Fastest Finger First
Episode 12

by Lauren Orsini,

How would you rate episode 12 of
Fastest Finger First ?

I had extremely high hopes for Fastest Finger First, a show that gave competitive quizzing the sports anime treatment. Twelve episodes later, I have to say I'm disappointed. Other than the uniqueness of the activity itself, Fastest Finger First offered little to differentiate itself. While it did take a fun and interesting dip into the world of quiz bowl, it never took the full plunge. An interesting premise and lovable geek characters drew me in, but the final episode was a stark reminder that it wasn't going to pay off. It was an all too brief venture into a fascinating world, and the shortcuts the final episode took just soured the initial excitement I had about this show.

First: what worked? I expected that the day-of-the-week question would be the clincher for Mikuriya, Koshiyama, and Akira's round, and that was incorrect. I love it when I'm wrong! All three of them got the answer right, which meant that it wasn't a sudden win for Mikuriya. Koshiyama's arrival at the correct answer was even more cerebral than I expected. Akira treated his win with his usual cunning and bad faith, choosing to rile up his rivals, but this time Koshiyama of all people decided to say something about it: “We've all been taking this seriously! Why do you keep doing these mean-spirited things to interfere?” I've repeatedly said that Koshiyama always gets the best line of the episode, but maybe I'm wrong—it's the best line of the episode because it's coming from Koshiyama. If anyone else had said this, it would have been super cheesy. But Koshiyama is such a lovable dork that I often give him a free pass for this stuff.

Mikuriya is unfazed and Koshiyama doesn't appreciate his “assistance,” so Akira walks out, claiming he's not having fun anymore. We discover Akira's raison d'etre is to provoke others until he gets attention from them, even if it's negative attention, because he doesn't have any friends, and this is his super-awful coping mechanism to try to get noticed. After an extremely boys-love confrontation with his coach—complete with fujoshi onlookers (in case we still haven't realized this is one of manga creator Iqura Sugimoto's only non-BL titles)—we discover the beginnings of a redemption arc. Really, Akira left because he couldn't ignore the earnestness of his competitors in contrast with the correct answer he arrived at through sort-of cheating. (日 and 月, the first kanji in Sunday and Monday, look really similar if you scribble.) I really don't like directing the fujoshi gaze at a middle school kid, but I do like Akira as a character, and I love these emerging threads of self-awareness in his personal development. Now that we know why he's an attention-seeking little snot, we're waiting on a revelation.

Then we get to what doesn't really work. We spent so much time on Akira's redemption that we didn't have time to show the main event, the final round of the Regular Meet! We're simply told that Sasajima won everything easily—breaking storytelling's cardinal rule of “show don't tell.” What format did it take? What questions did they ask? And what happened between Sasajima and Fukami's brother? Really, what happened to Fukami, who started as such an integral character, whose voice was always a delight, and who was barely noticeable at all this week? There wasn't all that much to this story or these characters, but the anime lacked the discipline in pacing to give each of them a satisfactory conclusion. It had the meandering feel of a 24-episode sports anime when it needed to be more tightly written—the better to avoid simply skipping over the most important round of the meet! The result was an anime with my favorite premise of the season and characters I wanted to know more about, but lacked the execution to do either of those things justice.

Rating: C+

Fastest Finger First is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist.

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