Anime set in a high school can be exhaustingly unimaginitive – there are so many ecchi harems and romantic comedies that reuse the same formula every season, and it gets incredibly tiring. So I tend to avoid school anime unless it has some kind of unique element, and Fastest Finger First is a show that I can’t really compare to anything else.
Years of watching them with my grandmother has caused me to enjoy TV quiz shows such as The Chase, Eggheads, and Tipping Point, so I was really excited to find out there’s an anime about competitive quiz teams – but did it live up to the hype?
The show revolves around a 15-year-old student named Shiki Koshiyama who has spent his life reading books, picking up vast swathes of knowledge on history, classical literature and a whole bunch of other fields.
On Koyashima’s first day of high school, he is handed a piece of paper by an eccentric second-year named Gakuto Sasajima who is trying to set up a quiz bowl club at the school.
Koyashima opens the paper to find a set of questions, and decides to fill in the answers to pass the time. Later on, he is selected to take part in a mini quiz that Sasajima is running to attract first year students to his quiz bowl circle, and the journey goes from there!
First things first – the premise behind Fastest Finger First is fascinating and different, and I couldn’t stop watching – in fact, I finished all twelve episodes in less than 24 hours!
The opening is incredibly upbeat, uses a brilliant song and it makes me want to do the same motions as the characters. I found myself cheering for the team every time it played!
I was invested in the main characters from the moment they were introduced – Koyashima is a bit clumsy but very smart and never annoying, I love the passion that Mari Fukami shows, and Gakuto is mysterious but intriguing and clearly loves quiz bowl.
And that’s what the show is about – mastering what you love! Even if you don’t know the first thing about quizzing, if you’ve ever been truly invested in a hobby, whether it be anime, music, or video games, you should be able to relate to the characters and appreciate the story.
I think Fastest Finger First is somewhat similar to sports anime in that watching the characters improve their skills in the hobby they’re passionate about is very motivational and leaves you feeling refreshed after each episode.
Who knew quizzing could be this intense?
The show isn’t perfect by any means – everyone seems to have unrealistic amounts of knowledge for high school students, the animation is average at best, and it suffers from some typical anime cliches – but the good far outweighs the bad.
I also think Akira Sonohara’s feelings should have been further explored – he is seen cross-dressing three times throughout the show, and this makes me wonder if he’s experiencing gender dysphoria. I want to know more about the character!
Finally, I won’t spoil it but the ending leaves a few things unresolved. I would love a second season to make this right, but I don’t expect it to happen as Fastest Finger First isn’t a particularly well known anime and it totally passed me by when it was airing.
From reading reviews and comments, it seems a lot of viewers hate Fukami’s voice, but I’m a massive fan of it – its mature and realistic. Not all schoolgirls sound like a pack of screeching rats, you know!?
Really fun way to spend five hours. It probably won’t have a lasting impact on you, but its easy to get emotionally invested in the characters and the voice actors certainly won’t give you a headache. Overall, a 7/10.
You can watch Fastest Finger First on Crunchyroll for free!