The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games and life converge

Tag Archives: Next Summit

Mountain Stream Fishing, The Meaning of Life and Off to Kamakura With Hinata’s Family – Yama no Susume: Next Summit Review and Reflection at the ¾ mark

“Sometimes you have to take a step back to move forward.” –Erika Taylor

Aoi’s father invites her and Kokona to accompany him on a weekend fishing trip in the mountains at a friend’s place, prompting Aoi to also invite Hinata along. While the girls learn the basics behind stream fishing, Kokona explains that despite having never fished before, she wanted to broaden her horizons ahead of admittance to secondary school and indicates that she would like to enroll at the same school Hinata and Aoi attend. This leads Aoi to wonder what she wishes for in her own future, and while pondering this question, Aoi also manages to catch a fish of her own. After meeting up with Aoi’s father, who’s caught a number of fish, everyone returns to enjoy tempura fish. Later, Hinata’s mother returns home after a gruelling work week and requests an outing that allows her to both hike and check the ocean out. Hinata’s father suggests Kamakura, and Aoi is invited to accompany them. Along the way, Aoi is reminded of the fact that Hinata’s mother is very energetic and expressive, similarly to Hinata. While hiking up a trail, Aoi notices that despite being winded, Hinata’s mother presses on with enthusiasm, and the four stop to enjoy the lunches that Hinata’s other had bought along the way. They subsequently swing by a temple, where Hinata’s mother lets out her work-related frustrations, before watching a sunset along the coast. Here, Aoi thinks to herself that in a few more weeks, with spring’s immanent arrival, she and Hinata will become second-year students. Three-quarters of the way into Next Summit, viewers have another chance to see some of the secondary adventures that Aoi and Hinata take together; these adventures allow Yama no Susume to highlight a variety of life lessons in a gentle, unobtrusive and instructive fashion, indicating how personal growth comes in all forms, as well as how learnings that improve individuals can come from even the most unexpected of experiences.

The ninth episode’s highlight comes with the introduction of Hinata’s mother. This is the first time viewers see her on screen, and from initial impressions, she’s someone who takes her work very seriously, but becomes frustrated when things don’t go as smoothly as she’d like. This leaves her exhausted, and so, when Aoi meets her for the first time in a while, Hinata’s mother is slumped over on the couch. However, she perks up immediately at the thought of an outing to Kamakura, and although Hinata’s father chooses the destination to ensure that the excursion isn’t something beyond what his wife can do, the chance to go outdoors and regroup proves to be a blessing for Hinata’s mother. She’s able to exercise out some of her stress, and during their shrine visit, throws disks at stones to get her concerns and grievances into the air. The trip leaves her refreshed, and although a mountain of work likely awaits Hinata’s mother when she returns to the office, at the very least, she’s now had a chance to unwind a little. The idea of taking a step back to regroup when stressed seems counterintuitive, but it works because it gives the mind a chance to pause and reassess a situation. Next Summit‘s ninth episode’s second half deals primarily with Hinata’s mother, but it’s also a reminder to Aoi – she’d been beaten at Mount Fuji before, but having had time to take a step back and think things over, she returns to the trails with a renewed passion and a deeper understanding of why she enjoys being outdoors. Similarly, while Aoi now faces the prospect of becoming a second-year student, it is important that she is able to find ways of managing her stress, and Next Summit shows that because she is able to find solace in being outdoors, when things get difficult for her in the future, whether it be her coursework, considering directions for her career and eventually, transitioning to the next milestone in her life, Aoi will have the tools to do so in an effective, and healthy manner.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • As the weather warms, Aoi’s father decides to take Aoi fishing, and is happy to bring Kokona along. Not wanting to suffer through a new experience alone, Aoi decides to invite Hinata, too. Some minds suppose that Aoi’s being unfair and is doing so out of malice, but the reality is that she knows that Hinata might actually enjoy fishing, and being with more people might make things more fun, too.

  • By having Hinata and Aoi go on a mountain fishing trip, Next Summit takes Yama no Susume to the same waters that Houkago Teibou Nisshi and Slow Loop had covered: I have previously commented on how Houkago Teibou Nisshi‘s Hina resembles Aoi, and similarly, Natsumi is the equivalent of Hinata. Both anime cover different topics, but the similarities among the characters made Houkago Teibou Nisshi more grounded. Since Hina and Natsumi’s personality traits had analogues in Yama no Susume, it was much easier to focus on the fishing.

  • After Aoi’s father’s friend gives everyone a crash course in how to use their fishing lines, everyone heads off to the foot of a waterfall, where they get to put their skills to the test. Aoi’s father helps to get the bait on, and in a moment reminiscent of Houkago Teibou Nisshi, Aoi and Hinata both react adversely to seeing the live bait, which is censored initially for comedic effect. Later on, the bait is shown to be some sort of larvae. It was quite telling that Kokona didn’t appear perturbed by things.

  • After watching the girls try their hand at fishing, Aoi’s father ends up taking off so he can do some fishing of his own. Here, he remarks that being skunked is a part of the experience, and I first became familiar with the term through Survivorman, where Les Stroud had been in Argentina on one of his toughest survival expeditions. Catching nothing while recreational fishing is fine, but in a survival situation, it can drive up desperation and a feeling of hopelessness. This aspect is not especially relevant to Next Summit, and in a few moments, Kokona gets a hit.

  • Kokona’s natural affinity with the outdoors is apparent: she’s the first to catch a fish. Throughout Yama no Susume, Kokona’s been portrayed as being a miracle woman of sorts; she’s the only person who manages to make it up every mountain she climbs, and is uncommonly tough despite her appearances. On top of this, she’s a quick study, performs well when it comes to academics and is friendly with most everyone. After she catches her first fish, Kokona hands her rod over to Aoi, and begins speaking about her plans for the future.

  • Kokona’s explanation to Aoi provides a fair answer as to why she appears so on top of things: she had accepted this fishing trip invite despite having no particular interest in fishing because she wanted to widen her experiences and be able speak to a range of topics, as well as understand what she enjoys doing. This is quite the opposite of middle school aged Aoi, who was content to do handicrafts and read books. However, while Kokona is clearly a self-starter, and Aoi is someone who needs a bit of a push, the end result is the same, and in this way, Next Summit hints at how it’s okay to get that initial push.

  • Next Summit‘s message is that whether it be mountain climbing or the future, the best way to do things is at one’s own pace, and this is something that Aoi will have a chance to work towards. On the flipside, seeing Kokona with a clear plan for the future creates one new thing to look forwards to for Hinata and Aoi; Kokona wishes to enroll at the same secondary school as Aoi and Hinata, and since her grades are solid, I imagine that the three could become classmates at some point. Kokona admits that she likes the uniforms, and the school’s location is also convenient for her, both of which are perfectly valid reasons for choosing a secondary school.

  • In the end, Aoi ends up catching a fish, and Hinata’s the one who ends up getting shut out. However, Hinata seems quite unbothered by things and feels that even though she was skunked, it was nonetheless fun to hang out with everyone. By this point in Next Summit, I am accepting of the fact that the character designs in some segments of earlier episodes is deliberate; throughout both this episode, and the previous episode, both characters and backgrounds are of a consistently good quality, being a return to the level of detail seen in Yama no Susume‘s third season.

  • After a morning’s worth of fishing, everyone sits down to a wonderful lunch of fried fish. Thanks to their high lipid content and the Maillard reaction, fried foods are appealing to the palate: the human body has evolved to favour nutrient-dense foods, and things high in fat provide a lot of energy per unit mass. The Japanese approach to deep-frying is a healthier one compared to the methods seen over in North America; less oil is used, and the batter itself is lighter, using flour, egg and cold water rather than bread crumbs.

  • Food scenes in anime have contributed to my becoming an amateur food photographer and connoisseur of sorts: looking back, one of my lesser-known hobbies is visiting places to try their food out and try my hand at capturing images that portray the taste and aesthetics behind a dish. I’ve found that some dishes, like sandwiches, are a little trickier to capture good images of without creativity, but Japanese cuisine is incredibly photogenic, to the point where even an inexpensive sushi set can be made to look incredible with the right lighting and technique.

  • A few episodes ago, I had made the remark that, with Aoi’s father making an appearance, all that was left was for Hinata’s mother to show up. Here at the three-quarters mark, this has come to pass, and it’s quite plain that Hinata takes after her mother, the same way Aoi resembles her mother. Unlike Aoi’s mother, Hinata’s mother is career-driven, and while visiting one day, Aoi finds her lying face down on her couch, bemoaning the difficulty some new hires have been giving her. Hinata’s mother’s work is not specified, but one can reasonably guess that it’s an office position.

  • I’ll let Next Summit speak for itself with regard to the notion of taking a step back from a problem and regrouping in a healthy manner. This is something I practise with frequency: whether it’s designing new features prior to implementation or debugging existing code (which may entail stepping through hundreds, or even thousands of lines of code spread out in different classes), it is inevitable that I run into something with a non-obvious solution. Depending on priority, I may regroup by stretching my feet, or if I have the luxury of time, I may even set the problem aside and do something else first.

  • Weekends are especially valuable in this regard, and I’ve come to appreciate this time as an opportunity to get out and clear my mind if the weather permits. The situation Hinata’s mother is in is done purely for comedy’s sake: I occasionally vent about the challenges I face at work to peers and family, but it’s nowhere nearly as vociferously. Anime employ these exaggerations purely to accentuate a point, and I’m quick to dismiss complaints about such portrayals because fiction, while it might portray elements from reality, isn’t a 1:1 depiction of the world.

