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Anime / Phi-Brain: Puzzle of God

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It's puzzle time!

An anime that appeared as part of NHK's Fall 2011 lineup. Produced by Sunrise, it premiered on October 2, 2011. It's directed by Junichi Sato, written by "Hajime Yatate" and while it has average animation quality (greatly improved in the second season), the series employs an all-star voice cast.

Kaito, a puzzle-loving high school freshman, is drawn into the strange world of "Phi Brain". He gets a strange device that sends him puzzles and, on occasion, directions to a certain location. Taking this as a challenge, he and his friend, Nonoha, decide to follow their directions, only to be forced to solve puzzles that have a dangerous touch of Death Trap to them. These are the "Philosopher's Puzzles": dangerous puzzles that, if left unsolved, will cause some sort of disaster. Not only that, but there is a mysterious organization known as POG that's activating these puzzles and are specifically targeting Kaito in order to force him to solve them.

In season two, Kaito and friends are finally able to enjoy a period of normalcy, but this peace is soon shattered by the appearance of the Orpheus Order- Kaito and friends' actions in the previous season have earned their everlasting enmity. The Orpheus Order ups the ante with manmade Death Trap puzzles and display that they are more than willing to pull innocent bystanders into the fray if it means furthering their goals.

In season three, Kaito attempts to restore the memories of his mentor, Jin, after the events from season one. However, he and his friends encountered a mysterious girl named Raetsel, who happens to be someone that Jin knew in the past. It turns out that she and another man named, Enigma, want to fulfill Jin's wish which is to destroy all puzzles.

Has a character sheet in the works.


