Iwakakeru -Sport Climbing Girls- – 1st Episode Review
Synopsis: Sport climbing is a sport that makes use of both the body and the brain to climb walls. Kasahara Konomi, a master at puzzles, just happens to discover her school’s climbing wall, and it looks almost like a colorful sort of puzzle in her eyes. This fateful encounter brings big changes to Konomi’s life! With her teammates in the Hanamiya Girls’ High School Climbing Club, Konomi races for the top in this passionate climbing story!(Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: Iwakakeru – Sport Climbing Girls starts off as so many sports anime are wont to do, with a protagonist disconnected from life until suddenly they discover an unknown passion for a particular sports activity. In this case, we have Konomi who is utterly clueless about which club to join until she falls in love with the sport climbing club at first sight. Just the sight of the climbing wall is somehow enough to have her completely entranced. It’s a story development/ catalyst moment you likely have seen before and in all honesty, Iwakakeru – Sport Climbing Girls does little to make it feel fresh. It follows all the predictable story beats faithfully with a completely novice protagonist and even throws in a potential frenemy rival from the get go, raising the chances that the show intends to follow a predictable path of progress for our heroine. In fact, like a lot of anime protagonist, Konomi is somehow able to immediately grasp the sport, as well as perform almost as good as a seasoned and experienced climber, her frenemy Jun, in a single day despite having never attempted anything like this before.
Tom: One thing that can be said in the show’s favor is there’s less fanservice than other similar sports anime focusing on young women. Despite the show’s tag as an ecchi, the first episode doesn’t get all that pervy. Sure there’s a few well placed camera angles to capture cleavage, and a bit more detail in the lead girl’s crotch than is truly necessary, but these moments are surprisingly fleeting. While our heroine doesn’t exhibit the typical body one would associate with a more athletically driven heroine, there’s still a number of characters that aren’t designed with the male gaze in mind, which is a welcome change from other sports anime where all the female characters look like pin up babes.
Linny: I will give the show this; it tries to inject some novelty and justification for Konomi’s quick progress by revealing that she used to be excellent at puzzle solving games, even winning competitions until she gave it up to focus on her education. It claims that this is what helps her to then find the best ‘paths’ to follow when climbing. But the cynical side of me immediately questions how this girl, who has never seemed to have engaged in any physically demanding activities, is suddenly able to indulge in sport climbing all day without her arms and legs quickly giving out. And how solving puzzle logic games suddenly translates to sport climbing skills? The episode shows Konoha’s brain visualizing the climbing wall as a bubble popping game but that alone isn’t enough to explain how one translates to or aids the other. Just because you change whats onscreen or how it looks onscreen doesn’t always automatically ensure that everything makes perfect sense. While one could have applauded the show for trying to have a logical explanation for why its newbie protagonist is able to excel from the start, the lack of actual logic only makes it end up as a point against the show.
Tom: Ultimately I don’t think Iwakakeru is all that terrible. It’s just very standard, with little unique about it besides focusing on Sports Climbing. Like so many of these shows sometimes that’s enough; sometimes viewers just want to learn the ins and outs of a new sport they’re unfamiliar with, and I’m sure in this way Sports Climbing Girls will not disappoint. But if you were hoping for the next Haikyuu, a torrent of lovable characters, tense competition, with a mix of light humor, this ain’t it.
Linny: As hard as I’ve been criticizing Iwakakeru – Sport Climbing Girls, I will admit it is indeed restrained in its fan service. Yes, it DOES have fan service, make no mistake, but it never gets too egregious or relentless about it. But it feels hypocritical and shallow for many of the leading girls to have very popular, curvaceous and stereo-typically appealing feminine bodies when the first episode itself shows how a physically fit sports climbing female athelete’s musculature actually is. Overall, if you just want to watch a group of high school girls practicing sports climbing together while developing friendships and rivalries along the way, Iwakakeru – Sport Climbing Girls hits all the necessary marks. It doesn’t redefine the sports genre nor does it feature deeply convincing or unique characters but what’s here is enough to entertain anyone who just wants the average sports anime experience.
Iwakakeru – Sport Climbing Girls is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.com