Fastest Finger First Series Review: Do You Like Watching Characters Answer Questions?

Overview:

Koshiyama is about as typical an anime dweeb as they come. A book nerd starting high school with few friends or social skills. Then he get dragged into a practice quiz and discovers Quiz Bowl.

Review:

There’s really not a lot of story here. Geeky and shy kid joins new quiz circle at his high school and as a result gains some confidence, kind of makes some friends, and kind of finds a rival. I say kind of, because in these 12 episodes the skeleton for future developments is set up but very little time is devoted to anything outside of quizzing and learning about question formats and practicing to answer.

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Enjoyment of this show relies very heavily on the audience enjoying game shows or playing along with quizzes. If you like hearing characters discuss strategies for when you can quiz in or narrow down answers, then you will have fun. If you like seeing if you can beat characters to the right answer, you’ll probably have fun. If you actually want the back story on the characters or to see any of the potential character developments realized you’ll probably end up disappointed.

For me, I loved being inside Koshiyama’s head as he tried to find the answer to questions. Sometimes he was successful and sometimes not (so at least no plot armour for the rookie quizzer) but his thinking and how he drew on his knowledge from the vast array of books he had read was kind of fun to follow.

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The other members of the team and most the rival players are also fun enough, but they just don’t spend enough time with any of them. They all remain more types than characters and, particularly with the leader of Koshiyama’s team, it felt like there was a lot missing that would just make all these characters feel a bit more real and fleshed out.

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Mikuriya gets a lot more time as the set up rival from another school, but even he doesn’t get much beyond his attitude and aptitude. We literally know nothing about him beyond the fact that he likes quizzes and he doesn’t like to lose.

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Of course, the show isn’t all smooth sailing. The introduction of Akira in the latter half hurt my enjoyment of some of the final episodes. He was a really annoying character and while the show needed something to shake up all the composed quizzers and Akira served that role well, he didn’t make it more fun to watch.

The opening song is enjoyable enough and the dings and beeps of the buzzers are certainly nostalgic sounding. Otherwise the music and sound is pretty unremarkable as are most of the visuals.

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There’s no greater narrative going on here. No fighting for a greater good. This is just about the characters and quizzing with Quiz Bowl getting the lion’s share of development even at the expense of the characters. Still, if that works for you then you should have some fun with this show. I certainly did and while it is hardly going to be my favourite anime ever and rewatch value is pretty low (sorry, once I know what the answer is going to be a lot of the fun goes out the window) I’d actually happy watch a second season of this, though that seems unlikely that we’ll get one.

Probably the best thing I can say about this show is that it is consistent in what it delivers.

If you watched Fastest Finger First I’d love to know your thoughts on it.


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Karandi James.

 

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Anime-Gataris Episode 1: A Pleasant Surprise

Overview:

Just as soon as she enters Sakaneko Private High School, Asagaya Minoa is dragged into the anime club by her classmate, Kamiigusa Alice, even though she knows next to nothing about anime. A classmate, Kouenji Miko, along with other anime-loving senpais, quickly turn her into an anime fan. Fighting off the incessant shut-down threats of the student council, and completely oblivious to the coming apocalypse, the anime club talks about anime in the club, at Akihabara, at anime Meccas, and at hot springs.

– from Crunchyroll

Review:

This is the kind of show I try usually just to confirm it is what I think it is from the excessively pink haired smiling protagonist surrounded by generic assortment high school tropes pretending to be characters in the art work. And usually I get about ten minutes in, feel satisfied that the show is not doing anything I didn’t expect, drop and move on.

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And yet, I didn’t feel any compulsion to stop watching during this. In fact, I laughed out loud a couple of times, rolled my eyes a few other times, and generally sat up and paid attention to the over the top silliness and the sheer number of misappropriated anime they managed to squeeze into some of those conversations. My favourite was ‘The Girl Who Slept Through Time’.

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Alright, there’s nothing new about self-aware comedy or taking cheap pot shots at light novels, anime, or the culture surrounding it, and there’s certainly nothing new about directly referencing the material you’re making fun of, but this episode made me laugh and to be honest, that was enough.

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I don’t know if I’ll make it through a whole season of this or whether that initial good feeling I got from this episode will wear away after a couple of derivative and fairly mindless episodes, but I’m willing to give this a go and hope for the best.


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TWOCAR Episode 1: Just Not For Me

Review:

I kind of knew starting this that I probably wasn’t the audience for this show so while there is actually nothing wrong with this as a first episode it absolutely did not appeal to me. When we got to six minutes and the race commentator was still introducing each quirky team so that each girl had a chance to say something witty and show off their particular quirk (twins, cross-dressing, goth-loli, etc), I definitely knew this show wasn’t something I was going to stick out.

