Anime Review: “Phi Brain”

r7gxAgain at Crunchyroll, I find something new. I swear, that site is the death of me. Anyway, for Anime Thursday this week, please welcome Phi Brain: Puzzle of God. While the concept was a decent idea, it began to take the feel of Yu-Gi-Oh! after a while. What do I mean? Read on.

There are three seasons in this anime. The first season consists of introducing all the characters for the most part. Kaito Daimon has loved solving puzzles his whole life, but his childhood friend Nonoha Itou can’t solve them for crap. Instead, she participates in pretty much all sports, drama club, and is strong as an ox. One day, Kaito is exploring a puzzle maze deep in some ruins and “forms a pact” with an Orpheus armlet, which attaches to his arm and increases his thinking speed.

When the two friends both transfer to Root Gakuen High School, they find that the ability to solve puzzles is highly valued. Those that are good at them gain titles and are able to hang out in the Title Lounge and eat lunch for free. Of course, Kaito demands to gain one of these titles, so he challenges the holder of the Gallileo title – Gammon Sakanoue. Much to Gammon’s dismay, he is beaten, and Kaito gains the title Einstein. However, now that he has a title, the others in the school with similar honors seek him out. He challenges the two with the titles of Edison and Da Vinci, winning both times. While at first he is unaccepted into his new position of honor, eventually the three accept him.

But a strange organization called POG is creating dangerous puzzles in the city. They seek Kaito out and force him to participate in deadly “Philosopher’s Puzzles.” What didn’t make sense to me is why they were trying to kill Kaito via puzzle. If they wanted him dead, couldn’t they just go ahead and kill him? Also, the puzzles that they make are so immense and I wondered how these characters were getting the funding to make these giant things. Of course, Kaito solves all the puzzles, and in exchange, gets the prizes the puzzle givers offer. The prizes include anything from antique cars to strange maps. Continually, these puzzle givers chase Kaito down and force him to solve their puzzles by threatening him with things like “solve the puzzle or Nonoha dies.” It all seemed really rediculous. If you wanted to kill someone, why would you give them a puzzle that can be solved?

Anyway, Rook, Kaito’s friend from his grade school days, shows up and reveals that he, too, has an armlet. At first, they suspect nothing, but Rook begins acting strangeley, demanding Kaito do puzzles given by the POG. If he solves all the puzzles, he can become a Phi Brain and solve the Puzzle of God. Apparently, if the puzzle is solved, the solver can gain the Book of God and control reality itself. What made no sense is that Count Pythagoreas, leader of POG hid it in the Puzzle of God, but he wants it back. Does he not remember where in the puzzle he put it?

The armlet worn by Rook begins to take over his mind and make him obsessed with beating Kaito. The final puzzle the two face causes Kaito to have to chose between killing his best friend and gaining the Book of God. But Kaito figures out a way to do both, causing the armlet on Rook to break off. Rook then turns the POG into a helpful organization, assisting him and his new friends through the next seasons.

The second seasons brings forth a new organization called the Orpheus Order made of five people who claim to know Kaito from his grade school days. The leader, Freecell, claims that Kaito caused his mother’s death and wants revenge. Each of them have a replica armlet and harass Kaito and his friends to do a puzzle with them. But instead of getting annoyed, Kaito wants to save them. So the team go against the Order and of course beats them, but that isn’t the end of it.

A strange man named Herbert appears, and tries to destroy Kaito through puzzles, because his attempts failed in the last season. Again, why is everything about puzzles? If he wanted Kaito dead, why didn’t he just kill him? So Herbert forces the gang to take on a dangerous puzzle, causing the building to collapse. Herbert dons two armlets, and Kaito tells him how dangerous that is and vows to save him (again with the saving just kick their ass and move on already!). But the armlets have taken over his mind and he can’t control his words or emotions.

In order to finally get what he wants, Freecell captures Nonoha, and brings her to the Himalayas. There, he forces Kaito to take on a Puzzle of God (there’s more than one?) and play a sort of game of tag with Kaito. It’s a very anti-climactic Puzzle of God as I’m thinking it’s supposed to be ancient ruins, but it’s some high-tech thing. Of course Kaito wins again and everyone becomes friends.