  • Instead of worrying about the moral implications of hyperbole and its impact on viewers (I assume viewers and readers are learned enough to know that anime employ hyperbole to illustrate a point or provide comedy), I tend to focus on how well a given slice-of-life anime conveys its life lessons to viewers. For me, this is the biggest joy about watching shows of this genre. Longtime readers will be familiar with the fact that I place a great deal of emphasis on the sorts of learnings these anime aim to communicate.

  • While Hinata’s mother initially struggles to keep pace with everyone else, she ends up powering through on pure spirit, and along the way, is able to check out sights that certainly wouldn’t be seen at the office. I was a little surprised that flowers are already beginning to bloom, even though it’s not quite spring yet; in Alberta, spring doesn’t really kick in until around May, and for me, it’s not uncommon for the landscape to remain a dull brown for weeks after the Vernal Equinox. Differences in climate affords Aoi and the others with a more conducive environment for going on an outing, and I would imagine that at this time of year, Kamakura would be quite comfortable for outdoor activities.

  • The weather in Next Summit stands in stark contrast to the weather on this side of the world. Weather experts are forecasting that December will open with the coldest temperatures seen in a century, and in the past few days, the thermometer has plunged below -15°C, with the first blast of winter coming next week, where daytime highs aren’t expected to top -21°C. Having lived here all my life, I’m no stranger to the cold; it’s still possible to go out and enjoy the outdoors, but one must be properly dressed for the conditions.

  • As cold as Alberta can get in the winter, it’s nothing compared to the likes of Yakutsk, where it’s already -35°C, and where lows can reach -64.4°C. This helps to put things in perspective – by comparison, the average low at this time of year feels balmy by comparison. I certainly won’t be enjoying chirashi or any sort of bento outdoors, but on days where the skies are clear, it’s still quite wonderful to be outside.

  • At the shrine Hinata, her parents and Aoi visit, it’s said that throwing clay disks at stones will help one’s wishes to come true. Hinata throws hers with confidence, while Aoi hesitates and falls short of the mark. Hinata’s mother, on the other hand, buys a stack of them, using them to vent. Relieving pressure in this way isn’t unheard of, and mental health guides do suggest that yelling out can help with stress, so long as one does so in a place of solitude (such as the top of a hill or somewhere secluded). For me, I manage my stress through first person shooters and lifting weights.

  • One of Next Summit‘s best features is the fact that weather patterns are varied, giving a sense of realism to the adventures Aoi and Hinata embark on. Anime typically are sent under flawless skies, and while this makes for fantastic scenes of unparalleled beauty, it can create the expectation that discovery can only happen with clear weather. Accepting flaws and learning to embrace imperfection is a part of life, so featuring cloudy skies in Next Summit is a show that even when things aren’t perfect (or perhaps, because they aren’t perfect), a moment becomes all the more memorable.

  • After commenting that Hinata is a splitting image of her mother and earning herself a brief run around the beach, Aoi stops to consider how by spring, she and Hinata will be second year high school students. Time is moving at a smart pace in Yama no Susume, and while it is important to live in the moment, it’s also important to keep an eye on the future. This is an important milestone for Aoi and Hinata, so I imagine that come next episode, it’ll be time to watch Kaede and Koharu graduate, deal with the changes following their entry into a new academic year, and prepare for the ascent at Mount Fuji. In the meantime, I’ve got one more post lined up for November, and anyone following me on Twitter will have no trouble guessing what this one’s going to be about.

Although slice-of-life anime tend to emphasise the importance of living in the moment, as a given series progresses, the story inevitably turns towards what the future might look like. When characters begin considering said futures, those without a more concrete plan may begin to feel left behind. During the stream fishing outing, Kokona indicates that she enjoys trying new things out and opening herself to new experiences because it may be helpful down the line. This leaves Aoi wondering about what she’d like to do once she graduates from secondary school. It is natural to be concerned about the future if one doesn’t have a clear idea of what things might look like. However, just because one doesn’t have a plan in the moment doesn’t mean it will remain like this forever – I didn’t decide on my career path until I was two months from finishing off my graduate studies, but I did eventually find something I enjoyed doing. Aoi’s worries about her future have a relatively simple solution: because she had stated that the most enjoyable aspect of mountain climbing was that she could enjoy things at her own pace, it follows that the same approach is applicable for her career choice. So long as Aoi doesn’t get stuck in one spot and is advancing steadily, it’s okay to take the time she needs and determine for herself, what her future would look like. Life lessons like these have long been woven into slice-of-life anime with finesse, and spotting these elements is what make these anime so meaningful to watch: they reaffirm the things in our lives that work, and gently nudge us in a new direction if we’re in need of encouragement to better ourselves. Next Summit excels in this area, and while Yama no Susume might deal in mountain climbing, the messages Next Summit have shown off the trails are relevant to all walks of life.

Power Spot For Valentine’s Day, Trying Out Snowshoes – Yama no Susume: Next Summit Eighth Episode Review and Reflections

“Positive anything is better than negative nothing.” –Elbert Hubbard

While Honoka is studying for her secondary admissions exams, she receives an invitation to go hiking at Mount Mitake. Although Honoka had wanted to focus, she agrees to go after Aoi mentions that Kokona will be accompanying them. On the day of the hike, Hinata notices Honoka’s desire to grow closer to Kokona and gives the pair some space. They end up visiting several power spots associated with luck in relationships, and upon reaching Mount Mitake’s summit, Aoi brings out some homemade hot chocolate for everyone. Honoka reveals that ever since they’d visited Lockheart Castle together, she’d found warmth emanating from Kokona’s photo, and Kokona replies she’s fond of Honoka’s photos, too. Later, Hinata and Aoi swing by the Mountaineering Club at Koharu’s request: she’s got snowshoes and wishes to hit the slopes at Mount Akagi. This time around, Kokona’s busy, but Honoka decides to come with as a break of sorts from her studies. However, because the weather is unseasonably warm, most of the snow’s already melted. In spite of this, the four ascend Mount Akagi together and reach the summit, marvelling at the views despite the overcast weather, and when they head back down the mountain, everyone’s pleased to see that some of the snow has persisted, allowing them to experience the wonders of snowshoes. While Hinata trips during the trek across a frozen lake, everyone ends up with a memorable adventure, and Honoka’s brother invites everyone to join him at a restaurant known for their deep fried shishamo. Aoi thinks to herself that, despite the weather being seemingly disappointing, the day was well worth it, and contemplates how fun can be had even when things don’t turn out quite the way one had expected. With Next Summit progressing smartly along, this winter episode clarifies what viewers had been suspecting, and deals in a life lesson that I definitely need to be mindful of.

Observant viewers had long noticed that Honoka and Kokona had been steadily becoming closer since Next Summit began airing. An ending sequence shows the pair on a hike together, although their activities appear to be characterised by a hint of gentle awkwardness as the two are still getting to know one another. By the time Christmas rolls around, Kokona and Honoka enjoy one another’s company and share in conversation together. Next Summit‘s decision to make this nascent friendship a part of the story is a pleasant show of how Aoi’s own growth is having a tangible impact on those around her. When Kokona had accompanied Aoi, Hinata and Kaede on their hikes, she’d been the youngest of everyone. At Mount Tanigawa, Aoi’s initiative ended up bringing Honoka into the group, and since Kokona and Honoka are middle school students, the pair are able to find an especially close bond in a group of older students. Being closer in age, Honoka and Kokona would probably find it easier to talk to one another than with their seniors, and unsurprisingly, the pair do strike up a friendship that is, in some ways, a parallel of Aoi and Hinata’s: Kokona is outgoing, while Honoka is more reserved. Viewers will doubtlessly find this moment especially heartwarming, and in the bigger picture, the growing friendship between Kokona and Honoka is a consequence of Aoi’s own development; she had reached out to Honoka while they’d been hiking Mount Tanigawa and opened the conversation, allowing Honoka to learn more about Aoi and her group. As it turned out, there was someone similar to herself in age, and by getting to know Kokona better, Honoka herself will doubtlessly gain confidence and become more confident in voicing her thoughts to others, too.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • While Aoi may claim she’s more knowledgeable about relationships, it turns out that Hinata’s the one with a bit more tact when it comes to these sorts of things: Hinata immediately spots that Honoka’s wanting some alone time with Kokona, and after she hauls Aoi away, the pair overhear Kokona chatting animatedly with Honoka. This episode realises what’s been on viewers’ minds for some time, allowing the pair to really begin bonding.

  • I was a little surprised that Honoka is still a middle school student, but Yama no Susume had not expressly indicated what Honoka’s age was. While Aoi had been the one to reach out to her at Mount Tanigawa, it was revealed that seeing the warmth from Kokona’s photograph during the third season’s events was what led Honoka to wish to know Kokona better. Here, everyone stops at Musashi Mitake Shrine, located at the summit of Mount Mitake. Although the shrine’s been around since the Kamakura era, the oldest building here, the main shrine, was built in 1878.

  • Because it’s Valentines’ Day in Next Summit, the episode has Kokona and Honoka exploring power spots meant to bolster luck in relationships. The pair hold hands and walk between a pair of tree trucks which, according to legend, will ensure two people stay together if they pass through together. The phrase “power spot” is a bit of wasai-eigo that describes places with an especially powerful spiritual aura, and even if one doesn’t believe in these ideas, there is no denying that power spots occupy some very scenic, majestic locations. I believe that in English, the equivalent term is “energy vortex”.

