Fastest Finger First
Episode 4

by Lauren Orsini,

How would you rate episode 4 of
Fastest Finger First ?

After a momentous first three episodes with consistently rising action, Fastest Finger First has reached a dull interlude. Technically, “A Mysterious Beauty Appears” is a setup episode, but what it's setting up takes just a fraction of the episode, and the rest is a lot of exposition and vague hand-wringing. While I continued to adore voice performances and facial expressions, I think the animation took a hit this week—and that's something I rarely notice to begin with. Overall, it's a slight misstep for a show that I consider to be one of the strongest starters of the season.

First comes quiz bowl, next comes bike riding? These are some of the jerkiest pedaling movements I've ever seen, so I wish the show would just stick to what it does well—illustrating the tension and drama inherent to the moment before a character pushes the quiz buzzer. Anyway, Fukami is late for something that is never explained, so she hops on the back of Koshiyama's bicycle. Once again, I really love the contrast between Fukami's melodic alto and Koshiyama's higher pitch (and later, between Fukami's voice and Yukicchi's animated soprano). Fukami thought nothing of jumping right into Koshiyama's personal space, and I attributed this to her single-minded focus on quiz bowl, but it looks like there might actually be a romance brewing. Later, when Koshiyama shares his lunch with a starving, charming stranger, Fukami huffs off upset, while thinking to herself, “Why did I say that?” It was a funny moment that confirmed Fukami's personality while teaching us something about her at the same time that she (perhaps) learned something new about herself.

The real romance here isn't Fukami's emerging feelings, or the club president's mysterious tie to the hungry girl with the Kansai dialect (my guess is he's getting close to try to get some buzzers out of her circuit-wiring hobby), or even the all-girls club and their hilarious BL shipping tendencies, but between Koshiyama and his burgeoning appreciation for quiz bowl. The explanation of “classic questions” felt like a rehash of the explanation in episode three, and indeed, we even heard plenty of repeat questions too. I did love the way the three club members “buzzed in” using a calculator! It was a witty solution and cutely animated as well—like when Fukami was clearly overeager and typed “99999”. It was adorable when some of Koshiyama's classmates asked him if they should join the quiz club (to meet girls, presumably) and he got the naive assumption that they actually liked quiz bowl as much as he did. Koshiyama had a really good line here: “Before I worry about defeating others, I want to defeat quiz bowl itself.” For him it's not about winning or competition, but a quest for knowledge, something a lot of bookworms can relate to.

However, this one great quote is eclipsed by Koshiyama's final line of the episode: “I guess this is what youth is.” Fastest Finger First is a seinen anime for an older audience who's no longer in high school, but perhaps nostalgic for that time—and this line is a direct callout to them. To me, it sounds incredibly cheesy and fourth-wall-breaking, as if to say that this is less about the world of quiz bowl—which has honestly sucked me in—and more about wish fulfillment fantasies for former geeky high schoolers. Let's just get back to the quizzing.

Rating: C+

Fastest Finger First is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist.

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