REVIEW: ‘Iwa Kakeru -Sport Climbing Girls’ Highlights Perseverance While Still Taking Care of Yourself

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Iwa Kakeru -Sport Climbing Girls Season 1

Iwa Kakeru -Sport Climbing Girls is a sports anime produced by Blade. Kasahara Konomi was a champion level video game player. Her love for puzzle games knew no bounds. Now, as she enters her first year of school at Hanamiya Girls High School, Konomi must find something new to pursue. This new pursuit reveals itself in the form of an indoor rock climbing wall, and the team of fellow students who make up the school’s competitive climbing club. 

The underdog story is a timeless classic. It is almost impossible to not root for the plucky newcomer who is giving it their all as they strive to best the arrogant jerk who sits atop the standings in whatever sport or competition the story takes place in. With little doubt, this is largely due to the fact that, at some point in our lives, we have all been the underdog. The upstart trying to reach what seems unreachable. And while it doesn’t necessarily always work out for us, in a way, that makes the fictional characters we root for triumphs feel all the sweeter.

While Iwa Kakeru -Sport Climbing Girls Season 1 only comprises 12 episodes it does a lot in that relatively short time. From Konomi’s first experience climbing the wall at her school to her team’s entry into the national championships, the series is a constantly evolving story of struggle, failure, and triumph. It explores the struggles of the Hanamiya Girls High School both on the wall, as well as in their minds. As they each discover that the hardest climbs are not necessarily the physical ones.

Konomi’s journey through the world of competitive climbing is a smooth, well-executed ride of struggles and tribulations that ultimately highlights the power of self-belief and teamwork. The only place where one can really fault the show’s main plot is just how smoothly Konomi manages to grasp the ins and outs of her new passion. As someone who has never done physical competitions of any stripe before, she manages to climb those vertical walls with surprising ease. As a fellow life long gamer, with no notable upper body strength, not even on my best day could I have scrambled up those walls as Konomi does from her first ascent on.

Despite her shockingly fast start, however, Iwa Kakeru -Sport Climbing Girls Season 1 does a great job of emphasizing how much work and dedication it takes to excel in a highly competitive pursuit, while happily pushing forward the notion that an individual’s safety and health is more important than a single event or climb. Making a point to have characters get sidelined rather than allowing them to push through, and endanger themselves was an angle I was glad to see the story take. Reinforcing the importance of safety over immediate success is something fictional programs often ignore in order to give a more suspenseful narrative.

While the puzzles presented by the climbing walls are the core hurdle our protagonists face, it is far from the only one. As the story progresses along we are introduced to a number of competitors whose attitudes are less than sportsmanlike. Ranging from giving intentionally bad advice to new climbers, to outright bullying, these characters drive a lot of the more emotional moments in the back half of the show. While the scenes of bullying here do hit home, they make it a point not to take these moments too far. Nothing akin to a certain Bakugo moment from My Hero Academia. As Konomi adjusts to the maliciousness of her opponents, she is able to come out all the stronger despite them.

The animation in Iwa Kakeru -Sport Climbing Girls Season 1 delivers the story and all it’s tense moments well and even-handedly. While it does a good job of capturing the intensity of the competitions the girls take part in, they never go overboard with the drama. This is always a story about high school sports. They never try to present the story as lives hang in the balance.

Also worth noting, despite the featuring of an almost entirely female cast, there is virtually nothing here that feels like fan service. Whether or not such elements of anime are a problem is up to the individual, but in case you are someone looking for an experience without the element present, this might be a solid choice for you.

When all is said and done Iwa Kakeru -Sport Climbing Girls Season 1  delivers a smooth running 12 episodes about perseverance, teamwork, and striving to reach your goals, without endangering your own well-being. I found the level headed passion of the characters refreshing as well as engaging.

Iwa Kakeru -Sport Climbing Girls Season 1 is streaming now on Crunchyroll.

Iwa Kakeru -Sport Climbing Girls Season 1
  • 8/10
    Rating - 8/10
8/10

TL;DR

When all is said and done Iwa Kakeru -Sport Climbing Girls Season 1  delivers a smooth running 12 episodes about perseverance, teamwork, and striving to reach your goals, without endangering your own well-being. I found the level headed passion of the characters refreshing as well as engaging.