  • Having Kokona and Honoka become friends makes perfect sense in the knowledge that both are middle school students. Youth tend to associate with people close to themselves in age, and at this age, even a year or two can make a massive difference. By having Honoka befriend Kokona, it means that amongst this group, Honoka now has someone closer in her in age to converse with, especially when it may seem improper to ask Aoi, Hinata or Kaede for a second opinion. After their shrine visit, the group heads towards Mount Hinode along the Kanto Fureai trail.

  • Mount Hinode is a fourty-minute walk from Mount Mitake and offers an unparalleled view of the sunrise over the Kanto plains. The trails can get a little crowded, especially during the summer, but by winter, it appears that Aoi and the others have the entire trail to themselves. Because the sunrise is such an iconic sight, small huts line the trail for folks who wish to stay overnight, but since Aoi and company aren’t here for the sunrise, they’re able to walk the trail at their own leisure and take in sights, such as the thousand-year-old tree along the way.

  • The ascent up Mount Mitake and Mount Hinode is classic Yama no Susume, portraying an experience in vivid detail, and here, I remark that the visual quality in this episode is up to the standard I’m accustomed to seeing from Yama no Susume, with both the backgrounds and characters looking especially sharp. Until now, while the backgrounds and landscapes have been consistently good, character artwork has been all over the place, and on some occasions, have even looked like sketches. Initially, I had a bit of difficulty understanding as to why this was done.

  • Thanks to conversation with readers, who pointed to Bocchi the Rock as an example of a technically superb series with fantastic visuals and innovative animation, but exaggerated character deformations, as an example of where crude character artwork is a deliberate choice. Assuming this to hold true in Next Summit, it would mean that a given moment is especially loose and relaxed. Because Yama no Susume is focused on the outdoors and appreciation of nature, deforming the characters to a substantial extent would convey to viewers that in a moment, the characters are lost in their own worlds.

  • Upon reaching Mount Hinode’s summit, Aoi, Hinata, Kokona and Honoka are treated to a stunning view of the Kanto plains and Tokyo. On a clear day, downtown Tokyo and the Tokyo Skytree are visible from this spot. This fact reminds me of how from Prairie Mountain, downtown Calgary is similarly visible. When I visited, even though it had been an overcast day, I had no trouble making out the city centre from the summit of Prairie Mountain, although thinking back, it would’ve been nice if I brought some binoculars.

  • One small detail I found noteworthy was how, after Aoi pours out hot chocolate for everyone, she’s butchered the portions and leaves one cup with much less than the others. When Hinata quips that Aoi never seems to be able to finish strong, Aoi simply readjusts things and moments later, everyone’s enjoying her homemade hot chocolate, a Valentine’s Day gift of sorts to her friends. Aoi had previously always assumed Hinata would think the worst of her, but when the chips are down, she’s slowly learning how to take a joke in stride.

  • With a stunning view around them, Honoka and Kokona share a conversation about their mutual respect for one another and the other’s photography. Communication’s been a central part of Yama no Susume, and now that Kokona and Honoka are both a little closer to the other, their friendship will continue developing following a particularly memorable hike up Mount Mitake and Mount Hinode. Of course, the peace is broken up by Hinata and Aoi’s lighthearted banter about who’s going to find a partner first, and while Aoi is more adorable, Hinata’s assertive personality means she’ll probably beat Aoi to the punch.

  • A few weeks later, Koharu shows off something she’d found while clearing out the Mountaineering Club’s storeroom. Presumably buried there as the club always seems to be on the move, Koharu develops a wish to utilise them before winter concludes. This results in Koharu arranging for a hike to Mount Akagi, marking the first time Hinata, Aoi and Koharu go on a hike together. Aoi also decides to invite Honoka, and while Kokona’s not available, Honoka decides to come anyways, feeling it to be a good break from studying for the entrance exams.

  • As it turns out, Aoi had accidentally scratched the floor to her room while testing the snowshoes out, leading her to get an earful from her mother. The Mountaineering Club’s snowshoes have crampons on them to give them additional traction, but these mean that they dig aggressively into whatever surface they’re on: perfectly suited for icy conditions, it should come as no surprise that these shoes shouldn’t be used indoors. After arriving at the trailhead, Koharu is disheartened to see that there’s hardly any snow around. However, snow or not, the girls decide to continue their climb.

  • As the hike progresses, a brisk winter wind envelopes the trail, forcing everyone to don their hoods. Being a veteran hiker, Koharu’s brought a balaclava, which offers unparalleled protection from the elements; the best balaclavas will also offer neck protection, and as someone from a winter-bound part of the world, I can attest to how much of a difference good neck protection makes. When the thermometer drops below -20°C and windchill kicks in, having a scarf makes being outside bearable. Of course, Hinata finds it hilarious, and while Honoka wants a picture of Koharu, who assumes it’s for cool factor, Honoka ends up capturing a photo that comes out as adorable.

  • This hike up Mount Akagi isn’t the first time that Yama no Susume has seen the characters make an ascent on a cloudy day, but it is the first time that the series speaks to how even in poorer weather, there can be things to enjoy. This episode spoke to me for this reason: I make it a point to hike on clear days, where the views are at their best, but since my weekends are limited, there have been occasions where I’ve had to make do with the weather I’m given. The plus about hiking on overcast days is that the sun isn’t as intense, so I’m not burning up quite as badly when making the climb up.

  • The weather here brings to mind the exact sort of conditions that my side of the world gets for up to six months of the year: residual snowfall and gloomy, overcast skies dominate January and February, but it can extend into May, and similarly, after the pleasant weather of September, things become quite cloudy and cold from November onwards. That Next Summit captures things so well (this scene reminds me of Bragg Creek Provincial Park in the foothills) speaks volumes to how well-done the series is. However, the weather doesn’t deter Aoi and the others.

  • When Koharu spots that their descent route is snow covered, she’s ecstatic and invites the others to join her. The time has finally come to really put their snowshoes to use, and Aoi likens it to walking on a cloud. I’ve never done a winter hike before, but in snow-covered areas, showshoes with crampons would be essential; I don’t have the proper gear for hiking through deep snow or ice. A few weekends ago, I did end up picking up a new pair of all-purpose waterproof winter shoes, and while they’re not designed for wading through ankle-high snow, they are warm.

  • Upon reaching the bottom of the slope, all that’s left is to traverse the ice-covered lake. According to Canadian guidelines, ice is usually safe to walk across if it is at least a half-foot thick, and here, hints of blue ice can be seen. Clear blue ice has the greatest strength of any ice, and viewers attuned to this detail will be given some reassurance that everyone is safe. This clears the way for a bit of humour that arises when Hinata becomes a shade too excited and begins to run across the frozen lake. Unable to hear Koharu’s warnings, Hinata eventually falls over.

  • After their hike concludes, Aoi, Hinata, Koharu and Honoka meet up with Honoka’s older brother, who has the perfect restaurant to visit. He’d gone smelt fishing earlier, and knows of a fantastic place in the region: the restaurant at Aoki Ryokan on the shores of Lake Onuma is indeed known for their fried shishamo, and in fact, some locals consider Aoki Ryokan’s shishamo to be the best in Japan. While Honoka is embarrassed and irritated by her older brother, one gets the sense that he does care about Honoka, being more than willing to share his knowledge of regional attractions and drive her places, similarly to how Sakura had no qualms about driving Nadeshiko to campsites.

  • While Aoi and Hinata enjoy their post-hike meal, I reflect on the boutique cake I enjoyed over the past weekend: I ended up going for the green tea cake and was impressed by the fact that this layered cake was simultaneously cake and cheesecake. Great food always makes for fantastic memories, and this is why I’m so fond of photographing what I eat. For Aoi, once she tries the shishamo with some salt, her taste buds take her on a cross-country tour, leaving her feeling completely content and bringing this episode to a close. As the days grow shorter and winter inevitably arrives, I could do well to take a leaf from Aoi’s page and make the most of the conditions I’ve got,

  • I’ll have a chance to put Next Summit‘s learnings to good use soon: with virtually every Friday off, plus two full weeks off at the end of December, I’m going to have a great deal of time to unwind and relax. Overcast or sunny, I am looking forwards to going out and enjoying some food, as well as staying in and sleeping in. This year, I have one more tool in my arsenal to keep my spirits up as the days shorten: thanks to a Black Friday sale, I was able to pick up a Nanoleaf Mini Triangle kit, and got that set up earlier this evening. I’ve still yet to figure out how some of the cooler functions work, but it is a gorgeous-looking fixture that livens up my workspace. With this post in the books, next week, we will be crossing Next Summit‘s three-quarters mark, and I am rather excited to see what other adventures await Aoi and her friends.

In the eighth episode’s second half, Next Summit gives Aoi a chance to see how even when things don’t turn out as expected, maintaining an open mind can turn disappointment into a new experience. The ascent up Mount Akagi is set under overcast skies, a contrast from the beautiful weather Aoi and her friends typically climb mountains under, and since the object of that day had been to give the snowshoes a go, a lack of snow meant they weren’t able to initially see for themselves the joy of the snowshoes. However, by pressing onwards anyways, Aoi, Hinata, Honoka and Koharu are still able to enjoy the sight from Mount Akagi’s summit, and because they made the hike anyways, are able to see the mountain path downhill is still snowy. I have had similar experiences, where the weather had not been quite what I’d hoped for, but on all occasions, I tend to press ahead anyways and do what I can to make the most of things. While I have no trouble adjusting my plans and handling such scenarios, however, one of my own weaknesses is that I do tend to stay somewhat bothered even if the alternative ends up being perfectly enjoyable. I’ve found that channeling my discontent into planning more experiences in the future is something that takes my mind off things, but what I need to work on is remembering this is always an option; I still need to compartmentalise these negative thoughts in the moment and make the most of what is available. Next Summit does a fantastic job of why possessing such a mindset is so important: it helps one to develop resilience against the unexpected and handle shifting circumstances elegantly. Having established that Aoi and her friends have this particular skill down means the story is one step closer to Mount Fuji, and now that Next Summit is moving through February, I imagine that in next episode, viewers will have a chance to see what awaits Aoi and her friends come March, a time when the weather slowly begins to warm back up as spring approaches.

