Based on the manga series of the same name, The Summit of the Gods is a Netflix anime film directed by Patrick Imbert. It follows a young Japanese photojournalist, Makoto Fukamachi, who learns about a vest pocket camera that belongs to an Englishman, George Mallory, who attempted to climb Mt. Everest’s summit in 1924.
Mallory and his partner, Andrew Irvine, disappeared without a trace. If Makoto Fukamachi gets visual evidence proving Mallory reached the summit in 1924, then his article will make Mallory the first person to conquer Everest. As Fukamachi’s hunt for a camera begins, he comes across a mysterious mountaineer, Habu Joji, who disappeared years ago. Will Fukamachi be able to find Mallory’s camera and Habu Joji in his quest? Let’s find out.
‘The Summit of the Gods’ Plot Summary
A young photojournalist, Makoto Fukamachi, follows a Japanese team up the southwest face of Everest to click their pictures for his company’s magazine. Due to their lack of preparation, the mountaineers had to turn back. Fukamachi gets frustrated with capturing pictures of hopeless and careless mountaineers. Suddenly, a pimp approaches him in Kathmandu and offers to sell George Mallory’s vest pocket camera to Fukamachi.
Fukamachi refuses to believe in its authenticity and thus lets go of the offer. However, suddenly, outside a restaurant, he spots a missing mountaineer, Habu Joji. Habu lost his two fingers during an expedition. Thus, Fukamachi recognizes him. Habu threatens the pimp and snatches Mallory’s camera from him. Before Fukamachi could question Habu, he disappears into the shadows.
Why did Fukamachi want Mallory’s Camera?
As per the records, the summit of Mt. Everest was first conquered in 1953. But it wasn’t the first attempt. In 1924, two Englishmen, George Mallory and his climbing partner, Andrew Irvine, tried to reach the summit but never returned. No one found their dead bodies or the Vest Pocket Autographic that could prove their victory.
For Fukamachi, the camera was the evidence to prove whether Mallory was the first person to conquer Everest or not. His investigation and the article would give him the desired success that he had been yearning for.
Who was Habu Joji? Why did he disappear?
Habu was a laborious and ambitious climber who never got his due. He started climbing at a young age in the 1960s and was known for his unique style and speed. For a time, Habu worked with a climbing club, but the group politics annoyed him. Hence, he decided to become popular on his own and conquered the demon wall in the winter months with his climbing partner, Inoue. During its success party, Habu met another promising climber, Hase Tsuneo, who became Habu’s greatest rival.
Hase climbed the demon wall alone, and that too in winter. That gave him enough limelight to overshadow Habu’s success. Habu decided to climb the wind walls, but no one wanted to assist him because of his arrogance. It was when a young climber, Buntaro, insisted on going with Habu. Hesitantly, Habu agreed. But during the climb, Buntaro slipped. Habu hustled hard to save Buntaro’s life, but the young kid cut himself off the rope, believing he was a burden to Habu. Buntaro’s sacrifice tormented Habu for years, and thus he decided to climb alone from that point on.
In those times, the biggest challenge in mountaineering was to climb the three great north faces of the Alps in winter alone. Habu and Hase Tsuneo left for Europe to conquer the winter trilogy: The Eiger, the Matterhorn, and the Grandes Jorasses. After they conquered the two summits, they reached Grandes Jorasses, where Habu was in the lead for the time being, until a mishap happened. Habu accidentally slipped and was rescued by Hase’s team. In the accident, Habu lost his fingers. While the world celebrated Hase’s victory on three summits, Habu disappeared without a trace.
How did Makoto Fukamachi find Habu Joji?
Habu held himself responsible for Buntaro’s death and hence often sent money to his sister in atonement. He was living a life in the shadows when he suddenly learned about Hase’s death. He died during an avalanche while attempting to conquer the infamous southwest face of Everest.
Habu left his job soon after and decided to complete the southwest face to finish his competition with Hase. Buntaro’s sister received the last letter from Habu three years ago, and it had an address in Namche Bazaar, the last village before Everest.
Fukamachi even found a rejected application for Habu’s climbing permit from the Kathmandu tourist office that made Fukamachi certain that Habu was preparing to climb Everest from the southwest face. Fukamachi quickly packed his bags and arrived in the Khumbu valley to look for Habu, and finally, he found him in an isolated cabin near the mountains.
‘The Summit of the Gods’ Ending Explained
No one had ever conquered Everest from the southwest face. In 1985, Hase tried, but he didn’t succeed. Hence, Habu decided to complete the expedition to leave a legacy behind. He was going to tackle it alone, without oxygen, and Fukamachi accompanied him.
When a devastating storm hit the mountains, Habu saved Fukamachi’s life and requested that he retreat. While Fukamachi turned back to the valley, Habu continued his hustle. A shot depicted that Habu reached the summit but lost his life while returning. Habu left Mallory’s camera for Fukamachi to finish his article and understand what drives a climber to take deadly mountaineering expeditions.
In the end of The Summit of the Gods, Fukamachi developed the film and got the answer he wanted, yet it wasn’t enough to satisfy his curiosity. Hence, he embarked on a journey to the mountains to find the answers himself. When Fukamachi reached the summit, in his heart, he got the same feeling that Habu hunted throughout his life. Habu explained in his note that climbing made him feel alive and that it was the only feeling he yearned for.
Through Habu’s journey and tragic life, Fukamachi understood the passion behind a climber’s pursuit to find new challenges in his quest. Once a mountaineer conquered a summit, he had no more goals left to pursue. If he doesn’t look for new horizons or a more difficult path, he would be no better than a dead man. Hence, he kept himself engaged with new challenges like climbing alone, taking a difficult route, or reaching a summit without oxygen. To make themselves feel alive, they never let the hustle end.
The Summit of the Gods is a 2021 Animated Action Adventure film directed by Patrick Imbert. It is based on a manga series created by Jiro Taniguchi. The film is streaming on Netflix.