Konomi and her Hanamiya teammates climb high into the finals of the Combined Japan High School Cup.
Wall 12 – “The Road to Best in Japan”
I am not a fan of Iwakakeru! showing Konomi’s wavering self-confidence when Anne baits her. Earlier when she knew less about climbing, she based her confidence on her past competitive experience in gaming. The six-month time skip should have let her gain more confidence, but the pressure of the next big meet somehow affected her. Iwakakeru! did not establish this well at all.
The lack of gaming references relates to this odd up-and-down self-esteem level. The Konomi we see in the Combined Cup is not the same character as the one in Iwakakeru!’s previous eight episodes. It’s inorganic drama injection. I want the Konomi who remembers her time on stage receiving the certificate as NATIONAL CHAMPION of mobile gaming. Where is that girl?
We’re still watching the speed climbers on Iwakakeru!. Now’s the time to get personal bests when it matters. I don’t like this direction connecting Anne’s cheers with a sad-looking Konomi. Few surprises in the semifinal results. Nonoka did well! Top Ten! Also, not credible, since everyone there is people we already know. Where are the random competitors from the other half of Japan besides Kokureikan High? Blargh. Just continue the spandex crotch watch.
Akane didn’t make the cut. Her words of challenging Konomi echo her own to Anne in the shower. The scene isn’t as sexy as the previous Iwakakeru! episode. Ooh, foreshadowing. Hifumi, the mousy friend who goes everywhere with her, points out that Anne isn’t pacing her effort in the early heats. She should be conserving her energy until it matters in the finals. Thanks for letting us know that Hanamiya has a path to victory through Anne’s vindictive hubris.
Haha! Random reference to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” from the translator. Nakata’s face is plastic again. The combined scoring in the semifinals and finals rewards specialization in one discipline. Anne is a real piece of work. Iwakakeru! hasn’t shown anything redeeming about her character so far, which is odd for a sports anime starring cute girls. Could it be that the start of her rivalry with Konomi is what makes her endearing and begins her own redemption arc? Something to watch for if there’s even more of her on another anime broadcast. At least Konomi can shake those mind games off easier now. No surprise here. Anne beat Konomi by two seconds on the speed wall. It was still Konomi’s personal best time! Konomi has sad feelings. Get over it, girl!
Grr. This rainstorm outside the venue is so ham-fisted for mood setting. That’s annoying. The rankings are ready for the final event in lead climbing. Some girls are no good at this at all. This is unfortunate. Iwakakeru! introduced us to all the cute girls in the Kanto region in the first eight episodes, and then we spend little time with their awesome bodies.
In the final episode, Iwakakeru! shows us what lead climbing looks like. Sigh. Lead climbing is the marathon running of sport climbing. Lots of breathing and flexing to remain stable while clamping. This is where the foreshadowing of Anne going too hard in the early heats will pay off. Yup. Fatigue hit Anne’s right hand at the worst moment. Anne was one hold away from sending the wall. Lead climbing has sudden death rules.
Enough of the appetizers. Iwakakeru! serves up the main course with the Princess of Lead’s teammates. Show us what you got, Hanamiya girls! They’re showing us what they got with nice close-ups of strapped up hard bodies. Jun’s mental inspiration scenes fit the formula for sports anime but not for her character. Where’s the stuff where she rediscovered the fun of climbing? Okay, an image of Akane messing her up fits the time skip story elements for a nice chuckle.
I’ve been waiting to see Nonoka take her star turn Iwakakeru!. Let’s see what hot teacher Sayo taught her. Stretch, touch, grasp, hold. Simple. Get it, girl! Sayo starts to leak a womanly tear. Eep. Nonoka fell. She had one more anchor to go! She was right behind Anne. Konomi has no wavering confidence now that the cheers are for her teammates.
Konomi’s inner monologue fits the sports anime formula, but not her character development. Wait, that sounds familiar. Konomi did not have only puzzle games in her life before high school. Her recap of events doesn’t match the story either. Whatever. Iwakakeru!’s committee of writers need to get us to the final scene of the final episode, so let’s enjoy the visuals.
Pivotal moment. Jump high, Konomi! Did it! She’s the only one to send the lead wall. What did Anne say? Doesn’t matter unless there’s an OVA or a second season. The results? Anne beats Konomi for the individual medals, but Hanamiya beat Kokureikan for the team prize. Squad goals get! Wow, they didn’t even need any of the voice actors for the Kanto high school girls in the Iwakakeru! finale. Guh. The producers even cut out Konomi’s inspirational speech to her teammates at the end. That was a rushed ending. Can we get an OVA showing the training camp images from the end credits?
Iwakakeru! was good for eight episodes. The post time skip story looked sliced, diced, and stitched together to fit four episodes when it should have filled out thirteen episodes. It was not a satisfying conclusion to a strong start. The production quality issues in the eighth episode pointed to disappointing compromises in the season finale.
Overlooking the final story arc, Iwakakeru! was a great concept. There was a relatable main character who is the gamer girlfriend fantasy. Niche sports are the staple of sports anime, particularly girls club anime, and especially the ones with tight form-fitting kit. Spandex crotch watch made production lapses forgivable.
Don’t expect a second season for Iwakakeru! because many sports anime in 2020 timed themselves for the Olympics in Tokyo. The coronavirus pandemic upended plans for many companies and whole industries tied to the summer spectacle. Newcomers to wall climbing can still enjoy following Konomi’s development and relate to gear shopping and learning terms that heavily rely on slangy jargon common to American extreme sports. I always say “sending a problem” in my head with a halfpipe snowboarder’s accent. Iwakakeru! was a serious sports anime with sexy spandex outfits, so enjoy the first eight episodes with your converted fantasy gaming girlfriend.
Iwakakeru! Sport Climbing Girls streams on Crunchyroll.