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Phi-Brain: Puzzle of God – Collection 1 (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 8, 2013 by  



“Phi-Brain: Puzzle of God” may not be the best looking anime on Blu-ray but its unique storyline about puzzle solving is rather fascinating, entertaining and its characters are enjoyable to watch.  I’m definitely looking forward to season 2.  Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2013 Sentai Filmworls, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Phi-Brain: Puzzle of God – Collection 1

YEAR OF SERIES RELEASE: 2011

DURATION: 1-13 (325 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks

RATED: TV 14 VL

Release Date: March 29, 2013

Directed by Junichi Sato

Series Composition: Mayori Sekijima

Music by Akio Izutsu

Original Concept by Hajime Yatate

Character Design by Youhei Sasaki

Art Backgrounds by Green

Anime Production: Sunrise

Featuring the voices of:

Jun Fukuyama/Christopher Patton as Gammon Sakanoue

Shintarō Asanuma/David Wald as Kaito Daimon

Akira Ishida/Blake Shepard as Sōji Jikukawa

Chiwa Saito/Allison Sumrall as Kaito Daimon (young)/Maze

Daisuke Kishio/Kyle Jones as Yuuichi Aizawa

Kaori Shimizu/Luci Christian as Nonoha Itou

Keiji Fujiwara/Jay Hickman as Baron Kaidō

Kenta Miyake/Christopher Ayres as Funga

Kishô Taniyama/Eric Opella as Diceman

Kouki Miyata/Shannon Emerick as Cubic G (Galois)

Mai Goto/Cynthia Martinez as Airi Mizutani

Mamoru Miyano/John Gremillion as Bishop

Masahito Yabe/Clint Bickham as Naoki Takeda

Rina Satou/Carli Mosier as Tamaki Chieno

Satsuki Yukino/Brittney Karbowski as Ana Gram

Takahiro Sakurai/Greg Ayres as Rook Banjo Crossfield

Toshiyuki Morikawa/Illich Guardiola as Herbert Müller

You need the world’s best puzzle solver of course. And that would be Kaito Daimon, a completely average high school student except for one thing: he’s a demon at solving puzzles. Not only is he exceptionally good at solving them, he loves solving them. In fact, Kaito eats, sleeps and breaths puzzles. So when he suddenly finds himself caught in a lethal Philosopher’s Puzzle made by the sinister POG, he wouldn’t be worried, except that his childhood friend Nonoha is caught with him. And she… Well, let’s just say that Nonoha and puzzles don’t mix. But if Kaito can get them out alive, he’ll be designated a Solver, someone who travels the world attempting to solve the latest deadly riddles left by the POG. There’s a new conundrum around every corner and each deception could lead to death. But once a riddle has been posed, you can count on Kaito to unravel the solution in Phi-Brain – Puzzle of God!

From Hajime Yatate, creator of “After War Gundam X”, “Armored Trooper Votoms”, “Battle Spirits”, “Big O”, “Cowboy Bebop”, “Infinite Ryvius” and many other well-known anime series comes the concept of a world that revolves around puzzles.

“Phi-Brain: Puzzle of God” is a 25-episode anime series produced by Sunrise and aired in Japan on NHK Educational TV from October 2011 to September 2012.  And a third season that is set to air this year in Japan.

The anime series is directed by Junichi Sato (“Kaleido Star”, “Princess Tutu”, “Sailor Moon”, “Sailor Moon R”), series composition by Mayori Sekijima (“Angel Sanctuary”, “Clamp School”, “Megami Paradise”, “Tekkaman Blade”, “Tenchi in Tokyo”, “Zillion”), music by Akio Izutsu and character design by Youhei Sasaki (“Fafner”, “Case Closed”, “Shakugan no Shana III”).

The anime series has led to a manga serialization on Kadokawa Shoten’s “Newtype Ace” and also a release of a Sony PSP video game.

And now “Phi-Brain: Puzzle of God” will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Sentai Filmworks.

“Phi-Brain: Puzzle of God” is set during a time where puzzles are the way of the land.  For high school freshman, Kaito Daimon, solving puzzles is what he is great at but what is his drive?

Having lost his parents who died trying to solve a deadly puzzle, long ago he and his good friend Rook were raised as children by an unknown traveler, who taught him the importance of solving puzzles.

And to this day, as a teenager, Kaito has made it a mission to solve all puzzles but most importantly not wanting for anyone to get hurt by puzzles.

But there is a mysterious organization that creates deadly puzzles and many have lost their lives to it.  Known as the P.O.G. (Puzzle of God), Kaito has made it a mission to defeat all puzzles, especially those coming from the P.O.G.

