Nana Maru San Batsu

December 9, 2017

Question: What is the first anime ever created? They sure can make an anime out of anything. That is why I was curious that they could even make a series out from the quiz bowl itself. That is what Nana Maru San Batsu is all about. A group of students taking challenges from various meets, meet all kinds of quiz nerds, answers lots of questions, experience and learn the strategies on how to even answer and anticipate answers of questions that isn’t even read finished???!!! Woah. It’s too technical. It’s too deep. I have a feeling I might end up with a headache at the end of it but my curiosity is high enough to want to make me check this out. I hope I learn something from all of this.

Episode 1
The clubs are aggressively trying to recruit new members at Busou High School. Especially the quiz bowl association. Shiki Koshiyama is a plain guy who doesn’t stand out and is overwhelmed by all the aggressiveness. He takes a look at the quiz paper he was given. He tries to answer as it starts off fairly easy. In class when the teacher asks volunteers to be the library rep, because he is so meek and a tall guy blocking him in front, Daisuke Inoue takes to post followed by Mari Fukami. A few other girls note this and gossip about him being a loser. He seeks refuge in the library. Fukami accidentally trips over him. Nice shima pantsu… Oops. She leaves in a hurry and he notices she dropped her quiz paper. He sees strange markings on the questions. In the hall where the clubs introduce themselves, the quiz bowl association is introduced by Gakuto Sasajima. He has 3 volunteers to come up to stage and then randomly picks another 3. Koshiyama is that unlucky dude. Not only he has to be in front of the stage, he is next to Fukami and each time he sees her, he only thinks of shima pantsu! Sasajima starts off with a variety of questions from straightforward to trick questions. Fukami then struts her stuff when she buzzes before the question is read finished and answers them correctly. No, she isn’t cheating. This has Koshiyama realize about her advice where there are some questions you can predict its answers (hence the markings on her quiz paper) and literally you need to be fast enough to earn the right to answer. Since you have 5 seconds to answer, you can use that time to think of the answer. When Sasajima asks the last and toughest question, Koshiyama is able to beat everyone and answer correctly without the question being finished reading. Everyone is awed at him. Later when Koshiyama returns Fukami’s paper quiz, she concludes he is a smart person as he got a hang of it in a short time. As the last question was hard, even if she heard that question till the end, she could not have answered it. That’s why she will forgive him for seeing her shima pantsu (?!) if he joins the quiz bowl association with her. Is that a quiz question for him? She believes his abundant knowledge and quick thinking will be his weapons to become quiz king!

Episode 2
Fukami sounds ambiguous asking Koshiyama out tomorrow. Are they going on a date? Nah. It’s a quiz meet at Sekigaoka High School. Inoue is interested and wants to come too (he is probably interested in Fukami). At the train station, they meet up with Sasajima. Yes, the quartet are the only members of the newly formed quiz bowl association. At the hall, we see a few potential rivals like Takumi Niina and Yousuke Ashiya who know Sasajima well. On the girls’ side there is Chiaki Sonohara from Asagaoka Girls’ High. Also from this school is Yuki Kouzuki who is Fukami’s childhood friend. The quiz begins and is divided into 2 groups. The first 3 to have 5 correct answers advance to the next round. Fukami is in the first group and after testing the buzzers, Hajime Sasaki races to become the first one to qualify. There are many close instances of fast buzzers as Koshiyama realizes the 0.01 second of chance of victory needed in pushing the button and answering the question. Since he is so awed, Chisato Mikuriya chides him for that. You can tell they’ll be rivals. Fukami and Kouzuki pass to the next round. Before the next group begins, Sasajima evaluates Fukami’s performance. She might be good in the classics but it isn’t good enough since the next round will be harder. What are classics? Frequent questions. So to have better chances, usually one would memorise them and find a pattern. Koshiyama and Inoue are up in the next group. Mikuriya shows his stuff as he flawlessly becomes the first to qualify. While Koshiyama excels in literature, Inoue does well in the otaku category. It is a neck to neck race for the final spot between Koshiyama and Fumika Kenmochi. A literature question has Kenmochi beating Koshiyama to the buzzer but she is unable to answer. This is also a tactic to stop Koshiyama from answering. Koshiyama is so tense that he buzzes too fast to an otaku question. Thank goodness he learnt what zettai ryouiki was today or else he couldn’t have spit out that answer that earned him the next round.

