STORY – 7/10
There have been a lot of anime over the years that focus on games and puzzles. However, most of these are only for kids. This one allows a nice break from the archetype, creating an interesting anime experience. It isn’t held back by the fact that it needs to stay kid-friendly. Also, the puzzles are well thought out. They’re difficult enough for people to think “damn, how can that work”, and clever enough to make you think at the end “wow, the answer was right in front of me!” Also, the show has tonnes of variety. Unlike Beyblade, any card show or the god awful Bakugan (that’s the only one out of the three examples I gave that I’ve sadly watched as a child), this show has a massive variety of puzzles in its arsenal. They can range from number games to giant frikkin’ buildings. Also, the other aspects of the story work decently enough. The story creates suspense, mystery, dramatic irony and a healthy dose of humour. After the second half, though, the series goes slightly downhill. The puzzles start to become repetitive and there are many subplots that are lost in the process. But this isn’t its biggest flaw. The biggest flaw is the ending. It was short, boring and overall unsatisfying. It should have at least spanned over two episodes, which could have been done by cutting out another useless puzzle episode where little to no character development occurs. Also, there are many things that will make you question how realistic this story is. With only a slight supernatural element, it’s obvious that this story is trying to be as realistic as possible. But there are times that this story mucks up a bit. For example, why fight using puzzles? I mean sure, it’s a puzzle anime, but it’s not a kids show! There isn’t a single gun in this series, or any other violence for that matter. It’s kinda like Yu-Gi-Oh, where someone says “I could just kill your girlfriend (or best friend in the 4kids version) now, but instead I’ll challenge you to a children’s card game to stuff it in your face”. Still, it’s fun to watch and I enjoyed it.
ANIMATION – 6/10
It’s sound. Not much to say here.
SOUND – 7/10
The soundtrack on this thing, although suffering from the usual overuse of the same tunes over and over again, is pretty cool. The theme song is one of the few I don’t mind watching all the way through. It’s the perfect mix of metal (for awesomeness) and weirdness (for the intelligent aspect of the anime). The rest of the soundtrack works pretty well. Still, I long for the day that anime composes a soundtrack in a weekly series that never repeats the same songs (unless for effect).
CHARACTERS – 6/10
I’m getting a lot of mixed feelings about these characters. They’re strong enough, but they’re kinda underdone. Kaito, the main character, is a bit all over the place here. His character wavers from the traditional hero, to the lazy guy, to the super smart. To make matters worse, his Orpheus ring (the artefact that gives him power, for this season…) causes him to have several psychological breakdowns. And where does this lead to? ABSOLUTELY NOWHERE, THAT’S WHERE! The subplot is pushed aside like it never happened. The other characters are either really well thought out or too clichéd. Nonoha, his ‘best friend who should really be his girlfriend just like ash and misty should have been’, is basically the typical tomboy. They do give her an interesting quirk, however, with her cooking. The so called ‘Nonoha sweets’ are either loved by people or hated by people. You think that she’s a bad cook, but you probably make jokes to your friends that she’s secretly putting toxic ingredients into her cookies.
Well, I’m not sure whether it’s in season one or two, but they actually show her cooking her cookies and she puts in stuff like ‘half off octopus’ and ‘toxic waste’. It’s a funny character development, but they could go a little further with that. Gammon is all over the place, just like Kaito. As a side character, he can afford to be, but it kinda gets stupid at times. Sometimes he’s all high and mighty, others he’s only into money and others he’s just so timid and out of character. It’s supposed to be character development, but it doesn’t do so well. Then, there’s Anna Gram (geddit? What a bad joke…). Well, how do I put this? Ever seen those episodes of anime where a one off character who looks like a girl is actually a boy? Know how a lot of otaku in japan feel guilty after that (no offense)? Well, to stop the guilt most shows just take the characters out after an episode or two at most (for example, Haku from Naruto (the anime sucks, the manga is okay)). But in this show, Anna is (despite looking totally like a girl and acting like one) a boy. Also, she sticks around for the whole series. It’s an interesting choice here, and I think it’s good to break from the overused archetype. So, she’s a good character. Finally, the rest of the side characters are lame and boring. Rook is the typical psychopath, the minions are your typical assorted minions and the idiot school guys who have no idea what’s really going on are your typical idiot school guys who have no idea what’s really going on.
OVERALL – 7.5/10
If I based this purely on enjoyment, I’d rate it higher. But I’m not basing this review on that, so this is the score. It’s a good show, but it has its problems. Watch it. Enjoy it. Like this review (if possible. I’m still getting used to this site).