Encouragement of Climb Season 3
With mountains like Mt. Fuji being very seasonal and winter approaching, Aoi has to put her reattempt of said mountain on hold for now. That doesn't mean the girls can't hike or climb other mountains in the interrim, though, so they do just that while also socializing with their newest friend Honoka. And who knows; maybe Aoi can even socialize a bit more with her classmates that aren't Hinata.
It's a bit hard to describe the elation one gets from watching something like this, but the core point is probably because unlike a lot of other shows I've watched; where the girls go in this one, I've been there. Well, not geographically, but understanding the sensation of standing on a highrise outside and looking over the land stretching out is a lovely feeling. It's an enthusiasm that's shared by all the main girls in this show, and most of the people they interact with, which now includes one more person.
Yes, my one complaint in the last season are addressed here: we do get to know Honoka a bit better, as she joins the girls in their hiking trips. We even get to meet her oddball brother, whom she supposedly cares for but still feel endlessly embarrassed about. Though he seems to be a bit of a flake, he still comes across as a nice person in general. As for Honoka herself; with her in the crew, we get to see more individual character meetings: Aoi takes her for a hike somewhere while Hinata goes with Kokona on a different hike on the same day.
And of course, there's still the hikes. The art -- the backgrounds in particular -- still look spectacular designwise, with each hiking spot feeling very much like the real-life place they're based on. Research is clearly still being done, with cultural references seeping in as the girls head off to the various places they choose as their designated spots of the day. (Or days.) Though I am honestly curious how the backgrounds are created -- painted from photographs, or are they just photograph through a filter of sorts? -- it's the bread and butter, the coffee on the side and the platter and cup combo it's served on. Just check the collection of screencaps at the end of this review to see what I'm talking about.
Which is not to say that Aoi and her friends doesn't do anything else. Aoi still has her job, and thanks to making the friends she has up until now, she even manages to bond with her classmates a little bit easier, just enough to actually go out and socialize with them. (Though not entirely without apprehension or imagined setbacks.) In fact, this season spins the roles a bit around and has Hinata deal with the feelings when she realizes that Aoi might not have to rely on her as much anymore for that sort of thing, and unlike most confrontations between Aoi and Hinata, it's not played up as another sorta-comedic spat. Hinata knows she's being unreasonable, too, when she sort of unconsciously takes out her frustration on her and acts with the kind of immaturity one would expect from kids her age, which is an unusual moment of maturity for her. She is glad Aoi is able to socialise more, but fears she might want to seek "better" companionship when she does. It's a nice moment of depth for a character that has usually been played out as the annoyance who only makes trouble for the people whose company she enjoys.
If I can pick a little bit of a nit, then one of the episodes where Aoi and the girls go to a karaoke, the show gets a little bit on the self-promotional side as they start singing earlier intro and ending themes. This does take me a little bit out of it, but I can deal with that, and I'm in fact grateful that whatever flaws this show has, it's got nothing to do with why it's so good.
Of course, I'm also a bit sad that we're back to 13 episodes, but at least it was allowed to keep its episode length of 14 minutes, which helps the show feel less brief -- even more appreciated when you have to wait a week for the next episode. I'm also a bit sad to see that my favorite character, Kaede, was reduced to more of a one-note gag for most of this season; she has to study for exams, so she's constantly being badgered by her best classmate friend to study, much to her complaints. I always liked when she came along for the hikes, so the show actually holding back on her was a bit of a downer.
Complaints aside, I'm still fervently happy to see this show again. There was always Laid-Back Camp, which grew into its own thing instead of being relegated to a tide-me-over until this season was released, so now I have two shows to hope for more from. They're such great companion pieces, no?
It's so good to see you again, Encouragement of Climb. Please come back again. — Stig Høgset
Recommended Audience: Nothing objectionable about this show whatsoever. Perfectly suitable for all ages, really.
Version(s) Viewed: Digital stream on Crunchyroll, Japanese with English subs only.
Review Status: Full (13/13)
Encouragement of Climb Season 3 © 2018 8 Bit.
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