Yama No Susume S3

January 19, 2019

Why do I have a feeling that Yama No Susume S3 came out nearly after 4 years the second season aired was because it is to rival Yuru Camp? I guess we are going to have another cute girls doing cute things but with a new subgenre of outdoor lifestyle. Or maybe it is to coincide with Mountain Day on 11th August. Or maybe our characters haven’t conquered Mt Fuji fully yet and hence the need to remind us that another season is necessary. Well girls, take your time and only climb when you’re fully prepared. Because it’s not like Japan’s most beloved mountain is going anywhere, right?

Episode 1
Aoi wants to give a gift to Hinata so she wonders how she could combine mountain climbing and night scenery for it. So when she asks Hikari about it, she thinks she has got a boyfriend. Even the owner thinks so and gets worried? After hearing her out, Hikari suggests Mt Tsukuba as it has quite a night view. Aoi thinks it is a good surprise idea. Aoi brings unsuspecting Hinata to Mt Tsukuba who seems to just go along with the flow. When she tries to ask, Aoi averts the question. She’ll find out when she gets there. The night climb sure brings a different experience and when they get to the top, they are amazed by the night lights of the city below. Hinata is surprised but Aoi is most surprised herself at how beautiful it is. So is this a failure or success? As they sit and admire the scenery, Aoi renews her motivation to train and learn more to take on Mt Fuji again. When they take the ropeway down, they see a lot of romantic couples flirting. It blushes Aoi and it doesn’t help when Hinata comments they are a like a couple too. Hinata wants to stay for a while since the lights here are pretty too but Aoi cannot take all this anymore and wants to leave right away.

Episode 2
As advised by Kaede, climbing Mt Fuji now is dangerous because of all the snow. Guess they’ll have to wait till next spring. So for the time being, they go shop for some hiking shoes. Oh, bring 40,000 Yen too. Better not compromise on safety. At the shop, the knowledgeable salesman makes some recommendations. After getting Aoi’s feet measurements and the shoes, Aoi tries to practice climbing on a small miniature slope. She finds it hard to walk in. Kaede advises her to walk with her whole foot instead of just using her toes. Aoi doesn’t look satisfied as she still thinks she would like to have a cute pair since she is going to splurge that kind of money. And then it’s like this pair is signalling to her with this blinding light, “Pick me! Pick me!”. And so Aoi has found the shoes she wants. A few advice to inspect shoes before climb as Aoi also learns how to tie laces so it won’t come loose. They test their news shoes with a practice hike on Mt Tenran. Aoi feels at east walking in them and realizes why they are now heavy and stiff. Feeling you’re ready for Mt Fuji?

Episode 3
Aoi’s mom suggests Hanno Alps for her next hike. Did Aoi lie to mom because she knew Hinata can’t make it and didn’t tell her so as she would not stop her to go? You know how worried moms get when you go hiking alone, right? At the site, Aoi decides to take the easier route but soon gets a little tired. This track must be dead since nobody is around and she can’t help ask around for help. Finally a spot to rest. Much needed rest. Luckily soon after, Kokona comes by. Now she has a companion. Aoi is thinking of going home now but since Kokona wants to continue hiking, I guess she can’t lose out. The hike pays off as they get to take pictures of elands in their natural habitat. They arrive at a shrine with few deities and a giant pair of sandals. There’s some legend about the gods protecting your legs from injury if you pray sincerely but I wasn’t interested :(. They pray at the shrine and no prizes to guess Aoi’s wish to conquer Mt Fuji next time. With the breath taking view too, Aoi feels great that she has gained a little more confidence from this tough walk. So this is tough? Kokona was like no sweat.

Episode 4
We take a break from anything mountain climbing or hiking related as Aoi begins the new school term. As usual, she is nervous in making new friends in her own class. Some take an interest in her because they are amazed at her knitting skills. She is invited to hang out with them but this only makes Aoi more depress as she starts overthinking how she might not fit in. This must be more stressful than hiking. At the karaoke joint, Aoi is in her usual nervous mode. Her friends sing better than her and when it comes her turn, she thinks of using the toilet as an excuse but Hinata ‘cuts her off’. Aoi knows a song but fears this mountain song is so obscure she will be laughed at. Then Hinata starts singing it. It boosts Aoi’s confidence as she sings another less popular song (although she is still obviously nervous). Luckily her friends know it and soon they start singing along together. In the end, Aoi and friends had fun. Just a little more of this and she’ll be part of the gang in no time.

Episode 5
Aoi, Hinata and Kokona make their way to Gunma as Mt Tanigawa holds special place in their hearts. However they’re not climbing the mountain this time but to visit a special attraction there, Lockheart Castle, a very Scottish medieval-like castle. They meet up with Honoka who is also supposed to join them on this trip. We see the quartet having fun inside its many attractions as it lives up to his name with so many heart-like locks hanging everywhere. They also have a chance to dress up as a princess and do anything to their heart’s content. At the end of the day, Honoka’s brother is here to pick her up and the rest realize why she is reluctant to say anything about him. I’m not sure if trashy is the right word but you can hear his heavy dubstep beat from his car… Yeah… Honoka is very embarrassed and even more so when onii-chan doesn’t understand why she is acting so differently when she always swoons over him. Oh dear… As Honoka is a shy girl, no punch or beat down. Back home, Honoka enjoys the many photos they have taken together.

Episode 6
Aoi sees Hinata trying mountain coffee and thinking she would be teased for not being an adult, she decides to try one too. But first, Aoi practises making some and although it tastes bitter, her mom likes it. Yeah, you didn’t follow wrongly the instructions wrongly. Aoi at the coffee shop tries to look up for some beans. I believe there are brans she hasn’t heard off. Sausage? There, she meets Kaede and Yuuka and tells them what she is doing. Yuuka understands Aoi wants to be a cool person but it would be cooler if she likes what she likes. Aoi and Hinata then hike up Takayama Fudo-son as the former try to show off her coffee making skills. The coffee is bitter as usual as Aoi ponders if this is how adulthood is. You bet. And then Aoi witnesses this atrocity. Hinata putting milk in her coffee! Hey, it’s not like Hinata said she liked mountain coffee, right? Everything was just Aoi’s paranoia. Here, have some milk. Tastes good, right? So the lesson of the day is not to be an adult when you’re a kid. Take your time to become an adult. Oh, you’ll need it when the time comes…

Episode 7
Hinata wants to take Aoi to the planetarium tomorrow but apparently she has work so looks like she has to go herself. Out of habit, Hinata sometimes think Aoi is with her but realizes she is all by herself. It’s no fun being alone. Keep this up a few more times and maybe a few will take notice and think you’re a mad girl with an imaginary friend. Meanwhile Aoi is doing her best at the patisserie. A little girl who came in to buy a cake for her mom who just gave birth, she is short of money but the owner gives a discount seeing it is such a special day for her. Can’t ruin a customer’s smile, can you? Even after the store is closed, Kokona’s mom came in late to buy some cake as atonement. Unsure what to choose and the ones she wanted are out of stock, Hikari dispenses her knowledge on some of the cakes (which she learnt from Hikari who learnt from owner) for her to make her decision. Aoi goes home tired but her effort made it worth it. Yeah, a reminder that Japanese are the best in providing you the best service!

Episode 8
Honoka calls Aoi to invite her to Mt Akagi. At the same time Hinata called but since Aoi isn’t picking up and was on the other line, Hinata got ‘jealous’ of the other person she is talking to. So Aoi calls Kokona to invite her to Mt Akagi. Now, Aoi calls Hinata at this moment and of course she can’t pick up as she is talking to Kokona. Hence Aoi is ‘jealous’ that her best pal is talking to somebody. Geez, can’t these girls have other friends outside their groupie? Next day in school, both feel very awkward to ask each other. When Aoi finally has a chance to ask, somehow Hinata declines. And WTF she was hoping Aoi would continue to pester her into accepting?! Too bad it didn’t happen this time. Hence Hinata meets up with Kokona for their trip as well as Aoi and Honoka (is her brother going to play his dubstep music all the way?!) also heading there but from the other side. Honoka is quite knowledgeable about the town they pass through while Kokona knows her way through the tough hiking trail.

Episode 9
Continuing their trail up Mt Akagi, Aoi has no problems in climbing the numerous steep steps. All those mountain climbing must have really paid off. They arrive at a hotspring that Honoka wishes to try. Might as well since they are here. Aoi is reluctant but since Honoka is already getting naked, if you can’t beat them, join them. It is a good thing too because the water is warm and relaxing. But of course. Which Japanese hotspring is not enjoyable?! Meanwhile Hinata and Kokona have reached the peak and make this picturesque spot as their picnic area. If you think the weather is going to ruin their day, don’t worry, God loves lolis so he makes those ‘angel stairs’ phenomenon instead for them to be awed. Honoka and Aoi finish and head back. Oh dear. Honoka has to put up with more of her big brother’s embarrassment. Big brother wonders why she is quiet? IF YOU JUST TURN DOWN YOUR DUBSTEP!!! They arrive at a shrine and like any other Japanese shrine, you can write your wishes. No prizes to guess Aoi’s is to conquer Mt Fuji. Aoi parts ways and takes a train home. Coincidentally, Hinata and Kokona are on board this same train. They catch up on each other’s adventures.

