Aoi continues to challenge higher and more difficult mountains (and volcanoes), helped and accompanied by childhood friend Hinata, upperclassman Kaede, and middle-schooler Kokona. Along the way, they discover the wonder and enjoyment that mountain-climbing can bring, despite the frequent hardship.
After watching Yama no Susume's second season, I was convinced that the first season was no more than a pilot for the second. Much longer episodes! Okay, still considered short episodes, fourteen minutes. But that is four times the length of the first season episodes. Plus, they've doubled the number of episodes for the season (24 vs. 12). So, if we do the math, we are dealing with eight times the content. Eight times the girls, 8X the mountains, 8X the adventure. But is it an improved product? The premise of the series focuses on the character of Aoi who needs to muster the courage to overcome her fear of heights. She and the girls take on two peaks throughout the season, first the pristine Fuji (which Aoi fails due to altitude sickness) and then Mt. Tanigawa (which Aoi and Hinata both climbed when very young). Other nature hikes and girly adventures are interspersed. Again, the strength of Encouragement of Climb is the detailed study of mountaineering, such as attacking a peak by stages, preparing for spending a night at a mountain hut, necessary equipment. Good stuff to know, and knowing it makes the story relevant I made a comment about the cute factor leaning hard on eye-candy effect. This would be the character of buxom Kaede, a master girl of the mountains. While we do have an episode on Hinata's fascination with 'sexy swimwear’ (Hinata claims this as she wears her school one-piece swimsuit ... as it is the girl who is sexy, not the beachwear), there is a major dialing back on kawai flirting with moé. Again, it centers on Kaede's personality of active living. She complains of the side-effects of buxom, such as difficulty in athletics. But Hinata has to warn Kaede not to lounge about her house with her dad possibly about. Kaede becomes a character study of a tomboy who has to try to be a little more feminine and not be known by her classmates as 'mountain girl.' Music still is driven by the powers of cuteness, and the second season is packed with great opening and closing themes. Two episodes toward mid-season reprised the first season's closure (Mata Ashita! Yahhoo!), but sweet pieces like Natsuiro Present and Cocoiro Rainbow show the strong bonds of friendship developing between the four nature-loving girls. The animation strives to give the natural beauty of the vistas the girls hope to see as they reach the summits of their climbs. The city and park scenes are not as complicated as these are scenes to observe the girls interact. Particularly as Hinata, Kaede, and Kokona train Aoi for her next climb. So, was the second season vastly better than season one? A big time yes here! And, in moving on to the third season, the only direction these girls can go is up. It's about mountain climbing after all.
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