Finally, the third season, some girl named Raetsel appears and brings Kaito’s freind Jin into the picture. Rook and Jin and Kaito were friends back in grade school, but Jin is much older so he was like a mentor. Apparently, Jin’s memories are gone, and Kaito has to solve puzzles to bring them back? WHAT IS WITH THE IMPORTANCE OF PUZZLES IN THIS ANIME? It’s like Yu-gi-oh! with puzzles! Kaito has been claiming the whole series he can “feel the puzzle’s emotions” or something like that. I don’t know, but it was a struggle to finish it. No one dies, everyone becomes friends, and the characters are 2D. Really it could have been done a lot better.

Anyway, bringing back Jin’s memories causes him to be possessed by Orpheus, who has bypassed death to possess people in order to have eternal life. It’s revealed that the Puzzle of God (which one?) is actually a way to find a new host for Orpheus. There is no real prize. So of course Raetsel and Kaito face each other in the Puzzle of God in another non-ancient, easy puzzle that really just made everything anti-climactic. Then apparently, Jin can’t become un-possessed, because Orpheus is mixed in with Jin’s mind. But something happens and everything is all better. Oh and again no one really dies because everyone is a genius.

Probably a 5 out of 10 on my ratings scale. Two weeks wasted watching this stuff.

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Anime Review: “Natsume Yuujinchou”

Natsume-Yuujinchou-Wallpaper-HD-_-Also called “Natsume’s Book of Friends,” this anime is a bit different from the ones I’m normally used to seeing. The story follows a teenager named Takashi Natsume who has the rare ability to see youkai, or spirits and demons, that roam the world. He meets some friends, and some of them can even see youkai like him, so it turns out he’s not so alone after all.

The story begins with Takashi having just moved to his new home. Both of his parents had passed away when he was young, so since then, he’s been passed around the relatives. Most of them felt he was a burden since he was always acting strange and running from youkai that no one else could see. He was bullied in school and called a liar by his peers, and when that became too much trouble for the family, he was passed to another home.

Because of his situation, he never made friends. And this is clear when two of his classmates begin to invite him to activities with them. At first he avoids the answer, then gradually begins to feel that they really want to be his friend. Along with his final home with his new family, everything seems to be settling in. These “parents” actually ask him what he wants instead of ignoring him for their own children. Gradually, Takashi begins to open up to them and share his life with them.

However, when he arrives at his new home, he sorts through a box they had found of his grandmothers things. He comes across a strange book with names written on each page. On the cover it says “book of friends,” but he is confused, so he puts in back. But soon words gets out, and he is chased around by local youkai that want to obtain the book. But one powerful youkai that calls himself “sensei” makes a deal with him and acts as his bodyguard against those that would take it.

As it turns out, the book is actually a series of contracts that Takashi’s grandmother made with spirits. She would battle one, and when she won, make them write their name on a sheet of paper. This meant that she could call the name whenever she wanted and the youkai would have to do what she said. But Takashi wishes to free those youkai instead, and he sets out to return all of the names, one by one.

This, of course, leads to the various adventures in the series, the first of which is very episodic. There really is no overall plot except for Takashi meeting new friends and learning more about youkai and himself. However, the second series known as “Natsume Yuujinchou Shi” is a bit more plot-driven and more interesting. There are two- and three-part sets of episodes that really keep things interesting, from saving a mountain disguised as a youkai to sneaking into a party to save a friend. The whole series is very cute, but the second series is much better than the first. I give this anime a 7 out of 10 on my rating scale.

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Skip Beat! Character Profile: Kyoko Mogami

Mogami.Kyoko.600.130754Kyoko is a strange one, but also a determined one. She enters the acting business with hopes of getting revenge on her former friend Sho Fuwa. But, it’s not as easy as she initially thought. While her first audition was quite different that what the recruiters first thought she might show, she ends up landing a spot in the agency she hoped she could get into.

But, the agency has taken a liking to her, and puts her in a new special section called the “Love Me” section. Not only is it embarrassing to wear their bright pink jumpsuits, but she is asked to carry out various tasks such as errand running and carrying luggage. At first she is very upset about it, but she realizes that this is her chance, and she grabs the opportunity by the horns and puts her all into her tasks.

