I didn’t have a lot of sleeper picks going into this season, but Nana Maru San Batsu (sometimes written as “7O3X”) was definitely one of them. Having skimmed the manga and found it charming in a straightforward and unpretentious way, I figured that the anime had a chance to be pretty solid if the adaptation didn’t mess it up. And given that the staff is experienced and solid and TMS has a deft hand with this sort of material, it didn’t seem too likely they would.
Well, they didn’t. This was a solid premiere that was solidly in line with the manga in terms of appeal. There’s not a whole lot that’s truly original going on with Nana Maru San Batsu – we’ve seen the general template of the unassuming first-year entering high school and finding their passion through a club in many a sports anime. That means that success or failure comes down to execution, and we get a lot of energy and enthusiasm here. I like Horie Shun as protagonist Koshiyama Shiki – he was the best performer in the 12-Sai cast, and he’s one of the more convincing seiyuu at portraying younger teens believably.
I also like the notion of “Quiz Bowl” as the sport in question for a sports series – it hasn’t really been done in an anime that was remotely trying for realism, and for those of us that (like Shiki) loved the library growing up, it’s a topic very close to our hearts. Like any club-themed series there are going to be a variety of personalities involved – the gung-ho and demanding club president, the beautiful and slightly awkward girl who knows her way around the quiz circuit, the savant with insane hearing and reflexes (and a bunch more where that came from).
As a general rule I’ve never felt it was necessary to be knowledgeable about the sport or other hook (like Karuta or Kabuki) in a show like this in order to enjoy it. That may or may not be true with 7O3X – I think a passion for esoterica would go a long way towards drawing one in. There’s so much more to “fastest finger” quizzes than general knowledge – hearing and reflexes, sure, but also the strategy of how to figure out the question from what’s often a tiny fragment of information. it seems as if the mangaka is pretty geeky about this topic, so I expect the anime to go pretty deep – all the more reason why I wonder how well Nana Maru San Batsu will connect with a broader audience. We’ll see – for me at least, this looks to be pretty much in the sweet spot.