Where to Watch The First Sunrise, Hiking With Classmates – Yama no Susume: Next Summit Seventh Episode Review and Reflections

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” –Henry David Thoreau

On New Year’s Eve, Aoi invites Hinata and Kokona over with the aim of hiking over to Mount Tenran and viewing the first sunrise of the new year. When Aoi’s father mentions that Mount Tenran could be quite crowded and suggests that Mount Hiwada might be a better bet. After he offers to drive them, Aoi, Kokona and Hinata unwind by watching some television (where they see Kaede setting out on a hike) before turning in. Although Aoi and Hinata have a little difficulty waking up, they manage to make it to the trailhead and begin the ascent. To make up for lost time, Aoi and Hinata decide to take the more challenging route up Mount Hiwada, but upon arrival, they’re surprised to find the viewpoint’s also packed. Feeling they’ve still got some time before sunrise, Aoi suggests heading to Mount Hiwada’s summit for a better view. Up here, the crowds are smaller, and as Aoi looks out at the sunrise, she wonders if this is what it would’ve felt like to see the sunrise at Mount Fuji. Later, after Kasumi expresses a desire to visit Mount Takao for a New Year’s shrine visit with Mio and Yuri, she decides to invite Aoi because of her previous experience and an ongoing wish to get to know Aoi better. Aoi decides to bring Hinata along with her, and upon arriving at the gondola station, the large crowds prompt Aoi and Hinata to ascend up the trail. Kasumi, Mio and Yuri decide to come with, and while the trek up the mountain is tiring, Aoi reassures Kasumi that it’s okay to take things at her own pace, and offers to carry her shoulder bag. Upon arriving at Mount Takao’s summit, Kasumi, Mio and Yuri marvel at the views and thank Aoi for having supported them; they’re impressed with how Aoi’s taken the initiative and was able to lead, revealing that back in middle school, Aoi had been very shy and preferred to keep to herself. After making their New Year’s prayers (to stay in the same class), the girls share a photograph together. With this, Next Summit‘s pressing through the winter, and the seventh episode gives Aoi yet another chance to shine.

While Next Summit still has yet to prepare Aoi for the physical aspects of the return to Mount Fuji, the series has spent a considerable effort in showing how the mountains, and spending time with Hinata, Kaede, Kokona and Honoka have broadened Aoi’s worldviews, making her more mature, patient and observant. The Aoi who had first tried to take on Mount Fuji was inexperienced and impatient, but here, viewers are shown how Aoi is incrementally improving in both mindset and temperament. Yama no Susume is a series about mountain climbing, but the mountains are just one component of this series; the moments spent off the trails are equally important to Aoi’s development. Her experiences on the trails impact how she conducts herself in everyday life, and ordinary moments feed into how Aoi approaches mountain climbing. For this reason, it is important that Next Summit show these secondary stories and viscerally indicate that, yes, moments in Aoi’s daily life also matter. Aoi’s character isn’t determined solely by her ability to overcome physical challenges – were this the case, Aoi would’ve joined the Mountaineering Club from day one and focused on a more intense, disciplined training regimen. Instead, it is smaller, more subtle cues that speak volumes to the central messages in Yama no Susume. This is where the merits of the series are most apparent, and here in the seventh episode, it is clear that over time, Aoi’s picked up enough knowledge and confidence about mountain hiking, such that she’s now able to share what she knows with others, as she does with Kasumi, Mio and Yuri. In addition, the newfound confidence Aoi gains means that, when the opportunity presents itself, Aoi is willing to push herself a little further and explore, as she does at Mount Hiwada. All of these elements, while seemingly trivial, speak volumes to Aoi’s growth, and among viewers, this instills confidence that, by the time spring comes around, Aoi will be able to fulfil her promise to herself.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Kannon-ji Temple is an iconic part of Hanno, and the elephant statue out front is a popular hangout spot for Kokona, Aoi and Hinata. The site’s changed over the years in Yama no Susume, becoming more detailed and vividly rendered with every successive iteration. The series has previously shown Aoi, Hinata and Kokona enjoying popsicles here, and with winter in full swing now, the popsicles are replaced by steamed buns, perfect for brisk days in Hanno.

  • I believe this is the first time Aoi’s father has been shown on screen. Hinata hasn’t seen him for some time, and it’s Kokona’s first meeting. With this, the Yukimuras are now fully introduced, and I’m left wondering if viewers will have a chance to see Hinata’s mother. As the three settle down and watch some television, they’re surprised to see a programme running about hikers who’ve decided to capitalise on the time of year to go mountain climbing, especially after Kaede appears on screen and wishes Kokona, Aoi and Hinata the best.

  • Here, Aoi passes some New Year’s soba to Kokona and Hinata; seen in other anime like Yuru Camp△, the tradition of New Year’s soba dates back to the thirteenth century and symbolises new beginnings, letting the past go and cultivating resilience. The most basic version of the dish just consists of soba noodles and dashi, but the Yukimuras have upped their game by adding tempura prawns to theirs. When Aoi’s father mentions the crowds at Mount Tenran and suggests Mount Hiwada as an alternative, I am reminded of my own New Year’s Eve tradition of watching the clock roll over midnight, and then sleeping to 0900-1000 the next day.

  • Whereas I’m used to sleeping in on New Year’s Day, the Japanese tradition of Hatsuhinode represents the polar opposite, requiring people wake up just before dawn and finding a suitable spot to catch the first sunrise of the year. This can be quite demanding, since the sunrise in Hanno is 0653 JST, and so, for Aoi and the others to make the sunrise, they must leave by 0530. For me, sunrise on New Year’s day is going to be 0843, so in theory, if I immediately hit the hay after the stroke of midnight, I could get up at around 0700 and be out the door by 0800 for the best viewpoint in town. I’m not sure if I’ll ever do this, since it is more tempting to just keep warm and sleep.

  • While Kokona falls asleep immediately, Hinata and Aoi struggle a little. Because they’re now rushed as a result of how hard it was to get Hinata up, Aoi and Hinata exchange barbs en route to Mount Hiwada. I’ve long felt that Aoi and Hinata are closer than any friends – they resemble siblings, and this aspect of Yama no Susume means that, no matter the challenge, the connection between Hinata and Aoi isn’t going to be jeopardised. When hiccoughs are encountered, then, viewers can reasonably expect thing to be patched up.

  • Because Aoi and Hinata both wish to hit their destination as soon as possible, they decide to take the more challenging route, and shortly after, the trail appears to vanish. A part of the challenge (and fun) in hiking is working out where the trail is, and more difficult trails are often poorly marked, demanding a modicum of experience to work out where one should be headed. However, the more difficult trail is only slightly more so, and Aoi soon spots the torii gate marking the viewpoint’s location.

  • After reaching the viewpoint, Aoi and Hinata are blown away by the sheer numbers up here. The entire mountainside is flooded with visitors, all excited about the first sunrise of the year. Rather than trying to jostle around for a decent view of the sunrise, Aoi takes the initiative and suggests pushing on a little further, to Mount Hiwada’s true summit – she reasons that up here, it’ll probably be a little less crowded, and there’s still a few moments left before sunrise. Thanks to clouds on the horizon, sunrise has been pushed back a little, affording Aoi’s party to reach the summit.

  • While there’s still people up here, the crowds are definitely thinner, allowing Aoi et al. to have a pleasant view of the plains below. As the big moment draws nearer, Aoi notices that every single person on this mountaintop shares the same goal, a desire to watch the sunrise, and she wonders if it had been similar on Mount Fuji. The moment provides incentive for Aoi to return to Japan’s highest mountain for this experience, and when she looks over to Hinata, the first rays of light from the year’s first sunrise illuminate Hinata’s face, acting as a subtle way of conveying how for Aoi, her biggest light is Hinata.

  • Some of the landscapes of Next Summit take on a near-photorealistic quality – I don’t mind admitting that scenes like these are what make slice-of-life anime so enjoyable for me, and that in reality, one of the reasons why I’m so fond of the outdoors is precisely because I am able to see sights like these for myself. When the sun rises over the plains below, details are vividly portrayed, and the sharp-eyed reader may notice the bit of lens flare here, just directly underneath the rising sun.

  • With this hatsuhinodeYama no Susume joins Tamayura and Yuru Camp△ in celebrating a longstanding Japanese tradition and depicting its magic to viewers. The character animations and artwork here in Next Summit has actually been quite inconsistent – one moment, the characters look like they’re sketches from something like Crayon Shin-chan, and in the next, everyone is gorgeously rendered. Because of how well-animated earlier iterations of Yama no Susume had been, this is a shade disappointing, but in critical moments, the characters fortunately manage to look their best.