Episode 3
During the break, Koshiyama seems down because the quiz bowl is a lot more competitive than he thinks. Sasajima motivates him that the classics are updated from time to time so it is impossible for everyone to memorize it all. This gives everyone a chance and it is fun because you’ll never know what can happen next. The next round is a format whereby all contestants have to write their answers. For the one who buzzed, a correct answer earns 3 points but a wrong one means deducting that amount. For those who didn’t buzz, a correct answer earns them a point but no penalty for a wrong one. As it begins, Mikuriya is buzzing at very crucial parts of the question where the rest can’t make head or tail what the question is. And he gets them all correct! So much so he eases off to give others a chance. Koshiyama then realizes it could be because of the accentuation of how the host emphasis the words in the question that might give clues on what the second half of the question is. Koshiyama gets a hang of it although he still misses the mark but Mikuriya notes how close his answers are. In the end, the top 3 to advance to the final round are Mikuriya, Sasaki and Kouzuki. The final round is harder since the questions are longer and the contestants have to wait to hear a big bulk of it before buzzing. Koshiyama also ‘plays’ by answering in his head while watching from the side lines. In a question whereby Mikuriya buzzed earlier but then realize his answer might be wrong, Koshiyama goes deep into thought and when he arrives at the correct answer, he blurts it out! This is clearly against the rules and the question won’t be counted as Sasajima takes him out of the hall. Koshiyama is embarrassed and apologetic but Sasajima doesn’t blame him since he didn’t teach him the proper etiquette. Only those with the right to answer can do so, hence pretending to do so without that right is just inappropriate. His advice is to improve his technique of answering and then store up his knowledge. Quiz bowls are more than showing off one’s knowledge as it includes rules and strategies. It is no surprise Mikuriya wins the meet so he tells Koshiyama to come the next regular meet in June to get his revenge.

Episode 4
Koshiyama tries to greet Fukami on his way to school. He picks her up on his bicycle but has no strength to peddle! No, she isn’t heavy! However Fukami switches places with him and the ride is easier! He’s so light! Yeah, awkward stares at them… With the trio joining the quiz bowl association, Fukami starts off asking Sasajima on how to win competitive quiz bowls. However he tells them they can’t win. He rephrases his words that they should get to know about the world of quiz bowls before thinking about winning and losing. This has Koshiyama re-evaluate his goal. He needs to defeat quiz bowl itself before defeating others. Now we get on to the technical aspect of explaining the category of straight or parallel questions in quiz bowls. I’m dumb. I don’t get it. As they don’t have their own buzzer (one costs a lot) so they use a calculator as substitute. Low class but it works. Fukami meets up with Kouzuki to ask if her school has extra buzzers to lend. They don’t. She suggests working part time to buy time and in the mean time she could broaden her horizons with different experiences. Koshiyama is at his usual spot at the library when a zombie girl crawls up to him! Actually Jinko is just hungry and eats half his lunch! She was so wrapped up in her hobby she spent all her money on it. Because they are so close, Fukami spots them. She gets jealous another girl is eating his lunch when she herself has not and runs away. WTF?! Inoue is crying out loud that Koshiyama is popular with the girls. Please be quiet. This is the library. Koshiyama looks like he has his hand full with these troublesome people but he is liking it? Youth, he calls it…

