Now would be a good time to use those goggles.
Friendship, puzzles and faith have been the key components of Phi Brain. If there’s any moral to be taken away from this show about killer mazes, it’s that you have to believe in your abilities as well as in the strength of your friendship. Nonoha has spent countless episodes cheering from the sidelines, sincerely believing that Kaito would survive whatever mathematics or spacial navigation challenge he faced without dying. It’s not just Kaito who has come close to dying – but just about every other Solver and Giver amongst the main cast. They’ve all been 1 second away from not solving a puzzle in time, but they somehow manage to do it with time to spare. They inspire the deepest of hope in our hearts.
And where there is too much hope…despair will surely follow. Yes, this is the only way to explain the sudden events of Rook’s death followed by the deaths of Gammon and Freecell. The only explanation here is that Urobuchi Gen broke into the studio and is now directing Phi Brain.
Crushed between two walls OR blown up and buried alive. Ouch.
Urobuchi “Urobutcher” Gen is known for his grim stories that ruthlessly kill off cast members and go through various dark twists that leave you with your jaw hanging open. He’s the guy behind Madoka, Psycho-Pass, and many more anime that do their best to torture the viewer. Phi Brain may seem like a different show from his usual stuff, considering it’s a kiddy show about puzzles. However, if he can give magical girls a dark spin, then why can’t he continue his dark reign into the kingdom of puzzles? The sudden propensity the story has taken to killing off characters in melodramatic ways can only be the work of a man known for his brutality. He knew that we had grown lazy – blind to the possibility of death after 3 seasons of coddling. If it wasn’t a deer headbutting Kaito to safety, it was some other deus ex machina that kept Kaito and his friends alive. We took their fragile existences in this cutthroat world of puzzles for too long. We have underestimated puzzles, and now we must be punished for it.
When asked about his visions for the future of Phi Brain, Urobutcher did not respond, as I did not actually find a way to talk to him. However, I imagine he would say something like “I will bring Rook back, and then have Kaito kill him again in the finale so the series ends with everyone crying.” He might also mention more character deaths and perhaps some anguished sobbing. After making no attempt to contact the Phi Brain staff on this, they had no comments on this matter. Truly, the future of this show is tumultuous at best. I myself have a few rather convincing alternatives. One is that the cat will get an Orpheus Ring (much like season two’s beloved puzzle dog) and win, trapping Orpheus in a useless feline vessel for all of eternity…or however long cats live. Another is that they just shoot Orpheus and give Kaito therapy for the last 2 episodes.
But perhaps this is just a guest appearance, and afterwards Urobutcher will go back into his cave to continue his work on Psycho-Pass season 2. Perhaps the characters are actually alive. At this point, things are still very uncertain because this is all new territory along the lines of the Guillotine Gorilla incident of Samurai Flamenco. Rook’s death seemed too fake to believe, but now that the trend is continuing, it’s becoming harder to ignore. To be honest, I don’t think they’d actually kill anyone in a show like this. I’m still in disbelief. But the fact they have the nerve to try and make us think they killed off characters…well, that’s not so great.
Trying to pretend that Phi Brain is secretly an edgy show is disingenuous to the heart and soul of this series. It was never about being cool and dark. Phi Brain is as dorky as it gets, and straying away from that is very, very confusing. I don’t feel sad for these deaths because I can’t believe in them…but I can’t completely disregard them either since they stand out so much. It’s hard to focus on anything when all my muscles are tensed, waiting for one of the “dead” characters to suddenly appear and give an infuriating, Chesire grin.
Leave Phi Brain alone, Urobutcher. I know you “deconstructed” magical girls, but leave puzzles to us. This is no place for the most ambiguous deaths ever, because they are haunting. How will I ever stop thinking about if they’re real or not? As much as I love dark shows, it just doesn’t feel right to shove it into Phi Brain. Thankfully, the preview shows a bit of a date-like episode so Urobutcher must be gone…Unfortunately, this means the next episode is yet another first: Kaito going on a pseudo date with a girl. You know it’s gone to hell in a basket when there are hints at heterosexual couples with Kaito as a love interest. Maybe Yamakan will step in to try and save the ending and redeem his status as a director? Tune in next week for another completely official report with facts(trademarked).
Um, now is not the time for a festival.