  • I’m not sure if a future BD release could address some of these elements, but it would be nice to see some segments of Next Summit retouched. With the morning hike done, Aoi and Hinata are feeling quite famished and therefore look forwards to a good, hot meal. Before they turn around and head off the mountain, everyone (save Aoi’s father) receives a message from Kaede, who’s having the time of her life on a hike of her own. While Kaede’s love of solo adventures makes her similar to Yuru Camp△‘s Rin, she’s actually quite sociable. I’ve long found that Yama no Susume and Yuru Camp△, despite their similar topics, actually differ greatly.

  • Rather than comparing both, I think it is more meaningful to watch both series and see how they complement one another. Once the first sunrise is in the books, Aoi and party prepare to make their descent. Along the way, Aoi spots Mount Fuji, standing steadfast in the distance – although it’d been a reminder of her failure shortly after her first attempt, Mount Fuji has since become a symbol of challenge, something that inspires Aoi to get out and give everything her best, albeit at her own pace.

  • Indeed, “at your own pace” is a recurring theme here in Yama no Susume – the world seems predisposed towards a rat race for having more stuff and arguing this is happiness, but this is plainly not the case. Japan’s always been excellent with regard to treating minimalism and simplicity as the basis for joy, and I have found excellent thoughts in Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck that explain how slice-of-life anime are able to evoke joy. In this book’s first chapter, Manson argues that people tend to focus on having more stuff, and by chasing stuff, they choose to care about things that won’t make them happier. Instead, the healthier way to live is to accept that setbacks and failures will happen, and take them in stride.

  • Applying Manson to Yama no Susume, Aoi’s failure at Mount Fuji was, while unpleasant, positive in the long run. It forced her to re-evaluate why she wanted to climb mountains, and it opened her up to the people she previously ignored. When Kasumi, Yuri and Mio express a wish to hang out at Mount Takao for a New Year’s shrine visit, Aoi ends up coming with them. Aoi had previously joined the three on a karaoke outing in the third season. Although its core cast of characters dominate the series’ runtime, Yama no Susume also introduced a range of characters so Aoi’s journey (and the outcomes) could be seen more vividly than if the story had focused purely on Hinata, Kaede and Kokona. This is a common approach in long-running slice-of-life series, and the result is that more characters results in a more vivid, immersive world.

  • Although Aoi had resigned herself to taking the cable car with Kasumi and the others, massive lines eventually compel everyone to try their hand at walking up the trail to the summit. Despite lacking the hiking gear Aoi and Hinata have brought, Aoi remarks it’s perfectly okay, and keeps Kasumi company when she begins to slow down. This moment was the highlight of the seventh episode – by sharing her knowledge with Kasumi and offering to carry her bag after spotting the latter struggle up the trail, Aoi definitively shows her newfound confidence and competence. The surest sign that someone knows what they’re doing is when they’re able to pass their own knowledge on effectively, and here, Aoi does exactly this.

  • Kasumi is impressed with how mountain climbing’s changed Aoi, leaving her more assertive, open and social. In a flashback, Kasumi thinks back to Aoi had always lived in her own world, blissfully unaware of those around her and doing things at her own pace, but ever since she’d taken up mountain climbing, Aoi’s much more attuned to the people in her life. At the same time, she still prefers to do things at her own pace, and the melding of old and new results in Aoi finding a way to explore new ground in a manner most conducive towards her own growth.

  • In time, Kasumi, Mio and Yuri reach the summit and admire the view they’d earned under their own power. Moments like these, while outwardly unrelated to Next Summit‘s goal, remain of great importance because they show how Aoi matures as a result of her experiences. While Kasumi, Mio and Yuri don’t make many appearances in Yama no Susume, the fact that Aoi now freely talks to her classmates and is able to express a wish of remaining together is quite moving. An Aoi who has overcome her fear of making eye contact with others has made considerable strides, and viewers therefore get the sense that, if Aoi can get along fine with her classmates, she can also take Mount Fuji.

  • This is why I found that it was a nice touch to bring back the secondary characters from earlier Yama no Susume season and have them play a role in Next Summit – Aoi’s world feels filled to the brim with life. Here, I will remark that today marks the one-year mark to possession date: it’d been a foggy evening that I set off to formally pick up the keys to the new place. A year later, I feel like I’ve become a part of my new community, to a much greater extent than I’d felt with my previous community, and nowadays, I occasionally help the neighbours with tech-related things. Although I’m an iOS developer by trade, I have enough generalised knowledge to be somewhat useful in everyday computing.

  • At the shrine proper, everyone explores the grounds before heading off to make their prayers. Aoi wishes for a new year where she’ll continue being with the people around her, and she’s aware that, even if they’re not in the same class as one another, there will always be opportunity to hang out with everyone outside of class. Anime tends to portray being in separate classes (or going to different post-secondary institutes) as a death-knell for friendships. This is only somewhat true – while it is the case that separation can cause people to drift apart, strong friendships do persist over the years so long as people take the effort to continue cultivating them.

  • I’ll wrap things up with Mio taking a photo of everyone: Hinata ends up blinking, resulting in a hilarious photo that winds up being yet another fond memory. I am hoping that Next Summit takes viewers to spring next: we are now two episodes away from reaching the fourth season’s third quarter, and at some point, Aoi will need to begin preparing for this season’s centrepiece experience. I do realise that I’m coming off a super-large post in the aftermath of the Yuru Camp△ Movie, and traditionally, after putting out something of that size, I tend to take a week-long break. However, I did promise readers that I’d do my best to keep up with Next Summit, so I decided to watch and write about this post today. Having said this, a few days’ break would be nice;  I’ll return on Friday to continue my journey with Modern Warfare II.

With Aoi being able to bring discoveries and learnings from her mountain climbing adventures to those in her life, Aoi is beginning to impact the people around her the same way Hinata had when they first reunited. Next Summit has represented a fantastic opportunity to really showcase how different Aoi is in the present, versus how’d she’d been even just a half-year earlier. When the third season concluded, viewers had begun to catch glimpses of this when Aoi takes the initiative and walks Hinata back down the trail after the latter suffered from a knee injury. However, to really accentuate this is what makes Next Summit a clear show of the extent of Aoi’s growth. As important as seeing this in Aoi is, however, Yama no Susume is about mountain climbing, and now that we’re over the series’ halfway point, the question of when the series’ focus shifts back to the mountains arises. Next Summit represents the largest Yama no Susume experience to date. Here in the fourth season, Yama no Susume‘s episodes are full-length; six episodes of Next Summit will be equivalent to the whole of the third season. On this assumption, it means that four full-length episodes can be dedicated towards Aoi and Mount Fuji; this corresponds to Next Summit‘s final quarter being dedicated to the preparations for, and eventual ascent of Mount Fuji. The additional runtime in Next Summit has already been effectively utilised to show personal growth, and it is expected that, once spring returns, Next Summit will be able to see Aoi and her friends returning to the outdoors and gear up for the moment that’s been telegraphed quite clearly to viewers.

Hikari’s Big Date Plans, Together For a White Christmas – Yama no Susume: Next Summit Review and Reflections At the Halfway Point

“Beautiful things don’t ask for attention.” –James Thurber

Aoi decides to call Hinata and see if she’s up to hang out during some downtime, when the manager of the bakery she’s working at injures his back, but unexpectedly receives a message from Hikari, who wishes to spend some time with Aoi. Hikari makes it clear that it’s going to be the two of them, and she ends up taking Aoi to Naguri Lake, where they spend the afternoon canoeing. Aoi becomes suspicious when Hikari asks the attendant for a couples’ canoe, and wonders why the lunches that Hikari made all have heart-shaped food. As the day draws to a close, Hikari thanks Aoi and reveals that she’d been unsuccessful in love. To ward off feelings of depression, Hikari decided to get out into nature, and is grateful that Aoi was able to be there with her. Aoi remarks that Hikari will find someone better suited to be with her. Christmas arrives a few weeks later, and although Aoi had planned to spend the day with her friends, when the manager gets injured again, Aoi decides to step in and help Hikari run the store. While Aoi sells Christmas cakes with Hikari, Kaede, Kokona and Yūka meet up with Koharu and Honoka. They head over to Hinata’s place and begin preparing for the Christmas party; Kaede and Hinata end up discussing Kaede’s latest purchase. When Aoi’s shift ends, she decides to take the Santa costume with her and surprise her friends, but upon arrival, everyone’s more concerned with getting Aoi warmed up. While Aoi takes a bath, the others prepare a surprise for Aoi to kick off their Christmas party. With the end of autumn and winter’s arrival, this episode of Next Summit acts as a breather of sorts. The weather’s now a little too cold for mountain climbing, but the moments that Aoi spends with those around her are no less important, reinforcing the notion that while the mountains had opened Aoi up to the people around her, there are other moments in Aoi’s life that allow her to be with her friends beyond just mountain climbing.