Episode 5
Koshiyama looks at the book Jinko dropped. It looks complicated but it is somewhat related to quiz bowls. In class when the teacher asks Koshiyama for an answer, he doesn’t find it specific enough and asks if he could word it like a quiz bowl! No wonder the teacher blows his top. Today Buzou will have a joint practice quiz bowl match with Miyaura High School. It is where Mikuriya and Ashiya come from. Miyaura has also new members to take part, Maruyama, Mukai and Kiyosumi. This joint practice means they are using a real buzzer instead of a calculator. Sasajima shows an old buzzer he has that somebody once gave him. It is broken so he hides it in his pocket and just presses it. The quiz bowl will be a team match. A correct answer adds a point while a wrong one subtracts one. Although a team buzzes, anyone can answer. But to test the cohesion of the team, if multiple players from the same team answer simultaneously despite the answer is correct, it will be treated as wrong. So it is better for the buzzer to answer. First to reach 10 points wins. Oh, Mikuriya is staying out and keeping the score. He’ll decimate these rookies if he plays. The game begins with Buzou side making a good head start before Miyaura catching up. A few instances the Buzou team saved each other. Like when Fukami buzzed too early and is unable to answer, the guys manage to answer on her behalf and score. Fukami’s specialty also lies in foreign languages while Inoue is good at maths. With Buzou having a good flow, Sasajima notes they are having fun and should remember this feeling. This is much needed when they play competitively later on. Miyaura has a short breakdown with their members answer wrongly or usurping and then answer wrongly, causing them to accuse each other. But the fight is close and in the end, Miyaura wins by a point. Fukami felt a bit disappointed since she forgot what was important and started panicking thinking about her own failures and abilities. But the most pissed off one is Mikuriya. He is not happy with Miyaura’s performance. He wants to fight the Buzou side 3 on 1 right now! However all the buzzers are being taken apart by Jinko! Oh no! She is Sasajima’s sister! Nobody could guess since they are so different even in their accent. Seems Jinko is an electronic craft nerd and is willing to make them a buzzer each. Cheaper and better. The box might be complicated but it is not an impossible feat for her. That book she dropped was about instructions to make a buzzer system.

Episode 6
Doing a cat maid job with Kouzuki is not what Fukami had in mind to earn some cash. It’s embarrassing and if somebody were to see them… Close by, Sasajima and Jinko are at the electronics store to get stuffs to make their own buzzer. Koshiyama and Inoue are at the arcade playing a quiz game. There are also other formats like multiple choices. Several answers are displayed and you pick the correct ones. You earn a point for each correct one but get entirely zero if a wrong one is picked. Soon they realize they are playing against Mikuriya! Ashiya is also here and decides to help the newbies as part of his service. Another format of quick buzzing is how answers (right or wrong) pop up one at a time and the fastest to buzz in wins the point. Mikuriya is faster in all of them until one whereby no hint pops out and Koshiyama buzzes in and gets correct. I don’t understand this technical stuff of how he did it but Ashiya noticed that Koshiyama isn’t a fountain of knowledge but has also theoretically analysed the rules in order to do better (like coming up with a set of answers to answer easier when a question pops up). A couple of ruffians try to ruin their game so they can play on their machine. Ashiya doesn’t want trouble and takes the guys to retreat. There is this strange devil cosplay girl who was watching them. She didn’t like how they jumped the queue so she challenged them to a fighting game. She instantly defeated them and those chickens run away. Now she wants to play Koshiyama too but Ashiya says they need to get going. This prompts her to mock them as quiz bowl nerds. Koshiyama blows his top about insulting this. So what being quiz freaks? He might have stepped over the line but it made Ashiya happy that somebody is quite passionate about the quiz bowl. When they leave, they are given hand-outs to a store’s quiz event. Oh, it’s Fukami and Kouzuki. She’s dying of embarrassment now. When Koshiyama wants to get Mikuriya’s contacts, he refuses and just reminds him about the meet. Ashiya thought that was mean but Mikuriya’s idea is that Koshiyama has the potential to become a lot better. In that case he doesn’t want to get friendly or show any mercy. Of course Koshiyama won’t be the only opponent and there will other much tougher ones.

Episode 7
As schools around the nation take turn to host a quiz tournament, this time it will be Asagaoka. You bet Koshiyama and co want to enter since the more experience the better. Sasajima has them take a paper quiz first. The last question is always a question of estimation in case of tie breakers. That question is Jinko’s weight! Though Inoue got it correct, he scored the lowest. Koshiyama of course has the highest score. However Sasajima sounds harsh in his advice that this won’t do. Veterans would ace in this and Koshiyama won’t even have a chance to make it to the buzzer round. A point can determine a winner or loser. Koshiyama knows he needs to get better and gain more knowledge outside literature or else he will disappoint Mikuriya. Later Koshiyama asks why Fukami joined the quiz bowl. It was due to Seiji, her brother’s influence as he used to be part of it. She was impressed by the way he owned the competition. He is now in Kaijou High School, a pretty elite school. However he won’t be participating in any more quiz bowls because he quit to focus on his exams. Speaking of the devil, here he is to pick her up. Quite the elite gentleman he is. Seiji notes she has joined a club and when he guesses it is a quiz bowl, she dare not answer. He reminds her competing in the quiz bowl is pointless. Sasajima has a heap of quiz questions he collected from other schools. Yeah, be prepared to read them all. Koshiyama finds a few book on local places of attraction and Sasajima believes such information could be useful. Confused Fukami asks Sasajima why he entered the quiz bowl. He rubbishes that question. Do you need a reason to fall in love? Because Fukami admires him, the guys think she has fallen for him. Is she going to say it out loud now her confession? Well, it’s her love for quiz bowl. Sorry to disappoint. Jinko has finished their buzzer. But it comes with weird animal sounds… What a distraction… Sonohara looks through the list of entries for the meet. Remember that devil cosplay girl at the arcade? Turns out to be Sonohara’s cross-dressing brother, Akira. Why am I not surprised? When he mentions about meeting an interesting person named Koshiyama, Sonohara feels she has heard the name before. Oh, it’s on the list of participants from Buzou. I suppose now a reason for him to join his quiz bowl club that he wasn’t interested in the first place?

