The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games and life converge

Yama no Susume OVA Reflections On The Edge of a New Year: One Final Post for 2019

“This can only end with one of us dead, and I have never died!”
“That’ll be your downfall, Jaguar: not being open to new experiences.”

– Jaguar and Rick Sanchez, Rick and Morty

Yama no Susume‘s second season actually had two OVAs that I never got around to writing about back during the summer: the first of the OVAs to the second season follows Kaede, who goes shopping for a new bra at Aoi and the others’ insistence when they learn that Kaede had a conversation with Yuuka on the former’s lack of fashion sense; up until now, Kaede’s worn nothing but sports bras for the sake of practicality and comfort. At a speciality shop, Kaede learns that she’s one size larger than she’d initially thought, and one of the staff members helps her to get properly fitted. Kaede is embarrassed, but realises that this new experience was not so different than when she began wearing mountaineering equipment for the first time. The second of the OVAs to grace season two is a best-of countdown that follow Aoi and Hinata’s recollection of the most memorable and exciting moments up until now in the format of a talk show. The only caveat here is that the countdown only vaguely recalls events of the anime: things go into the realm of the fantastical and become increasingly outlandish as Aoi and Hinata reach the top event. As it turns out, this was merely a dream that Aoi was having, and with the second of the OVAs in the books, Yama no Susume would not materialise again until two years later, when Omoide Present was released. While predominantly about mountaineering and hiking, Yama no Susume showed its versatility in covering a range of topics both within and surrounding mountain climbing: as one of my readers put it, the show covered topics relevant to young women that encouraged independence, curiosity and resilience, being both instructive and entertaining.

I realise that this is going to be my final post of the decade, and it seemed appropriate to do something on Yama no Susume, a series which has been remarkably enjoyable precisely because it is honest and sincere in its execution: instructive without being obtrusive, and fun without being frivolous, Yama no Susume struck a fine balance in its execution to create a story and messages that are relevant, relatable. In the first OVA, Encouragement of Bra, the girls’ pushing Kaede to properly get kitted up with a bra was intended to show Kaede that getting a well-fitting bra for comfort and style reasons might seem extraneous to someone who lives for the outdoors, but is nonetheless an experience that is similar to climbing mountains and thus, one worth looking at. Speaking as someone similar to Kaede, who dresses for practicality and comfort over style, I’m very similar, but the reality is that being properly put-together is important in reflecting one’s self-respect: one does not necessarily need to be wearing designer clothing or sport expensive styles to convey a sense of confidence and respect for those around them. As such, taking a little bit more time and placing more care into looking after one’s appearance can go a long way and also impact how they approach other aspects of their life (including mountain climbing). The second OVA, Best Ten!, is more of a dramatised reflection of the anime up until now: the stories told have been heavily altered to be more over-the-top, more comical, and the fun that the staff had in making this is evident, being akin to the Inter-dimensional Cable episodes of Rick and Morty, where the staff had improvised many of the lines. While driving humour above all else, the countdown also reminds viewers of just how numerous Aoi and Hinata’s experiences have been up until this point: all of the characters have grown as a result of their experiences together.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • If memory serves, it was July when I finished the main body to Yama no Susume: at the time, I was pushing to keep up with numerous other series, and the two OVAs that I’d not seen fell to the back of my mind. After finishing my talk on The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, I felt that I should at least leave readers with one more post entering 2020, but I did not feel that I had enough time to start a new series; when I began wondering about what to write about as my last post of the decade, it suddenly struck me that Yama no Susume still had some unexplored turf that I could cover.

  • Thus, I sat through the OVAs, thoroughly enjoyed them, and then fortuitously, I could use this series to drive discussion for my last post of the decade; the themes and messages in Yama no Susume certainly encourage that sort of talk. Going through the first few minutes of Encouragement of Bra meant getting a crash course on mammaries and support mechanics: I’ve heard that finding properly-fitted bras is a considerable challenge, and that ill-fitting bras can result in anything from discomfort to back and shoulder problems.

