I hope you’re not afraid of clowns. If not…you will be.
|I’m burnt out from all the work I’ve had to do this week…but nothing can keep me away from puzzles. Not fire, not ice and certainly not midterms. This week’s episode features a gay clown and lots of fun facts about PUZZLE ASSASSINS. This stuff just writes itself, I tell ya.|
Remember when we’d be lucky to get one puzzle squeezed into an episode? Well season 3 is intent on starting with a bang by throwing us a 2-for-1 deal. We really are getting spoiled! First up is Raetsel’s puzzle, which throws everyone for a loop. I found it hilarious that Rook was able to expertly dodge falling blocks and perform backflips, yet Kaito was unable to even move an inch away from danger. They both spend all their time solving puzzles yet one of them is completed ripped and the other is as skinny as a beanpole. Kaito’s missteps were actually what made the puzzle fun though. This is a rare occasion where he didn’t get it right immediately. For once, his first guess was wrong and he had to re-adjust his strategy in the heat of the moment to think up a new solution. This is a nice way to show just how good of a Giver Raetsel is – especially when she works with Jin. I don’t know if Kaito will end up getting yet another crazy ability or he’ll just train to get better at puzzles, but facing Raetsel is going to be a big challenge.
Team Kaito’s Harem and Team…Kaito’s Other Harem.
Even the two-bit clown side character is tough as nails. The Phi Brain children don’t figure out the rules of the puzzles until their time is almost up, and they have three people working on the problem. Co-op puzzles are actually incredibly rare in Phi Brain – yet they are very memorable for integrating the various strengths of different Solvers in unique ways. One of the past ones I can recall is a season 2 co-op puzzle where Hubert dual wields Orpheus Rings and goes nuts, forcing Kaito and his friends to figure out how to cross a river without “eating” or “killing” each other based on their role. It was a fun puzzle, the results of everyone trying to work together was comedy gold, and Kaito wasn’t the only star of the show. If you think back to most team puzzles against the Orpheus Order, they involve one person facing another at a time. There’s nothing wrong with that, but they were not purely co-op puzzles in the way these two were. If more puzzles can successfully include more people into it, then we might be onto something special. A finale where Kaito combines the brainpower of all his friends to defeat Raetsel and show Jin the power of puzzles and friendship? Now that’s something I could bite into.
What makes these two puzzles so much better than previous co-op puzzles is the equal contribution of each member. For Raetsel’s puzzle, Rook saves Kaito’s life, Nonoha memorizes the code, and Kaito figures out the pattern. Usually they have to try really hard to shoehorn in a use for Nonoha, but it felt so natural this time around. The Whodunit (I still can’t believe that’s his name) puzzle was the same thing. Ana spurred them on and gave them a spark to find the answer, Gammon figured out the rules and Cubic used his number skills to solve part of the sudoku. Each person uses their specific strengths to help the team. I remember an old co-op puzzle where we first met Antoinette and she had a miniature model city that everyone had to build. Everyone just kind of…lifted boxes together. That’s nice, but it doesn’t show off everyone’s individual skills. This is important for characters like Nonoha who really one have a niche ability, and will never get to show their importance unless the work is divided in this way.
He moves well for a man dressed head to toe in tight leather
I don’t know if co-op puzzles will become a “thing” in the future but I really hope they do. It may take a toll on Gammon’s pride, but he has to learn to be a team player one day. The only downside to these co-op puzzles is that you can tell the director is trying way too hard to sell the whacky shenanigans of Cubic, Ana and Gammon. A lot of things dragged on way too long in that scene. Whodunit had way too many lines. Just how many times was the 750k joke made? At this point I’m convinced it was filler to kill time. Phi Brain is always funnier when it isn’t trying to be funny, so seeing it attempt comedy is sometimes a little offputting. I found the way Whodunit would twirl his hair around his finger and then fling it over his shoulder so it would recoil like a spring to be more funny than dumb things like Gammon being desperate for money.
All in all, it was a good episode for intense puzzles and some plot progression. Yes, it’s easy to forget sometimes, but Phi Brain has a plot. The basic deal is that Jin traveled the world for a year to prepare for fighting Pythagoras (the battle he lost his memories in). Baron knows him from when they were younger and Kaito knows him just before he left for that year, but no one has any clue what he got into during that year. For all we know he went to Las Vegas and made a killing counting cards at the Blackjack table. But whatever happened, it appears Raetsel was there during that lone year.
During that time, Jin must have shown some trepidation about puzzles – very understandable when you’re training for a life-or-death battle for an all-powerful scroll of infinite knowledge. These negative memories are the first ones that are coming back because Kaito is being insensitive and taking him to all of the most deadly puzzles first. I don’t know why Kaito didn’t just shove him a kumiki puzzle or the weekly crossword puzzle in the newspaper instead of taking him to ancient ruins. Reminiscing about almost getting sliced into deli meat by your best friend in a tower while solving a puzzle isn’t the best way to sell someone on the concept. This is compounded by Raetsel’s vicious puzzles. It’s no wonder Jin isn’t getting the best impression of puzzle time.
This is kind of BS since retrograde amnesia doesn’t actually work that way (your most recent memories are the most unstable, and therefore easier to disrupt and forget) but whatever…this is Phi Brain. Hopefully we get to learn more about why Jin grew to hate puzzles (aside from the soul-sucking battle thingy) and why he hired a group of Master Brains to kill puzzlers. It’s a fascinating set-up and I’m loving it more and more with each episode. Well, there’s only been 2 episodes so far but…By god, do I love Phi Brain.
Bonus pics: Show ▼
Preview: Raetsel goes to the Root Academy for kicks. Time to re-introduce all the season 1 people you didn’t really want to see again! More importantly, Jin challenges Kaito to a battle on a plane? Either he’s gone insane or one of the Master Brains is super good at disguises (a la Diceman of the POG). Something tells me it’s not a Halloween costume though…
She doesn’t even go here!