She soon gains some fame by taking a few jobs in commercials, but she really proves herself when she takes over the role of a quiet woman performing a tea ceremony. Having fractured her leg helping that very woman make it to the shoot, she goes through with the role, not making a single complaint the entire time. The director and her costars are stunned, and soon she gains more jobs.

However, an old enemy has joined the “Love Me” section. When the woman, Kanae, and Kyoko first meat, the former is very rude and says she will never make it. But now that they are both in the same section, they are forced to work together. I liked the development of friendship between them despite their differences. They even team up to make a commercial together and really knock it away.

Kyoko is not only determined, but passionate about everything. When revenge fueled her, she would get visibly angry when Sho was mentioned. But as she moved away from him, her anger softened, and she became passionate about the roles she played. In the end, she really shows how much she’s grown as an actress and how much talent she has.

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Anime Review: “Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit”

SeireinoMoribitoep26aDespite its redundant title (Moribito means “guardian, so essentially it’s called “Guardian: Guardian of the Spirit”), this anime is quite a treasure. I actually watched this once before when the dubbed version was on Netflix, but I thought it needed a rewatch. With interesting characters and a strange, but drawing story, it’s one of my favorites.

The story is set in a somewhat fuedal Japan-esque setting, but it is not on Earth. The land is very diverse, and the planet itself has two moons. Balsa (yes the same as the wood) is a female bodyguard seeking work as she travels the land. One evening, she finds herself is a city near a castle, seemingly the capitol of the kingdom. As the royal family is parading through, the cart slips and the second prince falls off the bridge across the gorge and into the river. Without thinking, Balsa leaps in and saves him. In thanks, the second queen gives her a feast and a room for the night.

But that evening, the second queen comes to Balsa’s quarters with her sleepy son and begs Balsa to take him away. She explains that the mikado (or royal court) has hired assassins to kill her son. She doesn’t explain why, but she offers a large sum of money and some royal jewels as compensation. Initially, Balsa is reluctant, but she learns she doesn’t have a choice when the queen’s guard shows up. Angry at the queen, she agrees, but softens when the queen thanks her and shows she is just worried about her son.

Escaping the first wave of assassins, Balsa and prince Chagum make their way to the nearby town where they meet up with some old friends. She rewards them with some gold, but they are forced to find a new home as the assassins may be nearby. However, they are all able to escape in time and make their way toward the mountains.

After a time, Balsa and Chagum are able to settle down in a rented millhouse with some of the gold from the queen and Balsa’s savings. Their friends are close by, so they can always share information, but Chagum grows restless and draws attention to himself and Balsa. Fortunatly, Balsa is able to take care of it, but not before their house burns down. Not only that, but as it turns out, Chagum has some kind of creature living inside of him that he reveals in the reason that he is hunted. His family believes it is a water demon within him, but in reality, it’s much more than anyone could have ever imagined, and the pair sets off to find the truth and save the people of the land.

While I felt it dragged on a little, I liked how much Chagum grows up within the whole story. I also liked how Balsa’s past is explained to reveal why she is so protective. As it turns out, this series is based on a book, so guess what I’ll be reading next? I give this anime a 7.90 out of 10 on my rating scale.

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Anime Review: “Blue Exorcist”

670px-0,671,0,360-Blue_Exorcist_animeThis anime popped up on Netflix for me a few weeks ago, and I heard so much about it, I figured it was time to give it a shot. After having watched D-Grayman, this was right up the same alley with demons and the like. But it was a bit different and showed more of the personal struggle of the main character.

The twin brothers Rin and Yukio grew up together with exorcist and priest Father Shugo. However, when they turned fifteen, Rin is told that he is really half demon. Shugo gives him a sword and explains that he should never draw the sword or his demon powers will be released.

However, now that he is fifteen, Satan, the twins’ father, is now aware of their presence. As only Rin has inherited the demons powers, he is the only one that Satan is interested in. He sends his forces to attack the temple where Rin lives with his brother and Shugo to possess Shugo and try to bring Rin back to hell. But Rin attacks Satan’s forces, drawing his sword and releasing his demon powers. However, Shugo ends up being killed in the process,  but Rin vows revenge on Satan.

