On his first day of transferring to a new high school, a loner named Mori Buntarou, is cajoled by a classmate into climbing the school building. Despite knowing that one misstep could send him spiraling to his death, he moves forward, and upon finally reaching the top, Mori experiences a sense of fulfillment. That feeling, which seems to be telling him, "You're alive!" gives birth to an adrenaline for rock-climbing.
Its a sort of coming of age story, that is to say, we watch as this young aimless boy becomes a man through the many trials and tribulations he faces, through the mountains he climbs and the people he meets. From the inception he is ostracized from those around him (largely by his own accord) who has no clear goals in life. As fate would have it, he is bullied into climbing, and in turn he develops a deep love for it. Death, betrayal, disloyalty and sacrifice follow Mori on his passage to adulthood and Kokou no Hito is able to present the harsh realities of life. Suffice it to say, this is far from a heartwarming story, at every turn in Mori Buntarou's life he meets adversity and every interaction with those around him acts as character defining moments which are often not for better but for worse.
This isn't simply a story about mountain climbing, which seems to be a common criticism. While largely prevalent, climbing acts as a means of escape for Mori. Atop these mountain peaks Mori is finally able to escape society and reality as each climb not only acts as a physical crucible, but a psychological one. All of which slowly, yet inevitably, leads to the maturation and growth of Mori who by the end of the series has taken a complete 180 out of his introvert shell. In the end Mori no longer climbs to escape reality because he has come to terms with it, because there is now something not on the peak, but on the ground waiting and calling for him.
At heart, Kokou no Hito is an intricate story that exhumes a very realistic setting. Despite being on the extreme side of this scale, there should not be a single point in this story where one could consider something unrealistic or unfeasible. The painstaking amount of detail the mangaka - Sakamoto Shinichi - puts into this story guarantees this. From mountain climbing to the characters on the ground, Kokou no Hito delivers a very realistic and detailed notion of the harsh realities of life. The romantic side of the narrative beautifully juxtaposes this harsh world. Instead of retreating to the top of mountains, relying on mountains for a brief reprieve, he is able to find a place on the ground to belong. The detail Sakamoto puts into Kokou no Hito can be seen in every chapter. Despite the story having jumps in its time frame, everything is explained meticulously. Mori is shown at work and his work-life is explained continuously, all of which is an attempt for Mori to save money to climb the mountains he loves. Not only this, but the detail in describing the many mountain climbing techniques and limitations gives even the ignorant reader - such as myself - a base of knowledge and understanding as to why and how everything happens. These are only small examples of the detail Sakamoto puts into the entire series.
Similarly, the art is truly majestic, which is very important in a series like this. The detail put into every aspect of the manga's art is a sight to behold. Whether it's the double page art spreads of the beautiful mountains or the characters themselves, every aspect of the art is detailed and unique offering a very easy way to immerse the reader in the story. The biggest aspect being the arts realism which compliments the fact that this is a realistic narrative. Characters are drawn perfectly, they are not ripped behemoths nor are they weak boys, they are drawn realistically and they are, for the most part average yet unique. No two characters look the same. Similarly, the climbing utensils and equipment all look realistic. Of course, the mountains and weather are no exception. Mountains are drawn to perfection with excruciating detail and the snowy biomes and weather are masterfully drawn. Kokou no Hito has some of the most beautiful and detailed art in any manga I have read.
As previously mentioned, this is a coming of age story and as such a very large emphasis in regards to characters resides with Mori Buntarou himself. He is a character with phenomenal depth, development and backstory. For the most part, this provides us with sense and reason to every action Mori makes. We understand why Mori is socially withdrawn, we learn why he wants to climb and we understand why he begins to open up as the narrative progresses. Many characters inevitably die, in either a literal or metaphorical sense. That is to say, while some characters simply die others die in the sense that what they believed in and what they aspired to do has died and they are no longer what they once were. Regardless of how characters die, it presents us with a very realistic approach. These deaths end up being tests of Mori's strength and resolve. By the end of the manga it is beautiful to see how far Mori developed, which is really what the series is about. While the main focus resides on Mori, other characters are developed for better and for worse. As mentioned, some of these characters meet a literal or metaphorical death. It's understandable how they can be criticized but regardless of how they develop, their outcomes and actions are equally realistic despite being on the darker side of realism. While they are used to develop Mori they are more than that, often reaching tragic outcomes these characters represent what happens in life without the resolve to do what they dreamed to do.