By this point in time, Aoi’s become sufficiently confident that she’s able to read a social situation and respond to things in a tactful manner; although she’s initially confused by how Hikari’s acting, once Aoi puts two and two together, she’s able to deduce that Hikari had experienced a broken heart and respond accordingly. However, in spite of her uncertainty early in the day, Aoi is now able to roll with things and keep Hikari company; together with the gorgeous autumn scenery out at Naguri Lake, it does appear that Hikari’s heartbreak heals somewhat. In this way, Next Summit shows the cathartic powers of nature and companionship – by going outside and allowing oneself to simply be in the presence of someone who’s ready to listen, the healing process can begin. From an evolutionary standpoint, humans are hardwired to find nature relaxing because, prior to urbanisation, they’d lived outdoors and would have found solace in the majesty of the land that provided both sustenance and danger, learning to simultaneously respect and admire it. Modern humans derive catharsis from nature because it compels the mind to slow down. By doing precisely this, Hikari ends up practising a healthy way of handling a breakup. Rather than allow feelings of negativity to fester, she decides to seize the initiative and simultaneously seeks out a change of scenery to gain perspective, as well as seeking out companionship, someone to talk things through with. Yama no Susume has long excelled with presenting viewers with a very mature and healthy way of handling life’s problems, and with Next Summit‘s sixth episode, it is plain that life lessons are tightly coupled with Aoi’s experiences, both on and off the mountains. The relevance of lessons learnt off the mountains may not always be immediately apparent, but everything counts, leaving Aoi one step closer to realising her aspirations.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Having experienced what Hikari experienced, in retrospect, it would’ve been healthier for me to go out into nature and get away from the attendant stress that followed a rejection. Instead, I ended up taking a different approach: I found out my feelings were not returned right before exams, and therefore had no opportunity to go out of town, but my supervisor would offer me a role on the team to build the Giant Walkthrough Brain. Despite being not quite as cathartic, I found that the joys of learning a new system was a form of healing in its own way.

  • The autumn weather in Next Summit is beautifully presented: the scenery around Naguri Lake is gorgeous as yellowing trees splash the landscape with bright colours. Naguri Lake is an artificial lake created from the reservoir that Arima Dam formed, and it’s only a half-hour drive away from Hanno. Besides the Canoe rental store, Naguri Lake also is home to Hakuun-san Torii Kannon, a shrine that offers a fantastic view of the valley, Sawarabi onsen and Naguri village. As Hikari notes, it’s not quite as intense as the mountain trails Aoi’s used to, but there is a beauty out here, as well.

  • Yama no Susume is known for its more challenging activities, but the series is not above portraying more relaxed activities that wouldn’t be out of place in Yuru Camp△. Aoi is accustomed to more difficult hikes, but she welcomes a chance to be out and about in the brisk autumn weather, too. Originally, she had asked if it’d be okay for Hinata to join them. Since Yama no Susume‘s all about being with others, I had expected Hikari to say yes, so when Hikari indicates it’ll only be herself and Aoi, viewers do get the feeling that this isn’t going to be an ordinary outing.

  • Hikari and Aoi rent canoes from Naguri Canoe Workshop, a store located halfway across Naguri Lake’s northern shores. The site is faithfully rendered, and visitors report the site as being very inviting, worth visiting because the workshop still makes canoes by hand and displays them. The staff are said to be very friendly, as well. The site reminds me a little of Glenmore Reservoir back home: back in September, I spent an afternoon walking the pathways here while the trees still had their leaves, and I ended up walking down into the Weaselhead Flats, too.

  • While exploring the area around the workshop, Aoi stops to take a photo of a wooden horse and decides to send it to Kokona. It is not lost on me that, since upgrading to the iPhone 14 Pro, I’ve not really had much of a chance to play with the 48 MP camera and the new-fangled Photonic Engine: reviewers have practically raved about the camera’s capabilities. So far, I’ve taken a few good shots with it, but what I’m most excited to do is see how well landscape photography turns out. I’ve tried out the camera in low light conditions, and it’s leaps and bounds ahead of what the iPhone Xʀ has, so I’m also interested to see how well nighttime cityscapes are captured.

  • Canoeing is an activity that’s quite far removed from mountain climbing, and when Aoi learns that Hikari wishes to go out onto the waters, she’s quite surprised. I’ve never gone canoeing before in the Rocky Mountains; although I have canoed with classmates during middle school out in British Columbia, canoeing isn’t an activity I otherwise participate in. One of the staff walks Aoi and Hikari through how to row, steer and brake, leaving Aoi a little overwhelmed with all of the new information. The two end up sitting face-to-face per Hikari’s request.

  • While the scenery in Next Summit is every bit as detailed and vivid as that of its predecessor, the characters do seem to possess less expressiveness than they had previously. This is, ultimately, a minor gaffe; although I’m fond of highly detailed environments and graphical fidelity, if a given anime or game doesn’t have Makoto Shinkai level graphics or real-time ray-tracing, I’m not going to count that as a flaw simply because visuals aren’t photorealistic. In Next Summit, closeups of the characters are still rendered sufficiently well so that viewers have a good sense of how everyone’s feeling in a moment.

  • After a morning of exploring Naguri Lake, Aoi and Hikari share a bento lunch. Everything is delicious, although Aoi’s left wondering why everything’s cut into the shape of hearts. The outcomes are soon presented for the viewer’s benefit: I myself had been more concerned with the sightseeing, and it wasn’t until the end of the day came that Next Summit explains Hikari’s motivation for wanting to do a date of sorts with Aoi. Although unrelated to hiking, the importance of this story in the context of Next Summit is to establish that Aoi’s become more comfortable around other people. Having said this, some minds have griped about the episode’s first half as being “tasteless” and “incomplete”, both of which are invalid criticisms.

  • I’ve never understood why some viewers feel the compulsion to make mountains out of molehills in slice-of-life anime; while one might be able to dress up their complaints in seemingly well-informed academic prose, such attitudes are always meaningless because those holding the grievances rarely make an effort to understand what a work is doing and instead, believe their own judgement is more valid than that of the author’s. Next Summit is doing this side-story between Aoi and Hikari to show nature and companionship as a powerful means of managing adversity After Hikari downs a few drinks, she opens up to Aoi and explains what the day’s activities had been about. Such moments in anime are always amusing; I’m teetotaler simply because I lack the ALDH2 gene, and dislike the resulting discomfort that comes with consuming alcohol.

  • Overall, I found the first half to the sixth episode quite touching, representing a healthy way of handling something like a break-up. These moments are secondary to climbing mountains, but serve to remind viewers that in life, beyond the peaks and valleys, the plains are also worth reflecting upon. Spending a day with Hikari doesn’t bring her a dramatic triumph or a crushing defeat, but it does give her a chance to demonstrate how far she’s come; Aoi is now able to comfort someone when they’re going through a rough patch, and the Aoi at the beginning of Yama no Susume wasn’t able to do this.

  • Next Summit fast forwards to Christmas; Aoi’s now got plans to hang out with her friends, and even Honoka is coming in from the Gunma Prefecture. With Christmas festivities on the horizon, I’ve noticed that of late, Christmas advertisements and decorations have become more prevalent, even though Christmas itself is still more than a month and a half away. The phenomenon is known as Christmas creep, and in fact, has been in use since the 1980s. Here in Canada, people hold that Christmas shouldn’t be on people’s minds until after Remembrance Day observations have concluded.

  • Back in Next Summit, Aoi and Hinata prepare their ingredients ahead of the party. Aoi had originally planned out the evening’s menu to conform with Hinata’s request that everything be something that can be made with a cast-iron skillet; it turns out that Hinata wanted to give it a go, and I imagine that said skillet’s already been seasoned. Before the pair can begin preparations, Hikari calls Aoi with a request: the bakery manager’s back has gone out again, and since it’s Christmas Eve, Hikari’s now overwhelmed. Aoi ends up asking Hinata to continue with preparations while she sets off to assist Hikari.

  • Meanwhile, at Hanno Station, Koharu and Honoka meet up with Kaede, Yūka and Kokona. It was quite telling that Kaede and Yūka seem a little perturbed by Koharu’s arrival; the pair are put off by the latter’s boisterous and loud presence. At the same time, the fact that Koharu is here suggests that Hinata and Aoi have both gotten to know her better. In slice-of-life anime, some elements are implicit; when missed, it can create gaps in what’s happening. As such, I hold that viewers must pay attention to the smaller details and do a little bit of interpolation in order to fully appreciate what’s happening.

  • While a Santa outfit should be warm on paper, the one Aoi’s wearing proves insufficient. She puts on a smile for her customers and does a commendable job of keeping things going so Hikari can get her own work done. A quick look around finds that in December, Hanno has a daily high of 11°C on average, and a low of 1°C. This is, by Canadian standards, quite warm, but I can imagine how for folks accustomed to an October low of 13°C, 1°C can feel quite chilly in comparison. Here on Christmas Eve, however, it’s cold enough to begin snowing.

  • Since Kaede and Hinata are unversed with meal prep, Yūka and Kokona end up doing the bulk of the work, leaving Kaede and Hinata to put the decorations up. Here, Kaede defends her latest purchase: a red shell jacket that provides protection against the elements. For the viewer’s benefit, Kaede explains that such jackets are a little more versatile than a raincoat and can be worn in a range of conditions. Although lacking an insulating layer, they are roomy enough so that one can wear a sweater or hoodie underneath.

  • As thanks for having spotted her, Hikari gives Aoi a customised Christmas cake. Feeling more confident in the moment, Aoi also asks Hikari if it’s okay for her to loan the Santa outfit, since she’s got a surprise for her friends. Santa outfits, at least in anime, have been seen as a bit embarrassing; I vividly recall how in K-On!, Mio would adamantly refuse to wear them, whereas Yui and Tsumugi have no qualms with donning them. Since Aoi’s got a shy and quiet disposition, it stands to reason that she might also see such outfits as embarrassing, and as such, seeing Aoi doing this for her friends is yet another subtle hint at her gains.

  • Humour is therefore derived from the fact that everyone else is already plenty confident, and therefore unsurprised when Aoi shows up with a Santa outfit. In fact, everyone’s more concerned with the fact that it’s been so cold. They immediately usher Aoi inside. Although she’s left a smidgen disappointed that her arrival didn’t have quite the impact she was looking for, Aoi does look forward to a warm bath. I can definitely attest to the comfort a warm bath or hot shower can bring; we just had our first major snowfall of the year, and in the past few days, the thermometer hasn’t climbed above -15°C, making it quite chilly.