In order to achieve his goal, Rin begins exorcism school. However, his brother has been secretly attending since he was seven, so now Yukio is already a first class exorcist and his instructor! Needless to say, there are tensions between him and Rin, as well as the other students. Rin begins to think everyone is out to get him until he makes a new friend. But as everyone discovers their potential as exorcist, trouble begins to stir within the school, the world, and even the exorcist headquarters. It will take all of Rin’s powers, as well as his brother, to take on Satan’s armies as well as someone they thought they would never see again.

This is actually a pretty good anime. The character development is very well done from all characters, even the ones that hate Rin at the start. Rin develops his powers and relationships, but his brother always confused me. First he disliked Rin, then he wants to protect him, and then he doesn’t listen to him at all. I feel like it was quite a guessing game right up to the end, which isn’t a bad thing. I give this anime an 8.75 out of 10 on my rating scale.

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Anime Review: “Noucome”

11452494664_5870f7c676_zI heard about this anime a while back when I used to frequent Bubblews. Apparently, the full name is actually “Ore no Nounai Sentakushi ga, Gakuen Love Comedy wo Zenryoku de Jama Shiteiru” or, translated, “My Mental Choices are Completely Interfering with my School Romantic Comedy.” I decided to take a look, since it’s only 10 episodes. I’m not sure if there will be more, but it did kind of leave things open for more episodes after the finale episode.

Anyway, the story is a bit strange. There is a boy named Kanade who suffers from a curse he has dubbed “Absolute Choice.” At random times in the day, he will be presented by at least two choices and must pick one, no matter how strange or embarrassing they are. Needless to say, this has caused him to be considered somewhat of a pervert and weirdo, because the choices often involve things like “Lay on your back and squeal like a dying pig” or “Say ‘Boobs, boobs, let me touch your boobs.'” If he doesn’t choose one, intense pain shoots through his head.

However, one day, a strange girl falls from the sky, and explains that she is here to help him remove the curse. He must complete a series of missions to remove the curse. Each mission involves something embarassing like “Take a picture of your friend while she is crying” or “See your friend’s underpants.” Fortunately, his teacher used to have the same curse, so at least he has someone to speak to it about.

Overall, the anime is creative and entertaining, but it didn’t really have a plot besides the curse. It felt bland and lacking, basically consisting of nothing but stupid jokes. There is a bit of a romance plot but it’s so hidden, it’s almost not even worth it. The characters are a bit flat, but they are interesting enough. I’d give this anime a 6.5 out of 10 on my rating scale.

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Anime Review: “Day Break Illusion”

genei-1-38-seira-ginka-lunaI know I haven’t written in a while, but I’ve been going through quite a few personal issues for a while, plus writer’s block. In the meantime, I have still been watching anime, and though the last one won’t get a review, this one definitly will. Though it wasn’t as creative and original as some others I’ve seen, it was still very good.

It starts out with a young girl named Akari living at her aunt’s house. Her mother passed away when she was just two years younger, and there is no mention of her father. One evening, something strange happens with her cousin Fuyuna, who is normally her best friend. Fuyuna has turned into a strange beast and sneaks into her room to attack her. Just as Akari thinks she will die, three strange girls appear in the window and kill the beast. At first, Akari hadn’t realized it was Fuyuna, but finding out later leads to even more discoveries.

These three girls soon show up later when Akari discovered she is what is known as an “Elemental Tarots.” Being a fortune teller by trade, Akari knows all about Tarot cards, but she had no idea they were also special warriors taking down evil demon-like creatures. But Akari learns that she, and she alone, can hear their words before they die. Soon, the girls begin to depend on Akari to hear the demon’s dying words. But a special kind of demon appears and begins causing more trouble for them all, including kidnapping Akari. It will take all of the Elemental Tarot girls to save Akari, including one they thought had dissappeared for good.

It’s a pretty good anime with good characters, and despite being similar to a few others I have seen, it’s still worth a watch. I got attached to the characters pretty fast and discovered how well-rounded they were as well. Excellent character design and depth earns this anime a 7.8 out of 10 on my rating scale.

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