Encouragement of Climb, or Yama no Susume is a slice-of-life anime series adapted from the manga by Shiro. There are two seasons – the first consists of twelve five-minute episodes plus an OVA. The second season is twenty-four episodes long, each one lasting for fifteen minutes. Both seasons were produced by 8-Bit and directed by Yusuke Yamamoto.
The main focus of Encouragement of Climb is mountain climbing. Naturally, the main protagonist has a fear of heights. However, she climbed a mountain with her best friend Hinata Kuraue when they were younger. Together, they watched a sunrise from the mountain and promised to return to see that sight once again.
At the beginning, Hinata manages to get Aoi interested in mountaineering.
This new interest in mountaineering leads to Aoi and Hinata making several more friends. They are Kaede Saito and Kokona Aoba, who both get their own episodes during the second season. Several new characters also debut in the second season.
As for the mountain-climbing, this anime shows the girls going to the trouble of preparing properly. As the series goes on, Aoi slowly overcomes her fear of heights and even starts to find enjoyment in scaling mountains.
However, there is one that she isn’t able to conquer due to altitude sickness. That and the few episodes that follow don’t feel quite as light-hearted as the rest of the series. She does get over it eventually, but it’s quite striking considering the tone that had come before.
As for the relationship between Aoi and Hinata, there is a lot of subtext. They hold hands, and Aoi can’t go anywhere in her home town without bringing memories involving Hinata.
The entire anime isn’t about mountain-climbing, though. When mountaineering isn’t the focus, cute girls doing cute things very much is. There’s a whole lot of that out there, and Encouragement of Climb doesn’t really stand out in that regard.
A ‘cute girls doing cute things’ anime, with a strong focus on mountaineering. It may not stand out in a crowd, but there are some enjoyable elements to be found.