The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games and life converge

A New Season – Yama no Susume: Next Summit Tenth Episode Review and Reflections

“You are never strong enough that you don’t need help.” –Cesar Chavez

While cleaning out their backpacks with Kaede and Koharu, Aoi and Hinata contemplate whether or not they’ll end up in the same classes together as they move up into their second year. After their end of term ceremony, Aoi off-handedly mentions that it would be nice if she could get a class photo of everyone at Mount Tenran, and this idea quickly gains traction. En route to the viewpoint, Aoi’s classmates become distracted and even swing by Aoi’s bakery, where Hikari decides to gift everyone some of their fancier items as a promotional move. Although Aoi has some difficulty in keeping her classmates on track, Hinata encourages Aoi to do her best. She’s able to gather everyone, and upon spotting that she and the photographer won’t appear in the photo, asks another hiker to help take the shot. To take Aoi’s mind off the impending class change, Hinata takes Aoi to Mount Nabewari during spring break. After the new term starts, Aoi is disappointed to learn Hinata, Yuri and Mio will be in a different class. She struggles to start a conversation with Kasumi and is envious of how quickly Hinata has warmed up to her new classmates. When the time comes for Aoi to introduce herself, she struggles with the process until Kasumi nudges her on, prompting Aoi to share her experiences in mountain climbing with her new classmates. After the day draws to a close, Aoi meets up with Hinata, Kaede, Yūka, Koharu and Kokona, excited to kick off the start of the new mountaineering season even as Kaede and Yūka must gear up for their entrance exams. With this, Next Summit enters its final quarter, with spring returning to the world and offering a new year of possibility for Aoi and her friends.

Mountain climbing is tangential to the tenth episode – its focus is on Aoi’s ability to interact with new people outside of her social circle, and while prima facie, this episode is a case of “two steps forward, one step back” for Aoi (while climbing mountains has definitely boosted her confidence, she still struggles with new people), the significance of portraying this side of Aoi is to show that while yes, she’s definitely made progress, mountain climbing is not a miracle activity that can make extroverts from even the most taciturn of introverts. Instead, it acts as a catalyst from which Aoi can begin looking at the world around her. This aspect of Next Summit is therefore an accurate portrayal of how growth is an incremental process, and similarly, how it is with support from friends that one is able to work their way towards becoming their best self. Similarly, Next Summit suggests here that Aoi’s desire to have a rematch with Mount Fuji isn’t something that just happens overnight. Instead, it is the culmination of accumulated experience, both on and off the trails. This is a reminder to viewers that progress occurs gradually, rather than all at once, and moreover, that learning is an ongoing process. The latter is something I am reminded of on a daily basis, and while one simply can’t know everything about a given topic, there is no shame in acknowledging this and making an effort to better oneself by accepting help from the people in one’s life. The same sort of mindset that Aoi has learnt to cultivate over time will serve her well both on the trails and in life, and now, the arrival of spring opens up the door to outdoor adventures again.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • For this post, I’ll open with a scenic image of Hanno’s Wariiwa Bridge by spring. Winter’s past now, and warmth returns to the world – this stands in stark contrast with my side of the planet, where winter is just arriving. With temperatures plummeting to -20ºC (and windchills reaching -30ºC), it is beginning to feel a lot like Christmas now, and I’ve now set up my Christmas tree in the solarium, ready to evoke the holiday spirit and bring on the festive cheer.

  • At this point, spring isn’t even in my mind, but here in Next Summit, the warming weather and longer days present a chance for everyone to clean their gear up. This episode of Next Summit places a reduced emphasis on mountain climbing, but the balance between life lessons and adventure is an integral part of the series’ success: adventure for the sake of adventure is fine, but it wouldn’t make for a satisfying story.

  • It suddenly hits me that Kaede’s presence in Next Summit has been more limited: as she and Yūka enters her final year of secondary school, pressure’s on to determine one’s path forward, whether it be post secondary education or work. Because Kaede is shown as not having much of a head for academics, I find that she may find the most fulfilment if she worked a similar job to Nadeshiko. Society nowadays places a great deal of emphasis on higher education, and despite being someone who’ve gone through that process, I’ve found that anything past the post-graduate level is more of a bonus. As such, Kaede could probably complete a degree or certificate in business administration and then find gainful employment as a manager to a large outdoor goods store.