Episode 8
The quiz bowl at Asagaoka will be taking place in their chapel. So the girls of this school are dressing up as nuns, praying to God are some sort of distraction? We get a glimpse of a few top contenders from other schools. Currently the top quiz player is Kunimitsu Ookura from Kaijou and although he looks intimidating, he gets emotionally happy that Sasajima is here to participate and now they can face off with each other. The first round is a paper quiz. Koshiyama feels he didn’t do well since it is laced with current events and pop culture. He lets the rest know why he prefers classics because of his late dad. The top 10 of the paper quiz will automatically go to round 3 while others will participate in round 2. Sasajima takes top spot and although Ookura has the same marks but is ranked second because of the estimation question. The rest are: 3) Ashiya; 4) Harumi Konoe (Kaijou); 5) Koutarou Tozuka (Leoneil High School); 6) Hiroki Shibuya (Kannami University); 7) Masaru Shibata (Kaijou); 8) Minoru Hanabusa (Kannami); 9) Atsuyoshi Hosokawa (Kaijou). And propping up the final spot is Mikuriya. For the second round, participants are paired with another. It will be a numerated question as up to 2 participants can buzz an answer. This unorthodox format means there will be 2 answers and the pressure is on the second person to answer as it will be dangerous if he/she only knows 1 of the answers. Only a pair from each group advances. For the first group, Fukami is paired with Yagi from Kannami. They manage to qualify for the next round thanks to Fukami understanding the rules and her partner very well (she was able to answer and cover harder questions for Yagi). Next group has Inoue and Maruyama as a team. They fall behind not because they lack knowledge but the speed to buzz. However they get disqualified after 2 wrongs since either one only knows 1 of the answers and in Inoue’s case, he buzzed in too early and the chances are 2/3 correct. He picked the wrong one. Koshiyama is up next and looks like Akira is also in this round.

Episode 9
Koshiyama and Akira are paired together. As it starts, Koshiyama finds himself slow to buzz in. Then, before the first word of the question can be read, Akira buzzes in! Huh?! It looks like there is a loophole. Because the host will continue to read the question until the second buzzer buzzes in. Of course this is a sneaky plan to catch everyone off their timing. So when the next round comes, some nervous pair did the same trick but couldn’t answer and they get disqualified. Sasaki pair is leading and Koshiyama knows he is too slow. Therefore Akira suggests buzzing both their buzzers together by putting one on top the other. This isn’t against the rules because it does not say how one can press the button. Plus, Akira technically has his hand over his buzzer so it still counts. Sonohara is forced to allow this because it’s not in the rules. She knows her brother views this as a game and his intention is to rile everyone up. So when the next question is asked, Koshiyama and Akira’s buzzers buzz first. They answer and qualify for the next round. The others stare at Akira with disgust so he mocks those losers and reminds them how his strategy was the one that made them win. When Akira returns, Niina who is his club president admonishes him for his bad behaviour. He can go home now. Everyone has never seen Niina this mad before but then Akira then starts crying crocodile tears. It softens Niina’s heart and makes him look like the bad guy. Akira just wants to have fun seeing he is new to the quiz bowl and promises he won’t do it the next round. I guess that’s that. When Akira hints himself at Mikuriya, they now recognize him as that cosplayer from the arcade. They note they have to be cautious of his tricky and sneaky tactics and that’s why they can’t lose to him.

