The Hanamiya girls compete in the Kanto climbing championships, displaying their skills against strong challengers.
Wall 5 – “Hard Work and Talent”
Iwakakeru! gave us a great episode featuring the endurance sports rule that there are “horses for courses.” Different athletes with different innate talents will do better in terrain or circumstances suited to them. The more elite the athletes become, the greater the specialization occurs too. At the Kanto bouldering championship preliminaries, we didn’t see sport climbing’s special events, but we did get hints about which athletes will do better on different walls.
At the start of the contest, Nonoka appeared to know she wouldn’t do well just by looking at the walls they would be climbing. She was right. Iwakakeru!’s episode title makes us think that there’s a simple dichotomy between those who become great athletes due to arduous training and those who are just born with the skill. It doesn’t really work like that, because I bet the tall Iwamine practices as much, or more than, the short Nonoka. Iwamine showed, in defiance of that prissy route setter, that she has a diverse set of skills that can solve problems in surprising and creative ways.
Iwakakeru! missed an opportunity in Nonoka’s story to show how athletes can train around their shortcomings to defeat a course. Nonoka’s climbing style doesn’t fit her body type. Or, if it does, she should still practice other styles in case she finds a problem she can’t solve her usual way. This is like what small, light climber types in road cycling need to do so they don’t lose whole minutes against their competitors who excel in time trials during a stage race. Still, those small guys will not beat a heavy, muscular sprinter in a straight-up drag race, so it becomes a strategic game of limiting losses. Nonoka should develop a backup climbing style to fit her short limbs. I think hanging out with Jun to develop a short speedster burst would be the way to go. Jun needed to clamp down on her sprinting tendency to successfully climb a wall, so we know it can be done the other way.
I enjoyed how Iwakakeru! just dumped the audience into the deep end of a bouldering meet. It was a fun thing to show the route setter react to climbers sending his walls in ways he doesn’t like. Setting a time limit on the whole event was interesting too. Those harsh rules lead to strategic decisions on managing time during preliminary heats. Like picking a shorter waiting line on a wall you may not be that great at or giving up quickly after hitting the Zone to bank points you might not get later. Iwakakeru! needed to juggle its own time in setting up the characters to watch in the upcoming episodes, but I would like to see the puzzler Konomi start to pick apart these rules for her maximum advantage. It’s something to look for besides abs and tight spandex, but I’m greedy. Iwakakeru! does fine serving uptight stomachs and tighter spandex.
Aw. When Nonoka met Sayo the tall, smart, beautiful, crazy climbing girl, Iwakakeru!’s story began.
Bouldering competition, go! Uh oh. Nonoka is not confident about this meet. Did she not like how the walls look? Akane already fell on her wall. That’s an eccentric-looking official. Nakada the route setter must be a sadist. There are strategies for letting other climbers solve the problem first before attempting them.
Juzo the pro-free climber knows a lot about bouldering league rules. We’re looking for the Hanamiya girls to break the top 20 to move to the semifinals. Iwakakeru! shows Kiku learning much about bouldering and her dad at the same time. These routes are like obstacle courses with bonus points thrown in.
The Iwakakeru! spandex crotch watch continues with muscled Chigusa and Ballerina of Rock Kurea. Sayo the Princess of Lead has flashy eyes. Something in common with Konomi? When does she get a nickname? Nice. Konomi sent a problem in one shot and was the first climber to send it too. She’s building a reputation now. Nakada the Route Setter didn’t like how Konomi solved his puzzle so easily.
Let’s see what drama nervous Nonoka brings to Iwakakeru!. Oh no. Nonoka can’t reach the top hold. She’s too short! This is going to wreck her confidence. There are many different walls, so Nonoka should concentrate on getting as many points as possible in the allotted time and not worry about sending each one she tries. Maturity comes with experience, especially disappointing ones.
Iwamine the bunny spider arrives to provide Iwakakeru! the long-limbed counterpoint to Nonoka’s reach problem. The route setter didn’t anticipate the solution Iwamine used with her incredible reach. Tall people have an advantage in sport climbing, but do they have disadvantages on certain climbing events? Iwamine’s long arms and legs make her look like a spider, hence her nickname, the Climbing Spider. Nakada the Route Setter sounds petulant about the tall Iwamine having an easy time on his problem. According to him, she would have a tough time on a route requiring dynamic moves or withholds close together. I don’t buy it.
Aw. Nonoka puts on a brave face, but that one loss shook her confidence. Iwakakeru!’s foreshadowing of bombing the preliminaries was too on the nose. Incongruent character! Samurai old-timey talker Satou built an analytical database. Oh. In her head… Carry on. She calls herself the Lackey Data Climber.
Iwakakeru! checks in with Jun’s spandex covered crotch. The announcer calls Jun the Hanamiya team’s “speedster.” Now we know her specialty, which isn’t part of the preliminaries. Introductions of the other climbers are flying past. Rina the Crimson Stormtrooper has “ordinary-as-hell” moves. She claims.
Time’s up. Now they calculate the scores and the top twenty climbers move on. Nonoka looks sad. The top two are Bunny Spider and Not-Black Panther. Muscle Madam and Sayo complete the top four. Iwakakeru! doesn’t care about the school wearing the G-series of numbers. Jun made the top ten. Akane’s character is pure comic relief. Oho! Konomi made the cut. Nonoka did not!
Aw. Nonoka needs a good cry with Sayo. Iwakakeru! had a terrible idea in letting the route setter provide the color commentary because losing climbers could find him in the parking lot later. This staircase is where Nonoka has a good cry when she loses at this arena. I hope it’s not as often as Sayo makes it sound like. Well, I didn’t want to hear that Sayo’s dad is the Hanamiya school director. Hanamiya has a sport climbing team and top equipment because of nepotism. Sayo doesn’t appear spoiled, so I’m hopeful her father isn’t that indulgent. Nonoka hates the unfairness of being short in a sport where a long reach is always an advantage.
Konomi and Jun have extra motivation to win for Nonoka.
Iwakakeru! Sport Climbing Girls streams on Crunchyroll.