  • The Ace: Holy crap Nonoha is great at everything: martial arts, acting, cooking (except in Kaitou's opinion, teaching kids, and she has a great memory. During the school festival she was pretty much involved in every club's activity. The only thing she isn't great at is puzzles and even then she can see things in a way the main puzzle-solvers don't.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Elena loves Gammon, Gammon has a thing for Nonoha, Nonoha gets jealous whenever Kaito is with another girl or Ana, and Kaito loves... puzzles.
  • Anime Hair
    • Shounen Hair: Kaito (long spikes with a short ponytail) and Rook (looks like a white moss ball).
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: According to the POG, Pythagoras made a discovery that would grant whoever had it the power of God, and sealed it away. The POG exists to find the person who can overcome the puzzles set to guard it.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Parodied in episode 15. Gammon and Cubic appear as the former screams PUZZLE TIME HAS STARTED!! They're ready to solve the puzzle and save the day. Only Ana already did so without any hamminess whatsoever. On his part, at least - a POG Giver was acting very over the top in a pointless attempt to intimidate Ana. Ana was way too into Cloud Cuckoo Lander mode to act differently than normal.
  • Boke and Tsukkomi Routine: Nonoha gets the idea to put on this sort of act to encourage Kaito while he's in the hospital thanks to Rook and the Fool's Puzzle.
  • Bounty Hunter: The Master Brains. They target those who can solve puzzle like Kaito and the gang with the intention of killing them with dealing puzzles.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Cubic, as lampshaded in one of the previews. But he's different from most other children who fall under this trope in that he immediately acknowledges Kaito's genius. Cubic qualifies by trying to force Kaito to stop wasting his genius on puzzles and to work for him, even foolishly laughing at a POG member, thinking that his puzzle was a game.
  • Break Them by Talking: Pinochle does this to Kaito in the Rink Slider game in season two, making Kaito so distracted with guilt that he loses the round.
  • Breather Episode: Episode 8 takes a brief break from over the top Givers and death traps while Kaito, Nonoha and Ana enjoy some time at a puzzle-themed hotel. And even when a death trap is used, Kaito is saved from certain doom thanks to Nonoha and Ana riding up with some animals Ana had befriended.
    • Episodes 10 & 11 of the second season are back-to-back breather episodes, combined with a Beach Episode as Elena invites them to relax at an island resort in the aftermath of the multi-episode Rink Slider arc.
  • Brick Joke: During the Beach Episode, Nonoha's many club activities prevent her from going at the same time as the others, but Kaitou makes an offhanded joke that she's so fired up that she'll get there even if she has to swim. Come the end of the episode, and it turns out that's exactly what she did, taking SIX HOURS to get there.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Second half of the first season started getting progressively darker and heading towards Deconstruction.
    • Knight of Cerebus: Surprisingly not Herbert Müller, as the series managed to keep cheerful and upbeat tone. The real Knight of Cerebus is Rook, who is an Double Subversion - he was there since the beginning, but the syndrome kicks in after he reveals his role to Kaito.
  • Child Prodigy: Cubic is a little kid that needs a specially designed robot/moped to keep up with his much taller classmates.
  • A Child Shall Lead Them: Rook is a teenager but is an incredibly high-ranking member of POG, and the leader of the Orpheus Order appears to be the second-youngest member of the group.
    • Subverted with the Orpheus Order as Freecell doesn't actually lead the entire organization but that particular group he hangs around. And even then, he has less control than we thought.
  • Clingy MacGuffin: The Orpheus items.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Ana
  • Cold Turkeys Are Everywhere: During the Beach Episode, the Phi-Brains are forbidden from doing puzzles due to Nonoha's wishes to have a normal vacation, and subsequently start to suffer such severe withdrawal that when they stumble onto an old abandoned movie set, they start solving puzzles that aren't even there.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Freecell takes out both Klondike and Melancholy in a matter of seconds.
  • Cutting the Knot: Kaito is trapped in a burning tower which has a series of elevators, but he no longer has access to the route that will lead him to the top. His solution is to break off the door of one of the elevators so that he can jump off when it passes a floor that will take him to the top.
  • Damsel in Distress: Nonoha ends up as one in episode 9, but it it could be considered an inversion, because Nonoha was dressed as a prince at the time, and Kaito was the one in a pink dress and make-up. We're serious.
  • Death Trap: It should say something that it tends to be a big plot point when a puzzle Kaito and company encounter ISN'T a Death Trap.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Justified against the replica ring holders, as defeat destroys the ring.
  • Disney Death: In Season 3. Rook, Freecell and Gammon. Turns out it was all a part of Rook's plan to escape from Orpheus' notice, save the others, and ready the device to stop Orpheus' plan to take over Kaito.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: Ana. He even sounds and acts like a girl. It's to the point where both Kaito and Nonoha, who know the truth, are still weirded out by Ana being in the men's bath during their hotel trip. He even wins the Miss Root Boy cross-dressing beauty pageant despite not even entering.