  • Up until now, Kaede never really had an eye for this sort of thing, preferring sports bras for their ease of use and comfort. Yuuka hears none of it and gives her an earful: when Kaede recounts this to Aoi and the others, they unexpectedly side with Yuuka, stating that there is merit to wearing more conventional bras over sports bras. Aoi immediately phones up Kokona and arranges for a trip to Tokyo, where they can go shopping at a store with a wider selection: Kaede’s size makes it difficult for her to find something that fits.

  • Right out of the gates, Kaede gets distracted by camping gear and convinces Hinata to buy a sports bra after showing her their merits. Earlier in the episode, Aoi is shown as being flatter than Hinata, and it’s a common joke in anime for characters to become envious of another character’s bust: the difference is supposed to be more pronounced now than before, and when Aoi becomes aware of this, she tickles Hinata in frustration.

  • While Hinata does end up appreciating Kaede’s knowledge and has enough information to make a purchase, nothing dissuades her and the others from what they’d originally come for. Kaede wilts in disappointment, having secretly hoped that Hinata would’ve forgotten about their plans. While subtle, this moments shows that despite her appearances, Hinata is disciplined and focused.

  • It is not lost on me that Kaede is voiced by Yōko Hikasa, who plays K-On!‘s Mio Akiyama: in K-On!, Mio was similarly known for having the largest bust out of everyone in the cast. The page quote here comes from Rick and Morty‘s third season, and while Rick is exchanging trash talk with Jaguar during their fight in the Russian safe house, being open to new experiences is the crux of Yama no Susume – the entire story starts because Aoi took a plunge, opened herself up to new experiences, and accompanied Hinata on a climb up to Mount Tenran.

  • As a result of taking up mountain climbing, Aoi’s become more bold, forward and confident, a far cry from her shy, reserved self that we saw at the series’ very beginning – although still easily embarrassed, she has no trouble in recommending a bra for Kaede when the latter becomes indecisive.

  • When Kaede has a bit of trouble, a knowledgeable staff member helps out by showing Kaede how to wear her bra properly. It is here that Kaede learns that she’s a G, up from an F that she’d figured she was. While anime portray ladies as having a bit of trouble whenever clothing is “too tight in the chest”, I note that this issue can exist for men, as well: folks who do chest and shoulder-related exercises can find shirts to be tight in the chest.

  • While usually confident and relaxed, Kaede becomes much more bashful upon learning that her size has increased. This has Aoi curious, and she wonders if she might get a feel for Kaede’s assets. It’s a bit of a bold move for Aoi; as season two progressed, Aoi became increasingly confident after her failed attempt to climb Mount Fuji, and by the time she and Hinata set off for Mount Tanigawa, she’s become open enough to begin speaking with others on her on volition, befriending the shy Honoka as a result.

  • Aoi immediately notices the mass in Kaede’s mammaries after being given authorisation to, as they say, cop a feel: while an extra three to four kilograms out front might not prima facie appear to be much, in the long term, this can introduce problems for people. A proper bra is supposed to transfer some of this weight and distribute it more evenly to reduce the risk of overexerting the shoulder and back.

  • After the store’s staff member returns with a proper size for Kaede, Kaede is able to give things a whirl and finds things to be suitable. The lady explains that a suitable bra will also help Kaede with her posture: she’d been complaining about shoulder aches for a while. Here, Aoi, Hinata and Kokona have a chance to see how Kaede looks – the effects are immediately noticeable, and Kaede seems to stand with a more confident posture.

  • For Kaede, who is most at home on the trails and rocky mountainsides, shopping for a bra was a new experience for her, one that she likens to trying mountaineering clothing for the first time: embarrassing in a way, but also instructive and memorable. It speaks volumes to Yama no Susume‘s writing that such a story was able to be presented in an entirely natural fashion and with a very clear goal in mind; there are anime out there that would have favoured exacting a reaction from the audience over presenting a meaningful story.

