What’s it about? Shiki Koshiyama is a book-loving boy who joins the quiz club at the urging of Mari Fukami, a girl who is an experienced quiz competitor.
Source: Anime News Network
Here is a confession from me to you, readers: I generally don’t go for high school anime. I don’t hate them on any kind of principle, but they have to work harder to woo me than a series about adult professionals or even shows about teenagers that take place outside school. It speaks well of Fastest Finger First (pleasingly abbreviated FFF, with Crunchyroll dropping the 7O3X part of the Japanese title) that it hooked me enough to be curious about the next episode.
Shiki himself is serviceable as a protagonist; it’s somewhat frustrating watching him spend most of the episode equivocating before finally speaking up during act three’s impromptu quiz, but it’s a relatable kind of frustrating. Shiki’s struggles as an introvert entering high school, where all of a sudden one is expected to make decisions rather than just silently getting through, will probably speak to quiet kids who spent their free time in libraries rather than with friends. Shiki’s ongoing monologue is used fairly sparingly and works pretty well for getting across the joy of a very interior hobby like reading.
When the weirdly overzealous president of the quiz club (“circle,” actually, which tend to be less structured than an official school club) takes over a school assembly to host an impromptu quiz show, the episode really finds itself. The mock exercise is well utilized in explaining why the characters would find themselves sucked into the competition and also demonstrates the stakes well for the viewer (i.e., buzzing in early can give you an advantage but is disastrous if you don’t know the answer).
As Shiki begins intuiting how the game works, we’re given a good old-fashioned Death Note-style breakdown, with a monochrome wash on the character and lots of words flying around a black background for effect. It’s a little silly, but most special interest anime are, and it hits the important note of selling the emotional sincerity of why these kids would become passionate about quiz bowls as a “sport” of sorts. Little flourishes like ending the episode with a chibi-style quiz that explains the meaning of the title – apparently seven correct answers means you win, three wrong answers means you lose – add to the energetic sincerity.
Some of that luster comes off thanks to the running gag about Shiki seeing popular girl (and future fellow club member) Mari’s panties; my initial warm-feeling that they didn’t actually show the up-skirt shot was quickly ground down by just how often they kept coming back to it. There’s also a “har har men in dresses, gross” gag when the all-male tennis club tries to sell themselves based on the possibility of seeing female club members practicing nearby; and despite the quiz president’s assertion that quiz bowls are for everyone regardless of physical ability, 95% of the designs shown in the credits feature attractive, able-bodied teens. It feels like a waste of potential.
Most irritating is the strong whiff of Trinity Syndrome already hanging over Mari. She’s clearly passionate about quizzes and quite experienced in advanced techniques, but she’s also just so darn impressed by Shiki’s raw talent and knowledge that she tells him he’s the one who’ll certainly become quiz king.
It seems pretty certain her abilities are going to come second to her supporting him, possibly with a side dish of having her be defeated in order to show how serious an opponent is (an opponent which Shiki then overcomes; look, I’ve seen this kind of anime before). Which is a shame, because there’s a lot of potential for a fun competition-centric series here. Shounen (and shounen-adjacent; the manga is actually published as seinen, weirdly enough) sexism strikes again.