Image source: アニメ「ナナマル サンバツ」公式‏ on Twitter

I’ll take “Trick of the Trade” for 600, Alex.

This past weekend, the first two episodes of 7O3X Fastest Finger First were shown at a special premiere event in Japan and Anime Now! was there to check it out. Based on the manga series of the same name, the story of 7O3X centers around Koshiyama Shiki, an unremarkable high school freshmen. A bookworm since childhood, Shiki finds his calling in his high school quiz club after a quick on-stage quiz bout. From there, he enters the world of competitive quizzes where he quickly learns that knowledge is not enough.

Format-wise, 7O3X is very much a sports anime series. Through the eyes of the protagonist, the viewer is taken by the hand and led into a new world where they gradually learn the rules and workings, all while a story of victories and defeat through competition goes on. It makes for engaging and worthwhile entertainment.

One thing that makes the series so accessible is the fact that everyone knows what a quiz is and how it works. You have a host asking questions and contestants trying to be the first to answer. There’s very little in terms of an entry barrier. And yet, as simplistic as they may seem, you quickly learn that there’s much more at play and far more depth than you might assume.

Right away, 7O3X makes it clear that no matter how knowledgeable you may be, it’s pointless unless you can press the button first. To that end, we’re shown that there’s a lot more going on that just having a question asked and then pressing a button to answer. In order to be the first, you need be able to decipher what is going to be asked before anyone else, even while the question is still on the host’s lips. There are other tips and hints one can use to try to get an edge over their opponents, from memorizing questions to how you place your finger on the button to reading the host’s personality.

Watching the actual quizzes themselves is also extremely engaging. The questions appear overlaid on the screen in the same manner as they would in an actual game show, letting the viewer feel like another contestant in the game. There were times when I realized I had my finger held over an imaginary button praying that they would ask a question that I knew the answer to.

Image source: アニメ「ナナマル サンバツ」公式‏ on Twitter

In terms of characters, we aren’t given much in terms of depth in the first two episodes. There are four main characters, but only two of them really give hints as to something much deeper at play in their minds and motivations. That said, everyone is likable and there’s enough going on in terms of story that any initial slowness in character development is perfectly understandable.

Overall, 7O3X does everything right for its initial two episodes. It takes the topic of competitive quizzing and makes it engaging and entertaining and, most importantly, accessible. You’re shown that while, yes, the people who do this are smart, there’s more going on than meets the eye, and that there’s a vast array of tools one can use to level a playing field. Indeed, the fastest finger is first.

7O3X Fastest Finger First is scheduled to begin airing in Japan on July 5, 2017. There is currently no simulcast information.

[Side note: For those who are curious, “7O3X” is a competitive quizzing term that indicates a quiz format. In a 7O3X quiz, contestants need to get seven answers correct—or “7 Os”—to move on to the next stage. Three misses—or “3 Xs”—and a contestant is disqualified.]

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