Ultimately, Kokou no Hito is not your typical sports manga. It is a dark story about growth and maturation. It is a story with its emotional ups and downs which are both juxtaposed beautifully. It is important to note that the manga does not glorify any actions or outcomes within the series, it illustrates a painfully realistic scenario where life is full of consequence and hardship. It is a story that shows while dreams can be achieved, a herculean resolve is often required and even still there is a price to pay. However, that isn't to say there's no light at the end of the tunnel. But above all else, it is a story that isn't simply about mountain climbing, knowledge and passion of climbing is not a requirement to appreciate this manga.
The feeling of fulfillment comes in many forms. For young Buntarou Mori, rock climbing quickly became a passion and a reason to enjoy life, as well as a fulfilling sensation. Who would have thought that the sport of rock climbing could make such a deep and interesting story?
Shinichi Sakamoto did an absolutely wonderful job of mixing sports with drama and a hint of some psychological and romantic aspects. It's a more serious manga, yet you're presented with story full of moments where you want to cry happily for the characters fulfilling their accomplishments, smile at the seemingly rare "adorable" scenes, and laugh at some of the more comedic characters. The best thing about the drama is that it's not just melodrama that you can find in any old shounen series. There's no antagonist out to destroy the world and make life hard for Buntarou. Nope, this is just a simple tale of a boy who came to find something to live for...but it's so much more than that.
As with other seinen manga, art is really crisp looking and accurate. Buntarou isn't some big ol' macho guy full of testosterone, nor is he a girly looking dude with fabulous hair and a pretty face. He simply looks like an average man (okay, well maybe his hairdo is still kind of crazy, but this IS a manga after all). The girl characters aren't depicted as petite little things with D-cup breasts. Backgrounds and the like are wonderfully detailed but still keeps its realistic aspect about it, which is why I truly believe the art deserves a full 10/10 score. I have no complaints whatsoever regarding art.
It was kind of hard for me to rate this section, to be honest. The main character that I felt really was able to develop was Buntarou, but he's the only one. The supporting cast (Hajime, Masao, and Yumi) are all important but their characters never really undergo any huge developments. Then again, I can see why; after some certain events happen, they're not really necessary at all in the story anymore. Even though only Buntarou received development, I feel like Shinichi did what he felt was best for this manga considering the story DOES revolve almost solely around Buntarou.
I'm a sucker for seinen manga, but the idea of rock climbing as the main point of the story put me off a bit at first. I'm really glad I overlooked that and still decided to give it a try, because now Kokou no Hito places 3rd in my top 10 favorite manga. I really think that everything about this manga is phenomenal, therefore I read the 135 chapters in a short amount of time, enjoying every single one. I'm still greatly anticipating future chapters too!
Overall: 9.5/10 (rounded up to 10/10)
Give this a try; trust me when I say that it's worth it. Whether you're a fan of rock climbing or not, I believe you can come to enjoy this manga for the drama/psychological aspects as well. And if all else fails concerning the genres of Kokou no Hito, it still has some of the best character development I've seen in a long while.read more
This is not a typical sports manga. There is no friendship, no team spirit, no working towards the same goal. It's more psychological than sports.
The goal of climbing is not to beat the opponent, it is to reach the top of a mountain. That is usually done in a team of two or more people, so you would expect some team dynamics at least, but that is not the case with Kokou no Hito. The protagonist Mori Buntarou climbs alone and over the span of the story you learn about his past and why he pushes everyone away and isolates himself.
