When I began watching Encouragement of Climb (Yama no Susume), I appreciated the contents of the two reviews that came before mine. First, the thorough and engaging precise examination of goodycandy741 and then the concise report of Efinate who nailed the two things that impress you the most about E of C, it's cute and it's short. Twelve episodes of three and a half minutes, doses of how to get into mountaineering as you see one particular girl grow up to transcend her previous shortcomings.
I am speaking of the character of Aoi, a first year high school student who is a shy and withdrawn indoor girl hampered by a fall from the monkey bars while in elementary school. She runs into her total opposite, Hinata, a free and easy outdoor type who interests Aoi in a climb of a local hill to catch the view. This makes up the first of two ascents in season one, the last one being Mt. Takao, a combination nature trail, shrine, and tourist trap. On the way through all these adventures, the girls meet new friends. Kaede is an older student at their high school, a curvaceous girl who is totally committed to taking on mountain hikes, even though she looks so much like the typical Science Club geek. Appearances fool as she gets a quick lesson on the superiority of down fill sleeping bags versus synthetic fiber from a completely clueless Aoi. Then Aoi and Hinata find Kokona, a middle school girl from their town, in serious shoe distress on their descent from Mt. Takao. They help her out and discover a kindred spirit, a neat blend of shy Aoi and adventuresome Hinata.
The animation of Yama no Susume resembles a softer tone one meets in watching the rustic scenery of Non Non Biyori. But the developing friendship of Aoi and Hinata seems to hijack the story, and the beautiful scenes of mountain trails and flying squirrels take a back seat. This may change in the following seasons. For now, get used to short and cute for now.
As for the sounds and songs, cute continues to win the day. But the main tune is heard with the closing theme as the show begins with a quick intro to premise. For example, Aoi is oblivious about hiking equipment. Flash to snatch of an opening motif leading to footsteps to tile Encouragement to Climb. Then off to the mountaineer shop to get that appropriate backpack. Then a truly perky closer ending with Mata Ashita. Yahhoo. (see you tomorrow ... yahoo).
Should one see the next seasons? Yama no Susume strives to offer a primer for the budding trail hiker/rock climber. Things will have to get dicier for timid Aoi. Just watching her grow to be less fidgety would be time well spent.