Iwa Kakeru! -Sport Climbing Girls- (いわかける！ -Climbing Girls-) is the shōnen sports anime adaptation of the original manga series written by Ryūdai Ishizaka. It’s being produced by the studio Blade with direction from Tetsurō Amino and is scheduled for twelve total episodes. I decided to taste test this series after checking out some of the key visuals for it. The first segment hints at a pretty formulaic sports series all around.
Iwa Kakeru! follows four high school girls as they come together to form a sport climbing club with the hopes of being able to compete in the sport on a national level. One of the newest members is a former professional video gamer named Konomi Kasahara who goes searching for a fun, new club that will offer her the same excitement and satisfaction that games (specifically puzzle games) used to give her.
In the first episode, Konomi comes across the Sport Climbing Club and decides to try out rock-wall climbing for kicks. She ends up loving the challenges that goes with it, equating it to the thrill of solving puzzles, and ends up finding a kinship with the members and the sport. This entire segment was cute, but also very stereotypical of the sports genre. It seems that in most sports anime, there’s always a motley crew of folx who share a passion for said sport and then work diligently to compete in their chosen passions. The only real thing that sets the series apart is the actual gig of rock-wall climbing, and that was the biggest draw for me in wanting to try this out.
When I was an adolescent and an athlete, I used to love rock-wall climbing. Heights didn’t frighten me as much back then either. It was such a phenomenal way to get a full-body workout and I must confess that in many ways, manoeuvring one’s way to the top can feel a lot like trying to solve a physically-taxing puzzle. There is an air of excitement that makes the adrenaline rush of the sport super fun. I couldn’t help but think about my past experiences while watching Iwa Kakeru! and it trapped me in this bubble of nostalgia. While everything about the show thus far feels cliché and predictable, that sense of wistfulness is probably the key element behind my interest in wanting to continue watching this during the Fall season.
Other minor things that I found to be neat are the character designs of the girls. With the exception of Konomi who is a slender yet average shaped teen lady (for now), the other girls seem to be built rather muscularly. It’s really cool to see anime girls with abs and shapely guns. Thus far the series also doesn’t seem to overtly sexualise them either and I respect that as I feel unnecessary fanservice here would only work to detract from the heart-warming potential of the anime. The focus is on the sport and the passion these girls have for it, and I suspect the upcoming segments shall also concentrate on the appeal of their budding friendships.
Like most sports anime, we learned a few technical aspects of rock-wall climbing, so if any watchers out there have ever had an interest in learning more about the sport, or already enjoy it, this is something y’all may appreciate.
The animation is beautiful but also a bit average across the board. When the girls participate in climbing competitions, there is a sharpness and vibrancy that braces the overall animation quality, making everything pop and stand-out much better. The disparity between competitive scenes and non-competitive scenes is pretty minor as a whole and will depend on the individual watcher as to whether it bugs you or not. I’m going to hope that the quality doesn’t slowly drop from episode to episode, which is also a bit routine for this genre.
Overall, Iwa Kakeru seems like a conventional sports anime, however, it also has charm and awesomely athletic ladies in it that may make it worth the investment. I know that I’ll definitely watch the second episode and just take it on a week-by-week basis since my first experience was pretty pleasant so far.