Episode 10
The 18 finalists are divided into 2 groups. Sasajima and Fukami are in this first group. The first question has multiple answers to determine their starting scores. You get a point correct for each correct answer but a wrong answer automatically earns you zero. Sasajima aces this with full 12 points. The next round of questions begins with the system of those buzzing in and answering correctly will earn 3 points or have that deducted if answered wrongly. In this stage they can choose how to distribute the points like keeping it all for themselves or use it to subtract points of others. The first 3 to reach 20 points qualifies for the next round. Sasajima quickly buzzes and scores maximum points. It’s like he is blowing the competition away. The veteran players know who they are up against with so it is wise to let that higher skilled person win. When Sasajima qualifies for the next round, Hanabusa cheers for him about being an ex-Kaijou student. This shocks many. As Ookura explains, he was in Kaijou up until last year and he with Seiji were a formidable pair. However, something happened between that made Sasajima quit Kaijou and Seiji the quiz bowl. Because of that, Fukami can’t concentrate and kept wondering. She couldn’t hear what questions were asked and is lagging behind. Till her teammates cheer her on to concentrate did she really start to claw her way back up. It’s like she got her much needed boost and is starting to kick ass with this revival. She is able to use the points strategy to keep those from coming close to qualify to remain in the competition. But in the end, it is Hanabusa and Tozuka who made it through. Now for the second group in which Koshiyama, Mikuriya, Ashiya and Okura are in, it seems Akira went ‘missing’. Sonohara doesn’t care and will start anyway.

Episode 11
Before the next round starts, Akira returns but cross-dressed as a girl! This shocks everyone and some believe that his intention is to distract everyone from doing well in the quiz. The multiple answer kicks off and it looks like Ookura and Koshiyama end up having the highest points. Mikuriya gets zero since he has an answer wrong. However when the game proper starts, his fast fingers allow him to earn points fast and in no time he claws his way back up. Akira is really being annoying. Because whenever he wins points, he uses it to subtract points from others, causing one of the players to go out of the game. He also messes around by buzzing in before the question can be read, hence nobody gets it right. Sonohara must be up to here and embarrassed with her brother but what is there to do? It’s all within the stipulated rules. With Akira targeting and trying to reduce Ookura points, eventually Ookura is the first to qualify. Niina is next although he subtracts a point from Mikuriya as he sees him as the next threat. With one place remaining, the quiz gets really intense. It looks it might be either Koshiyama or Mikuriya depending who buzzes first and answer it correctly. However that tempo is once again ruined by Akira. And this time the question is some date probability. Well, dig deep into your thoughts and knowledge for the answer. I’m not holding my breath as we wait…

Episode 12
We have everyone presenting the reason why they arrive at that particular day as the answer. Like Mikuriya using maths. I don’t follow Koshiyama’s convoluted method of using some third party relating to history. I would have been like Akira using his guts! Anyway, despite different approaches, these trio answered the same correct answer. Akira mocks everyone again and since Mikuriya tells him to hurry up and not waste their time, Akira subtracts the most points from him. But since he isn’t fazed, Akira just loses interest and walks off! Sonohara wanted to give him an earful but has to finish her hosting duties. So we are left to Niina to admonish him outside. He believes Akira is doing this because he has no friends. He takes him back to the hall to watch the rest. By that time, it is the final question and it would either be Mikuriya or Koshiyama. The question has something to do with Christ’s pilgrimage and Koshiyama buzzed in too early as he was panicking trying to beat Mikuriya to it. Because of that, the question is very wide open and all participants have different answers. Again we hear Koshiyama’s convoluted thoughts on how he deduces what kind of question that befits this round to be the answer. Well, I guess he is still inexperienced since Mikuriya is the only one who got it correct and advances to the next round. Akira leaves again and his sister promises to punish him back home. Niina still throws him hope to come to the club and join them in the quiz bowl. Niina and Sonohara then apologize to the rest for his unruly behaviour. We skip the rest of the final rounds because main character isn’t in. Also, Sasajima won the entire thing by a large margin so I believe it is no fun. With his victory speech for everyone to look forward to the next meet, it motivates our young ones to take on more challenges. Later Koshiyama thanks Mikuriya but he caught him on his bad mood. Mikuriya tells him off if beating him is his only satisfaction. As there are many other better than him, he will not wait. He acknowledges people who are aiming higher. Koshiyama also sets his goal higher and the duo acknowledge each other and rivals. Fist bump.