  • A career path for Aoi and Hinata still feel quite a long ways off, so for now, Next Summit isn’t terribly concerned with where the two are headed, and instead, the series focuses on, Aoi becomes worried that she will be separated from the people she’s familiar with as the school year draws to a close; she regrets not having made a more concerted effort in getting to know everyone else better.

  • Back in my time as a secondary student, I got along with most people well enough (save the folks in IB), but since classes were set up so that we weren’t in a set cohort for core subjects, I ended up in classes with a variety of people, and class composition would change every turn. As such, the notion of being in a class with people I were unfamiliar with was never a problem for me. I found enjoyment in helping my classmates out with their coursework back when I was a student, so this did allow me to speak with my classmates despite our having wildly different interests and hobbies.

  • For Aoi, however, she’s still a little shy, so even after a year, she finds it a bit tricky to speak with everyone in her class. However, when she suggests that Mount Tenran would be a good place to go for a class photo, the entire class immediately takes a liking to the idea. Despite having some trouble directing everyone, when her thoughts do get through, her classmates go along with things. A comment about taking her classmates to a place for some cakes ends up acting as a pleasant detour for everyone – while Aoi’s pretty set on reaching the goal, this outing winds up as a clever show of how her adventures turn out.

  • Hikari decides to give Aoi’s classmates some fancier cakes, to the manager’s consternation – although Hikari argues that giving something higher end away could promote return business, this practise ends up being quite costly. Yama no Susume, however, is a slice-of-life about mountain climbing, not an exercise in business practises, and as such, moments like these can be laughed away. In my discussions, while I point out inconsistencies like these for kicks, I emphasise that they do not diminish my enjoyment of a given work in any way.

  • Upon reaching Mount Tenran’s lookout, Aoi’s classmates marvel at the view, but wind up forgetting they’d come up here for a class photo. When Aoi worries that she’s not being heard, Hinata spurs her on, and moments later, a rowdy group of classmates have composed themselves and arranged themselves into rows for a photo without too much trouble. While Aoi does have it in her, Yama no Susume makes it clear that confidence is still something of a challenge for Aoi. Fortunately, when she’s in good company and has the right encouragement, Aoi is able to rise up to the occasion.

  • In classic slice-of-life fashion, the classmate taking the photo is none other than Chisato Wataya of Camera, Hajimete mo Ii Desu ka? (literally “Can I begin a camera?”), the older sister to the protagonist with a bright and friendly personality. In this story, Mito Ikeda is a shy and reserved girl who’s uncomfortable with her appearance, and one day, after meeting Chisato, becomes introduced to the world of photography. This manga began serialisation back in 2019 and is written by Shiro, who had also penned Yama no Susume, so it’s no surprise that characters make a cameo appearance here, similarly to how Non Non Biyori‘s Hikage Miyauchi also appeared in Atto’s Koakuma Meringue.

  • What impresses Aoi’s classmates is the ease that she’s able to approach another hiker and ask them to help out with the photo, which turns out quite nice despite Aoi’s initial reservations about her looking funny in her previous photos. With this, Aoi’s first year of secondary school has come to a close, but owing to how things were framed, this segment of the episode did feel a little like a graduation episode even though it’s merely the end of year one.

  • When spring break arrives, Kokona accompanies Hinata and Aoi on a hike to Mount Nabewari, which is known for its nabeyaki udon prepared by Kusano, who operates Nabewari Sanso, a rest house, at Mount Nabewari’s summit and has been serving their legendary udon for over three decades. What’s more impressive is the fact that Kusano hikes the route every morning to reach the rest house. Next Summit doesn’t portray the hike itself, which has a few steeper sections but is otherwise manageable for most hikers. Like Mount Bukō, there are water bottles at Mount Nabewari, and hikers are encouraged to help bring water up to the rest house.

