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

7O3X firmly establishes itself as playing by all the normal rules of a sports/club based anime. However, it explores the modern and increasingly expanding “sport” of competitive quiz bowl. Most western viewers will recognize “quiz bowl” under various names (Brain Bowl, History Bowl, Mathletes, or my own Academic Decathlon), but it’s a rather recent development in schools in Japan.

7O3X Dives into the World of Competitive Quizzing

The overall premise of 7O3X has already been well discussed by our own Toshi Nakamura, but what I find most interesting about the series so far is just how accurate I find it. I’m also intrigued by how the series may help introduce the competition type to more schools if it becomes popular.

In addition to my own experiences in the United States (I was on an Academic Decathlon team that often won at regionals and sometimes state competitions), I’ve worked at a school in Japan which hosted an English version of a History Bowl and was a reader for the competition. I’ve watched school competitions in Japanese, as well.

Quiz Bowl is a very recent development in Japanese schools. There aren’t that many established clubs, although more are created each year. This is represented in 7O3X, too, as the main characters don’t have a club. Instead, they are members of a “circle,” which is a provisional group. Only when they have enough interest (five members at their particular school), will they become an officially recognized club.

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

Toshi excellently summed up the importance of being first, even if you aren’t sure of the answer. Depending on the circumstances and particular team rules, there are sometimes good strategic reasons to buzz in even when you specifically do not know the answer.

The first few episodes of 7O3X do an excellent job of demonstrating all is fair and love and Quiz Bowl when more experienced players make what at first appear to be self-sabotaging decisions as part of a wider strategy.

As 7O3X refers to in its very title, seven correct answers will move you forward, while three wrong answers will have you eliminated. Depending on the rules, it may be worth it to trade the bad mark for a question you can’t answer to deny your opponent who is close to moving up an opportunity to answer a question in a subject they know well.

Of course, when to use a buzzer strategy like the one discussed above is always based on understanding the content or structure of the question being asked. You can’t make a sound decision on how to employ wide strategy until you know if you can or can’t answer the question.

More importantly, if you do not understand what your opponents seem capable of recognizing or answering (and thus employing buzzer strategies themselves against you and other individuals or teams), you won’t be able to know when to deploy such strategy. In fact, doing so while not knowing or while misjudging your opponents is very likely to end up a significant blunder, hurting yourself or your team, or actually helping your opponent.

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

This is precisely why one of the aspects of 7O3X I enjoy so far is the time spent on the structure of the questions and how their particular syntax translates to how the readers present those questions. I can absolutely guarantee that the way the show presents this structure is accurate to both Japanese and English versions of the questions. Clearly there are significant differences in the word order and grammar of Japanese and English, but grammatical concepts themselves are shared across human languages, so the general concepts are understandable in either.

How the question is structured gives hints about the answer. Furthermore, the way in which the question is read sheds even more light on the eventual answer. A person reading the questions has a special version which shows structure and emphasis using different font styles. Also, font style changes are used to signify where a question becomes easier to answer. In some variations of play, these changes reduce the amount of points awarded for a correct answer.

In the first 703X interscholastic competition, only “seven right, three wrong” was used to determine winning teams. However, in many cases, especially with many particularly strong teams, the difference of just a few tens of points based on how soon in a question a team or individual buzzed in and answered correctly will determine the winners.

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

Although my own experiences in Academic Decathlon primarily focused on rather boring individual tests (with many apologies to my coach, Scott), I think that the Bowl part of competition was always the most exciting (although speech and interview certainly had their moments). This was especially true being able to be in team uniform with friends and family in the audience.

Having now been on the other side of the reader podium, I still feel that the excitement is best when competitors have those around them to celebrate their victories or mourn their losses. We shall see if the characters of 7O3X come to feel the same.

7O3X: Fastest Finger First is simulcast on Crunchyroll.

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