It’s the Climb!
- Episodes : 12
- Genre : Comedy, Sports, School
- Airing Date : Blade
- Producers : October 2020 – December 2020
About Iwakakeru -Sport Climbing Girls-
Iwakakeru -Sport Climbing Girls- follows the protagonist Kasahara Konomi, a new student at Hanamiya Girls’ High. Her desire to enter an after-school club leads eventually leads her to the Hanamiya climbing wall, where she meets the stern but kind Uehara Jun. While Jun is adamant that only members of the Hanamiya Climbing Team can touch the wall, she lets Konomi try her hand at climbing. Konomi surprises Jun by showing analytical ability and tenacity beyond that of a mere beginner. Konomi’s interest is piqued and after doing incredibly well in an exhibition climb against Jun, she decides to join the Hanamiya Climbing Team.
For the Love of the Game
Iwakakeru follows the sport of rock climbing and like any other sports anime, it features a diverse cast of characters who are incredibly passionate about the sport. The characters have their very distinct and personal journeys and approaches to climbing which give each of them their unique traits and ideologies, but overall, every character in this show is absolutely crazy about climbing. The passion throughout the anime also inspires a heightened sense of competition amongst the characters.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
While climbing can be understood to be an individual sport, Iwakakeru emphasizes the team element that can exist within the sport. Konomi’s journey to becoming a seasoned climber is her own; however, she has the support and guidance of her three Hanamiya teammates: the diligent Uehara Jun, experienced vice-president of the Climbing Club Sugiura Nonoka and the “Princess of Lead”, President Yotsuba Sayo, who is one of three giants of climbing at high school level. The goal of the Hanamiya Girls’ High Climbing Club
Iwakakeru places a bit of emphasis on the mental aspect of climbing from as early as the first episode when Jun and Konomi go head-to-head. Jun’s surprise at Konomi’s rapid improvement after just a few attempts ended up being her downfall as she could no longer focus on the wall in front of her. This becomes a consistent issue for Jun as she struggles with demons from her childhood when she began her career as a climber. Conversely, Konomi approaches each wall with the mind of a beginner and the mentality of someone who was once incredibly into puzzle games. Both traits enable Konomi to have a firmer grasp on the art of climbing than what you would expect from a beginner.
As a result of Iwakakeru’s centering of teamwork, Konomi ends up debuting in competition a mere day after she signed up for the Hanamiya Climbing Club. It is there where we meet the other significant teams: Kurikawa High captained by the Iwamine Chinari, also known as the “Climbing Spider”, one of the three giants of climbing; St. Catalano Girls captained by Fujita Masumi, better known as “Black Panther”, the third and final of the climbing “big three” introduced in Iwa Kakeru; Kokureikan High School featuring the professional climber, Kurusu Anne the “Princess of Climbing”; and finally, Matsubase High led by Niijima Kaoru.
The protagonist of Iwakakeru is the puzzle-loving phenom Kasahara Konomi, who has a history of excellence when it comes to her exploits. She was a ballet dancer from the age of three, going as far as becoming the Prima before she quit. Konomi’s greatest gift is her power of analyzation, which enables her to mark the path she will climb long before she conquers it with her body. Yotsuba Sayo, captain of the Hanamiya Climbing Club, once said that a climber must conquer a challenge twice: once with their mind, the second time with their body. Konomi takes this to heart and makes sure to have the best route committed to mind and body before she even starts. Her high level of intuition enables Konomi to have a very clean upward trajectory in both skill and temperament and this makes her part of a very large pantheon of exciting rookie protagonists in sports anime.
Serious and dedicated to her craft, Uehara Jun is Hanamiya Climbing Club’s other first-year. With experience going back to her childhood, climbing is in Jun’s blood and she loves it more than anything else on Earth. Her seriousness tends to be quite a drawback for her as she is susceptible to crises of confidence. She has driven many people away from the sport of climbing with her refusal to see it as “fun” or a game. At her worst, Jun could not even bring herself to climb the children’s practice wall at her part-time job as a result of her being mentally broken by her poor performance at the Kanto Championships. By the end of episode 9, and after a big effort by her childhood rival, Uchimura Akane, to get Jun back to her good form.
Vice-President of the Hanamiya Girls’ High Climbing Club, Nonoka is a happy-go-lucky character whose experience allows her to send many kinds of climbing courses despite her small stature. Her ultimate skill is her suppleness which enables her to climb walls with unusual grips and stances, as well as use her legs where it would be difficult for a larger climber to do so. Her performance at Preliminaries was disappointing as she was unable to send a single course, eventually breaking down in Sayo’s arms while lamenting the small size that had been her blessing up until that point.
Yotsuba Sayo – “Princess of Lead”
Yotsuba Sayo is the President of Hanamiya Girls’ High’s Climbing Club and her ability is among the best at her level. Dubbed the “Princess of Lead”, Sayo’s calm demeanour and height enable her to send some of the most difficult courses with ease and lead her team with charisma and management potential. Sayo displays a tenacity that seems uncharacteristic in the Kanto Championships when she sends one of the climbing walls in the semi-final despite nursing an injury. Sayo sees Konomi’s talent for the first time and makes the decision to throw Konomi into the deep end, knowing well that she will excel if pushed, showing an understanding of what makes an expert climber.
Art and Animation
Iwakakeru is immensely colorful and from a character design aspect, the anime does well to highlight the uniqueness of each character. This goes as far as their speech patterns and climbing styles, but also in skin deep elements like hair colour; however, some of the most interesting sequences can be seen when Konomi climbs, as the climbing wall is made to look like candy crush before she conquers them physically. While Iwakakeru can look incredibly pretty from time to time; however, it is not the kind of visual experience that will change your life, it just looks good.
Honey’s Anime Verdict
Iwakakeru is an anime that has flashes of exciting moments, which is what we come to expect from a sports anime; however, something seems to be missing. Iwakakeru has a rich roster of characters but each one, Konomi included, feel rather shallow and their development rushed. Above that, the series sends us right into the competition stage of the journey, rather than continuously introducing us to the characters and the story in the way that other sports anime like Haikyuu! do.
Iwakakeru is a good watch, but it is difficult not to lament the way in which a good concept might not have been executed to the best of its potential. Characters in Iwakakeru almost feel completely fleshed out minutes after their introduction and while there are flashes of interesting dynamics between characters and character histories