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Despite that, I did get to the end of the episode and was still pretty indifferent to everything that was going on. It looks nice enough, has set up the characters, and pretty much has done what it needs to do as a first episode, so if you like high school girl club stories and felt what was missing from your life was one that involved motor-sports than this might be for you.

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For me though, I’ll leave this show here.


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Fastest Finger First Episode 7: New Rivals, New Brothers, New Buzzers?

Review Episode 7:

This was interesting in that it felt like lots happened during the episode and you could list off a lot of stuff, but in terms of moving the plot forward we started with them preparing for the regular meet and we end with them still in preparation for the regular meet. Points for not letting an episode with almost zero plot progression drag and a lot of that has to do with the different character interactions.

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At the same time though, I just kept kind of wanting them to move this along a bit. As much fun as the quizzes have been, and learning new facts, and watching the characters stumble their way toward being competitive, as a series the show is leaving a lot of room for improvement. We get small hints at character development and relationship building but these haven’t amounted to a lot yet so it is hard to know if the payoff will ultimately be enough to carry the show to its conclusion.

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Still, there are worse ways I could spend twenty minutes of my week than catching the next episode of a show that isn’t exactly brilliant but has managed to remain pretty even in its delivery throughout the season.


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Gamers Episodes 2 + 3: Not Game Over For Amano

Review Episode 2:

This story might be a little heavy handed in delivering its message and asserting the independence of its characters but it is really great to watch unfold. In between the nostalgic blips and bloops of classic gaming music and characters genuinely enjoying their hobby, we see the fall out of Amano’s rejection for joining the gaming club. His classmates (in fact the whole school) are gossiping and he’s more or less oblivious. Enter Uehara (guy with the pink haired girlfriend) to give us the grass is not greener on the other side story.

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Basically, Uehara was a gamer but decided he wanted to not be that person in high school and so transformed himself. But which is the better option? Amano is essentially ostracised in the classroom (originally by his own shy personality and now by gossip and rumours) and Uehara is forcing himself to act in a way that doesn’t suit in order to ensure acceptance. The fact that events this episode seem to lead to a friendship forming between the pair just makes it more interesting to see where they are all going.

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What really surprised was that Amano has yet to actually join the game club. I kind of thought after rejecting it last episode, he’d reflect and after a few minor mishaps this episode he’d cave and rock up to the club room. I’m impressed the series didn’t go there in episode 2. By the way, the theme song (actually all the music) for this show, rocks.

Review Episode 3:

It’s just like watching a train wreck as Amano is forced into and attempts to interact with others. The love triangle (square/pentagon/whatever) quickly forms even though basically everyone is just making assumptions about everyone else. Given they still aren’t in the game club, I wonder if ultimately they are going to make their own group, or just keep gaming alone-together but it hardly even matters at this point because this story really did take on a life of its own separate from the usual girl tries to get guy into club.

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There were a few moments this episode where felt the obvious comedy elements were intruding on what is otherwise a really fun and enjoyable story, but mostly the jokes are hitting the mark for me and that’s probably to do with the subject matter and the fact that I appreciate these characters even as they simply take on assigned roles.

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I’m really loving watching this and while I’m not declaring it a must watch, I think for people who grew up as gamers, this is going to be a fun ride.


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Gamers Episode 1: Loners Going to Lone

Overview:

“Would you like to be with me… in the Gamers Club?” Amano Keita is a perfectly mediocre loner with no particular distinguishing features other than his love for games. One day, his school’s prettiest girl and Gamer Club President Tendo Karen suddenly calls out to him.

– From Crunchyroll.

Review:

There’s this thing I really hate about stories where they make out that being alone is the single worst thing that can happen to a person and the loner is almost always ‘cured’ when someone or something reaches out to them and helps them see themselves in a new light and gives them some confidence. While some people are alone and desperately want someone to reach out to them, there are genuinely people who are happy with their life being pretty spartan in terms of interactions with other people. So where does Gamers come into this? As a first episode it was going directly down the path of so many other stories, and then Amano turned the pretty blonde down.

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Admittedly, I don’t think his rejection is actually going to stick given its kind of clear he is going to join the club, but it was so nice for him to assert that he was happy playing games on his terms. It means, when he inevitably does join the club, this show doesn’t have to be about transforming him as some sort of charity case. More importantly, it gives his character time to figure out whether he really wants to join and why rather than being dragged into it by the pushy blonde which is the set up of so many other stories.

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I’m really sitting on the fence with this story. I’m not really into high school anime about clubs but I do love the sound track so far (gaming sound effects are releasing strong nostalgia vibes) and there have been enough moments of genuine amusement to make this seem like a promising pick up for the season. Still, this one is a wait and see.


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