      I told you you’d get to 2000 way faster than you thought. I don’t know if there’s any hope of me ever getting that high, but we’ll see.

      • BlackBriar says:

        Yeah, you were right. Here I was setting the deadline on my birthday to get to this much. Yes, you can get this high because to be honest and though I can’t prove it, you got to your current amount a lot faster compared to me so keep going. And you’re not far from skylion.

        • Highway says:

          For me it’s been since about April, because I’m pretty sure I didn’t ever come to this site before that (I was looking for Nazo no Kanojo X discussion that wasn’t “OMG Urabe’s Boobs!!!” and “Bleh, drool”).

          And if the site stays the way it is, with good discussion and lots of great posts, yeah, I can get to 2000. I don’t know if my posting rate is enough above yours to wipe out a 1100 comment lead, until we’re both looking at 4000 or so. 😉

          And by then, Fosh will be at 10000. 😀

          • BlackBriar says:

            It’s all about timing and what you’re watching. Backtracking, I first commented on Shiki – 13 on November 1st 2010, became top commenter almost halfway through May 2012 until now. So until now, that’s more than two years of time. That’s how long I took and why I said you were a lot faster. Back then, Shiki was the only anime I commented on weekly until it ended with its season and I expanded my views on the next with a large number of anime.

            Yeah, the posts and conversations are sweet. That’s why I love this site so much and stick to it with my support. Metanorn is a lot more tame and decent compared to other blogs I’ve seen. I don’t see any indication of it ever changing.

            Fosh with 10000? LOL. That’s way more than over 9000!!!

            • Highway says:

              I think the number of anime I watch probably has a lot to do with it. Spring was something like 10 current shows, Summer was 19, Fall has been 17. And for me, the best part about most of them is commenting on them, comparing my thoughts to other people’s thoughts, and modifying what I think based on what other people are arguing, or reveal. There are so many times that my blog posts, in part or in full, are born from my comments on other sites (I try to adhere to a 2-days after watching schedule for posting my articles), and other times when I wish I could append my comments on other sites onto my blog posts about a show (there’s no way for some shows that I could write as much as I want to about every topic on a show. Nobody wants to read 2-3000 word weekly posts).

              True Story: Within my first 15 comments, I emailed Kyokai to ask if there was something I was doing wrong to get my comments caught by the spam filter. Given how that started out, you might consider ‘Tamer’ to be true, in that only about 10-20% of my comments get caught by it now.

            • Highway says:

              Ok, I was wrong about when I started. It wasn’t early April, it was the end of May, on Nazo no Kanojo-08. Seemed like it was earlier than that, tho.

            • Overcooled says:

              You guys are like legendary commenters. I’m glad you guys have discussions with other commenters too, it makes for great discussion. I learn a lot too =w=

              Fosh comments a lot and covers a lot of shows so no wonder his count is so insanely high. Crazy guy, I dunno how he does it all. Anyways, keep it up and watch lots of shows to rack up more comment points. It seems the more you comment, the more Spammy gets used to you as well lol

  4. PrimeHector says:

    Homosexual subtext that isn’t even subtext anymore? Check. Lol

  5. Rakkyo says:

    Alright Overcooled, you completely convinced me. I was planning to pick this up when it aired but the premise was just too strange for me. I’ll give it a shot.

    • Overcooled says:

      Haha, good luck. Please don’t forever doubt my tastes if you find it completely off-the-wall. I hope you understand the true beauty of puzzles…

  6. Foshizzel says:

    I loved the epic skype chats with this series! Such a fun time and there is something strangely addictive fun with Phi brain! Sure the writing is off the wall, but damn it that is why we love it so <3

    Season three...season three...season three! BRING IT ON I NEED MORE PHI BRAIN!!!

    • Overcooled says:

      Can’t wait for season 3 to bring back the crazy puzzle convos! Hehehe~

      • BlackBriar says:

        The conversations are always the best part. Exchanging views and ideas from others help you see the things you didn’t notice before. My guess is that season 3 will be scheduled for Spring. It’ll make a gap of year season 2 started April this year.

    • skylion says:

      Wait…this isn’t where we talk about oppai?

      I do recall giving the series a look-see when the first episode premiered. It has been one of the few “LOLWUT” moments I’ve had in getting back into watching anime.

      But we’ve had some great times, and I look forward to moar! I think someone mentioned getting on a podcast? Highway, BB? Wanna fight?

      • Highway says:

        I haven’t seen anything Phi Brain at all. Zilcho, nada, nothing.

        • BlackBriar says:

          I strongly recommend watching it for the pure fun, absurdity and deadly puzzles. Who knows? If you end up liking it, we can add you to Phi Brain cult. Hahaha!!

      • BlackBriar says:

        Nope. No fighting for me. I’m just a simple spectator watching those who would fight. Hehehe…

  7. fathomlessblue says:

    Excellent post; I shall have to use it as evidence against those naysayers who refuse to accept the brilliance of puzzles &/or covert yaoi harems.

    Soon our time shall come again. Here’s to season 3 & the rebirth of The Cult Of Phi Brain! On that day the world shall tremble at our feet!

    • Overcooled says:

      Aww, thank you. I am forever on the watch for possible recruits to the Cult Of Phi Brain! Brainwashing can’t be too hard, right?

      Three whole seasons of puzzles…Can you imagine if we get a fourth? Forget the world – we will have the entire universe in the palms of our hands!

      • BlackBriar says:

        We will all follow you in your conquest, my master. One person at a time. All that’s needed is a little persuasion. LOL

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