It starts like any normal sports manga would. We have the amateur climber Mori who has great potential, we have the rival, we have the love interest, we even have a school climbing club. That all changes after a certain event that will show the real tone of the manga. Everything that can go wrong goes wrong. It tries to have so many harsh realities about life that it comes off as unrealistic sometimes, because they come out of nowhere and there is no explanation or foreshadowing for them. It tries to shock you and to make that effect stronger the author uses a lot of time skips. And I mean A LOT. Sometimes it is just a few days, but it can go up to years that just get skipped. It works a few times, but when you use time skips that often the characters suffer under it. It can seem annoying and can ruin the enjoyment of scenes, but there is a reason behind it. The time skips are the main reason the manga keeps you invested in it. When the story reaches a point where it seems boring or slow, the time skips hit hard and keep you on the tip of your toes wanting to read as fast as possible to know just what the hell happened in the time that was skipped. But time skips are not the only device used by the author. He uses a lot of transitions, metaphors, allusions and literal passages from poems and books. He tries to express extreme feelings of joy and euphoria in very weird and memorable ways and uses a lot of obscure art to back that up. The one that I liked the best was when the sun was rising over a mountain that was climbed by a character. To show just what he was feeling in that moment the author drew an orchestra that followed the sunrise with its performance. It was a new experience for me and really improved the manga.
But back to the characters. Because of the time skips characters change and characters that were introduced in previous chapters just disappear. The author tends to make his characters change completely in the blink of an eye. That is one of my biggest gripes with the story. It is unreasonable how the characters develop, because you are not there when they do. It is supposed to shock you, but you just cannot make a connection with the characters and thus do not care about their changes. The character that was developed the best is Mori, but even he suffers from that problem.
Well in conclusion I have to say Kokou no Hito is no ordinary manga. Its use of stilystic devices remind of a poem and really made the manga for me. If not for them I would have given it a 6-7/10, because of the sudden time skips and changes in characters, but as it is it deserves a 8/10. I highly recommend it if you are tired of usual sports manga and want something with more focus on the mind of the protagonist and with a more realism and mature themes.
"You are alive!"
That's the feeling it's all about.
I picked this manga by pure coincidence. When I read the first chapter I was like: "Climbing? Gimme a break! Boring..."
This is also the reason why I decided to write this review. You don't have to like mountains to like this manga. Moreover, after reading it, chapter by chapter, you start to understand this passion (climbing) a little.
Kokou no Hito (The Climber) is an uncommon manga about Buntarou Mori, a high school transfer student, who discovers his passion for climbing mountains.
(Sounds odd, doesn't it? I thought so too, but I gave it a try and it sure was worth it.)
On first day in his new school, Mori is being cajoled by his classmate into climbing the school building. In one moment, while reaching the top, our hero experiences a completly new feeling - he feels that he is alive.
I dont want to write spoilers so saying anything more just wouldn't work.
The whole art was really good in my sense, especially the backgrounds. There are some great dynamic action panels and also a bunch of nature-exposing pages. I really liked the way that artist showed emotions and expressions too, they were really vivid.
I will make myself clear. There aren't many characters in Kokou no Hito. In fact, they aren't really great too. The ones, whose are worth mentioning are the main protagonist and maybe some of people that appear in the late chapters.
Therefore I will say something only about Butarou Mori.
The main hero is an antisocial and gloomy type of person. He prefers doing all things alone, including climbing. At first you may not like him, but while reading on, you become used to his character and start seeing his reasons.
I couldn't stop myself of reading. In consequence, I read all 52 chapters in one day. Saying that, what more can I say about my enjoyment? It was really good and I'm sad it is still incomplete.
On the whole, Kokou no Hito was like a fresh breeze in the sea of other mangas I read. It was something completly different from what I have seen so far. If you want to read something new too, I advise you to try this one. read more
Masashi Kishimoto's dazzling art is one of the main reasons why Naruto has become such a huge hit worldwide. If you like his style, you'll surely enjoy the following shounen manga, full of dynamic action scenes, as well as brilliant emotional dialogue.