    • And it remains a subtle running joke for the series where every new girl that shows up that finds out Ana's a guy freaks out.
  • Evil Counterpart: Season 2's Orpheus Order has a counterpart for each member of Team Kaito.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Gammon
  • Friend to All Living Things: Ana, who only needs to sit in one place for a few minutes to be swarmed by animals, and seems able to communicate with them to a degree.
  • The Glasses Come Off: Pinochle throws them into a pit of molten metal.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Kaito's right eye always glows when he needs to solve a very difficult puzzle that puts his life or his friends in danger, activating the armband of Orpheus.
    • Rook has one, too.
      • Everyone who has an Orpheus Ring gets this.
  • Grand Theft Me: The ultimate goal of Orpheus: get brilliant people to go through countless puzzles so that someone will grow smart enough for his goals and then once they prove their intelligence in his "Divine Puzzle" he can possess them.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Both Nonoha and Cubic become this when they find out that Kaito's infatuated with a puzzle-solving celebrity in episode 10.
    • Rook and Freecell becoming this due to the Orpheus Ring's influence causes them to become the Big Bad of Season 1 and 2 respectively
  • Heel–Face Turn: Both the entirety of Po G and the Orpheus Order turn face after the end of their respective Heel seasons. It takes a while though to turn Melancholy.
  • Heroic BSoD:
    • Kaito suffers one after being confronted with a replica of the puzzle that killed his parents. Because of the way the armband of Orpheus works, this has the potential to escalate into a full-blown Heroic RRoD if he isn't careful.
    • Cubic gets one after nearly getting killed by a puzzle Rook made when he was five.
  • Hot-Blooded: Kaito and Gammon
  • Idiot Hero: Kaito and Gammon are subversions because despite their Idiot Hero tendencies both of them are genius puzzle solvers.
  • I Need You Stronger: This seems to be POG's reason for targeting Kaito.
    • In Season 3 Orpheus pulls this as well. Orpheus wants to solve the "puzzle" of the universe, and for that he needs a powerful brain capable of working with all its capabilities. So, he set up a made-up "divine scroll" to get people to train until they were smart enough to take on his Divine Puzzle, and then the system would download his consciousness into the winner's brain.
    • Baron says this nearly word for word in episode 9.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: The poor POG officer, Maze tasked with challenging Ana in episode 15. She tries and tries, but Ana's just too carefree to be properly intimidated, or even listen to the instructions.
  • Large Ham: SAKANOUE GAMMON! Herbert Müller is not far behind him, though.
  • Lethal Chef: What Kaito thinks of Nonoha's cooking. Everyone else thinks the food she cooks tastes good.
    • At the end of episode 18 Gammon's little sister proclaims her own cooking to be the weapon of mass destruction.
    • Nonoha later intentionally tries to invoke this trope in episode 19 because of how Kaito doesn't like her usual cooking. Despite a very ominous appearance and releasing a purple aura, they still taste good.
  • Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: Melancholy and Mizerka.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Kaito and Nonoha, although Nonoha wouldn't mind if their relationship changed (it's not clear how aware she is of her feelings for Kaito).
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Whether or not Ana actually got a message from the hotel owner's late grandfather in episode 8 is a question that just gets an enigmatic smile out of Ana.
  • Mind-Control Eyes: People under the influence of Orpheus items get a Glowing Red Eye Of Doom that is visible to the other characters.
  • 90% of Your Brain: What the Orpheus objects does to it's wearer.
  • No MacGuffin, No Winner: The God Scrolls are destroyed at the end of the first season. But it's technically a win since it's continued existence would only lead to the world ending one day.
    • We find out in Season 3 There is NO Writing of God. Orpheus made up the story as bait so people would have a reason to challenge the Puzzle of God and thus become his next vessel. Of course the endgame is the same as Orpheus plans on challenging the Gods and thus the End of the World as We Know It
  • Old Shame: In-Universe. Puzzla was this for the P.O.G. A cheesy monster movie that the organization made, but never saw the light of day due to financial problems.
  • The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: A variant. The heads of POG are seen, but there are only two people, and the viewers can clearly see their faces in both canon appearances and the opening and the ending.
    • As of episode 5, three new members have joined, and we've seen all of their faces.
  • Only in It for the Money: Gammon's reason for butting into every Kenja Puzzle he can is for a shot at winning the treasures awarded to the solver. Offhand mention by his little sister that he gets all the money for them to survive may explain why
    • In Season 2 we found out that Gammon has another source of income (which makes sense as obviously solving Kenja Puzzles aren't a stable source of income...or a safe one at that). He's actually a world renowned Puzzle Giver when it comes to magazines and such, but he used an alias to maintain a normal life for his sister. It becomes a plot point when his created puzzles start sucking hard due to his anger towards the Orpheus Order.
  • Ordinary High-School Student: Nonoha, mostly: she is very strong and has photographic memory that also makes her a top student. But she sucks at puzzles.
