Yo! This is my review of Kokou no Hito, the only manga that takes a serious look at the harrowing world of rock climbing and mountaineering.
Kokou no Hito follows the journey of Mori Buntarou, a teen thrust into isolation due to the suicide of his best friend. On the first day at his new high school, he is pressured into climbing the school building on a dare, which kickstarts his love for climbing.
The plot itself is nothing special – Mori Buntarou sees climbing as an escape from the troubles of daily life, and despite the pressure to climb with a group, continues climbing solo, reaching higher and higher heights and setting new goals until he engraves himself in the history of climbing.
What really stands out is the breadth of knowledge shown by the author, the quality of the art, and the way in which the characters develop in a way that defies common manga stereotypes.
Mori begins his journey with the ascension of his school building:
As you can see, the art is pretty detailed. Mori then continues his climbing exploits with free solo climbing (very dangerous IRL, please do not try)
Competition sport climbing,
and mountaineering.Sakamoto sensei illustrates his knowledge of climbing by letting characters narrate some interesting terms (see “kneebar” in the sport climbing example picture) and including an accurate portrayal of the equipment necessary to climb.
As a climber myself, I really appreciate the effort put into making this manga as authentic as it can be.
Now typically, the original cast of characters in a sport manga stay friends forever, and push each other to new heights. In this manga (spoiler alert) the two friends that join Mori in the high school climbing club end up becoming a con artist and a prostitute, which only reinforces Mori’s feelings and yearning for an escape. While the accomplishments of the main character are extremely unrealistic (solo climbing is extremely dangerous), the way in which the Mori is characterized and the description of the climbing itself makes it feel quite real.
Overall Rating: 8/10.