Fastest Finger First
Episode 11

by Lauren Orsini,

How would you rate episode 11 of
Fastest Finger First ?

This episode of Fastest Finger First is for the band geeks, the debate team, and anyone else who knows what it's like to combine their teenage awkwardness with a nerdy extracurricular pursuit that demanded professionalism and sincere devotion. It's the best portrayal so far of the inevitable mixture of silliness and seriousness that occurs when teens gather for an afterschool activity, no matter how intellectual or organized it may seem. In “Q: Why Do You Answer?” the characters are finally strong enough to drive the plot with their antics, rather than the other way around. If it weren't for that gratuitous cliffhanger, this would have been one of my favorite episodes so far.

There's not only a learning curve to Quiz Bowl but to the structure of Fastest Finger First as an anime. In order for viewers to understand and play along, a lot of effort goes into making sure we grasp the ever-more-complex rules of the game. This week, we've stuck with one form of the competition long enough to have a rare episode with no explanation at all. We still remember how to play from last week, so we can focus on how the show's colorful characters react to the rules instead. There are three familiar faces to watch—Koshiyama, his rival Mikuriya, and wildcard Akira. Their personalities, and how they react to a points system that allows them to antagonize one another, make for great interpersonal drama. It's not only Akira's chaotic evil reactions that prompt a range of interactions. One of the most interesting moments is when Mikuriya's own captain subtracted a point from him, which seems like a dick move but actually works to acknowledge Mikuriya's status as a contender.

But what stole the show were the gags that punctuated these moments of psychological tension. Yuki and Chiaki playacting Romeo and Juliet was an awkward, goofy moment. I also liked how Yuki attempted to lighten the mood by compelling contenders to act out the “toothache pose.” (A reference to selfies was also echoed in the after-credits chibi scene.) The quiz bowl participants are intellectuals, but they're also socially awkward teenage geeks. I liked how the episodes' jokes took the players out of their element and lowered their guards. They're brilliant, but they're still just kids, and it was cool to see that side of everyone too.

And then, that cliffhanger. By the way, the answer is Sunday—that's the day of the week that the May 15 Incident occurred. I just had to look it up because Koshiyama spent virtual minutes glowing neon and racking his brain over it. I'm certain he came up with the right answer because of what he said about the prime minister's wife being spared because she wasn't there: a tip-off that she was on a weekend trip, perhaps? Even if Koshiyama is correct, he still needs two more points to win. Meanwhile, if Mikuriya answers correctly, he wins right then. My guess is that they'll both get it right, and Koshiyama can feel good about himself for getting the answer correct even if he doesn't go on to the final round. But if my prediction is correct, this cliffhanger wasn't necessary because the winner is already confirmed even now.

Next week appears to be the final episode of the show, barring a second season. This episode had good pacing, but it worries me that we haven't seen the final showdown yet. With that in mind, this series' amusing moments read more like an advertisement to check out the manga when it's over.

Rating: B

Fastest Finger First is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist.

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