Buzzer Beater
Oh. So there is the Nationals for quiz bowls now? Okay. I’m out of here. I can’t take it anymore. My brain has always been empty from the start. Plus, all the trivia bits from the questions in here just went in from one ear and out the other. I learnt nothing. My brain has been empty for a long time and somehow it hurts despite nothing sticking to it. Argh! I don’t want to relive my school days of studying, studying and studying! Anyway, before I start complaining about my old life and dumbness, let’s just say that even though this series feels incomplete because of how it ended, there is still a long way to go considering this final arc is just one of the major meets the characters have to go through. But that’s for another time if we all still care to stick around. I guess that is how quiz competitions should end. Less fanfare. Back to more studying.

I find it very strange that despite I know nothing and got all my answers wrong (that is, questions that I attempted to answer), I find this series is quite interesting. I know I’m confusing myself right now. It isn’t the questions asked or the knowledge/trivia/info that I should be deriving from it (heck, I have forgotten it all by the time the next question is popped), but rather the way and the method they make it look so interesting. They can actually drag a particular segment of the quiz with all the drama and thoughts of the characters and it is done in a good and interesting way that made me stick around despite I still don’t understand the finer points of the strategy or the answer. So you see, even when I’m such a blur head and my mind stopped thinking and trying to participate in answering the questions, my mind is still interested to stay till the end of the episode to find out what happened.

Sadly, watching this series at the end only makes me feel how dumb I am. Not that I have always thought that I am a smart person myself. Heck, I have even admitted I’m not such a smart person in my blogs from time to time. Seeing I know nothing and have come nowhere close to even eke out an answer, this proves that my head is just as empty. Can’t blame school. They never teach you all these facts there. Even if you give me twice or thrice or even unlimited time limit to answer them, I’ll never get it right. Not even if I’m just simply guessing and hoping my answer will hit the mark. So should I start reading now? Nah! Why do I need to know such useless trivia and facts if I’m never ever going to use or have some sort of relevancy in my life? That kind of loser mentality… No wonder ignorance is so bliss.

As shown here, having a wide area of knowledge doesn’t guarantee you a winning spot. Victory hinges mainly on the strategy and knowing how the particular set of rules and format of the quiz is being played out. Therefore if you are the smartest person in the world and know everything like as though you are God, you still won’t win because you do not have the right to answer or do not play your cards right. Thus the other interesting aspect of this anime is seeing how the characters use the particular quiz format and their strategies for the best outcome. It is quite enlightening to know that there are so many types and varieties of formats and how freaking technical this competition has become. Remember, you must be both the fastest and the most knowledgeable if you want to have a chance of winning. I mean, by hearing part of the question and knowing where the stress and intonation can actually determine and predict what the question is? Holy sh*t! I thought karuta was the only game where you need to have lightning quick hearing and reflexes. With karuta only being limited to the classic and traditional poems, could you say that the quiz bowl is an even more broader competition and challenge?

One thing I find strange about this series is how many of the characters do not look like they’re of the quiz bowl type. Stereotypes are one thing but when I first look at the whole cast for the quiz meet, of course I am not expecting everyone to be looking like a nerd. This is anime. You need to have different types of characters too for the sake of diversity. With a predominantly male participants, my first thought of seeing the bunch of guys from different schools and colleges were that, are these guys part of the tennis club?! Holy mother of Maria! Perhaps Prince Of Tennis was the only manly guys-only anime that I have watched. Because I sure didn’t watch that volleyball, basketball (the recent one and not the old school one) and diving gay anime. Hence I thought these guys look like they are more suited to play tennis or some sort of physical sports rather than a quiz bowl. I mean, look at Ookura. He is quite a build. It looks like a mismatch that he is participating in this ‘sissy’ game if you compare his size and stature. Of course don’t judge a cover by its book since he is smarter than me anytime. Is it me or is it the guys from Leoneil look like they are arrogant evil characters bent on taking over the world via quiz bowl?