Episode 10
Aoi and Hinata are invited by their friends to Ikebukuro. Hinata is unable to come as she will be out with her parents and Aoi is left in a lurch. She fears that Hinata would tease her for being unable to hang out with others without her. But back home Hinata finds out she mixed up the day with her parents and hence she has free time. It makes it awkward for her to join (fearing Aoi will tease her for the mix up) in but she worries about Aoi. So instead she hangs out with Kaede and Yuuka. Too bad Kaede dreads Yuuka the Spartan teacher because that is basically what this hangout is going to be. Hinata is awed after hearing Kaede’s ambition to go to college while still wanting to continue mountain climbing. Meanwhile on Aoi’s side, they all had fun. But one of the friends make it a point for Aoi to remember her. Yup, for the years that they were in the same class, Aoi never knew her! At least now Aoi is much more approachable than before. Hinata sees Aoi having a swell time with her friends and it’s that worried look on her face that she doesn’t need her anymore.

Episode 11
Hinata is still reeling from the fact that Aoi has new friends. Kaede invites them to hike Mt Mizugaki and Mt Kinpu. They’re going to climb the mountain and spend the night there so prepare your tents. Aoi and Kokona spend the night making food. Thankfully they didn’t doze off at the kitchen. However when morning comes, not even the alarm clock could wake them up. It took a while for Kokona to wake up but it’s going to take a lot more effort to wake up that heavy sleeper. Luckily they’re just in time. Just a second late and they could have missed the train. Because of that, Hinata is clearly upset as she lectures them about taking care of their health. Why so angry? What’s the deal, girl? They’re sorry, right? Even when they hike up the mountain and set up their tent, Hinata is still visibly mad. She makes careless moves that could have injured her. I’m sure the picturesque view of the mountain should blow away some of her blues. Hmm… Maybe it’s going to take a bit longer.

Episode 12
Watch some beautiful stars in the night sky before tomorrow’s climb on Mt Kinpu. Next morning as they begin their journey, it seems Hinata injures her knee but chooses not to say anything so as not to ruin the journey and worry her friends. Eventually she cannot go any further and tells her friends about this. She wants them to carry on while she makes her way back down. Of course Aoi will not leave her friend behind and will stay with her. So as not to waste this trip, Kaede and Kokona can go on ahead. So I guess this is necessary so the duo can amend their friendship and go back to how it always was like before. Yeah, believe in them to quickly reconcile because there’s no merit to drag out this drama, right? Okay, okay, we made more friends but they are still each other’s best friends. We get it. Can we move along now? Kaede and Kokona return and show them the nice pictures they take of the peak as they prepare to descend. Aoi accompanies Hinata home. Hinata raises her hopes when she says she has got a present for her but won’t tell her what it is. So we get to peek at it first? This weird owl flower thingy…

Episode 13
Aoi’s stamina has been steadily increasing as she prepares for that eventual date with Mt Fuji. Had not Kokona reminded her, she would have forgotten about Hinata’s birthday next week! It is suggested they do a surprise party for her. Kaede would have loved to join but not if Yuuka sensei has something to say about studying. Aoi is tasked to choose a gift since she is her best friend. Yeah… Technically not wrong. Unfortunately Aoi doesn’t have a clue what Hinata likes. Lots of ideas but eventually they’re unsuitable. Yeah, that means a baby sister isn’t possible. So why do we need to have flashbacks of Aoi’s sad unsociable life and the thought she could make it alone through high school until Hinata popped up? Oh, the memories. I guess Aoi is so stuck and acting weird that when Hinata asked, accidentally she spilled the beans about the surprise party. Oops. Hinata laughed hard but thanks her because it made her really happy. And then the secret thing Hinata wanted to tell her… I guess we’ll have to guess and wait as she whispers in her ear… More typical friendship banter from the duo. Life’s good. Soon they celebrate Hinata’s birthday and Honoka joins in via video conferencing style. Even her brother wants to join in?! And thankfully Kaede ditched studies just for today to celebrate this special occasion. So I guess the present they got for her is some makeup kit. Will Hinata look beautifully mature now? She looks like a clown… Oh well, a few more practice…

Yuru Climb
See you again? Sure. Hope it won’t be in another 4 years. Honestly I don’t find anything that special with this season. Is it because of the many years this series was ‘absent’ and hence my failing memories? As said in my previous blogs, I was never a mountain enthusiast and this series failed to spur any sort of mountain climbing interest or healthy outdoor lifestyle living. Otherwise how do you think I managed to complete and watch so many animes every season?! What I’m saying this that this season feels pretty drab to me and there was nothing really special that piqued my interest. I’m sure some of the mountains featured here are like mini advertisements in hopes of garnering some interest to not only climb the mountain but visit the other local attractions in the vicinity.

This season still has its share of mountain climbing and hiking but somehow I feel it is not as prominent as its previous seasons. Maybe I don’t remember much. So in place of that, we have this character development and as always, the ‘yuri’ relationship between Aoi and Hinata. Nothing new until the part where they start to ‘fight’. Yeah, I guess we needed some friendship drama because it’s getting boring with all the happy-happy and sparkling smiles of eagerness to climb mountains. And so they ramp up some drama of Aoi and Hinata with their friendship on the docks because they’ve been so best friends with each other for so long, seeing them mix with other groups is unthinkable. Yeah, I wonder how they came to a conclusion that means bye-bye to their friendship and move on to new friends. Remember, their friendship only blossomed recently and they were away from each other before that. And as expected, such friendships must be mended in the end because it shows some growth in characters of accepting the other has other circle of friends than themselves. Your friend is also my friend. Gee, what a happy carefree world.

Kaede and Kokona aren’t prominent in this season and so is Honoka. Kaede seems to be slowly turning into some reluctant studying slave while Kokona still remains her cute side. Honoka feels like an extra-extra character because if they feel they needed an extra character, they just bring her into the picture. Because she doesn’t really feel like she is part of the circle of the main quartet. The only amusing character is Honoka’s brother because of his penchant to play his dubstep 24/7. Does he ever turn off that thing? When you hear the dubstep, you know who is around. It’s interesting to see the other side of Honoka as she tries to hide her love for her brother but dense big brother can’t tell and continues to spill the biggest secret she wants to keep from her friends that she is a doting little sister. I guess all of us have sides that we don’t want to see. With Honoka hanging out more with her friends but still cannot not rely on her brother for transportation, I guess she’ll have to live with the embarrassment. Ah, they grow up so fast.

Art and drawing still maintain its quality and although it might not be so breath-taking that you want to pause your video and let tears roll down your eyes to appreciate the masterpiece background and sceneries, well, sorry if I was exaggerating but yeah, the background and sceneries still provide nice eye candy if you ever get tired of watching our loli drama. Heh. The opening theme just like in previous seasons is sung by the mountain climbing quartet. But with Yuka Iguchi as Aoi starting off the song, I don’t know, it makes the entire song sound so girly despite all the jazzy fanfare. Even more so when it reaches Yui Ogura’s turn (Kokona’s voice). It’s the Aoi-Hinata duo combo for the ending theme, Irochigai No Tsubasa which sounds a bit hip hop and a bit better than the opener. Can’t help wanting to go “Yo! Yo!~” at certain points. But overall this song has some dramatic elements that makes it feel it is also suitable for a visual novel game.

Overall, this season feels average since mountain climbing is given a lesser limelight and replaced with some power of loli friendship drama. Plus, Aoi didn’t get to conquer Mt Fuji yet and it still remains her (pipe?) dream so I suppose that gives another excuse to make another season if there is a need for it. Hence perhaps this is another reason why I didn’t find this season so appealing because instead of taking on the final boss of all mountains in Japan, they continue to attempt and conquer smaller ones. It’s not a bad thing but we’re mostly here to see little girls conquer the risky and treacherous mother of all Japanese mountains that the Japanese themselves revere and admire so much. Oh right. Kaede said it is dangerous to attempt Mt Fuji at this time of year. Oh well, I suppose until that adventure takes off again, looks like I’m going to wait and watch season 2 of Yuru Camp first! XD.