  • By the time we’re through here, I would not be surprised if indexing algorithms start sending me more advertisements for women’s clothing and whatnot owing to the presence of certain terms and phrases. We are, however, reaching the end of the first OVA, and readers must now bear with me as I push on through the second of the OVAs, which released a few months later after the first.

  • Yuuka is impressed that Kaede did end up following through and notices Kaede’s new bra immediately. Satisfied that Kaede is on a good path, she pushes Kaede to begin wearing heels. Kaede immediately sees the ramifications what would happen if she were to wear heels into the mountains, and here, Kaede has a point: heels are said to be immensely uncomfortable and can be hazardous in some circumstances. They are already difficult enough to wear on flat surfaces, so they would be outright dangerous if used for rougher terrain.

  • I’m almost certain that readers did not see this post coming: the reason for the choice of topic and suddenness is two-fold. The first is that Yama no Susume‘s OVAs for the second season are related to the upcoming new year, and the second is that I began feeling it to be a bit disingenuous not to leave 2019 without one more post for readers. One of my goals in 2020 is to write about topics that involve a lot more fanservice, just to see if I can still provide interesting and amusing thoughts to readers, and so, Yama no Susume‘s Encouragement of Bra seemed to be a good starting point.

  • The second OVA for Yama no Susume‘s second season is done in the style of a top ten countdown: this particular OVA was incredibly entertaining, presenting to viewers decidedly overblown, fake moments. The improvisational tone of the OVA brings to mind the likes of Rick and Morty‘s Interdimensional Cable, and one of the things that I found particularly impressive about Yama no Susume‘s presentation of things was that it manages to convey humour without resorting to crude means. The comedy comes from viewers still bearing a strong recollection of what precisely happened.

  • The countdown starts with Kokona searching for the Petaurista petaurista (giant flying squirrel): when she runs into Hinata and Aoi, Hinata remarks that the giant flying squirrels actually aren’t found in Japan, and there are only Pteromys momonga (dwarf flying squirrel) instead. The altered memory has Kokona take on the characteristics of a wuxia heroine, being able to glide through the air in search of her mark, which is doubly hilarious considering that Kokona retains her adorable mannerisms.

  • At some point in Yama no Susume, Hinata and Aoi undergo a Kimi no na wa-like moment, where they inexplicably switch bodies after an accident of some sort. To their consternation, no one seems to notice standing in sharp contrast with Kimi no na wa, where the differences in personalities are so dramatic that it impacts those around Taki and Mitsuha. The outcomes in Yama no Susume suggest that for all of their squabbling and outward appearances, Hinata and Aoi are more alike than they’d care to admit.

  • I do remember a river excursion, but I don’t remember the appearance of a bear that causes the girls to wind up on some remote desert island in the middle of nowhere, turning Yama no Susume into Sounan Desu Ka?. The progression of events is so outlandish, I’d wager that like in Rick and Morty, the voice actresses probably did break into laughter in the middle of a take and required several shots to get things right, whereas Rick and Morty kept some of the outtakes in for increased comedic value.

  • Aoi’s failed attempt at scaling Mount Fuji with her friends was probably one of the most poignant moments in all of Yama no Susume, matched only by the growing rift between her and Hinata during the third season. While Aoi has a chance to meet Prince Shōtoku, a historical figure, her poor condition from altitude sickness means she’s in no mood to take in the moment. Aoi does end up recovering, although as of season three, she still has yet to take on Mount Fuji, and while news of a fourth season is circulating, I do expect that Yama no Susume will conclude with Aoi rising to the occasion and reaching the summit with her friends.

