Encouragement of Climb: Next Summit

Alt title: Yama no Susume: Next Summit

TV (12 eps)
Fall 2022
3.711 out of 5 from 267 votes
Rank #2,997

The fourth season of Encouragement of Climb.

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8-Bit’s 2022 reboot of its “Encouragement of Climb” series contains a lot of recap material from the previous seasons so represents a standalone show. If you have never seen any of the previous seasons dating from 2013 then don’t worry as this “season 4” contains everything you need. The show has long been over-shadowed by C-Station’s “Laid-Back Camp” franchise that started in 2018 and contains elements of the challenge of ascending Mount Fuji that it has in common with Studio KAI’s 2021 show “Super Cub”. So, if you loved these shows then you will know what you are getting. There is something so very wholesome about Japanese school-girls walking out in nature and getting a lot of exercise. In a cynical world where teens are easy prey to the temptations of static hobbies in seems to fulfil our inner hopes that there is still something good in this world. The story is told from the perspective of shy High Schooler Aoi Yukimura who likes to stay at home and do crafts. This is her coming-of-age tale triggered by meeting an old school friend Hinata Kuraue. In many ways Aoi’s opposite, Hinata encourages the indoorsy girl to get out and about hiking in the beautiful Japanese countryside. Initially Aoi is reluctant but increasingly falls in love with the wonderful views and fantastic scenery. The show is book-ended by the girl’s expedition to Mount Fuji. Aoi’s first attempt to scale the mountain fails so the rest of the story features her trying more and more demanding hill walks in preparation for her second attempt that happens at the end of this season. Much like with “Laid-Back Camp” the whole show is one big tourism advert for Japanese fell-walking. We assume that every location and walk is lovingly reproduced in animation from pictures taken at actual locations. The countryside is lovingly reproduced in the artwork often in a photo-realistic style. It all looks enchanting and so tempting. If you have never thought about travelling to Japan and climbing Mount Fuji then this will change your mind. Having done a lot of this when I was a young man it all looks so seductive. It makes you yearn to get out and breath the air. The show emphasises its realism. The girls go shopping at outdoor equipment shops and find out everything they need to know to equip themselves. This semi-documentary style might not suit everyone’s taste as entertainment but many of us will appreciate the chance to learn something new. If you want to hike you will also learn to get up super-early in the morning. Yet you never hear these girls complain. It is no easy ride for these girls but they keep on smiling. Inevitably they do have their fights and do fall out, but seldom for long. If your common complaint about anime is that the shows are silly and unrealistic then “Next Summit” will bring you crashing down with a thump. Brilliant. However, it is following a well-worn and familiar format. There are no real surprises here for the audience. It has a lot of nice variety in the story telling but doesn’t push the boat out in any meaningful sense. Everything is as you expect it which is comforting but conservative. If you like your anime to be an experience similar to cuddling up to a warm fire with a cup of cocoa then this will suit you. The girls don’t battle aliens of ever confess their love for boys. They just climb mountains and have the time of their young lives. Aoi does a lot of growing up and grows in self-confidence. This show makes sure the audience experience the positive nature of her experiences. This is the most comfortable pair of slippers and gloves you have ever worn. Possibly also a bit dull but lovely to watch. Life is an adventure – live it well.


To best appreciate the work of the fourth season of Yama no Susume: Next Summit, recall the work of the previous seasons.  Season one (2013):  four minute short features.  The following OVA suggests the humble origins are bound for greater things (Aoi vs. the climbing wall).  Seasons two and three (2014, 2018):  Longer short features, and the second run doubled the number of episodes.  More pronounced development of the characters in the series, particularly Aoi and Hinata.  Then comes the fourth go-round, Next Summit, and it charges into a short run of recapping episodes. Recaps are possible déjà vu memory aids.  With the main premise of the story, this is crucial redevelopment.  Aoi had two traumatic events in her young life.  First, her best friend Hinata moves away.  Then Aoi falls from the monkey bars, which scares her away from physical activity.  When Hinata returns for her high school years, she is an out-going outdoors girl.  Aoi has become a shy indoors girl.  Hinata encourages Aoi to join her on nature hikes climbing the smaller Japanese peaks.  They meet senpai Kanade and kohai Kokona and a budding photographer Honoka. The core of Next Summit is Aoi's second assault on Mt. Fuji.  In the third season, Aoi suffers altitude sickness and fails at the eighth station (of ten).  Next Summit is the rematch.  Hinata notes that Aoi has gotten stronger, but Aoi lapses into a new round of altitude sickness.  Would Fujiyama triumph a second time? Next Summit seems to have elements of the apologetic.  Hinata is less brusque with Aoi (no 'pants' episodes).  Buxom Kanade is not showcased.  In the previous seasons, Kanade rues her ample physique as it hinders her natural athleticism.  Nary a mention of any of this in the new season.  For season four is all about Aoi's redemption as a person shackled by her fears.  And if Aoi is adequately redeemed, would there be reason for a fifth season or even a movie? While Next Summit appears to go all out to resolve some story issues, it held back on the animation.  The already light color scheme was lighter yet, as if Aoi's success would guarantee stronger hues.  The music remains subdued, though some of the earliest jingles made a reprise late in the season (Mata Ashita Yahhoo). And it’s the salute to the musical snatches from season one which hint that 8-Bit will be hanging up the work on this delightful adventure of girls bonding while one among them finds she's more than homecrafts as knitting.  Which is ironic since the kanji for 'to be continued' kept cropping up during those first short episodes. 'To be continued' would be nice for Yama no Susume, but once you've reached Fuji, what is there in Japan to surpass?  Shall these girls take on the world's larger peaks?  It would be nice to see Aoi beat her best, seeing that she has traveled so far ... going up.

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