New eye catch from the second season of Phi Brain.

For those who have not been following Phi Brain, you might not realize that it had a very interesting soundtrack, with a variety of styles, but notably some tracks that had a Middle-Eastern (or perhaps North African) influence. The second season of Phi Brain is continuing, but this post is about the OST for the first season. I don’t have a lot to say about it, but I did want to point out a few tracks, so that those who aren’t familiar with the series can get a feel for why the OST (composed by Akio Izutsu) is worth checking out.

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Kaito Daimon ~ don't worry he'll be back next week for season 2.

With episode 25, season 1 of Phi Brain: Kami no Puzzle (AKA Φ-Brain Puzzle of God) draws to a close. This show started out implausible, turned into some silly fun, and ended with a big showdown that put the future of everything on the line. Sounds like the perfect shounen series, doesn’t it? Somehow Phi Brain mostly worked despite (or, perhaps, because of) a premise based on people seriously battling with puzzles. As with most shounen battle series, there was a fight each episode, but in Phi Brain, the fights are between puzzle givers and the solvers who solve them.

This was not a serious show, but it did tackle some serious themes: the importance of friendship, and the dangers of shutting others out. Oh, and “Puzzles are AWESOME”! Over the course of 25 episodes there were some legitimate moments of tension, not just as the clock ran down and the puzzle of the week remained unsolved, but also as we witnessed various characters (often our hero, Kaito) make some bad decisions. It also managed to work up into an interesting, and occasionally surprisingly dark, final stretch.

What follows is less an episode review, and more spoiler-free final thoughts on season 1 as a whole. Let the Puzzle Time begin!

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If you want the treasure, you have to solve the puzzle. It's that simple.

Episode 11 of Φ Brain (AKA Phi Brain, Kami no Puzzle) does a good job of explaining just what this show is about. It describes the eternal struggle between those who would protect the world’s treasure and those who would take it. The treasure has been secured behind puzzle barriers. But the Puzzle Givers and the Puzzle Solvers have two very different perspectives. The Solvers see the puzzles as challenges that must be faced, but the Solvers, particularly the organization of Puzzle Givers known as the P.O.G. (Puzzle Of God), view the puzzles as something that must remain unviolated. Forgetting the puzzle, they have started to put their efforts towards eliminating the Solvers, by any means necessary. Thus the delicate balance between Giver and Solver has been disrupted.

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Kaito Daimon is having some problems.

In episode 6 of Φ Brain (Phi Brain) Kaito and friends battle with the POG, but Kaito is still suffering from the emotional shock of last week’s episode. Will Kaito ever be able to solve a puzzle again? And what will happen to his friends (the human ones, not the puzzles)?

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Puzzles that play with life ...

Φ-Brain (Phi Brain, kami no puzzle) is back. In episode 4, Kaito faces a puzzle that requires a specialist’s knowledge, so he is teamed up with Anna Gramm, the bearer of the mark of Da Vinci. The result is some frustration for those left behind, but for those involved, the puzzle solving leads to an emotional breakthrough.

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Nobody gets between me and my puzzle.

Φ Brain (Phi Brain – kami no puzzle) seems to be hitting its stride. This third episode was an entertaining adventure in a world where puzzles are a life-or-death matter. We were introduced to another side character, but no major changes were introduced into the formula. Best of all, now that the important mechanisms of the world (the “sage puzzles”, POG) have already been introduced, there is more time for Kaito and his friends to try to solve puzzles.

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Nonoha and Kaito.

Φ Brain, AKA Phi Brain (occasionally referred to as Puzzle of God, or PoG) is a new series for the Fall 2011 anime season. It is a very shounen story about a boy who challenges some difficult (and dangerous) puzzles, and some of the sharpest puzzle solvers around. Although this first impression was written upon viewing only the first episode, I must say the show looks promising. Are you ready for some clever shounen action? Phi Brain looks set to deliver.

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