This is it! I am wrapping up a three-month feature of anime reviews under a larger scope of feminism! And in case you missed some of them or never knew about it, read my synopsis on my project here.
I took a look at what women writers and artists of anime today convey in The Girl’s Perspective. I critiqued how feminine traits are portrayed in recent anime in Cuteness. Then I critiqued some examples where girls and women strive to be free in Liberation. As a proverbial capstone of these themed anime reviews, I hope to send us off with something not so much with critical analysis, but with something inspiring, as I find it appropriate for us to do when coming to a close on something positive. And unlike my analytical formats for the past three months, this one will be more like a collage of scenes.
This final review of the series will touch upon a little bit of everything I have talked about, under the theme: Becoming the Subject.
Encouragement of Climb (Yama no Susume): Season 2 picks up right where the girls left off in the first season: making schedules to climb mountains as usual. And if you’re wondering why I’m only talking about Season 2, that’s because I reviewed the first season over 2 years ago! Not much has changed with the premise, other than that Aoi Yukimura and Hinata Kuraue’s group gets bigger, with the addition of Kaede Saito and Kokona Aoba, and one more girl, Honoka Kurosaki, toward the end of the series (uhm… SPOILERS). If you had the chance of watching the first season, you may also notice that the episodes for Season 2 got significantly longer. While it’s still an animated short, these episodes are 15 minutes long instead of Season 1’s 3-minute episodes.
But even so, the art is still just as beautiful, and the lessons learned are just as significant.
Each episode continues to feel fresh, as we watch our girls make progress in climbing all sorts of mountains in Japan. Season 2 features roughly four actual mountains in Japan, including the majestic Mt. Fuji, along with a handful of side adventures that make the series feel much closer to home. And even though the series has a very short length, they don’t fall short of character development!
I suppose there is also a very mild form of “fan service” that goes on, as is bound to happen when you have high school girls getting together without having any guys around to balance them out. On the other hand, such scenes may just be there to show the cuter side to growing up? Yeah, I got nothing.
Some of my favorite things about Encouragement of Climb are all of the life lessons built into the narrative. On the surface, the series talks a lot about camping and hiking, and some of the gear or ethics involved behind them. I enjoy hiking myself, so catching some of these references are very useful.
But there are also moments where the girls do activities other than climbing mountains. Nostalgia plays a huge role in appeal for this series, as the girls revisit places from their childhood. The episode where Kokona goes out for an early birthday stroll to a children’s park really sets off that feeling of imagination and simple joys in life.
And if you aren’t feeling so nostalgic for checking out playgrounds and things, take in some of the visuals for this series. Each scene is handled with delicate, hand-drawn detail that I find to be quite breathtaking.
And as much as I love how much attention is given to the girls and their many adventures throughout this cute series, Encouragement of Climb spares no expense in also sharing things about their friends and family.
The series is definitely a feel-good kind of show, but it doesn’t stop there. One of the greater life lessons shown here is that hiking may be dangerous, but it is by no means scary! It may seem scary at first, but with good friends and a positive attitude, climbing mountains isn’t so hard after all. We may not all be able to get to the top at the same time or the same rate, but the process of getting there is a journey in and of itself!
But why stop at hiking? Encouragement of Climb teaches us that these same principles apply to all of our goals in life.
Aoi and her friends are clearly the subject of this series, as they show that life as a whole is an adventure. But when it comes to something like liberation, the question of who is to be liberated isn’t so obvious. It’s us! The show is trying to get us, the viewers and readers (if you picked up the manga) to get out of our comfort zones and be more active!
But long story short, Encouragement of Climb isn’t just a great series because of its story or its visual impressions of actual places in Japan. It’s an inspiring series that encourages us to do something more than just waiting around all the time. Whether our adventures include climbing hills and mountains or spending fun times with family and friends, our lives should always remain active, in that we should do things together with others that makes us feel more alive, rather than just lounging around by watching anime or writing out these blogs!
Some of my friends think I’m some “anime guru” because I watch so many series each year as they come out, and I don’t judge a series on popularity alone. While that may be true, I’m just a normal fan, just like everyone else. Heck, I only post these reviews once a week because I have a life outside of this blog space!
And I like it that way. It means I can get out there, do something for me that I can enjoy with my family and friends, beyond just what someone might expect me to do, just being a writer. I find that to be more enjoyable than to just have one thing on the brain all the time.
On a final note for this series, I would like to say one last thing from Aoi Yukimura:
Thanks, Aoi. And may you, my blog readers, continue to make unforgettable memories, too!
So if you like what you see here and want to watch something cute, inspiring, and all around wonderful, watch Encouragement of Climb 2. And remember: always strive to be your own subject; and treat others in that same respect!