Wait a minute. You mean the climbing isn’t through yet? Oh right. Somebody failed to conquer Mt Fuji in the second season. It has been almost 4 years ago since the second season aired and I thought that was the end of it. Apparently not. Yama No Susume: Omoide Present is a special OVA released back at the end of 2017 just to inform us that a third season will be gracing the airwaves in 2018. Time to pack those hiking and climbing gears once more. Mr Fuji, here we come again.

Summer: Kokona
It is the summer break for Kokona and her mom feels bad that she has to work and not bring her daughter somewhere. Luckily Kokona is used to this and understands. This is an excerpt of one of her solo walks during summer. On a bright summer morning, Kokona as usual heads off by herself to Honnou. Along the way, she reminisces the old times she spent here as a kid with her mom. She also sees Kaede being dragged and lectured by her friend to go study at the library. She has to if she knows what’s best if she wants to get into college. Good luck. Later she stumbles into a lost girl who got separated from her mom while she was following a stray cat. Brings back memories when she got lost too. Luckily she helps her find and reunite with her mom. Kokona notes she is never lonely because of all the past memories. Literally, it’s like she’s been everywhere. Why the angel or fairy getup when she was a kid? Later when Aoi and Hinata join her, Kokona tells them of a second Mt Tenran. They don’t believe her until they look it up and find how true it is. Yeah, she knows the place like the back of her hand. Back home, Kokona has made dinner as her mom returns. Kokona tells her of all the memories she remembered today. Good news as mom says she has the next weekend off and will be able to bring her somewhere.

Autumn: Hinata
Hinata hangs out at Aoi’s place. When Aoi’s mom calls her, Aoi warns her not to touch anything. Of course cheeky Hinata despite making that fake promise then looks through her stuffs and finds a weird acorn badly glued on a stock with the word ‘te’ on it. Aoi returns and Hinata barely manages to put everything back. Acting so suspicious… Then they go through their old photo album before Hinata shifted away. When Hinata goes home, she spots a dropped acorn. She feels nostalgic but couldn’t quite put her finger on it. She asks dad about it so he shows his own photo collection where Aoi and Hinata used to hang out together at a children’s park. He still keeps a gingko leaf because it was her first present to him. It would be bad if he didn’t treasure it. Deep in the night, Hinata then remembers. The day before her family moved, Aoi made a doll out of acorns while Hinata just glued one on a stick. The girls were emotional when they separated and gave each other that acorn memento. It wasn’t written as ‘te’ but ‘hi’. Such bad handwriting. Hinata fears she has lost it and turns her room upside down to find it. Nothing. She fears Aoi will hate her for losing something important hence it is obvious she is spacing out very often. Dad doesn’t know the problem but figures if she did something wrong, just go apologize! I guess after all that thinking, Hinata decides to do that. She is sorry she lost that acorn. Aoi doesn’t mind and suggests they go find acorns and make new ones. Hinata is surprised by her forgiveness but as they pick acorns, Hinata remembers when she returned and introduced herself, Aoi did not f*cking remember her at all! That’s worst! Oh Aoi, trying to change the subject?

Climb More, Worry Less
If this OVA reeks of all that moe friendship and nothing about the climbing, don’t be surprise it is. This is what I remember the series is mostly about. It is like the little warm up that this series need for viewers before they get into the main dish of climbing and hiking up mountains or hills. There’s nothing much I can say here since this OVA just mainly delves into the special memories of the characters in the series. Memories, the priceless treasures than mankind could have. As long as you have them, your friendship could go a long way. Well, I suppose it is forgivable if you forget once in a while. Okay, maybe not. At least not the most important aspects. That’s why it’s funny to see how life changes as we grow up. We made promises never to forget and will always remember and then as time passes, we forget all about it. Sorry if I sound a little philosophical about this. It was just an excuse to cover up my forgotten memories for this series. No big deal now that I have remembered (some of it). So let bygones be bygones and move on and trek forward!

Yama No Susume S2

September 5, 2015

I guess Japanese love their mountains so much that they even made a Mountain Day public holiday to appreciate the beauty of those summits! No kidding. But that holiday will only take effect in August 2016 once the legislation of it is passed. Therefore I am guessing that to celebrate this awesome new future holiday, the reason why Yama No Susume got a second season. Even more awesome is how this anime is ‘doubled’. Originally the first season only had a dozen episodes worth only 5 minutes each. But with this second season, they get twice all that with 24 episodes of 12 minutes each! Wow. Only very few animes get such treatment whereby their second season have more episodes like the first (Aria The Animation and K-ON! to name a few). The plot (if you consider there should be any) of this season remains the same and is about those mountain loving girls trying to conquer a handful of mountains in Japan one step at a time. But with one of them with fear of heights, isn’t this a big irony or a big fear factor challenge?

Episode 1
Despite only a dream, Aoi accuses Hinata for leaving her behind on the snowy mountain trails to head to the summit herself! In this opener, our girls teach us how to set up an outdoor camp. Initially when Aoi told her mom that she is going camping with her friends, she wasn’t too pleased since it would be dangerous as all of them are girls. So she compromised by allowing her to camp at Hinata’s backyard. Kaede and Kokona soon join them once the tent is up. More lessons on how to cook outdoors especially rice. Nature isn’t going to provide you with any gas stove, you know. Funnily after dinner, Hinata is the one who head to take a bath first while leaving her friends to wash up. Night falls, although it first seemed spacious inside the tent, when all 4 of them cram inside, it is a little bit tight. No space to move. Kaede’s experience tells her it won’t be a problem because everyone will be exhausted from the day and just sleep like a log. When you have girls staying up late together, expect to hear love stories. Too bad, it is nothing like the romance we hope for. Their love lies in some other stuffs like mountains and mascots but not boys. Then another dream whereby Aoi has to carry sleeping Hinata to the top. Hinata moving about in her sleep woke Aoi up. She goes out to see the sunrise. It brings back memories. Aoi wonders if the view would be more beautiful on Mt Fuji. This outdoor camping was fun and she hopes to do a real one in the mountains the next time.

Episode 2
Hinata calls Kaede and Kokona for a secret meeting. After hearing Aoi’s wish, they plan to surprise her with a mountain trekking that will have a view of Mt Fuji. They check through the catalogue of mountains, each with their own climbing difficulty and popularity. It is decided that for the best view of Mt Fuji for their capability would be from Mt Mitsutouge. Later Hinata calls Aoi to meet up at a station. Their destination will be a secret. During the journey, it will be hard for them to keep Mt Fuji hidden from Aoi’s view. I mean, the mountain is so big, right? But thankfully, Aoi slept during the train ride and the rest easily distracted her whenever Mt Fuji was ‘dangerously in sight’. As they walk up the trails, they pass by several monuments from shrines that pray for climbers’ safety and beautiful waterfalls. But the real path towards Mt Mitsutouge begins. Aoi is a little worried but since Hinata insisted there is something important at the end of the trail, she can’t wait to see it.

Episode 3
Trekking up the path is no easy feat. Then there is a small gap in the forest that has a clear view of Mt Fuji. Aoi saw it and then she realized this is perhaps what Hinata wanted to show her. For now she’ll feign ignorance and play along. But as they get higher, the trail becomes steeper and more difficult. Aoi is tired and it has become no more fun. Luckily experienced climber Kaede has what it takes to motivate her to get back on her feet. She lets her have some chocolates and tells her to walk at her own pace. Because the rest won’t enjoy themselves if she isn’t. Aoi is given hiking poles to help climb better. Then there is a treacherous stretch. Narrow and steep. One wrong move and it’s a long way down. Aoi is scared but with her friends motivating her, she takes it one step at a time till she reaches the other end. Then they finally get to see Mt Fuji. It’s nothing like you see in the pictures. All that hard work made the view even more beautiful and worth it. It’s not over yet as they still need to reach the summit which isn’t that far.

Episode 4
At the peak of Mt Mitsutouge, Aoi is awed at the sight of Mt Fuji. Hinata is glad because this is the first time she has seen her this happy. Like all good things, it must come to an end. Now the quartet have to make their descend and Aoi feels a little sad to say goodbye. Kaede suggests going to a hotspring once they reach ground level but Aoi is scared as she is embarrassed to go in with everyone. The journey down is a lot harder and it is taking a toll on Aoi and Kokona’s knees. They’re aching all over. But Hinata is alright since she is wearing knee supports. There is a sign to watch out for bears but Aoi is so tired and aching all over that she couldn’t care. Because even reaching ground level, the journey to the next station seems like forever. Once the hotspring is spotted, the girls rush in, leaving Aoi behind. I guess her aching muscles are making her turtle and by the time she undresses and everything, she is told she needs to clean herself, etc. Fine. Can she go in now? It is the best refreshing feeling ever. Then the embarrassment starts to get to her once she is feeling much better. She is sitting at a corner alone. Her friends think she is embarrassed so she stood up and denies. Hinata thought she lost some weight after all that walking but looks like she did not. Aoi fell asleep and dreams about … Bears! On the last train home, they see the evening view of Mt Fuji. Aoi thanks her friends and would love to experience more of such feelings. Tough but fun.

