First Look: Fastest Finger First

Alternative title(s): Nana Maru San Batsu, 703x
Manga Adaptation by TMS Entertainment
Streaming on Crunchyroll


There are some very smart students entering an inter-school quiz competition and I already feel stupid.

Euri’s verdict: Sports For Dorks

Fastest Finger First appears to be the high school equivalent of University Challenge, a show that the UK stole when one of its producers watched a couple of episodes of College Bowl while visiting the US in early sixties. It features students from numerous schools across the country, battling it out over trivia questions to see who is the smartest team. As interesting as that sounds, I’ll admit that the high school club setting had me worried from the outset that this was just another attempt to cash in on the popularity of other, club-centric shows.

This show is intriguing in a way I hadn’t anticipated. It didn’t seem to fall into the same trappings of other shows, throwing five hundred characters at you to remember from the get-go. It was paced well, managing to get the fundamentals of quizzing covered, as well as throwing in an example contest for good measure. The protag, while not exactly carved into the deepest of characters in the first 20 minutes, showed himself as an actual person and not an anime protagonist. A smart kid who loves books and doesn’t like the limelight.

Interestingly, the heroine of the show is voiced by someone with very little voice acting experience. She’s a model and ex-idol, and has previously lent her voice to minor characters in Star Driver and the Hunter x Hunter: Phantom Rouge movie. While I was watching this with colons, I commented on her voice not sounding right, that it didn’t seem to fit as an anime voice. I stand by that – her voice stood out among the other more familiar voices, and it seems that a lot of western viewers have reacted negatively to it. I’m not going to go as far as to say this might be the show’s intention, but I’d be very interested to see if Japanese viewers are reacting the same way. An ordinary voice in a high school setting shouldn’t be that weird, and I wonder if that’s the kind of character that might get actual school kids interested in clubs like this. Or it’s just bad.

In any case, it’s not a mind blowing first episode but Fastest Finger First does a good job of going above expectations. I’ll be sticking around for a few more episodes, so hopefully it can keep it up.

Iro’s verdict: Quizzically Engaging

This was surprisingly fun! As far as shonen competition cliches go, a quiz game at least has some educational value and probably won’t devolve into the usual “hard work and guts!” speeches typical of the genre. Not that I dislike those, but Fastest Finger First feels fresh these dark days, even though it’s pretty generic in nearly every sense. The characters seem decent enough (though the heroine’s voice performance sounds like it’s her first role or something, which isn’t necessarily bad), but this show is going to live or die based on the quality of the quizzes. Still, I’ll give this one a shot for at least another couple weeks.

Zigg’s verdict: Quick Buzz

This is a show that’s structurally as hoary and cliched as they come, but it’s saved by a surprisingly light touch in the small details. In particular I really enjoyed the trial quiz which takes up the back third of this episode, which offers a nice variant on the old ‘fast thinking internal monologue’ action scene and even has some minor educational value. It’s a bright, nice looking show too and I’m really digging our main character’s unconventional design, even if he does look distractedly like Pidge from Voltron. The one thing which caused me concern was the panty shot joke, and the fact they go back to such a tired gag multiple times over the course of just one episode. Hopefully we’ll see less of that and more of the unconventional charm and genuine quirkiness that the setup promises.

Marlin’s verdict: I’ll take Enjoyable for 1000

In my house, there was one surefire way to get under my middle brother’s skin: Having him watch Jeopardy at the same time as my older brother and I were. Both of us were quiz show junkies, and we would rapid fire try to beat each other, to the chagrin of the brother who was always slower to the punch. Thus, this show really speaks to me on a deep level of interest. Obviously the panties joke in the middle overstays its welcome pretty quickly, but it isn’t a major roadblock to the fun part: Trying to figure out the question answers for yourself. Obviously, Japanese questions are gonna be nigh impossible, but it has enough general trivia to really be a fun metacompetition versus this show’s characters. Our main guy does seem to be legitimately nice, and we had a “you saw my panties accidentally” thing without the girl going ballistic so honestly things could have been a lot worse. I wish they had a little more time to flesh out anyone other than the main character, but they have time. I’m sure this can be a fun show, and the shounen battle trope has been used on every competition under the sun, so why not let trivia have its shot?

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