If they expand the series beyond a dozen of episodes, I am sure they could flesh out the characters better. Because right now there are too many potential quiz bowl masters that Koshiyama has to ‘defeat’ (because he is main character, right?) but too little episodes to get to know them. Heck, even our own Busou characters don’t really get much of some background story. So guys like Koshiyama, we mostly know that he loves reading and excels in the literature genre. He gets more and more fascinated with the quiz world because that is where he gets to put his trivia and reading into good use. Otherwise it could have been the uneventful and most normal high school life he has ever had in his entire life. Since he is the main character, many times we hear his thoughts on how he derives the answer. Correct or not his deduction, it sounds so freaking confusing and random that I thought he just read it out from the script. I mean, in all that split second to just answer a question, it took like several minutes for all this dramatization effect to take place, analysing the question and deducing the answer.

So the interesting back story for the Busou counterparts is Sasajima’s past with Fukami’s brother and something that happened between them that caused the split and the end of the legacy. Too bad the quiz bowl won’t be asking that kind of question because nobody is going to give the right answer. Yeah, invasion of privacy. So this is the only thing going that is interesting for Busou’s history as I am sure the other schools too have their own history. Therefore it gives some sort of connection to characters like Fukami and a reason why she enters the quiz bowl world instead of just being one of the few female leads there just to look pretty. Sorry to disappoint but don’t expect any sort of Koshiyama x Fukami romance brewing. The few foreshadowing feels like trolling. Strangely, Fukami’s trademark of lifting her long hair over ear with her hand to hear better as she concentrates to listen looks like as though she is ready to give a blowjob… OMG what the f*ck did I just say?! Inoue feels like the weakest link but he too has his strong subjects, though not often quizzed. If he is here to get chicks, I believe there are other clubs that has better chances of him doing so. Oh well, girls do love a brainy guy, right? Hope he likes nerdy girls…

Jinko feels like an annex to the team. She isn’t part of the active team but as a supporting role. You know when you have a bunch of race car drivers and part of the crew and team member is the mechanic? Yup, that’s Jinko’s role. So far her biggest achievement is to make Busou’s own buzzer (why do I get the feeling the school is a pun named after the buzzer?). Otherwise she is a pretty forgettable character and even more had she not been such a cutie. Sasajima himself is a big mystery since he has his own ways and pace to teach the newbies. He tells you what is necessary since the best way for one to learn is to experience it first-hand. The world should have more senpais like him even if he is a bit eccentric.

Even if this is just a quiz bowl series, somehow I have this feeling it might go the shonen anime route because characters like Mikuriya who is Koshiyama’s current biggest rival, might become his ally in the future. It doesn’t look likely as the quiz format is usually every participant for themselves but I am looking at the perspective of Mikuriya and Koshiyama acknowledging each other as worthy rivals and then they go around facing other tougher challengers together and grow and learn more. Yeah, that kind of bromance feeling I get from them. Oh heck, some girls are already getting some yaoi thoughts over Niina x Akira.

Akira is interesting as an ‘antagonist’ because of how he surprises everyone with his devilishly unexpected ways. Thanks to him, the quiz meet isn’t as boring as it should be although purists would definitely want this troublemaker out. His approach of thinking is different than the rest since his ultimate goal isn’t to win but to have fun. And by that he messes around with others but tries not to make it illegal. Almost. And if he gets scolded, those crocodile tears and puppy dog eyes sure come in handy. I mean, who could be seriously mean to a sissy guy who cross-dresses, right? Perhaps Akira is to Sonohara what I would call a test from God. You can see her patience running thin but since she is from a missionary school, I guess she must learn to control her feelings and not give into rage. Wow. The house of God also has a little devil in it. In the end, perhaps all Akira want is some attention. Because, what better way than to get everyone’s attention on you by deliberately pissing them off.

Art and animation are rather okay. Standard Japanese anime style and nothing too complicated. I know people come in all shapes and sizes but like I’ve said before, it feels out of place to see people from of varying looks to take part in quiz bowls. A reason why I mentioned the Prince Of Tennis reference because I thought some of the characters here resemble them. Like Sasajima whom I thought reminded me of Sadaharu Inui, Ashiya prompted me to remember Kunimitsu Tezuka while Mikuriya closely resembles Akaya Kirihara. I think Niina and Renji Yanagi (or even Shuusuke Fuji) look almost alike since both have closed eyes. Akira? I thought he shares that same craziness as Jin Akutsu even though they don’t very much resemble each other. Do Ookura and Kaoru Kaidou look alike? No? Okay. Must be just me. Lucky for Koshiyama, I don’t see him anywhere close to Ryouma Echizen. I thought he is fitted more to be in shogi like 3-gatsu No Lion’s Rei. While not a must, is it me or do I notice that smart people wear glasses? Sure there are exceptions but it’s like half of the main characters wear them. Sasajima, Koshiyama, Niina, Seiji and that Leoneil guy. Hey, at least they make them look smart.