  • When Aoi’s done her bath, the others surprise her in turn, and Honoka manages to capture the moment on camera. With the photo in the books, the Christmas party kicks off, and in keeping with Japanese tradition, Kokona is seen holding a strawberry shortcake. These stand in stark contrast with the fruit cakes that are popular in Canada: I’ve never been a fan of them, but on the other hand, chocolate Yule Logs are delicious. For me, it’s still a ways to Christmas, but during the past weekend, I spotted a Christmas tree that was on sale and hastened to pick one up; since the move, we ended up ditching our old tree, which had become quite ragged from over two decades of use.

  • I still have all of my old Christmas lights and ornaments, but in keeping with the family tradition of keeping things simple, I plan to only put a Christmas tree up. I still have the iconic Christmas tree from A Charlie Brown Christmas: my parents had bought that as a bit of a joke, and originally, I had wished to use that as our de facto tree since the setup and teardown is under half a minute. Of course, it just wouldn’t be Christmas without a proper tree, so I’ll set the newly-bought tree up towards the start of December. At present, I’ve got no concrete plans for the holidays, but over the course of the past year, I’ve only used five of my vacation days, which leaves me plenty of room to sleep in or enjoy some of the sights and sounds of the city around the winter holidays.

  • The sixth episode’s final moments are appropriately framed, with Aoi and Hinata sharing in the festivities together with their friends. With this detour in the books, I imagine that Next Summit is going to shift gears and return to the main story on short order here; while I appreciate these side-stories, I am aware that for most viewers, Yama no Susume‘s main attraction is its selling point, and even though Next Summit has more room to explore owing to the fact episodes are full-length, there is still only a limited amount of time to depict the main journey. As such, I see winter extending out for another half episode at most before focus returns to the feature presentation.

When Aoi willingly returns to the bakery to help Hikari out, it demonstrates to viewers that Aoi’s priorities are correct, and she knows what’s important to her. As a result, when the moment calls for it, viewers are assured that Aoi will do the right thing. Aoi is incrementally preparing for an eventual rematch with Mount Fuji, and smaller moments like these show how every step counts. While Aoi and Hinata are not able to pursue their usual activities owing to winter’s arrival, Next Summit nonetheless balances out the pacing by showcasing especially important moments in Aoi’s life, all the while pressing through the winter so that the remaining episodes will be able to see everyone return to the great outdoors. At first glance, things can appear choppy and uneven, but the route taken in Next Summit is a deliberately-chosen one, designed to maximise time spent on the heart of this series. At the same time, it would feel odd to exclude an entire season, so the story here instead decides to highlight a moment which, while perhaps not directly related to climbing mountains, still contributes to Aoi’s growth. With Christmas in the rear view mirror now, I imagine that Next Summit will probably portray a New Year’s shrine visit before putting the foot on the accelerator again and bringing the series into spring. Once the warmer weather arrives, Aoi and Hinata’s preparations for Mount Fuji will begin in earnest, and this is going to doubtlessly be Next Summit‘s highlight. Having said this, moments like Aoi’s spending time with Hikari to comfort the latter following a break-up, and willingly helping her at the bakery, both speak volumes to Aoi’s characters, being no less important than the experience she gains from being out in nature.

A Challenge from the Climbing Club, A Whip of Love on Mount Bukō – Yama no Susume: Next Summit Fifth Episode Review and Reflections

“I take it not only a day at a time, but a moment at a time, and keep it at that pace. If you can be happy right now, then you’ll always be happy, because it’s always in the now” –Willie Nelson

While on break, Koharu Senjuin, president of Mountaineering Club, attempts to recruit Aoi into joining them, having heard about Aoi’s adventures. Despite being surprised about Hinata and Kaede both turning down Koharu’s invitation, Aoi decides to check things out, with Kaede joining her. As it turns out, the Mountaineering Club is a dedicated group, training daily, going out to climb mountains at least once a month and this year, prepare for a competition. To give Aoi an idea of things, Koharu decides to bring her along on a run to Mount Tenran, but also encourages Aoi to run at her own pace. Aoi is rendered exhausted by the run and realises that, while her physicality’s improved, she enjoys mountain climbing most for being able to do things at her own pace, to take in the sights and sounds of nature. Aoi ends up declining the invitation to be a full-time member of the Mountaineering Club, but also decides to stick around and see what she can learn from Koharu and the Mountaineering Club. Her vigour is sparked, and Aoi feels that her goal now is to re-attempt Mount Fuji. Deciding to take a late autumn hike, Aoi accepts Koharu’s recommendation to head up Mount Bukō and, after learning that Hinata’s father is on a business trip, invites her mother along, who consents so long as Aoi accompanies her for dinner later. On the day of the hike, Aoi’s mother asks Aoi to help carry up a few extra items as a part of her training; while this initially slows Aoi down to a crawl, Aoi eventually finds her pacing and makes it to Mount Bukō’s summit, where she, Hinata and her mother enjoy a wonderful lunch together. Aoi’s mother is relieved that she’s grown to this extent, and Aoi thinks to herself that it’s time to prepare for next summer. Marking the first of Next Summit‘s new content, the fifth episode is an encouraging start to Yama no Susume‘s new content; Aoi’s reason for hitting the slopes becomes thrust into the spotlight, and with a little nudge from Koharu, Aoi comes to realise that for her, being able to do things at her own pace means being able to appreciate the details that make mountain climbing worthwhile, from the plants and animals to the gorgeous views that await at the top of every hike.

Two themes are explored in Next Summit‘s fifth episode. The first is the idea of “at my own pace”; through exposure to the Mountaineering Club, Aoi sees another approach towards how people enjoy the hobby of mountain climbing. For Koharu and her fellow club members, climbing a mountain is see as an act of self-improvement, to maintain discipline and constantly push oneself to new heights. However, Aoi quickly spots that this is a bit much for her, and moreover, she’s come to appreciate that being able to take it slow up the mountain opens her up to creating wonderful memories of the sights, sounds and smells that accompany the climb. The higher intensity from the Mountaineering Club’s members is so focused on pushing one’s limits to reach the top clashes with her own goals, and upon realising this, Aoi is able to express this to Koharu, who is completely understanding. The Aoi of Yama no Susume‘s first season wouldn’t have had the confidence to convey this (in fact, this is how Hinata managed to rope her into mountain climbing to begin with), but having now interacted with a variety of people and made considerable strides at her own pace, Aoi is surer of herself, able to determine for herself as to what she wants out of things. Indeed, the changes are apparent as she scales Mount Bukō; although carrying additional gear and, subsequently, some water bottles, on the ascent up, Aoi nonetheless is able to make it because she’s developed a new mindset for mountain-climbing. She’s now patient enough to take things one step at a time, and even with the extra gear, Aoi succeeds. Her mother comments on how youth is the time to be learning one’s limits because, as one ages, one’s limits become increasingly apparent. In this way, Next Summit also nudges viewers towards doing things while they can, while at the same time, also shows that even as one grows older and their physicality declines, there are still ways of having wonderful experiences.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Next Summit hits the ground running, immediately introducing Koharu to the party. Her forwardness and energy is evocative of how Hinata had approached Aoi, and while Aoi’s initially put off, she does begin to feel that her world, which had previously felt a little dull following their last hike to Mount Mizugaki and Mount Kinpu, is starting to become full of life again. Next Summit clarifies the timelines for viewers; Hinata had reunited with Aoi shortly after they’d become high school students, and the pair would take on both Mount Fuji and Mount Tanigawa during the summer. Mount Mizugaki and Mount Kinpu would’ve been late September or early October.

  • This sets Next Summit as happening in mid to late October. As it turns out, Koharu had also approached Hinata about joining the Mountaineering Club, but Hinata had already declined, feeling that mountain climbing is something she’d preferred to do with those who are important to her. On the other hand, Kaede prefers her solo adventures, as they allow her to explore somewhere to her heart’s content, but thanks to the friendship she’s developed with Aoi, Hinata and Kokona, has no qualms in joining the occasional group activity.

  • Koharu is unusual as a club president, in that while she’s very forward about having Aoi join the Mountaineering Club, she’s actually quite understanding of things. Anime typically present club presidents as being very assertive, sending the protagonists down a path where they end up picking up an activity and having their experiences shape them over time. However, here in Yama no Susume, Hinata had already done that, so it seemed unlikely that Koharu would end up winning Aoi over. On the other hand, the Mountaineering Club is presented as being a capable and well-equipped club.

  • Thus, it becomes relatively easy to spot that the Mountaineering Club won’t alter Next Summit‘s themes to a considerable extent: characters are not introduced without reason, and so, even if Aoi doesn’t join them, Koharu’s presence and experience simply means she’s got someone else to call upon if she has any questions. For now, however, Aoi decides to see what club activities are like before joining. The old Aoi would’ve never done this, speaking to how over the course of Yama no Susume, Aoi’s become a shade more adventurous and open-minded.

  • When abbreviated, Next Summit becomes NS; this reminds me of when I first started out with my undergraduate research, and Objective-C was our language of choice. Because Objective-C doesn’t have namespaces like other languages, best practises there require developers to preface their class names with a unique prefix. The Cocoa frameworks used in Apple’s code are named after the NeXTSTEP foundation, the company that Steve Jobs founded after he left Apple. For me, this meant prefacing all of the classes I wrote with LC, and as a force of habit, I began prefacing all of my classes even in other languages until I did some reading and realised that, since other languages have namespaces, this wasn’t a necessary practise.