    • Turns out she isn't as normal as she thinks she is and now has the title Nightingale. She's not happy.
  • Punny Name: most of the main characters.
    • Daimon Kaito is a pun on "mondai kaitou" ("problem/solution" in Japanese).
    • Nonoha's name is a pun on the game Towers of Hanoi ("hanoi no tou" in Japanese which is an anagram of "Itou Nonoha") — lampshaded.
    • Gammon Sakanoue's name comes from Backgammon. "Saka" is spelled with kanji meaning "back".
    • Cubic Galois is named after Rubik's Cube and Évariste Galois.
    • Ana Gram - obvious.
    • Jikukawa Souji's name can be contracted into Jikusou (a corruption of jigsaw in Japanese).
    • Rook Banjou Crossfield: Rook as in the chess piece, "Banjou" refers to board games, and Crossfield to crosswords.
    • A minor character, Chieno Tamaki's name is a pun on a type of mechanical puzzle named "ring of wisdom" (chie no wa) in Japanese. "Tamaki" is a synonym of "wa".
    • The member of Orpheus Order are named after Card games.
  • These Questions Three...: Expect an episode to include one spectacular puzzle or three small puzzles.
  • Refused by the Call: Jikukawa used to be a candidate for the Phi-Brain project, but wasn't suited for it. However, he does quite well in his role as the P.O.G. Giver code-named Minotaur.
  • The Rival: Gammon.
  • Rival Turned Evil: Honestly, Kaito should stop getting rivals as this trope happens to him EVERY. SINGLE. TIME!
  • Solar and Lunar: In episode 12, Ana calls Rook a red moon and Kaito a blue sun. And the Galileo believes they revolve around himself.
  • Third-Person Person: Ana.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Nonoha and Elena.
  • Tyke Bomb: Rook. Kaito would have become this if his adoptive parents didn't become the mask
    • Freecell as well in Season 2.
  • School Uniforms are the New Black: Surprisingly with all of the solvers, who don't wear school uniforms, but still wear the same thing every day.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: Herbert Muller is given a lot of leeway regarding his rather questionable methods, due to his high rank in the P.O.G. organization. However, he does face repercussions when he's caught setting up remote-controlled grenades into the puzzle for no reason other than to kill the Solver, combined with the fact that Rook got himself promoted to a higher rank than his, allowing him to put Muller in his place.
  • Serious Business: Puzzles, though Kaito really wishes they weren't.
  • Skinship Grope: A very light version is pulled by Ana in the public bath. Hilarity Ensues, naturally, as this takes place in the male-only bath.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Okudera, the Puzzle King. He does have some level of celebrity, but he's clearly out of his league compared to the title-holders in the main cast.
  • Stock Puzzle
  • Stupid Sexy Ana
  • Sunglasses Do Nothing: Kaito wears a pair of sunglasses on his head that he never seems to use (except for a moment in the opening when he's taking them off).
    • He uses them in the fourth episode of the Second Season, due to the antagonist group standing with floodlights behind them, Jikukawa and co are forced to shield their eyes because of how bright it is.
    • He is seen wearing them as Stoic Spectacles in a what-if world where he chose not to regain love for puzzles. Raetsel breaks him out of it, though.
  • Tastes Better Than It Looks: Nonoha is normally a great chef, and the only person who hates her food is Kaito. She tries to invoke Lethal Chef in episode 19, hoping doing so will produce food Kaito likes. Despite her dish's very ominous appearance and glowing purple aura, the food still tastes good.
  • Theme Naming: Rook and Bishop are apparently named after the chess pieces.
    • Also nearly all characters are named puzzles or games
    • All member of the Orpheus Order are named after card games.
  • These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know: According to Jin in Kaito's Bad Future, the Puzzle Of God is this
  • The Watson: Nonoha is Kaito's Watson, possessing roughly average intelligence when it comes to calculations and analytical thinking, but her Photographic Memory and knack for picking up on clues her friends miss keeps her from becoming The Load.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: whoever gets the puzzle of God always seems to result in this. So far Phytagoras, Rook, and Kaito are shown in the Bad Future where they got a hold of the scrolls and destroy the world.
    • Phytagoras succeeded in getting the God scrolls in the past. But the power drove him mad and he died as a result.
    • In Season 2, the Orpheus Order use items of Orpheus to induce More than Mind Control on otherwise ordinary students that turn them into serious challengers to pit against Kaito and his friends.
      • Season 3 we gain light on what exactly happened during the Jin/Pythagoras challenge. Pythagoras didn't go mad and die because of the power of the Writings of God, likewise the Bad Future constantly being shown weren't because of obtaining said scroll. Because there IS NO Writing of God. It was just bait. Orpheus created the Puzzle of God to gain a Phi Brain vessel for his mind and exceed the Gods. Obviously Pythagoras wasn't amused by said information. The Bad Future we see would be caused by Orpheus challenging the gods and the aftermath would be the death of all mankind.
  • Wham Line: "Pythagoras is Dead" counts as this.
    • "I am not Jin Makata. I am Orpheus!"
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Ana.
    • In episode 9 there was a contest about this. The winner was Ana and he didn't even participate.
  • Worthless Treasure Twist: They never find a valuable treasure in the Philosopher's Puzzles.

Alternative Title(s): Phi Brain Kami No Puzzle