Episode 5
Aoi is talking how Hinata always drags her into her misfortune in the past and looks like one is coming up. Hinata tripped on a stone and accidentally pulls down Aoi’s skirt! Kindergarten kids these days are smart enough to know what polka dots look like… It’s big time embarrassment for Aoi and of course this means Hinata has to go to her house to apologize. She can pull her skirt if she wants to. Seriously? She’s sulking but only for a short while. Let bygones be bygones. It’s not the end of the world. When Aoi goes to get drinks, Hinata spots something Aoi was knitting and messes with it. Oh sh*t. What the heck did you just do? Aoi is definitely not happy and you can tell she is absolutely upset as she kicks her out of the house. Hinata thought she’ll be back to herself by tomorrow but it’s worse than she thought. She’s not talking to her. Hinata talks this to Kokona who reveals a big secret. Aoi was knitting a hat as a surprise gift for her as thanks for showing her Mt Fuji. Kokona knows because she helped chose the wool. Aoi and Hinata have not talked since and opportunities for them to reconcile dwindle. One day, Hinata is at Aoi’s home and although the latter is happy, she acts like she is still sulking. Hinata then surprises her with a knitted hat as her surprise gift to make up. She heard it from Kokona and had her teach her how to knit. That is why they couldn’t see each other often in and after school. With their friendship patched up, Hinata is devastated that Aoi isn’t going to finish that hat and give it to her. The surprise is gone. Call it karma because this time Aoi trips and accidentally pulls down Hinata’s skirt! Kids these days know what bears look like. How does it feel to be this embarrassed? Hey, Aoi said sorry. And she did say she could pull down her skirt, right? Oh, you mean that was a joke? Come on. She apologized. It’s not the end of the world! Right back at you…

Episode 6
Hinata’s dad is explaining how he climbed Mt Fuji during the night and viewed the breathtaking scenery. It was like in a different world. Even more awesome was the sunrise. Because of dad, Aoi wants to climb Mt Fuji with Hinata. They check out some climbing equipment since it could get pretty cold and dark during the ascend. However the down jacket is too expensive and Aoi can’t afford it. She remembers her mom has one and would borrow from her. However when mom learns about her night climbing, she is against it and even brings up her recent slip in grades. Anyway, she forbids her to do night climbing. Because of that, Aoi becomes a sad cat. Father learns about it and talks to her that mom is worried since she is their only child. He understands her love for climbing and if she really wants to go climbing, she needs to convince and reassure mom that there is nothing to be worried about. So Aoi starts her pestering convincing till mom agrees and lends Aoi her down jacket. Seeing her love something this much, she must have become stronger.

Episode 7
Hinata shows Aoi the river where she hopes everyone can go swimming in their sexy swimsuit. Aoi definitely can’t ask her mom about it and not wanting to lose out, she goes to pick one herself but flusters greatly at every revealing one. Heck, she thought one is invisible when it is only just the hanger! The day to go swimming is here but a typhoon builds up. Next day, the weather is fine but the current is flowing too swiftly. Next day, Hinata becomes sick! Bad luck?! A few days later, everything is fine to go swim. Hinata teases the rest that they are embarrassed to strip because they are wearing sexy swimsuit underneath. To their surprise, Kaede reveals she cannot swim. When Hinata steps into the water, it is so freaking cold that she gives up swimming here. So how? They all go swimming in their own makeshift pool in their backyard. So everyone reveals their swimsuit and Aoi’s is so mild. You call this sexy? Even more surprising is Hinata because she is wearing a school swimsuit! How is that sexy?! She made it sexy by wearing it!!! Oh Hinata! You crack me up!

Episode 8
The girls make plans since they’re going to climb Mt Fuji soon. Aoi and Hinata didn’t think they need to bring snacks since it’ll make them fat but Kaede lectures them about the need to bring rations as they will burn lots of calories while climbing. So they go buy some food and also other stuffs while keeping in mind not to pollute the area. Aoi is worried about the climb and as Hinata suggested, she calls Kaede that night. She relays her painful experience in her climbs. Each time she thought about giving up but didn’t. As time passes, only happy memories remain and those painful ones will eventually fade. This won’t be possible had she given up. This gives Aoi confidence that you can’t see fear and will only understand when it hits you. Right now, all she can do is push on. Now she can’t sleep because she is excited. Start counting sheep… Well, she counted up till 12,552!!! I wonder if she’ll be okay as she meets her pals early next morning.

Episode 9
The girls begin their climb of Mt Fuji. After taking a bus to the base, Kaede explains the different stations and climbing difficulty of each ascend. She also warns of altitude sickness to more you climb higher. After eating ramen, Aoi and Kokona buy climbing staves to help their climb and also collect different stamps from the stations. They make slow but steady progress to the top. Kaede’s tip protector came off and since it is expensive, everyone helps look but find several other broken tip protectors. I guess it happens a lot. Aoi is feeling the pinch as she climbs higher. But when she takes a look at the great view, it gives her the encouragement to continue. One step at a time.

Episode 10
The climb is getting more taxing for Aoi. She is starting to feel tired. When they reached the 8th station, Aoi is already experiencing altitude sickness that she can’t talk or move. Kaede will stay here with her as she asks Hinata and Kokona to continue their climb and will catch up with them. Aoi is ‘grounded’ on this station as she sleeps for a few hours. A few rowdy climbers were noisy but with Kaede signalling them to pipe down, nothing untoward happened. By 2am, Aoi wakes up and although still dizzy, she starts panicking that they need to climb now or they can’t see the sunrise. They’ve prepared hard for this and don’t want it all to go to waste. Kaede tells her not to push herself. Otherwise she can’t go home. The mountain isn’t going anywhere and they can take this challenge up any time. Kaede messages to the duo to continue their climb for Aoi’s sake. They see the beautiful stars of the Milky Way but the skyline’s colour is soon changing. Hinata and Kokona hurry to the top while Aoi continues to sleep and feels of wanting to go home and sleep in her own comfy bed.

Episode 11
Hinata and Kokona manage to reach the top to see the sunrise. Likewise, Kaede also calls Aoi to view the sunrise from where they are. She gets up and does so despite her heart and body really wanting not to move. Although awed at the view, she is left wondering of her yet so near, yet so far conquest. Kaede advises Hinata and Kokona to circle the basin and reach the highest peak since they are already there. She will trek down with Aoi and meet up at the base. The walk is slow but even so, Aoi’s depression continues. Still tired, her legs hurt and even more baffling is how Kaede can still be happy when she is the one causing so much problems. It really zaps the motivation and enthusiasm out of her. Once they reach the base and waiting for the bus, Aoi calls her mother who is worried that she sounds really awful. Despite Aoi calling her attempt a failure, mother views it as she has tried her best. Aoi can’t understand why she is trying to cheer her up that she feels guilty and doesn’t have the guts to face her. Her depression is so bad that it makes Hinata and Kokona worry. It just dampens the mood.

Episode 12
The depression continues… It’s not a funny thing when it carries on this long. Hinata hasn’t spoke to Aoi ever since they came back down out of consideration and to give her some space. During summer vacation, after Aoi receives a postcard from Hinata, she decides to take a walk and finds herself hiking Mt Tenran, the first mountain she climbed. The hike now seems so much easier than she first started. She accidentally meets Hinata there and boy, are they surprised to see each other. They walk through other parts of the mountain. Aoi then apologizes for being frustrated and unable to accept that she failed and she felt like there was a hole in her heart. She’s been thinking about it and would like to continue climbing mountains. This is great news for Hinata. With their friendship back to normal again, this means the usual teasing Aoi gets from Hinata. That’s what friends are for?

Episode 13
Since when did our mountain lolis turn into budding astronomers watching the night sky?! Anyway Kokona suggests a place that they could watch the fireflies. Hinata remembers when she was young and out with Aoi’s family to watch the fireflies, they got lost. Hinata was crying when a firefly monster led the way to bring them back. She thinks Aoi will laugh at her but there is a chance she might not remember this. Likewise, Aoi’s mother tells this exact same story. Except that Aoi told her she was led back by a firefly fairy! Aoi dreams about it that night and confirms she did meet it. She thinks Hinata might make fun of her and won’t say a thing. When the girls meet, Aoi and Hinata mention about that past but stop short of saying that monster/fairy. As they make their way to the river, Aoi and Hinata get into an argument about that monster/fairy. It suddenly gets pitch dark but they get to see the fireflies and it is like they’re standing among the stars. Kokona returns home and mother remembers and shows her a firefly suit she used to wear. This has her remember she stumbled upon a pair of lost kids and happily led them away. Because Hinata was scared, in her eyes she saw her as a monster but awed Hinata saw otherwise. Mystery solved.

