We study the main parameters of earthquakes from the perspective of the first digit phenomenon: the nonuniform probability of the lower first digit different from 0 compared to the higher ones. We found that source parameters like coseismic slip distributions at the fault and coseismic inland displacements show first digit anomaly. We also found the tsunami runups measured after the earthquake to display the phenomenon. Other parameters found to obey first digit anomaly are related to the aftershocks: we show that seismic moment liberation and seismic waiting times also display an anomaly. We explain this finding by invoking a self-organized criticality framework. We demonstrate that critically organized automata show the first digit signature and we interpret this as a possible explanation of the behavior of the studied parameters of the Tohoku earthquake.