iSugio

Yama no Susume – Review

by Miguel Douglas

@isugoi

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Aoi prefers indoor hobbies and is afraid of heights, but her childhood friend Hinata loves to show off her passion for mountain climbing. As young children they once watched the sunrise from the top of a mountain, and now they’ve decided to take up mountain climbing in hopes of seeing that sunrise again. They have cooking battles with mountaineering gear, climb small hills in their neighborhood, and meet new mountaineering friends as they learn the ropes of the hobby. When will they finally see that sunrise again?

Those viewers looking for a niche title that is really unlike many other series out there will find Yama no Susume to be a refreshing experience to say the least. Taking place within the span of twelve 3-minute episodes, the series focuses on the venture of mountain climbing and all the intricacies that accompany it. It is a series that definitely pertains to the more adventurous viewer who enjoys the outdoors as well, and although Yama no Susume dedicates most of its narrative to the various facets surrounding mountain climbing, it also offers a subtle metaphor regarding to need to be bold and try new endeavors in one’s own life, in turn essentially overcoming the proverbial “mountain” of emotional challenges in order to become a better individual.

But as an exercise in showcasing a rather niche activity such as mountain hiking, Yama no Susume works out extremely well. With practically each episode dedicated towards examining the tools and mannerisms needed for a proper and successful hike – from purchasing the right backpack, setting up a tent, and preparing food – the series often emphasizes the minute details of preparation and subsequent trekking that somewhat situates the series more along the lines of being a simple instructional video on how to properly traverse a mountain more so than an actual anime series. This approach can provide an interesting viewing experience for many, but also can be extremely demanding – and tedious – for some viewers expecting the series to be more than it really is. The series does offer slight instances of comedy that break up some many of its how-to-like moments, allowing us to see that the series does not really take itself too seriously.

Continuing with this notion that Yama no Susume is a series that is easygoing in nature, the “mountain climbing” that is portrayed in the series is not as hazardous as one would think, instead showcasing that such an activity can in fact be as easy as a stroll in the park. Breaking down numerous misinterpretations surrounding recreational mountain climbing, the series elicits the character of Aoi as the uniformed participant who is simply learning along the way, working as an outlet in which to inform the audience as to the orientations of climbing as well. This approach allows the series to nicely bring about its focus on such a little known activity as mountain climbing without being entirely too complicated or going through the rigorousness often associated with explaining such things to a general audience.

This less strenuous focus on a recreational hobby provides Yama no Susume with a casual atmosphere that complements its condensed structure. Niche titles such as this one do not always work out, with many of them easily becoming to focused on appeasing the followers of such an activity rather the general viewership. Yama no Susume may lean that way at times as well, but it streamlines the process of understanding mountain climbing so that practically anyone can comprehend it. It also helps to see that the series interprets such an activity as one that can be reflective upon the individuals partaking in it as well, with special attention to that of Aoi and her willingness to open up to others and overcome her fears with each ensuing climb she participates in. It may not be a series that viewers will remember years from now, but Yama no Susume is one that delivers a comical and compelling view on a subject that rarely receives attention within anime.

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Author: Miguel Douglas

As an avid viewer of both Japanese animation and cinema for more than a decade now, Miguel is primarily concerned with establishing a critical look into both mediums as legitimate forms of artistic, cultural, and societal understanding. Never one to simply look at a film or series based solely on superficiality, Miguel has dedicated himself towards bringing awareness to Asian entertainment and its various facets.

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Comments

  • FlamingFirewire

    The only reason why I watched this series was for it’s Mountain Climbing stuff and while I thought that that stuff was kind of lackluster, at least the show was short and a relaxing watch. Definitely agree with you though, this is a show we’ll all forget about in a couple years or less.

  • http://www.isugoi.com/ Miguel Douglas

    This was a very relaxing, easygoing show. Really enjoy the niche quality it had.