One day, while he and his friend Nonoha were trying to solve a puzzle, an Orpheus armband attaches to his arm.  The Orpheus helps Kaito see through puzzles and helps him defeat them, but will he and his friends be ready to take on the deadly P.O.G. puzzles?

The main characters of “Phi-Brain: Puzzle of God” are:

  • Kaito Daimon – Seen as a slacker, Kaito catches the interest of people at his school because he is an excellent solver and cares about nothing but puzzles.  But why is he interested in puzzles and what happened in his past life that made him interested (or hate) puzzles.  Looked at as the only hope to solve P.O.G.’s deadly puzzles and is being followed by P.O.G. as a potential Phi-Brain.
  • Nonoha Itou – A tomboy who has a photographic memory.  Not good with puzzles and often seen beating up Kaito, but the truth is she has feelings for him and feels that he must be around him to make sure no other girl gets close to him.  She also doesn’t like when Kaito talks bad about her cooking.
  • Gammon Sakanoue – A cocky solver known as “Galileo”, Gammon has a crush on Nonoha and rather solve puzzles when money is involved.  He sees Kaito as his rival, but is often on missions assisting him and Nonoha.
  • Cubik Galois – A solver known as “Edison” who loves building robots and loves math.  He is loyal to Kaito.
  • Ana Gram – An effeminate boy who loves paintings.  A solver known by the name “Da Vinci”.
  • Souji Jikukawa – President of the student council and president of the puzzle club.  Tries to assist Kaito and his friends by guiding them to the Puzzle of God.

VIDEO:

“Phi-Brain: Puzzle of God” is rather interesting because for an anime coming from Sunrise, you expect to see animation and character design that is exceptional.  With that being said, this is an anime series that is not aired on the major television networks in Japan.  In fact, it’s aired on NHK’s Educational channel and so, it’s gets a different treatment with many people contributing to the series, including Green who does the art backgrounds.  With that being said, the 3D use of the backgrounds are good, character designs are well-shaded but facial character designs are much simpler compared to other Sunrise animated TV series.

AUDIO:

“Phi-Brain: Puzzle of God” is presented in Japanese and English DTS-HD MA 2.0.  Dialogue is clear on both soundtracks and the dynamic range is good for stereo.  But I found myself adjusting the audio settings on my receiver to have a more immersive soundscape.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Phi-Brain: Puzzle of God” comes with the clean opening and ending sequence.

While “Phi-Brain: Puzzle of God” is considered an educational anime series,  I absolutely enjoyed its storyline because I love to partake in puzzles and solving them.

It has always been said that the more you use your brain, the better things are when you get older.  And for me and my wife, we both partake in advanced puzzles because we have loved ones who have Alzheimer’s Disease.  So knowing this, we have constantly used puzzles as a way to keep our brains active.

And so, the whole concept of an anime series about puzzle solving is rather fascinating but not surprising, considering that a lot of Japanese video games incorporate puzzles.  May it be the “Professor Layton” video games to the “Brain Age” games that are released, Japan has always been a big proponent of puzzle games because of research showing that puzzle solving is good for the brain.

With NHK being a government owned network, what best to get the message across than through an anime release about puzzles and puzzle solving.

In each episode, we see how the main protagonist Kaitou gets involved with challenging puzzles, but how he is able to solve them.  The series goes into the process of how Kaitou thinks, the different moves he can make, but one is correct.

I know, some of you may be reading this and are thinking that the concept must be boring, but fortunately what makes “Phi-Brain: Puzzle of God” work is its characters and their mysterious background.  Kaitou is a protagonist who solves puzzles, but when most people are thinking that he does it because he loves doing it, the truth is that he does it because his parents died by trying to solve a deadly puzzle and the man that mentored him told him that he must solve puzzles and one day, they will be reunited.

Add a couple of intriguing characters as the tsundere Nanoha, the effeminate Ana, the cocky Gammon and the robot building Cubik, to see these very different characters work together to take on the various puzzles by the antagonist group Puzzle of God (POG) is rather fascinating and fun to watch.

Sure, “Phi-Brain: Puzzle of God” may not have the glitz or the detail of other Sunrise animated releases but this is a special series that airs on NHK’s education channel and while it’s an educational anime series in one sense, it also has its share of action and violence as well.  So, this is not PBS, for children-type of anime.

As for the Blu-ray release, while the series does look good in HD, once again, it’s not the most-detailed anime from Sunrise and its lossless soundtrack is in stereo.  Special features are primarily the opening and closing theme and Sentai Filmworks trailers.

Overall, “Phi-Brain: Puzzle of God” may not be the best looking anime on Blu-ray but its unique storyline about puzzle solving is rather fascinating, entertaining and its characters are enjoyable to watch.  I’m definitely looking forward to season 2.  Recommended!

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