The Climber manga, written by Shin-ichi Sakamoto and Yoshirō Nabeda and illustrated by the former, has proven to be a very interesting case when it comes to the medium as a whole. While the story of teenager Buntarō Mori climbing mountains on his own is already compelling enough, the artwork, the execution, and the philosophical explorations of an individual’s journey through life has made it a very relevant story to this day.
The Climber manga was released from 2007 to 2011, and while it never had the popularity and commercial impact of some of the juggernauts in the industry, it has enjoyed a fairly decent amount of popularity. While some manga enthusiasts may find themselves wondering about the unlikely outcome, there are in fact several reasons why the Climber manga is considered one of the best.
Disclaimer: This article contains spoilers for the Climber manga.
Explaining the success of the Climber manga
The plot of the series
This manga tells the story of a teenager called Buntarō Mori, who is going through a number of problems and suffers from depression and loneliness. He develops a passion for mountain climbing and decides to go about pursuing it on his own, which is something that is rightfully criticized by people in the series for being too dangerous.
However, Mori decides to ignore these comments and starts climbing on his own anyway, which offers him the chance to think about his life. Mori has all the time in the world to introspect while he climbs, and, overall, his journey serves as a metaphor for the many different obstacles in the world.
As the story progresses, Mori decides that he wants to climb the tallest mountain, the K2, all on his own, which becomes one of the main elements driving the plot forward.
The reasons for its success
The Climber manga starts as a very straightforward sports series, with very clear and typical tropes of the genre, which, in a way, can make it a bit more difficult for a person to give it a chance. This is further emphasized by the fact that this story is based on a real-life Japanese mountain climber, which adds to the realism of the manga as a whole.
However, as the story progresses, it becomes more of an insightful journey towards achieving a goal. Mori becomes a much more complex and tridimensional character, with his goals and journey becoming an opportunity to examine what makes a person and the value of people and loneliness in the grand scheme of things as a sports manga.
This is a manga that dwells deeper into the main character’s psyche, becoming one of the biggest selling points as it has a very good handle on its protagonist. Mori is a very introspective main character, and it fits with the themes of climbing a mountain on his own and his persistent loneliness in his everyday life, working wonders for the reader as it builds a stronger connection.
The art is another huge selling point of this series. It is detailed and filled with perspective, it captures Mori’s journey as he is climbing the mountains, the realism in the artwork fits with the story the authors are trying to tell, and it looks simply amazing. This is the kind of manga that people can spend hours reading just by looking at each panel and the level of detail that it has.
The Climber manga covers a lot of different themes and topics as the story progresses—loneliness, the desire to achieve a goal, the value of others in a person’s life, and what is necessary to fulfill a dream. It comprises numerous themes of classic sports manga but brings them all together in a way that feels more insightful, detailed, and philosophical, making it stand out from the others in the genre.
This is a series that changes greatly over time and for the better, fully capturing the feelings of loneliness and frustration of the main character while adding a lot of interesting dynamics and twists and turns, proving to be a must-read for manga fans everywhere.
The Climber manga is a series that deserves a lot more recognition as it is regarded as one of the best reads by seasoned manga fans. It is a series that celebrates overcoming the odds, and the challenges that are presented to everybody, and is done in a way that is very insightful and atypical of classic sports manga.