  • Back in Next Summit, while doing her jog, Aoi runs into Kokona, who’s out and about on her daily walk. Despite her small stature, Kokona is surprisingly fast; she’s able to catch up to Aoi and the pair share a brief conversation before parting ways. Kokona feels like an angel of sorts, with a calming presence and an unexpectedly resilient nature that comes about as a result of her own adventures. Yama no Susume puts Aoi in the company of people with outdoors experience so that she’s never left without support when she needs it, and while pride occasionally slows her down, once Aoi comes to realise she can call upon her friends, she becomes more comfortable with the outdoors.

  • Although Aoi is winded by her ascent up Mount Tenran, the fact she makes it at all is impressive; in the first season, Aoi had initially thought the mountain to be a demanding one, but took it one step at a time with Hinata. Come the second season, Aoi makes the climb again and is surprised to find how much easier it’s felt this time around. By Next Summit, in participating in a sample of the Mountaineering Club’s activities, Aoi jogs up the mountain. While showing to herself that she’s come quite far, Aoi is also hit with the realisation here that for her, being outdoors isn’t about the thrill of  the challenge, but about savouring the beauty in nature.

  • Thanks to Kaede’s presence, Aoi is able to give voice to her thoughts, and this allows her to make a quick decision. In any other anime, this route would not be taken simply because it would outright eliminate the story (e.g. if Hina had given up on fishing in Houkago Teibou Nisshi, none of the events that followed would have taken place). However, because Yama no Susume has such a well-established story, it is able to show these alternate directions with confidence – Aoi is going to continue climbing mountains at her own pace, just not with the Mountaineering Club and their more dedicated, focused methods.

  • While Aoi ends up turning Koharu down, the loss of a potential member is lessened by the fact that Aoi’s still curious to hang out with the Mountaineering Club. Despite not gaining a full-time member, Koharu is still enthused by the prospect of getting to know Aoi better and sharing any knowledge she has about climbing mountains; Aoi expresses interest in visiting from time to time, and in doing so, this keeps the doors open for conversations. Koharu is voiced by Emiri Iwai, a voice actress whose roles are those I’m not familiar with.

  • Aoi keeps her word and even brings Hinata over the next day, as she’s curious to know what sort of hike would strike a balance between acting as training and being a route that won’t put her on the ground. Here, viewers have a chance to check out the new winter uniforms that Aoi and Hinata’s secondary school outfit their students with. The design appears to have changed a little: the girls now have green shirts, whereas in the first season, the winter uniforms consisted of a long-sleeved white shirt. The Encouragement of Climb Official Setting Documents Collection artbook indicates that the winter uniforms did indeed have a white shirt, so the only way to reconcile the changes is that the school changed their uniforms, which can occasionally happen.

  • After speaking with Koharu, Aoi learns that there’s a mountain that is well suited for her requirements. Unfortunately, the trailhead is a ways away by public transit, making a car more convenient, but it also happens that Hinata’s father is out of town, working on a project on Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro. Aoi ends up asking her mother to come along with her and Hinata, promising that the hike will be reasonably straightforward, and Aoi’s mother agrees, so long as she and Aoi get to check out a kurumi soba place afterwards.

  • Mount Bukō is a mountain with a maximum elevation of 1304 metres, and as Yama no Susume portrays, half the mountain sports a distinct terraced appearance because of limestone mining on its northern face. The hike itself has an elevation gain of 345 metres, a shade over half of the elevation gain at Prairie Mountain, and I must admit that mining the upper side of a mountain for limestone is impressive. Here at home, the nearest limestone mine is located at the Graymont Quarry near Exshaw, about 40 minutes west of the city.

  • During my Prairie Mountain hike, I ended up carrying twenty-five pounds of additional materials (lunch, ice packs, water, extra clothing, sunscreen) – this had made the ascent up unexpectedly difficult, and my knees started cramping up when I was about half a klick from the summit. I ended up shaking off the pain and pushed on ahead, but because it’d been so windy up there, any plans for a lunch on a mountain top was dashed, compelling me to carry all of that back down the mountain. Compared to even the members of the Mountaineering Club, I’d be counted as out of shape; while my bench press is back to where it’d been two years ago, my cardio’s not quite what it was.

  • For Aoi, the unexpected challenge of carrying extra initially slows her down, but once Aoi settles into the mindset of taking things at her own pace, she begins to find her footing and slowly, but surely, makes her way up the trail. The way Aoi approaches things here is mature, and in fact, is how I approach my hobbies. I lift weights not to compete or break records, but simply because I like being in shape. I play video games not so I can make a living off it or amass an impressive number of followers, but simply because they’re fun.

  • Of course, when it comes to work, I give no quarter and take things more seriously, but outside of this, I’ve always believed in doing things at my own pace. There’s a certain maturity to paying no mind to other’s judgement, and in reminding herself of this, Aoi’s showing that she’s no longer a novice. Upon arriving at a curious sight a shade over the halfway point up Mount Bukō, Aoi, her mother, and Hinata stop for a moment. It turns out that there’s no running water at the top of the mountain, but to keep the facilities going, visitors are asked to help take some water up. Aoi is surprised her mother’s giving her more to carry, but to Hinata’s surprise, she ends up with a much larger bottle.

  • Slowly, but surely, the three end up reaching the summit of Mount Bukō. While the trek proves exhausting thanks to the water they’re carrying, the exhaustion soon gives way to anticipation as they pass by trail markers. There are fifty-two markers along Mount Bukō’s main trail, and as the numbers begin approaching the summit, Aoi, her mother and Hinata begin to push past their fatigue. Of the trails I’ve hiked, most of them aren’t marked in this way, and one of the challenges which make hiking fun is trying to keep track of where the trail is.

  • Admittedly, the thought of ascending a mountain for the purpose of seeing a fantastic view is reason enough for me to get out and hike: after my experience at the Big Beehive, I developed a love for the outdoors and, although the mountains over here are no slouch, there are plenty of trails and places with stunning views. Having said this, I would like to climb a mountain that’s well-known, and Ha Ling Peak fits the bill perfectly. This time, I’d also get to try out the Photonic Engine; I’ve been playing with the iPhone 14 Pro’s camera, and are slowly acclimatising to taking food photos with it. Landscape photography has changed completely for me, with shots coming out far sharper and more vivid than they’d been with the iPhone Xʀ’s camera.

  • Aoi’s mother raises an excellent point about knowing one’s limits and operating within them. The body is at its prime in one’s mid twenties, and after that, it becomes a little more difficult to push oneself with the same intensity as one could before. However, with the right mindset and discipline, it is absolutely possible to keep healthy even past one’s prime; I do take pride in the fact that physically, I feel as good as I did back when I’d been in university. Here at the top of the mountain, Hinata shares lunch with Aoi and her mother. It turns out the stuff Aoi had hauled up Mount Bukō was everyone’s lunches, and in this moment, Aoi is glad to have taken this effort.

  • Besides showing Aoi that she could do it, the hike at Mount Bukō also shows her mother that Aoi’s committed to her hobby, is willing to put in the effort to improve her experience, and above all, sees the world Aoi does for herself, allowing her to understand why Aoi’s so fond of the mountains. Aoi herself begins to enjoy the descent, feeling a lot lighter now, and by the end of the hike, she’s all smiles. This episode proved to be a pleasant way of starting off Next Summit, firmly establishing a clear goal for the fourth season of Yama no Susume and introducing new characters into the party to liven things up.

  • Overall, Next Summit‘s all-new content was worth the wait, and now that we’re here, I’m excited to see where things are headed. I will remark that I’ve not seen much discussions elsewhere, whether it be blogs, forums or social media, on this series. This is, in part, thanks to the fact that Next Summit is airing during an especially strong anime season, but because for me, Yama no Susume is a series I enjoy greatly, I’ve decided to prioritise this series and write about Next Summit on a weekly basis; there’s much to talk about here, and some of my readers have already enriched the discussions by sharing their own stories, making it a worthwhile endeavour to keep up with Next Summit in an episodic fashion.

Next Summit‘s new content hits the ground running, and because Aoi did formally join the Mountaineering Club, Yama no Susume represents a break in tradition; ordinarily, most anime of this genre will have the protagonist join a club to accelerate their learning. However, here in Next Summit, it is shown that, while the Mountaineering Club and Koharu will be a valuable asset for Aoi, Aoi’s intentions are still to learn and explore at her own pace. This is a bold direction that shows how people can have superb experiences in all manners; similarly to Super Cub, where Koguma had taken the initiative to broaden her horizons without outside influence and enriches her own life as a result, Yama no Susume is a reminder of how, regardless of how one gets into an activity or chooses to go about pursuing it, so long as one is doing so of their own volition and remains open-minded to different facets of their chosen activity, one will mature from their experiences. With Aoi’s raison d’être now solidified, Next Summit is in an excellent position to portray Aoi’s rematch with Mount Fuji. This time, Aoi has more experience and more knowledge in her corner; in conjunction with an improved fitness level and mindset, Aoi’s success is inevitable, and what makes Next Summit so exciting to watch is what steps Aoi and Hinata take towards this goal will contribute towards this success. With the year’s first major snowfall, and the fact that a snowfall warning was issued for my neck of the woods, I am glad to have Next Summit around – I don’t have the gear or experience to climb mountains by winter, and owing to the local climate, mountains and hills can become very icy and slippery during the winter. Watching Yama no Susume will continue to keep my excitement for the outdoors alive, as I begin making my own goals of conquering Ha Ling Peak in the new year.