After the frenetic excitement of last week’s quiz bowl faceoff, Nana Maru San Batsu takes a different approach this week. It’s one more focused on the daily lives of the cast, interspersed with a healthy dose of background on what it takes to succeed at the quiz game. As to the latter, I have a suspicion we’re going to get that pretty much every week – after all, in a show focused on trivia it hardly seems right to soft-pedal the details, and the pursuit of knowledge for competitive purposes is a topic about which you could barely scratch the surface in 12 anime episodes.
I think this was the strongest episode yet for Koshiyama-kun, who’s really grown into the foundational role he has in 7O3X. I don’t know if you remember what it felt like to be a young teenager and find something you really felt passionate about (besides sex, which is a constant) – that giddiness, that head rush of desire to share it with others. I thought that was portrayed really well in the early part of this episode, as was the fact that Shiki is really starting for the first time to think seriously about levelling up in is life. He’s concerning himself with social norms, he’s trying to become a more social creature himself – but he’s also struggling with a physical immaturity that’s always a burden for a boy his age. The bike incident in the beginning was a particular humiliation for that reason, though Fukami had no idea she was inflicting it.
If it seems like Sasajima-sempai is overwhelming you with information about quiz bowl, believe me – you’re getting the training wheels version. What we’re seeing barely scratches the surface but I’m glad Nana Maru trusts its audience enough to explore the topic seriously. It’s a bit of a challenge for Buzou (which is still a member short of even being able to call itself a club) to become a serious contender – they don’t even have the money (100,000 Yen!) for a set of buzzers to practice with, instead having to improvize with a calculator. But when it comes to stuff like the 300 classics and “parallel questions”, Sasajima has a (mostly) willing audience, and a wealth of enthusiasm to combat the lack of experience and equipment. He also has a sly teacher’s insight, making sure to ask an otaku question when he sees that Daisuke is frustrated at his inability to keep up with Shiki and Mari.
That appears to be not all he has. It seems Sasajima was a rather legendary figure in middle school, so much so that his old friends (including the silent Fukami Seiji, whose name can’t be a coincidence) are surprised he’s ended up at a public high school of little renown. We also catch up with Mari’s pal Yuki-chan, whose all-girls club is using the buzzer at a family restaurant for practice. Yuki’s teammates include a couple of girls who appear to have fujoshish tendencies – one of them takes special note of Sasaki-kun and his sempai, but their favorite at Buzou appears to be Inoue-kun (it would do his heart good to hear that, poor fellow).
The other mystery figure we meet is this girl. She makes a fleeting appearance early on, riding on a bike (in the more conventional arrangement) with Sasajima-sempai. Later she turns up in the library, passing out from hunger as Koshiyama is eating his lunch. Turns out this girl is an electronics nut (and apparently from Kansai), but what her connection with the Kaichou (D’OH! – She’s going to make the buzzers!) is we still don’t know (and Shiki and Daisuke don’t have the nerve to ask). She may well be Sasajima-kun’s girlfriend, who knows – but it also seems possible she might by the magical fifth member that would turn the Buzou trivia circle into an actual club…