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AKA: ヤマノススメ (Yama no Susume), Recommendation of Mountaineering
Genre: Slice of life with some light comedy.
Length: Television series, 12 episodes, 4 minutes each
Distributor: Currently available streaming on crunchyroll.
Content Rating: U (Nothing objectionable.)
Related Series: N/A
Also Recommended: Sound of the Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, Aria.
Notes: Based on the manga by Shiro, published by Earth Star Entertainment.

Unfortunately, Encouragement of Climb will be removed from crunchyroll on December 31st, 2014.
Rating: Four StarsFour StarsFour StarsFour Stars

Encouragement of Climb

Synopsis

Hinata and Aoi used to be good hiking buddies, but after a fall from a jungle gym -- a playground climbing attraction -- Aoi breaks her arm and developes a fear of heights. This does not discourage Hinata from trying to drag her to the mountaintops, though, but there's a few things the girls have to learn before they're ready to undertake the big hikes.


Review

When I heard there was going to be an anime -- even better, a slice-of-life of sorts -- about hiking, I just had to be there. Living in an area that spoils the interested hiking connoisseur rotten, I was honestly more than a bit curious how an anime -- a web animation in particular -- would manage this.

The first question is therefore going to be this: "Is twelve four minute episodes going to be enough?" And the answer is... just barely. (My brain was actually going "giri giri safe" -- surely a sign that I need to cut down on anime.) Encouragement of Climb's approach to the whole thing is basically a beginner's course in hiking, camping and choosing appropriate gear for various tasks. Rudimentary, yes, but good advice all the same.

Furthermore, the show is absolutely adorable. It goes with the old "shy, antisocial girl vs. hyperactive loudmouth" dynamic for its main characters, but there's no reason to be hesitant. Any friction between the two is quickly dispelled, and the two eventually gain more friends following along; tall and mature Kaede plus the excessively feminine and girly Kokona. Together, the four of them (there are always four) quickly form a hiker's circle of friends.

For all its talk about conquering mountains, though, the girls doesn't really do a whole lot of that. Their hikes are mostly taken along tourist trails leading to various attractions and tourist viewpoints -- though in all fairness, they are nice trails that I'd be more than happy to undertake myself on a free day.

Another point of relief comes with the art and animation territory -- meaning it's mostly quite nice. True, there's a kind of hazy, CG quality to some of the background art, with a particularly egregrious example in the first episode as the camera slowly traverses a classroom filled with students, but that particular example was thankfully never revisited. More so, the show completely redeems itself by featuring a lot of really nice background scenes, like the few spots the girls do visit, or even the stores they go to for the sake of getting equipment.

If Encouragement of Climb's goal was to get its audience excited about hiking, I'd say it's been pretty successful. Honestly, the whole thing just makes its briefness even more melancholic; now that the entire show is available, it's over in around 42 minutes. That's barely two episodes worth as far as regular TV shows go, and I wanted to see more of this.

The show ends with a 'see you again'. I really hope it's allowed to honor that statement.Stig Høgset

Recommended Audience: It's a quiet slice-of-life about relatively young girls, so the show is pretty short on anything that can be considered objectionable. "Wholesome family entertainment" is rarely as true as in this case.



Version(s) Viewed: Digital stream from Crunchyroll, Japanese with English subtitles.
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Encouragement of Climb © 2013 8-bit / Earth Star Entertainment
 
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