  • When I see shows such as these, I am reminded an obscure comedy music evening show called 香港經典電視|:金像獎歌曲頒獎典禮 1986 (jyutping hoeng1 gong2 ging1 din2 din6 si6 gam1 zoeng6 zoeng2 go1 kuk1 baan1 zoeng2 din2 lai5, literally “Hong Kong Television Classics: Oscar Awards Presentation 1986”), which featured superbly well done parodies of famous Canto-pop songs. The premise of this special is that clips of famous songs are parodied, and the best song’s music video is presented. Famous hits, such as Paula Tsui’s 順流逆流, Sam Hui’s 日本娃娃 and Roman Tam’s 幾許風雨 are featured: the songs are hilarious because they derive funny phrases from homophones, which is a common part of Cantonese humour.

  • We get a little bit of The Polar Express in the next showcase, when Honoka and Aoi go on a train ride across the galaxy, departing from their original plan of visiting Gunma. If memory serves, Aoi went to visit Honoka while Hinata and Kokona did a hike of their own; season three had a very melancholy feel towards the end, culminating in a tension-filled hike that only saw a resolution when Hinata injures her knee and learns that Aoi’s always going to be with her.

  • I think readers will handily agree that Kokona is such a joyful addition to Yama no Susume: warm and adorable, Kokona resembles an angel more than anything. Of the characters, her manner is such that she’s received the least growth of any of the characters, and instead, appears to serve more of a support role in helping the other characters develop and learn. In this manner, despite being younger than Kaede, Aoi and Hinata, Kokona is more mature.

  • In the final few days of 2019, I took the last Saturday to go for a short walk out in the mountains and enjoy one of my favourite poutines around. The morning had been a beautiful and sunny, if moderately cold one, with temperatures hovering around -12ºC, but with the wind chill, it was blisteringly frigid. Fortunately, a short way into our walk, we’d warmed up enough to enjoy the sights of this snow-covered trail on a hillside, which afforded some incredible views of the Three Sisters mountain peaks. Being in the mountains. A lot more snow had fallen in the area compared to home, and under a morning sun, the scenery looked like it’d come straight out of a Christmas card. Our timing couldn’t have been better; the presence of cirrus clouds in the sky signalled the return of overcast weather, and sure enough, the mountains was hit with more snow the day after.

  • Our original intent had been to see the hoodoos in the area, but we were on a bit of a schedule: I had purchased tickets for Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker for the Saturday, and this trip was hastily thrown together. Upon reaching the end of the trail, I struggled to find the hoodoos, not knowing they were on a steep hill that was covered in snow. The decision here was to turn around and get lunch at the best poutine shop in Canmore, and while I’d already warmed up from the walk, there’s nothing that can warm one up quite like a hearty and tasty poutine topped with Montréal smoked meat, Canadian bacon, sautéed onions and mushrooms. It’s become something of a yearly tradition to go here for their poutines. This time around, I noticed that their smoked meat was more thickly-cut and flavourful than before.

  • We’ve come to it at last: the top moment in all of Yama no Susume, or at least, what is supposed to be the top moment, which turns out to be Aoi and Hinata’s fulfillment of their fateful promise to one another on the top of Mount Tanigawa. This was the apex of the second season, the big finish that Aoi and Hinata had been working towards. Both Aoi and Hinata had spent the days leading up to the hike worried about what the future would entail if they did end up fulfilling this long-standing promise, but reassurance from their friends sets them on a path towards new discoveries and excitement.

  • In Yama no Susume, Aoi and Hinata did indeed ascend Mount Tanigawa in time to see the promised sunrise, per their original intentions. In the Best Ten OVA, however, their climb was on a sound stage for a show called Yama no Musume (“Daughter of the Mountain”), and it would appear that principle photography had just wrapped up for the show. With this, my post is about to wrap up, as well, and I understand that around the world, we’re already into the new decade.

  • As I happen to be in North America, it won’t be 2020 for several more hours. I did a half-day today at the office and then returned home to unwind: besides hanging out with an old friend from my health science days later this evening and then welcoming a new decade with family, I have nothing major planned out besides taking it easy. I think that as a last post for the decade, while this one might not represent my best work, it does broadly capture the style I’ve developed and come to embrace over the years.

