Sayo excels in the semifinals of the Kanto Bouldering Championships, but a setback puts extra pressure on Konomi for the finals.
Wall 8 – “Tears of Disappointment”
Sayo’s circumstances in Iwakakeru! clearly showed the difference between veteran athletes and rookies. We started seeing some of these differences last episode with Konomi showing a lack of strength and stamina as her time on the climbing walls wore on. Sayo showed us how an experienced athlete, who already has years of stamina and strength built into her body, deals with adversity and injury.
Endurance sports and track and field events share many of the same principles of athleticism that Iwakakeru! focuses on as the girls climb. Core strength and aerobic capacity are necessary for maintaining holds with feet and hands. Hard training usually helps, but athletes know there’s a difference between base fitness and “race shape.” During training, an athlete chooses when to push an effort harder and how long to recover from it.
However, athletes don’t have that choice during a competition. The opponents and the game circumstances determine how much effort an athlete needs to exert to keep up and win. An athlete may even need to play with an injury. Some athletes can only develop this extra level of strength and stamina in competition. A good coach and teammates can simulate “race conditions” during training camp, and Iwakakeru! showed us Sayo trying this out with the Hanamiya team’s trip to the Anti-Monkey Rock. It didn’t help Jun at all, though. Konomi, who’s only been climbing for two months, still needs to develop base fitness.
Sayo showed us another tool that veteran athletes use to push through injury: external motivation. Competitive athletes are entertainers, whether they acknowledge it or not, and some of them thrive on the attention. We’ve seen hints already at what Anne Kurusu will act like during her climbing performances, so it was nice to see another of Iwakakeru!’s celebrities fire up the crowd to boost her spirits. I’m looking forward to seeing how the other girls find their extra motivation, internal or external, in the next sporting event.
Iwakakeru! had a jarring drop in animation quality in certain scenes. That route setter announcer guy looked like he dropped into a psychedelic alternate dimension. The background characters in the stadium seats suffered the same treatment. Strangely, some scenes had an amazing boost in animation quality making the girls’ bodies look detailed and sexy. I’m just so happy Iwakakeru! decided to hit that annoying guy with the ugly stick instead of the beautiful sport climbing girls.
Aw. Jun isolated herself and Konomi wants to comfort her. Ooh! It’s time for Iwakakeru! to show us good things. Sayo is on the mat. She’s doing well, as expected. Aw. Sayo noticed Jun struggling on the fourth wall, not even leaving the start zone for five minutes. Oh no. Sayo sprained a finger. Nonoka noticed her wince of pain from the stands. Sayo will power through the pain. Here’s actual sports drama instead of melting down from mental issues.
Uh oh. Iwakakeru! suffers an animation quality drop. People in the stands are looking rough. Sayo struggles with her finger injury. She still gets points, though. There’s no drop in visual quality for Sayo’s trim belly. Wow, she looks great.
Sayo knows her body and how to treat her injury, but she needs to get through today’s competition. Sayo tries sending problems before the finger hurts too much. That will work temporarily, but she risks making the injury worse. Nonoka will cheer for her soulmate! Ugh. Iwakakeru! hates that route setter guy’s face.
Here we go. The Princess of Lead puts on a show! Who could refuse that invitation? Nonoka starts the crowd off. A big voice from a small body. Konomi has team spirit too! Kiku follows her master’s example. Iwakakeru! does a number on the crowd’s and route setter’s faces. Sayo reached the top, of course. Fun. Masumi needed to take a moment to appreciate the beautiful Sayo. Iwamine had no problem with that last wall either.
What? Did Jun just leave the venue? Her Iwakakeru! character stock keeps falling. The results are up, and Konomi made the top four! Spider bunny and muscle madam are the top two, while Zombie Niijima and Masumi round out the top six. But no team championship chances for Hanamiya. Nonoka insists Sayo withdraw due to the injury. Well, I think that’s the end of Konomi’s chances too. She’s just too exhausted.
Oh yes! Yuri kabedon! And chin-in-hand! Swoon… Iwakakeru! knows what we want. Iwamine liked Konomi’s focused expression while she climbed. The twisted girl wants to eat up that face twisted in despair. No, thank you. Konomi is not edible! I disagree. Konomi looks delicious! Masumi needs a morale booster. Is she jealous that Iwamine didn’t give her attention? Don’t fight the yuri, Masumi! Her team has good girls in them.
Iwakakeru! moves quickly through the finals. Zombie Niijima made a good impression. Masumi will give us a taste of her Black Panther techniques. The route setter’s face changed again… Ha and aw. Masumi is charismatic, but she’s slightly dumb. Another guy wearing yellow glasses and strange hair sits in the route setter’s seat. He thinks Konomi should shine because she’s already seen all the walls and how to solve them. All the faces of minor characters lost the plot. And Konomi slipped right at the start. Not a surprise.
Oh, hey. The route setter’s back. He must have kicked those impostors out of the Iwakakeru! episode. The podium presentations begin with Zombie Niijima in third place. Good. We always need more tall, busty, big sister, “ara-ara” types. Spider bunny Iwamine finished second! She doesn’t look happy. Where did Chigusa muscle madam finish? Nice comeback for the cutely airheaded Masumi Black Panther. She’s number one! Iwamine’s team took the team prize.
Konomi shook off her disappointment quickly. She’s such a likable character! Jun, on the other hand, ran away before the meet was over. She’s dug a big hole to climb out of for her redemption story. Can she do it in Iwakakeru!’s last four episodes? Jun knows she has a mental weakness in her psyche, but it’s related to team dynamics, so training even more by herself isn’t the way to fix that. She needs to find the stick that’s up her butt, grasp it with both hands, and then extract it expeditiously. Konomi thinks it’s her fault, which is true, but not in the way she thinks.
Bah. Iwakakeru! will do a time skip of six months to the Combined Japan High School Cup. Well, Nonoka needs six months to change how she climbs too. Konomi needs more experience, more fitness, more stamina, and recovery strategies between climbs. Sayo will make her enter as many contests as possible to become used to gameday conditions. What is going on with this end card? It’s like a terrible movie poster. The worst thing is Nakata the route setter’s face getting in the way of the hot climbing girls.
Iwakakeru! Sport Climbing Girls streams on Crunchyroll.