  • Up here, Kokona, Hinata and Aoi enjoy their noodles, and while Kokona takes off to explore, Hinata and Aoi share a conversation. In any other episode, the hike up Mount Nabewari would be portrayed at length, so seeing the process truncated here was meant to show that by now, Aoi’s physicality isn’t a significant issue, and in this way, the story is able to show that Aoi’s hurdle with Mount Fuji is likely going to be a matter of confidence, rather than her fitness level.

  • As it turns out, Hinata had arranged for the day’s activities precisely so that Aoi wouldn’t worry so much about the upcoming entry into a new academic year – the thought of being separated from Hinata bothers Aoi to a great extent, and while Aoi does show exasperation at Hinata with a nontrivial frequency, the two are remarkably close because they’ve known one another for such a long time, and while Hinata does like to press Aoi’s buttons, when the moment calls for it, she also knows how to assuage Aoi’s fears and push her forward.

  • On the first day of the new term, Aoi struggles to get out of bed and head for school – she’s so nervous that she actively delays going in and only reluctantly does so once Hinata shows up to accompany her to school. Aoi’s nowhere nearly as socially inept as Bocchi The Rock!‘s Hitori Gotō, but her concerns are similar; I have heard that Bocchi The Rock! is well-received this season, and while I’m thoroughly enjoying it, the merits I see in this one are unlike what a majority of viewers are praising the show for.

  • Because Aoi won’t otherwise mature, Next Summit has her wind up in a different class than Hinata, but to ensure Aoi isn’t starting from scratch, she’s in the same class as Kasumi, whom she’d known since middle school and has been in the same class as Aoi without fail after all this time. Having one familiar face provides Aoi with a foothold of sorts, and while she tries to strike up a conversation with Kasumi, it does appear that Kasumi is also mindful of Aoi’s comfort level; she asks Aoi to take things at her own pace.

  • Introductions are presented as being significant in anime because first impressions often linger. When it’s Aoi’s turn to introduce herself to her new classmates, she finds herself being caught off guard after letting her mind wander, and accidentally lets slip that she’s big on mountain climbing. Fortunately, since the instructor had allowed students to ask questions, Kasumi steps up to bat and prompts Aoi by asking about Mount Fuji. With a topic she’s familiar with, Aoi ends up relaxing and going into much greater detail about her travels.

  • Even though she hadn’t fully completed the hike, her new classmates find this an impressive feat, with some of the male students commenting that they likely wouldn’t make it that far. Once Aoi’s done her introduction and answers a few questions, the remainder of the day passes by in a blur, and after class, Kasumi comments on how Aoi tends to bunch up when speaking to people she doesn’t know well, before adding that everyone’s probably guilty of this, and that learning to be comfortable with things like public speaking takes practise.

  • The idea of “at your own pace” dominates Next Summit, and regardless of whether it’s hiking a mountain trail, or learning to be more at ease when speaking in front of others, Yama no Susume is (not so subtly) reminding viewers that one needn’t rush things. Instead, by making the most of each moment and accepting opportunities for new experiences, one will grow naturally over time. While such messages initially appear to be common sense, in a world where people rush to reach milestones for the sake of appearances, these messages are often forgotten.

  • The elephant at Kannon-ji Temple had formerly been Aoi and Hinata’s favourite hangout spot, so seeing an increasingly large crowd hang out here after classes is a pleasant sight. Here, as the girls consider what they’ll be able to do with warmer weather and longer days, Kaede immediately begins daydreaming about a hike that involves an overnight stay, exasperating Yūka, who’s quick to remind Kaede that since they’re in their final year, they’ve got entrance exams and careers to think about. Kaede wilts in disappointment, but Aoi does think to herself that the time to hit the trails has come again.

  • It goes without saying that I’m now left in great anticipation of what happens next in Next Summit – whether or not Mount Fuji is portrayed with the remaining episodes or left for a continuation is anybody’s guess. I will admit that, if a movie ends up being the route, I will be quite disappointed, since movies are generally inaccessible to overseas viewers. With this being said, there’s no sense in worrying about things, and with this post in the books, I will remark here that I’ve got a few posts coming up for this blog; we’re approaching the nine-year anniversary to Madoka Magica: Rebellion, and I’ve got some thoughts on how the story could be resolved. As well, Portal RTX finally has a release date; coming out on the eighth of December, I am curious to see how well my RTX 3060 Ti handles things.