Episode 14
It’s hot during the summer so Hinata suggests a small mountain they can climb to cool off. Because Aoi’s mom is also worried about her ever since she came down from Mt Fuji, Hinata suggests inviting her along. Pleasantly, she agrees. With Hinata’s dad, the quartet drive up to Mt Kirigamine. Thankfully Aoi doesn’t have to relive her fear of heights since you have to take a cable car up. They’ll take the long way around to hike up. During the trekking, a particular scenery reminds them of the mountain they first climbed when they were young. Unfortunately they can recall its name. Aoi’s mom is proud that her daughter is growing and exploring things herself. She feels happy and sad at the same time. Finally the girls ask Hinata’s about that mountain they first climbed. It was Tanigawadake and it is quite an easy and safe mountain to climb even for kids. Well, Aoi despite wanting to go there and see that scenery again, she might have to rethink about it since she heard you need to ride a cable car there. Remember, back then she didn’t have acrophobia. The view from Kirigamine is quite nice and Aoi’s mom is glad she came. Looks like fear of heights or not, the girls set Tanigawadake as their next mountain to climb.

Episode 15
Time to give Kaede some love with an episode focusing on her. While organizing her stuffs, she sees a rain jacket in her closet that brings back fond memories of her middle school friend, Yuuka. Then, Kaede used to climb mountains alone and Yuuka was always worried about the injuries she picked up. One day, Kaede’s leg sprain was ‘bad’ enough for Yuuka to tick her off. It made Kaede feel bad because she thought she would brush it off as usual. Yuuka actually cared about her. So Kaede tries to apologize and Yuuka too feel the same for being too harsh. When they go out shopping together, Kaede teaches her about the rain jacket clothing that is used to climb mountains. Yuuka understands that she wasn’t being reckless in her mountain climbing and does think about her safety. Kaede bought it shortly. The rain jacket may be too small for her to wear now but she can’t bring herself to throw it away. She wonders what Yuuka is doing now and really wants to see her. Aoi texts her about their plan to climb Tanigawadake. Kaede wonders if it is her turn to worry about them. She then calls Yuuka to meet up.

Episode 16
Guess what? Aoi is now scared to climb Tanigawadake because of the cable car and doesn’t want to go. Hinata suggests calling Kaede for some tips for her fear. So the girls meet up. Everyone is surprised to see Kaede dressed in feminine clothes (thank Yuuka for that) and Kokona start fantasizing what kind of house Kaede lives in. They all look like mountains… In her room, she shows them pictures of the mountain she wants to climb. This is when Aoi mentions her case. Kaede relates she also had such fear when she first rode the cable car. She was clinging to the pole the entire way! But after a few more rides, it wasn’t scary anymore. All you need to do is get used to it. Things are only scary in your heart. It is up to her but if she doesn’t take that step forward, she’ll never know. This gives enough motivation for Aoi to go climb Tanigawadake. Speaking of that mountain, Kaede notes that using their gear they used during Mt Fuji will be sufficient. But to prepare in the event of rain, bring a rain jacket. Unfortunately Aoi doesn’t have one. She checked around but are too expensive. Kaede lends hers. Now it can be put to good use since it fits Aoi. She also plans the itinerary but looking at pictures of cable cars freaks her out! Time to summon some courage and do this.

Episode 17
I suppose to ‘train’ Aoi for the Tanigawadake climb, the girls visit the national park. There is a section with amusing playground equipment and the girls relive their childhood years having fun sitting the swings and slides. They take a nature walk to see the various flora and fauna as well as a cool stream that runs through it. Then they stop for lunch and Hinata’s bento might be so extravagant only because her dad woke up 3am to make them! And he was fired up in doing so. There is a suspension bridge they need to cross and this awakens Aoi’s fear. But Hinata takes her hand as they slowly walk across. She realizes Hinata is trying to help her get used to heights to overcome her fear. After making it, they have fun on some small bouncy artificial hill. Again, Aoi thought that it looked a bit tall… Nevertheless she tries it out and they have so much fun till they tumble down. Aoi realizes that she wasn’t afraid was it because she was having fun or distracted. Although the phobia is still there, she is confident with her friends around, she’ll pull through the cable car ride. They end the day by taking commemorative photos.

Episode 18
Mountain climbing is such an expensive hobby because Aoi just realized she’s low on the cash. Hinata suggests taking up a part time job and her mom agrees to it. There is a friend of hers who works at the patissiere who is short on staff so she can try out and make the call. Aoi is surprised that she is invited to the interview and since she is stumped in writing her resume, she calls Hinata for help. What should she right in purpose of getting the job? Be honest. To finance your hobby. And also, don’t forget to smile. With mom reminding her about the same thing, Aoi wonders if her smile is really that bad. It must be because she’s having a hard time putting one up at the photo machine. Aoi gets the job as her senior, Hikari Onozuka teaches her the details. Aoi is a bit stiff and gloomy compared to Hikari’s sunshine personality. Hikari guides her to smile and speak clearly. I wonder if Aoi is regretting this job and should have gotten an office job instead. The first customer comes in and you can see the obvious nervousness in her voice and actions. At least it went well. Hikari teaches her the finer points of facing people and to let them experience a happy shopping. Aoi finally gets it but the next customer who comes in had to be Hinata. Now she puts on a long face… Aoi is embarrassed and wants Hinata to be done with her shopping. Surprisingly Hinata says her smile when she first entered was perfect. It made her feel a little better. Despite her first day was tiring, it helped broaden her perspective. She is still worried about tomorrow but is looking forward to what will happen.

Episode 19
Just when Aoi has gotten used to her job, suddenly mom reminds her about her homework. Haven’t touched a single one! She digs her grave by assuring she’ll get it done and it worsens when mom wants to see it after she has finished! So she burns the midnight oil to complete them but she’s drawing up blanks. That hard, huh? Heck, she even wonders if she has studied this! Oh, how unlikely to come from her mouth! After climbing the heavens, she is plunging into the depths of hell. I guess she got desperate enough to call Hinata for help but she is away in some beach paradise to celebrate her parents’ anniversary so she won’t be back so soon. Oh, her homework? She’s already done all of them. WHAT?! You traitor! As much as Aoi hates to admit it, Hinata might be an idiot but she can tutor others and does get top grades. No progress for Aoi as she dreams of climbing a mountain of homework! Time to call Kaede for help. As expected, Kaede is kind enough to let her come over. But when Aoi shows the problems, the long silence is worrying. You know what she said? Did she learn this in her syllabus last year?! She doesn’t remember and wonders if the syllabus has changed! Sure, blame the system. And her brain has a long loading time that makes your old PC seem to load faster… Oh, Kaede hasn’t even touched her homework a bit! Now they’re doomed. Kaede thinks of calling Kokona for help. But she is younger than them! Aoi cannot live with the idea of someone younger teaching them so Kaede calls Yuuka over. Aoi may be having doubts when Yuuka starts getting strict on Kaede. But thankfully she is kind towards Aoi. In the end, Aoi is safe. Mommy is happy with her work. Hinata returns to show off her tan lines and Aoi in turn shows off her finished homework. Now she can climb Tanigawadake without worries. All that’s left is to conquer the cable car. Oh no! When she had just forgotten about that…

Episode 20
Aoi gets the recipe from her master to bake pound cake for tomorrow’s climb. But this episode is predominantly on Kokona. I suppose it is time for her to get some love. As she packs for the climb, she notices her birthday present hidden in the closet. I guess mom wanted to surprise her a day earlier since she’ll be away for the climb tomorrow. It is a pair of shoes she always wanted. What better way than to try them out by strolling through town? I know it is boring seeing her ‘adventures’ but with Kokona being such a cutie, you’ll be distracted by it. But was it ‘boring’ enough that Kokona has to fantasize some sort of fairytale? Who the heck are those Muuma horses?! Kokona goes home and waits for mom to return. I guess she took too long and fell asleep. Mom is finally back and apologizes for the lateness. Although the bakery is closed and had to get a cake from the convenience store, she did prepare her a present. Kokona reveals she had already seen it. Better luck in hiding it next time. Aoi has finished her baking but a new problem plagues her: After the climb and fulfilling the promise, what is there left? Can she just stop thinking too far ahead?