  • Having finished this post, for the foreseeable future, I do not believe that I’ll have anything more to add to Yama no Susume until additional installments are announced. For 2020, given all of the unexpected delays in series I had been following during this past season, I’m going to wrap up talks for Kandagawa Jet Girls and Rifle is Beautiful, as well as Azur Lane, during January. As well, I have plans to watch Koisuru Asteroid (and offer my own insight into backyard astronomy, a hobby I’ve occasionally participated in since I was a primary student), Magia Record and Yuru Camp△: Room Camp in the coming season, so those anime will likely be written about to some capacity. Finally, I have much to say about Halo: Reach and The Division 2, so I’ll need to allocate time to write about those, as well.

  • It turns out the entire series of events in Best Ten resulted from a dream that Aoi had, and she returns to sleep shortly after, looking forwards to whatever lies ahead for her, Hinata and the others. As we enter 2020 (or for folks in time zones ahead of mine, welcome 2020), there will be new sights to see, new mountains to climb and new solutions to develop. As Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes said, the new decade represents a fresh, clean start. Like having a big white sheet of paper to draw on, 2020 is going to be full of possibilities, and I definitely encourage everyone to go exploring!

No Yama no Susume experience is complete without these two OVAs: having now written about them, my discussions of the series is complete, and just in time for the conclusion of this decade, as well. It’s surprising how quickly time has passed, and it only seems like yesterday that I had just finished the first term of my undergraduate programme and was spending the winter holidays unwinding and gearing up for my second term. That winter break, I remember best for building my first-ever Gundam model (the HG 00 Raiser+GN Sword III) and for watching Red Cliff. Since then, I spent my summers on research projects that would culminate in me gaining the requisite experience for my honours thesis, sat an MCAT, enter graduate school and then take the path of an iOS developer. Along the way, I became a second degree black belt, wrote the Giant Walkthrough Brain software for Beakerhead that would come to form the starting point for my graduate thesis and travelled for reasons beyond unwinding: to learn and serve. This past decade also saw me stumble, make mistakes, fail, and each time, learn to improve. Yama no Susume similarly showcased the highs and lows that Aoi and the other experience; life is about both the successes and failures, the falls and the rises: this is why Yama no Susume stands out so strongly as a series, for being able to portray the bad alongside the good, and more importantly, how people might go about recovering during difficult times. As we roll into the New Year, and given what’s occurred in the past ten years, I believe that the two virtues to carry close in the next decade will be commitment and resilience. One must be committed to honesty and truthfulness in the face of deception, and resilient against those which would see us deviate from a proper course of action. While this seems a tall order, shows like Yama no Susume show how optimism and companionship can help one make new discoveries, broaden their perspectives and above all, regroup from setbacks. With her friends, Aoi’s become far more resilient, independent and confident than when she began her journey, being prepared to handle and enjoy the new experiences that come her way.

5 responses to “Yama no Susume OVA Reflections On The Edge of a New Year: One Final Post for 2019

  1. Fred (Au Natural) December 31, 2019 at 21:14

    Yama no Susume would the the first anime I’d show girls to get them interested in exploring the outdoors. I might follow up with Yuru camp.

    Liked by 1 person

    • infinitezenith January 1, 2020 at 14:28

      Incidentally, there’s a great number of talks out there regarding the matter of Yama no Susume versus Yuru Camp△: as far as I’m concerned, both series are excellent of their own merits, and so, I’d add that Yuru Camp△ is a worthy follow up series to Yama no Susume. Although their presentation and message differ, as do their activities, overall, encouraging people to appreciate and enjoy nature is of great worth, so I’d argue that one should really watch both series!

      Like

  2. morgoth89 January 2, 2020 at 12:05

    their faces are too funny XD

    Like

  3. JayLando22 October 17, 2020 at 21:24

    I have been missing the first OVA for s2 “Encouragement Of Bra”.
    I have every seen every other episode but cannot find this one.
    Can you or anyone reading this help?

    Like

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