I can only say that I enjoyed climbing in the casual sense. The vast majority of experiences I had with the sport was during gym class in school (because it was free). Still, if I had to pick a favorite sport, that would probably be it. It’s exhausting but I always found it incredibly rewarding when you make it to the top and there’s a deceptive amount of thought needed to succeed at it too. So naturally, an anime such as Iwakakeru -Sports Climbing Girls- centered around climbing would grab my attention. It’s totally not all the all-female cast…I swear…
The main character of the show is Konomi Kasahara (Sumire Uesaka), a first-year high school student and a former pro gamer with a particular affinity towards puzzle games. While looking for a club to join, she stumbles upon the school’s climbing wall and decides to give it a try. To her and the Climbing Club members’ surprise, her gaming skills translate quite well here.
Obviously, the exact correlation is a bit of a stretch. Lining up objects to rack up points is pretty different from climbing a wall. It does work in two ways however. For one, it’s decent shorthand that informs the viewer what the draw of climbing is. Be it recognizing the optimal path to take or considering various techniques at one’s disposal, it is essentially a puzzle that the player must solve to win. Second, this is a pretty good backstory for our protagonist. It justifies her determination, understanding, and enjoyment of the sport and that it’s only indirectly related to the present sends a nice message that the only thing that matters is if you’re into the sport or not.
The second half of the episode involves one of the club’s members, Jun Uehara (Yui Ishikawa), challenging Konomi to a race of sorts where one has to reach the top of a climbing course for the other. To be frank, the whole plot is pretty dumb. Both of the girls putting their potential club membership on the line feels contrived as you know for a fact no one is going to get kicked out in the end. Jun is also pretty annoying here too. I get that she serves as a tsundere rival to our protagonist but it’s hard not to your eyes when she acts elitist and calls Konomi out for calling climbing a game despite the fact that is literally what it is. Admittedly, some competition is kind of in order here so I’ll let it slide for the pilot.
As you can imagine, fanservice is aplenty here in Iwakakeru. The visuals do not shy away showing the characters pressing up against the climbing wall or assuming postures that would look suggestive when taken out of context. The climbing attire everyone wears certainly adds to that as well. I can’t really fault the series on the eyecandy though as save for one or two really intentional shots, there is a diegetic excuse to it. Really, the characters do have to move around and play the sport in order for the show to happen. So long as the show doesn’t get any more self-indulgent than it is by default, I’m cool with it.
Thanks for reading!
Watch Iwakakeru -Sport Climbing Girls- on Crunchyroll