Fastest Finger First – Mid Season Anime Review
Synopsis: Bunzou High School is welcoming its new first-year students. One of them, Koshiyama Shiki, is chosen to participate against his will in an impromptu fast-buzzing quiz meet by the president of the Quiz Bowl Circle. As a quiet boy who loves reading and doesn’t want to stand out, Shiki is overwhelmed, but his classmate, Fukami Mari, is able to hit the buzzer and answer questions before the full question is given. As he watches her, Shiki realizes that there’s a point in each question where the answer becomes certain. (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
Mid Season (6 Episodes) Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: Fastest Finger First starts off as another case of ‘anime takes something mundane,’ in this case quiz bowl competitions, and tries to glamorize the heck out of it. These type of shows can come off a little ridiculous very easily, and a perfect example of this in the case of FFF is when two of our characters are literally in awe and amazed at observing a simple buzzer performance test check before a quiz. However, unlike other shows with a similar theme, FFF comes off mundane and generic more often than not thanks to a story and cast that struggle to feel original or compelling. While a good chunk of the series so far is devoted to our protagonist, Koshiyama slowly but surely falling in love with the world of quiz bowls, there’s more fun to be had in seeing our ragtag beginner quiz club try to become a proper team, such as watching them resort to using a calculator as a buzzer and their utter joy when they get access to proper buzzers at matches with other schools.
Tom: Ultimately I don’t have a lot to say about Fastest Finger First. The big issue here is outside of its subject matter, FFF is increasingly generic in its execution. The show manages nothing amazing, but also doesn’t become out right terrible. What’ll determine whether the series manages to be appealing for you is based entirely on your interest in Quiz Bowl. Without that innate curiosity, the show progresses much like any other shonen focused on a meek school boy joining some kind of sport or competition.
Linny: Moving on to characters, Fukami, our main female protagonist, had some viewers unhappy with her VA as they felt it didn’t suit the character but I’d argue that it’s more likely a case of this high school girl having a slightly more husky/mature sounding voice than the chirpy and perky tones commonly employed for such female characters. My personal main complaint about her is the attempt by the show to have her falling for Koshiyama, something that feels rather random, cliche and completely unnecessary. So far, it looks like her infatuation is mainly there for comedic purposes but it still feels thoroughly unnecessary.
Tom: And that’s a big problem: Much of Fastest Finger First’s character work stumbles right into classic staples without any nuance to set it apart, aside from the Quiz Bowl stuff. Our main character, Koshiyama Shiki, is your classic meek, young, friendless school kid with innate hidden talent. You’ve then got the jazzed up girl, Fukami, who has decent skills but quickly finds herself trailing behind the main character gradually falling into a purely love interest role. There’s the slightly pervy friend, the overly serious club leader, an eccentric girl and the frenemy rival. In some ways the show borders on feeling like stock characters have been utilized to save budget.
Linny: Also, if you’re planning on watching this show for the quiz elements and to test your own skills, be prepared to hit the pause button a LOT as the quiz bowl style means that the proper questions and answers texts are flashed onto the screen for what feels like split seconds and will be incredibly hard to read without pausing the episode if you aren’t that familiar with the topic already.
Tom: The show seems aware that it’s lacking discernible personality and has gradually introduced a few, more wild characters to try and spice things up. We meet one Sasajima Jinko, the eccentric girl with a passion for constructing electronics. We also meet the over the top and vaguely villainous, Sonohara Akira, who already feels like a character so painfully ridiculous that they’re in the wrong series.
Linny: It’s hard for me to pass a final judgement on Fastest Finger First one way or the other. It’s never offensively bad but it’s also not all that impressive. Maybe if you are someone who really loves the trope of high school boy getting introduced and immersed into a random new sport or are a fan of quiz bowls, you might have some fun with this show but it’s hard to say that with confidence given the sub par characters and plot execution.
Tom: Fastest Finger First isn’t bad, nor is it particularly great. It’s a perfectly fine series, one I do in fact find myself enjoying. But there’s nothing here that makes me confident in recommending it to anyone. It’s thoroughly ho-hum.
Fastest Finger First is available for streaming via Crunchyroll