With ten episodes in the books, and two episodes left, the lingering question now is whether or not Next Summit will see Aoi return to Mount Fuji for a rematch. After all, Mount Fuji is a capstone of sorts, one that would demonstrate how far Aoi has come since her first attempt a year earlier, and it stands to reason that Next Summit would need to spend at least a few episodes on things in order to properly depict things. With only two episodes on the plate, it seems hardly possible that Next Summit could fit everything into this timeframe, and some have already speculated that Yama no Susume is saving Mount Fuji for a movie or potential fifth season. It is, however, poor form to count one’s chickens before they hatch – in Yama no Susume‘s second season, the Mount Fuji story was told over three twelve minute segments, and recalling that Next Summit‘s episodes are twice the length of the second season’s episodes, it is within the realm of possibility to have the next episode broken up into two halves. The first half would detail the preparation, and the second half would see the beginning of the ascent. Then the finale would portray the ascent and its aftermath. It is possible that Next Summit chooses to take another route: taking Mount Fuji would mark a significant milestone for Aoi, and an accomplishment of this scale can be seen as being worthy of a movie. However, despite anime movies offering a superior medium for storytelling at a larger scale, their main drawback is that films take an unreasonable amount of time to reach overseas viewers. In some cases, the waits have reached eleven months, and moreover, a part of Yama no Susume‘s appeal is how concise the series is. To stretch out Aoi’s experiences at Mount Fuji is not strictly necessary from a storytelling perspective, and next week’s penultimate episode will determine whether or not things will conclude here in Next Summit, or if overseas viewers will need to exercise patience and wait for a film or fifth season to wrap Aoi’s journey up.

6 responses to “A New Season – Yama no Susume: Next Summit Tenth Episode Review and Reflections

  1. Michael E Kerpan December 6, 2022 at 19:28

    Another absolutely lovely episode.

    One little segment of the episode showed Aoi’s recollection of losing Hinata previously, seeing the moving van pulling away and running fruitlessly after it. I think this partly explains Aoi’s social withdrawal during middle school. Being shy in the first place, she was afraid of making connections she might lose. Now she worries about “losing” Hinata again — but Hinata is still there — for walking home together and for mountain adventures. And Hinata is also no longer her only connection to others. That said, Kasumi throwing out a life line in the new class was very helpful. It looks like Kasumi won’t be dragged into mountain climbing, but she can still be a support. As she tells Aoi, when Aoi thanks her, it was no big deal, “that’s what friends are for”. So Aoi won’t be friendless in her new class after all.

    I never imagined that one was supposed to clean knapsacks the way one crushes grapes (stomping them underfoot).

    I have to say that this episode — like pretty much every other one this season — causes a certain degree of eye mistiness. A consistently warm and kind-hearted series.


    • infinitezenith December 7, 2022 at 19:28

      I appreciate that bit of insight; I had long felt that Aoi was predisposed towards introversion, but losing someone so dear to her (and the attendant belief that Hinata was the only friend she had) would’ve certainly been a contributing factor. I definitely relate to this: we introverts do have a tougher time of making new friends and tend to stick to people we know. However, whether it be a consequence of experience or age, we do get to the point where it’s absolutely okay to be apart from the people one cherishes and still maintain those connections.

      For the time being, I do not believe Kasumi, Yuri or Mio will be roped into climbing mountains, but they’ll certainly continue being a part of Aoi’s social circle.

      Regarding the cleaning of backpacks, I use the method my mom taught me and wash things using my hands, rather than feet. The “stepping on it” approach might be Japanese in origin, since Cocoa, Chino, Chiya, Sharo and Rize use the same method to wash their curtains in GochiUsa‘s second season. I prefer using hands, since that offers more finesse.

      Overall, you’ll find no disagreement from me regarding Next Summit: it’s this season’s gem, and considering we’ve got the likes of Spy × Family and Bocchi the Rock running concurrently, that’s saying something 🙂


  2. Michael E Kerpan December 8, 2022 at 11:39

    For some reason, it seems that this YnS post has never made it to the main front page. The top story there is still the one about the Laid Back Camp movie.


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