Episode 21
D-Day is here to climb Tanigawadake. Aoi’s dad gives her encouragement that she has already tried Mt Fuji so this is nothing. But first, they must climb 462 flights of stairs! Tired already? Well, there are a little more flights of stairs and a distance to go before reaching the ticket station. But you can’t give up now, right? They see Kaede filling in an emergency contact form in case of emergencies. Let’s be honest. They don’t want to die up there, right? And now the moment of truth… Aoi is so scared before the cable care that she is stunned and paralyzed! However with Hinata taking her hand and the rest helping her to get on, I guess it is not that bad. Well, at least the sceneries aren’t that bad. Hooray! Aoi did it! She finally reached the top! Not quite. There is another set of ski lifts they need to take. Oh damn… This one looks more dangerous. She feels she can fall off any time! Help! Hinata believes she can get through this. After all, they’re going to their promised place.

Episode 22
Now that they’re at the start of the climb, Aoi tells us a few facts about Tanigawadake. Along the way, the keep bumping into Honoka Kurosaki. She is the girl who helped picked up Aoi’s ticket while she was scared stiff at the cable car station. She seems the gloomy and unsociable type but Aoi can’t let this go and goes talk to her. Her expressionless face and no-response sometimes make you wonder if she is upset or not. Seems she takes photos on lots of things and there is a scenery that she keeps of the place that she uses for reference because she wants to see it again. She asks Aoi why she climbs. For fun? She goes off by herself when Aoi’s friends catch up. Then it starts to rain and Aoi ‘blames’ Hinata for wishing such weather. Once they reach a hut, memories start flooding back to the duo. So nostalgic that they could even see it before their eyes. And then they had to think too much because they fear once this is accomplished, what is there left? Haven’t they gotten over this yet?

Episode 23
Honoka returns to the rest house and joins the rest. I guess she is already part of the group because Hinata is making fun of Aoi’s failed ascend on Mt Fuji. Geez, you’re embarrassing her. Then when it is time, everyone surprises Kokona by wishing her happy birthday! It’s today? Aoi baked some bread in preparation for this. When it is bedtime, Hinata talks to Kaede about what is bugging her. She wonders if Aoi enjoyed her time at Mitsutouge. Don’t worry about it. Kaede believes in them. Oh, she still has another problem. What happens after the promise is fulfilled? Oh never mind, she’ll find that out herself. At the same time, Aoi also talks to Honoka about this very same problem and is worried they won’t return to how they used to be. Honoka mentions about sceneries she will come across that she wants to take. She believes this will go on forever. Get the hint, Aoi? They exchange numbers and address. Before the break of dawn, Aoi and Hinata trek up to fulfil their promise. Then they had to ask that dreaded question. Don’t spoil the moment right now. Whatever comes, will come. Cross the bridge when you get there. This doesn’t mean the end once your promise is fulfilled. Because you can always make more. Everybody takes a group photo and Aoi vows to make more unforgettable memories with everyone.

Episode 24
Aoi and Hinata are arguing about something petty. Whatever it is, they are adamant it is the other’s fault and should apologize. Even girls have their stubborn pride and won’t budge from their stand till the other says sorry. Not happening soon… Honoka visits Aoi and is taken a tour around her town. Honoka snaps many pictures although to Aoi she is used to seeing the familiar sceneries that they feel normal. However when Honoka shows the pictures, they look refreshing from a different angle. They visit the patisserie and Hikari thought Honoka is her boyfriend! Looking tomboyish? Honoka notices Aoi has always been talking about Hinata everywhere they go (partly blaming her for it too) and thinks they are really good friends. Aoi thinks of apologizing to her later. Meanwhile Hinata tries to sneak up and see if Aoi is at her part time job (because that expected apology never came!) but since Hikari spots her, she heard a lot about Hinata from Aoi. Like her bad habits… And good ones. Thinking of apologizing to her later? But when the girls converge for the fireworks festival that evening, it’s back to square one. Sorry seems to be the hardest word. Worse, not talking to each other. There are chances for them to reconcile but they get interrupted by something. So finally during the fireworks they manage to do it. So when the rest finds out about it and wonders what they were fighting about, it was so trivial that they themselves can’t remember! And there’s a danger that the blame game might reignite again but no worries. Oh well, at least they can laugh over it now.

Episode 25 (OVA)
Something feels not right… Aoi and Hinata host a show that sums up the top 10 best scenes from the series. But with a twist! Definitely not your usual rerun/recap episode because we see extended never-seen-before scenes. Did they happen or not is up to you. For example, Kokona trying to chase down a flying squirrel ends up chasing and facing off with a tengu! Then there is the time Hinata accidentally pulled down Aoi’s skirt. While trying to get her, Hinata slipped on a banana peel and when they fell down the stairs, they switched voices! But nobody cares about it… While Hinata takes the girls to the stream to swim, they almost fell in but a bear comes rolling down the river to push them all the way to an uninhabited island where they fight over a washed up cookie. Why didn’t the bear just eat them? And what’s this? They become pro wrestlers? I want to be the world’s best! When Aoi was having that altitude sickness on Mt Fuji, she met a cartoonish guy on a cartoonish horse. He is supposed to be some historical figure but Aoi doesn’t believe this crap and brushes him off. As Aoi gives Honoka a tour around town, the train they sit in starts flying into space! They also see Kokona in a flying squirrel suit flying about. Don’t even ask… While the girls celebrate Christmas, they thought Santa was at their door but turns out to be that historical figure dude again. Go away… On Kokona’s day out, she again faces off with the tengu. Round 2. I don’t know how she used her new shoes to cut his mask into half but unknown to her, her mom is actually that tengu and notes her daughter has grown stronger. Finally the best scene goes to Aoi and Hinata reliving their promise watching the sunrise at Tanigawadake. They say goodbye to that tengu character… Everything turns out to be a film shooting and everything was just props! Our girls are congratulated for doing a job well done filming Yama No Musume (Mountain Daughter)! Especially being congratulated by that Yamada director who suspiciously looks like that Steven dude. If everything is so weird and too good to be true, it probably is because it is just Aoi’s dream. No wonder it didn’t feel right…

Episode 6.5 (OVA)
Your fanservice episode? When Yuuka asks Kaede about her penchant to always wear a sports bra, she replies this is comfortable and it would be a hassle to choose with anything else. This prompts a short lesson on how bra sizes are determined. Boobs perverts may want to take this down. Oh, for the record, Kaede is size F! Freaking F*cking Full-size! Realizing how big those tits are, Yuuka chides her of losing her woman as a pride this way. Yeah well, as of now she’s considering all those feminine stuffs like putting on makeup a bother. So Kaede talks to her mountain climbing pals about this ‘dilemma’ and instantly they agree with her friend. Yes, this is a freaking big issue that they decide to go shop a bra for Kaede. I mean, it is to help broaden her horizons. Oh yeah, that’s a big support from her friends, right? Haha! They take a detour to a sports shop as Kaede tries to ‘brainwash’ Hinata about the benefits of wearing a sports bra. She tries one and finds it comfortable to the point she makes her purchase. Kaede thought the shopping adventure is over but the girls didn’t forget their initial quest here. Back to the lingerie shop they go. Kaede is a noob trying to pick out the cutest bra and she has to be sent back to pick another one by Aoi each time she chooses a plain one. After picking a cute one, the sales assistant helps her fit in. Another amazing discovery: Kaede discovers she might have gone up a cup size! The one she picked doesn’t fit! OMG! You mean she is size G?! Goodness Gracious Gigantic! Now that she is fitted with the right size, her friends are amazed it really fits her when she wears her clothes over it. Kaede feels happy yet embarrassed in this bra purchase debut. But she has felt this feeling before. It was a time she tried to wear something stylish for mountain climbing. Despite that, it broadened her horizon. In school, Yuuka quickly notice the vast difference and the bra she is wearing underneath. Satisfied it looks good on her, Yuuka’s next mission is to get her to wear high heels! Hey, you can’t wear that climbing mountains, no? What is this Yuuka’s personal mission to turn Kaede into a feminine lady? Ah well, one step at a time…

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
Despite I am not a mountain climbing enthusiast nor did I become one after watching this series, as far as watching this anime is concerned, at least they did some justice by expanding on the little development of the characters and growing them in this season. Of course with more time and extra length to do so, this is of course possible and not wasted unlike many animes these days trying to cramp in several chapters of a series into one episode and earning the ire of the fans. While I am not singing praises and accolades for this series, this one isn’t all that bad if you love to see bonding of relationships and how characters overcome their weakness as they learn through their journey.

With a small set of characters, a reason why the development here works. While this series is predominantly focused on Aoi and Hinata, the other side characters are not forgotten too although from my perspective they make quite a limited appearance. Or more accurately as I should put it, the impact on the overall series. It was great to see Kaede and Kokona getting an episode featuring them but that is so much about it. Kaede was great in providing insights and details about the mountains or any historical stuffs relating to it in the initial episodes but somehow I felt that fizzled out after halfway. She’s a great mountain climbing expert but a total noob when it comes to everything else from romance to studies. I guess nobody is perfect. Kokona feels she is there for the cute moe factor since she is the youngest in the pack. And now with Honoka seemingly officially part of the group it does seem their mountain climbing group is expanding although it feels a little too late that Honoka appeared to make any impact. Hikari may not be part of the climbing club but at least she provides some ‘variation’ that this show isn’t all about climbing mountains because Aoi still have her normal life to live instead of just being crazy climbing mountains.

