Phi Brain S3 – 24

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From sweet to satanic in less than 5 seconds

Preparing for the inevitable end of puzzle time? It’s hard to imagine filling the void once the series is finally over, but at least we always have actual (non-lethal) puzzles to make parting a little less sorrowful. If you wanna try out a cool, free puzzle game then I’d suggest checking out the latest trend: 2048. It’s elegant, simple, requires no math skills (aside from being able to recognize what a number is) or even gaming skills. Just strategic planning and a little bit of luck. Contrary to what this show leads us to believe, you CAN have fun with puzzles without putting your life on the line and getting lost in an eternal maze of your memories!


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It’s nice to see that Raetsel didn’t die this week, since killing off important characters has been in fashion as of late. I guess everyone is safe for now. Being trapped in a maze of memories is the perfect set-up for saving everyone with the power of friendship. It’s weird to see that sort of lenience after Gammon unceremoniously gets buried under some rubble during a puzzle, but I’ll take it. This episode provides further evidence that Phi Brain is better when it isn’t going for a faux dark “kill every character” vibe. It’s better when it’s going through ridiculous puzzle showdowns spiked with magical powers and impending death.

There’s really not much of a puzzle component, however. Remember that episode where they teased us with alternate futures just for kicks and giggles? This is the same thing. Kaito and Raetsel had to rewrite their pasts to get to a future where they became Phi Brain children. That, or get lost in time forever. It’s more of a mind battle than a puzzle battle. This is totally okay with me because the rewriting the past stuff was well executed. Hilariously camp, but well executed.

Phi Brain 302

How Phi Brain almost became a sports anime

No matter what Raetsel did, she ended up being rejected by Jin. She was always missing something. We still don’t know what that something is, but Raetsel eventually learns that it’s okay to not be complete. But I’m getting ahead of myself. This sweet, touching message occurs only after we go through one of the best alternate universe explorations of Phi Brain. In this version of the future, no one likes puzzles very much. In fact, all the Phi Brain children are actually doing sports. Sports! Can you believe such a thing? Kaito is the only one who likes puzzles, so he becomes a deranged hobo who solves puzzles alone in an abandoned building.

It seems like they’re poking fun at the entire premise of Phi Brain, much like last season’s beach episode where not being allowed to solve puzzles made them hallucinate puzzles in random cracks on the ground. In this world, being obsessed with puzzles is actually really creepy. It’s more healthy to do sports and think about your future academic career. For all intents and purposes, this world is like ours. It is logical and does not condone skipping school to solve puzzles – deadly or otherwise. So what happens when you put a puzzle addict in a world where no one cares about puzzles?

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You get a freaking weirdo, that’s what. Kaito just sits on benches near schools with his sunglasses on (regardless of whether it’s night or not) and solves puzzles. He sits near where high school students walk by on their way home from school, making him look like a pedophile. Even his personality got a overhaul, making him seem so hardened by life as a hobo that he doesn’t know how to talk to people. It’s really quite unnerving how much he doesn’t belong. Unnerving, but amusing.

How can you not smile when a stranger takes a high school girl to an abandoned building AT NIGHT to “solve puzzles”? It’s pretty unrealistic to assume Raetsel would follow him so easily. This only added to the weirdness of Kaito. In this world he seemed to either be a lonely homeless or a borderline autistic teen who preferred puzzles to human interaction. It’s the weirdest and darkest look at Phi Brain yet. It suggests that liking puzzles is strange and unnatural. That maybe everyone in the show is actually horribly maladjusted to life and if we were to look at other schools, they’d be normal. Maybe Root Academy is specifically designed for students with disabilities, and that is why we’re seeing an entire cast of characters who love puzzles so much they risk their lives.

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Pretty sure all of those could double as murder weapons

But really…this is Phi Brain so puzzles are God’s gospel and nothing else matters. Even if it means everyone is a little bit off, liking puzzles is totally ok. Whatever puzzles are a metaphor for, it’s ok! You’re a wonderful person and that’s all that matters. Now let’s hope they don’t mess it up and kill everyone in a horrific, puzzle-related accident.

More Puzzles:

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The man behind all of the puzzles seen on the show gets interviewed about his favourite puzzles. It’s actually really cute to see his thoughts behind the puzzles he made – kind of like behind-the-scenes extras. His favourites are as follows:

3. The jenga-like puzzle Nonoha and Freecell solve in Season 2, episode 19
2. The “rink slider” puzzle the Orpheus Order challenge the gang to in Season 2, episode 6-9
1. The tank puzzle from Season 3, episode 6

I guess the best puzzles aren’t always the ones that are fun to watch. Most of them didn’t require much action. I can’t believe we watched the cast slide around on yellow squares for 4 episodes. And the tank puzzle was over so quickly that it falls on the forgettable side, despite being so recent. Well, you can’t blame the guy. Making a puzzle and liking it for how it is is different from liking a puzzle for how exciting it is to watch a bunch of kooky teens try and solve it without dying. I’d have to say my favourite is still the puzzle Rook traps Kaito in with the elevators, razor blades, and FIRE. Season 1 had a lot of varied, interesting puzzles even if it wasn’t the best in terms of animation quality or plot. Any other favourite puzzles of note, readers?

Preview: Raetsel is still alive…but something is terribly wrong. Perhaps Orpheus has already moved into her body? Either way, the finale seems to be Kaito vs Raetsel instead of Kaito vs Orpheus. However, this will be the finale so there will be plenty of tricks being pulled out of sleeves.

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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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2 Responses to “Phi Brain S3 – 24”

  1. BlackBriar says:

    Sorry for the late post. For some reason, the streaming and downloading sites I often visit took a long time to get the subbed version of the episode (The latter actually hasn’t got it yet).

    Ah, the penultimate episode. Knowing something that has your interest is going to end is depressing. This was an interesting take for a showdown. It certainly is different compared to the previous seasons. Compared to those, this puzzle really tests your mental state and while a physical wound is final, trauma of the mind can always persist.

    The thing that comes to mind is, with the ability to change an outcome in hand, there’s no guarantee it’s going to be satisfying because there will always be something unpleasant. Much like what Raetsel has been doing. Such a thing can on forever.

    • Overcooled says:

      Aww, you don’t have to be sorry. I wrote this based off of the raw version because the subs were so late.

      It’s going to be a crazy finale, that’s for sure. Most of the final puzzles have been…actual puzzles. Not weird mind games. It may not be a good ending, but it will be different.

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