Raise your eyebrows if you must, but climbing has made it to a staple of Japanese culture: anime! A.K.A., an animated T.V. series.
Enter in scantily-clad girls with pink hair, disproportionately large eyes and perfect hair. Barbie herself would be jealous, should the two ever enter in some weird crossover show. Yep, it’s gratuitous. In many animes, female characters are submissive visions of erotic fantasy, and in Iwa Kakeru! (Hang on!)-Sport Climbing Girls, all the main characters are indeed female and indeed erotic fantasies.
But despite the stigma, anime has historically played an important role in providing commentary on social, political and often complex multifaceted problems, such as the Hiroshima bombing. Everyday stuff like bullying, social anxiety, overcoming obstacles and even relationships (the good and the bad) are other common themes explored through the multicolored stories. Since anime’s inception in 1916, the media has gained a cult-like following for its imaginative yet satirical multeity.
All told, anime might be a bit of an unconventional vehicle for most westerners’ tastes, but hey, if it bothers you, don’t watch it. And Sport Climbing Girls has a good message: “Aim for the top, higher than anyone!”
“All athletes should be able to have a little hope of their own power,” wrote the show’s staff in a press release.
The story is based on Ryūdai Ishizaka’s original manga (Japanese comic book) series. It centers around a young girl named Yoshi Kasahara, a freshman in high school with a knack for solving puzzles. She joins her schoolmate’s team to compete against the generation’s strongest athletes (spider girl with bunny ears, panther girl, a ballerina and a Speed climber?).
Japanese actress Sumiere Uesaka, who does the voice over for one of the characters, tried climbing in preparation for her role. Following her experience, she wrote:
“It was my first experience of bouldering, but I was told that ‘I’ll put my hands next,’ so the feeling ‘Ah, I can do this!’ was fun and I wanted to do it again. Climbing has been adopted for the Olympic games, and the world is attracting attention. The anime will start, so I hope you will check it out so that you won’t miss this big wave, and enjoy the feeling that “climbing is so fun!”
First airing is on Saturday, October 3.