Aoi and Hinata as the main characters, we see the ups and downs in their relationship being true friends and best friends. Is there a difference? A true friend helps you up when you fall while a best friend laughs at you when you trip. Doesn’t that more or less summarize what they are? Especially with Hinata being the cheeky one of the group and I suppose she loves teasing Aoi to see her reaction or that she has the kind of face that just itches for Hinata to tease. Besides, I believe Hinata has one of the wittiest lines in the series. Aoi as we can see is not a perfect girl and given the irony that she is afraid of heights, it may look mind boggling that she has already conquered a few mountains. Although Mt Fuji was a failure, it wasn’t completely one because she managed to hike up a considerable distance. Every climb for her is a lesson that she learns from and despite the phobia she has, she never let it stopped her from achieving greater things and this is probably something subtle the series is trying to hint to us going about in their daily lives because the important thing is never to give up. Things may not work out now or it may seem tough the first few times but once you get used to it, it becomes very much a normal thing. She is still far from overcoming her phobia but like they say, practice makes perfect. So start climbing more mountains? More like start riding more cable cars!

The plot of this season may not seem like much because it is mainly seeing the girls preparing their mind and heart before they make the ascend and the journey along the way to the top. There might be a few non-climbing related episodes (like Aoi getting a part time job and that swimming desire but the weather and circumstances wreak havoc on their plans) but this gives us a little breather before their next big expedition with the light heartedness. Heck, this entire show is light hearted so to speak. There is nothing heavy or too deep even for casual people not into climbing and can enjoy this series without cracking their heads. That is why they left OVA episode to be so ‘fantasy-like’ that it is out of this world. Fun nevertheless.

I thought with Aoi failing to conquer Mt Fuji as the series reaches its halfway point, maybe she will have another go again at the end. But I suppose that would be boring because after that stint, it becomes the big preparation for them to climb the mountain of their promise. Perhaps this is to show that Mt Fuji is the king of all mountains in Japan and not everyone can easily conquer it. But for Aoi and co to even try, that is already a respectable feat. Well, as said, the mountain won’t be going anywhere so she can come back to try again next time. Maybe next season, huh? If there will be one.

I believe they did their homework and put in a lot effort in drawing the mountains and the sceneries. So it is quite a spectacle to see them here although I won’t go so far to say it is so breathtaking that I cried. Because otherwise I would have been an emotional wreck in seeing the real deal. Therefore the mountains and sceneries are an extra plus point and provide visual eye candy if you love the nature of the mountains. A plus point if you see the ending credits in the OVA fitted with real pictures of the locations and sceneries. So they really put in the effort and kudos for all that. The designs of the girls remain cute but I feel this is mainly to appeal to viewers because how can you stay pretty and clean after all that trekking up and down? More notably the pink blushes on the girls’ cheeks make the entire series looks cute although it does not cause a very great disparity (or any at all) with the backgrounds and everything else.

The opening and ending themes aren’t the strong points of this season. Perhaps it is because it is mainly sung by (or a combination of) the main mountain climbing quartet. I am not saying they sound bad (heck, some are good singers) but it could be just coincidence. For example, the first opening theme, Natsu-iro Present sounds weird enough that I don’t know how to describe it. A mix of fanfare and orchestra strings but the tune itself feels funny. The opener and chorus for the second opening theme, Mainichi Koharu Biyori never fails to remember a part from that song from Genesis, That’s All. Despite at a slower pace, it still sounds funny because I thought it is a song you hear at carnivals. At least the ending themes sound better although they aren’t that appealing to me. Tinkling Smile as the first ending theme sounds like a typical lively anime pop while Staccato Days as the second ending theme goes to a slower pace (oddly this song only lasts for 3 episodes). Strangely, the third ending theme, Cocoiro Rainbow sounds the better one from all the themes. Maybe it is because it wasn’t any of the mountain climbing girls who are singing it but Kyoko Narumi.

Not sure if they will make another season by the time the official holiday comes to be in Japan but even if this anime series isn’t mainstream and won’t likely to be remembered by the popular masses, at least the mountains in Japan (and all over the world) will be still around even when our great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grand children are around and beyond. At least we know they won’t be going anywhere for the ‘foreseeable future’. As far as this anime is concerned, it is still an enjoyable watch even if you are not a mountain climbing enthusiasts. Heck, real climbers would be too busy scaling and trekking to the summit than watch this. This series thus feels more like making awareness rather than trying to glamorize mountain climbing. There shouldn’t be in the first place. Because all that hiking up just make you sweaty, tired and muscles aching all over. Heck, even climbing up the stairs to my room every night feels like a drag… At least there is my comfy bed and computer waiting…

Yama No Susume

June 21, 2013

I know they can make an anime about anything but I never really expect them to have one on mountain climbing. Yes, you read that right. Although Yama No Susume may be about mountain climbing, you won’t get to see little girls going the extreme mile climbing the tallest peaks in the world. Instead, this anime serves as an introduction to mountain climbing and perhaps to garner some awareness and interest in this said area. So expect to see the usual basic bonding between friends as we viewers get to learn a thing or two about mountain climbing. I mean, you don’t expect to really see them speed climbing or do extreme manoeuvres while vertically challenged in 3 minutes, right? Yeah. 3 short minutes this anime is…

Episode 1
Aoi Yukimura isn’t good with interacting with others. But she is happy she can have a happy high school life doing fun things by herself. Till an old friend, Hinata pops up. Who is she? She doesn’t remember about her till she mentions about climbing mountains. Brings back memories, eh? Hinata thinks it is fate that brought them together because now they can climb mountains together. Aoi remembers she was once enchanted by mountains. She got carried away and fell off a jungle gym at the playground. It caused her to break a bone and be hospitalized. Ever since, she got a fear of heights and turned into an indoor person. Hinata is not the kind that listens as she drags Aoi to her house! More painful memories with this girl. Whenever Aoi is around with this girl, nothing good comes out of it. Whether if it’s pulling her pants down or telling everyone the boy she had a crush on. This girl is really trouble. Yeah, Hinata thinks mixing around is good otherwise she won’t make friends or get a boyfriend. Has she ever thought she may not want all that? Guess what? Hinata’s house is on top of a mountain!!! You can’t go back now, girl.

Episode 2
Hinata shows Aoi her father’s climbing equipment. However daddy says she can’t climb straightaway yet because she doesn’t even know the basic tool. Yeah, she thought it was a tool to fend of bears when it is actually a frame to setup a tent. Daddy demonstrates how to fasten it. Aoi fears that at this rate she might climb a mountain but Hinata thanks her for hanging out with her and knew she did not want to in the first place. When they see the beautiful sunset, Aoi remembers the mountain they climbed together. Hinata’s father showed them the most beautiful scene of the sun rising over the horizon, just creeping out from the misty mountain tops. It was an unforgettable memory and Aoi hoped they could come here again someday. Aoi is touched and agrees to climb with Hinata as long as the mountain is not too high. But Hinata is dreaming big of climbing Mt Fuji or Everest…

Episode 3
Aoi thinks too much in preparing what to bring for her first mountain climbing in years. She thinks of making something good to eat and to prove to Hinata that she has her feminine prowess. Next morning, Aoi meets Hinata. Aoi is in full gear but Hinata is casually dressed in her school uniform! Aoi panics that they may get stranded and die! Don’t sweat it. Hinata takes Aoi to climb Mt Tenran which is only 197 metres high. Aoi didn’t think climbing this hill was this easy and before she knows it, she’s already at the top. She is amazed of the spectacular view of the city below. Then Hinata whips out her secret weapon which is a portable stove. Aoi shares her sandwiches with her as Hinata plots to climb their next mountain. So fast?

Episode 4
Hinata wants to do a cooking showdown. Aoi doesn’t even know she got dragged into this. She looks up the internet to find out what a kocher is (a pan that packs down small). She starts shopping for ingredients and realizes she is enjoying this. The cooking showdown begins with Aoi making a wonderful paella dish. It tastes good of course with the effort and love she puts in. It may not seem like it and even if Hinata seems to be goofing off most of the time, her mushroom sauce penne tastes delicious. Till daddy points out she cheated because that is frozen food. Just add hot water and wahlah! Dang. Hinata apologizes she can’t cook and even has daddy cook tonight’s dinner. It makes Aoi wonder if Hinata is more aware of the people around her than she appears to be.