I didn’t really recognize anybody in the voice acting department. Well, there is only Ayane Sakura as Sonohara but I couldn’t identify with her. Recently she has been voicing characters that sound different than that bratty stereotype that I have known her for like Kaji in Tsurezure Children. Umika Kawashima, the seiyuu behind Fukami’s voice feels a bit raw. I won’t go so far as to paint her as anywhere near Saori Hayami but it feels like as though her voice isn’t refined. Not to say it is a bad thing whatsoever but her anime voicing roles I checked are so far only in Star Diver and Hunter x Hunter movie. She might sound like an amateur (there are hints of nervousness in it, not sure if it is on purpose or it’s part of the character) but I’ll try to look it from a refreshing perspective point of view since seiyuus who overdramatize their character is far worse than this.

The rest of the other casts are Shun Horie as Koshiyama (Hiyama in 12-sai: Chicchana Mune No Tokimeki), Takuto Satou as Sasajima (Tatsuya Yuuki in Gundam Build Fighters series), Satsumi Matsuda as Jinko (Hiroe in Saki: Zenkoku-hen), Tasuku Hatanaka as Inoue (Kaminari in Boku No Hero Academia), Kaito Ishikawa as Mikuriya (titulat character in Kyoukai No Rinne), Wataru Hatano as Ashiya (Gajeel in Fairy Tail), Tomoaki Maeno as Ookura (Junichi in Amagami SS), Tatsuhisa Suzuki as Niina (Ban in Nanatsu No Taizai), Takuma Nagatsuma as Akira (Lacus Welt in Owari No Seraph), Mao Ichimichi as Kouzuki (Papika in Flip Flappers) and Hikaru Midorikawa as Seiji (Lancer in Fate series). Nothing really special about the opening theme, On My Mind by Mrs Green Apple. I wonder if the lively rock music is suitable for a quiz themed series. The weirdly named ending theme, OOOOO by Babyraids Japan is another rock piece. By the way, those are not the 15th alphabet and are circles which means correct.

On a trivial note, I find it funny that the official English title of this series is called Fastest Finger First. Technically that is what mainly the quiz participants have to do and hence appropriate. But if you hear this title without knowing what this series is about, to some it may sound like a porn title or some video compilation of pranks. I mean when you notice its initials as FFF, doesn’t it just sounds funny? Even in Japanese the name of this series can be written as 7O3X, in reference to the quiz format of seven rights and three wrongs to determine you advance or go out. Looking at that title without knowing what the series is about also evokes thoughts that this might be some sort of futuristic sci-fi anime.

Overall, this anime isn’t for anybody or like it will be something that is mainstream. The lack of any physical action and the action being mainly confined inside the halls and the buzzer might turn off many. Even more so when you realize that they could dramatize how to answer the questions, the strategies they used and how their thoughts are dramatically narrated for this effect, then rinse and repeat the entire thing again would only appeal to nerds. But then again, if you’re more interested in accumulating knowledge and trivia, you won’t be sitting around and watching this anime in the first place. The questions asked are just the tip of the iceberg. Oh heck, just a speck of dust from the vast sea of knowledge. No, the stars in the universe! I mean, who the f*ck wants to know or should know what happened specifically on 5 April 1722, 22 January 1905 and 15 May 1932! OR WHAT FREAKING DAY OF THE WEEK THOSE ARE!!! Hell, I know I wasn’t born then. And out I go!

Question: Will this anime have a sequel? Answer: Only time will tell. Zero points for lack of originality!

N/B: Answer for the first anime created? Astro Boy? If you consider it as the first popular anime. Katsudou Shashin? Not officially recognized by the anime industry due to different method and unconfirmed origins. Dekobou Shingachou: Meian No Shippai? Seikai!

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