Episode 5
The girls enter a shop specializes in mountain climbing. As they are browsing through the equipment, Aoi spots a good looking girl wearing their school uniform, Kaede Saito. Suddenly she asks Aoi a question. She is in a dilemma to choose a sleeping bag. Since she will be backpacking, climbing across several mountains and stopping along the way, she needs a sleeping bag that is light to carry but it is more expensive. Aoi thinks hard on what to say and tells her rather than giving up and compromising, it would be better not to settle and regret it later. Kaede thanks her for her help and makes her decision. Kaede asks if she is going to climb too and without hesitation, Aoi replies a yes. Kaede says this makes them mountaineers and before Aoi knows it, they exchange phone numbers. Hey. That’s pretty good for a girl who doesn’t socialize. Aoi admits this to Hinata but the latter is blunt in telling her that she already knows that. Kaede sends Aoi a picture of herself camping in the mountains to Aoi.

Episode 6
Aoi gets tricked by Hinata to select their next mountain to climb. She turns to the trusty internet for help but it lists down lots of mountain. She calls Kaede for advice and since Aoi hadn’t thought of what type of mountains to climb (you’d be surprise at the different levels there are), Kaede suggests Mt Tanigawa as it is easy for amateurs. Because of the cable car ride that Aoi is scared, she proposes Mt Takao of 599 metres. She can climb it in 2 hours and there are places along the way said to make wishes come true called power spots. Aoi gets her confidence to climb this mountain and so does Hinata. She looks forward to it but she’s not going to climb yet because the next step is to get their climbing gear.

Episode 7
The girls use a guidebook to see what gear is suitable to climb Mt Takao. At the shop, Aoi is overwhelmed by the varieties of backpacks. They ask the storekeeper and he explains the different backpack sizes for different usage and activities. Aoi couldn’t eke out a simple thank you unlike Hinata who does it so naturally. She views nothing embarrassing in asking help from others. She thinks Aoi should rely more on others. Aoi notes Hinata is the one who does nothing but rely on others. Aoi finally sees a backpack she likes but it is above her budget. Hinata offers to pay for the difference. It’s better to buy it than not and regret it later, right? Aoi feels it is the same thing she told Kaede and this time Hinata is the one who gave her a push. However Hinata wants her to pay back by tomorrow with interest. You mean she wasn’t treating her?

Episode 8
Aoi is eager to climb Mt Takao. Because she thought the mountain railway is like a cable car, she wants to climb the mountain with her own 2 feet. Hinata is walking at her pace and lagging behind Aoi, who is rushing because there are lots of places she wants to see. However she tires herself out so Hinata advises her it is better to maintain a pace rather than going fast. They stop at a rest stop, view the scenery and Aoi buying a souvenir. As they continue their climb while visiting all the power spots, Aoi wanted to give this souvenir to Hinata but couldn’t muster the courage and had to lie that it is for her mom.

Episode 9
Once they reach the mountain top and stop for lunch, Aoi is able to give the souvenir to her. Hinata suggests taking a different and tougher route down. Aoi fears that they will fall off a cliff, get attacked by a bear or even lost in a dark forest. What was she thinking? The route down seems safe and they meet a stranded girl, Kokona. Seems her sole of her shoe came off. Hinata wraps it with wire and they climb down together. They learn Kokona is here because as an animal lover, she came to find dwarf squirrels. Till Hinata corrects her that they are nocturnal and there are only giant flying squirrels on Mt Takao. Kokona becomes devastated and Aoi feels this girl is going to be more than just a natural airhead. A pain, maybe…

Episode 10
The trio traverse down the slippery river rocks. Aoi realizes Kokona is not confident since she is trying hard to walk with a broken shoe. She gives her confidence to go with her but Aoi herself slips and falls on her butt. Hope it doesn’t hurt and didn’t break her butt bone ;p. Hinata offers to lead down since Aoi might just slip again. Finally the trio reach the main trailhead and they are back to the main path. Though Kokona didn’t get to see those dwarf flying squirrels, she notes she had fun. Then they see a little squirrel in the tree. Kokona feels glad to really have come. Kokona tells them she lives in Saitama and they hope they can hang out together like this again.

Episode 11
Aoi has always thought the river beach in the summer as a different world. The kind of world she is not connected to. One day Hinata invites them to go to Hannou River Beach so Aoi calls Kokona to come over and make snacks for the trip. At the same time they can have a pyjama party. Meanwhile Hinata is hanging out with Kaede and has bought tools at a bargain. She is going to surprise Aoi with these. Kokona arrives at Aoi’s house and they discuss the snacks they want to make like French toast and omelette. The duo continue to have their girl conversation and Aoi finds it fun. She hopes tomorrow will be even more fun.

Episode 12
The quartet arrive at Hannou. Aoi wonders why everyone gathers here. To eat? To have fun? Well, duh. They start off by cooking a delicious meal for themselves before chatting. The ‘peace’ is interrupted when Hinata squirts Aoi with her water gun. It’s payback time. They continue to chat with each other as Aoi realize it’s not that they’re trying to make a boring time pass faster. She now understands people gather here to confirm that the people around them are happy. At night, they admire the night sky but Aoi laments she can’t see the Milky Way from here. Not in the city of course. Kaede says she can view it clearly on the mountain top. Aoi is not confident she can do that. Kaede gives her the encouragement that she can do it. If she tries, it will usually work out. And so Aoi takes an interest in wanting to see the Milky Way. There’s only one way to do it, right? No, not gear up as an astronaut and go into space, silly.

Scaling To Greater Heights…
So did anything much happen in this anime? I guess not. Though we have been given little insights on some of the basics stuff on mountain climbing, I notice that they are just tools and equipment to get prepared for a hike. There is no serious advice in telling you the do’s and dont’s of mountain climbing. Probably that is because you don’t see the girls climbing a mountain. They are at most considered as hills and anybody young and old can even climb them if they just have the necessary minimum stamina and the determination. Otherwise if you ask me if this anime could serve as a key in persuading people to climb mountains, I guess this is going to be a very far cry from it. Especially the technologically connected young generation who can’t part with their Smart Phones, iPhones, iPads, iPods and all the gadgets that get old fast within a month. Yeah. The mountains have been there for centuries and aeons but in the computer world, a month is like 10,000 years! Haha! Oops. Got sidetracked a little there.

I won’t say Aoi got easily hooked again by the mountain climbing but at least she doesn’t fear it as much as she did. In that case, I wouldn’t say that her phobia of heights were that bad either. Because if it was so, it is going to take more than forceful persuasion of an old friend to get back into this hobby. That’s why I thought she was just a little afraid due to that unfortunate incident. Once bitten, twice shy they say. That’s the case for Aoi. Not the type to mix around, you can say that she’s making a few mountaineer friends of her own and is making good progress. Every group needs to have a cheeky one and this is where carefree Hinata comes in. She plays an important part in getting Aoi back to find the love for mountain climbing. She’s quite a fun girl if you can put aside her cheekiness which can be annoying at times. Sporadic appearances by Kaede and Kokona don’t give them much screen time and do any justice about their characters but I believe they are good and nice people whom Aoi and Hinata can share their passion for mountain climbing.

You know that when you climb mountains and ascend to a different level, it is always associated with the change of air pressure in your ear? What has this got to do with me? Actually when I first heard Aoi’s voice, I thought it was Aki Toyosaki. That slightly goofy voice… But when she pulls off a higher pitch voice, somehow I realize she isn’t so and recognize her as Yuka Iguchi. I suppose she can still pull off less bratty voices like Miku in Senki Zesshou Symphogear. So did the pressure get to my ear? Same case for Kaede. I initially thought Yui Horie was voicing her but to my surprise it is Youko Hikasa. Not the Mio from K-ON! that I know. The cheekiness in Kana Asumi’s voice is still recognizable so I did not make any mistakes on this part as she plays Hinata. Just think of her as a saner version of Haiyore! Nyaruko-san’s Nyaruko or Miya from Amagami SS. To round the cast up, Yui Ogura is Kokona and true to my stereotypes of her voice acting roles, any soft speaking lolis have got to be her voice. See any similarities in Oda Nobuna No Yabou’s Hanbei or Campione’s Athena?

Unfortunately mountain climbing will be one of the many hobbies that I will never consider doing in my life unless there is some drastic change or miracle. I don’t really enjoy losing my breath and trying hard to catch them while trying to traverse vertically. I’m sure I’ll become an annoying kid in the backseat of the car going “Are we there yet?” every 10 seconds. Maybe I won’t understand the feeling of standing at the pinnacle of the mountain and watch the breathtaking view of clouds coating the horizon while the mountains trying to pop through them. Will just watching such spectacle on TV suffice then? After all in life, I have a different ‘mountain’ to climb. Make that heaps of mountains. The top seems unreachable and far from where I stand now…