The Summer 2014 Anime Preview Guide Encouragement of Climb 2
Review: The fondest wish of any fan of a three-minute show is that their show be upgraded to full-length. Well… you know what they say about being wary of what you wish for. Encouragement of Climb doesn't make it all the way to half-hour status, but it is now a quarter-hour long, which means that one episode is the approximate length of a full third of the previous season. And therein lays the rub. Despite being as long as four first-season episodes, an episode of season two covers roughly the same ground as a single one of those vignettes. (In this case a backyard camping trip for the show's four young mountaineers). Where the previous season's episodes were economical jolts of spirit-lifting cuteness, quick and packed tight with the show's relevant charms (adorable girls in the throes of adorable friendship; so-light-its-almost-not-humor humor; grains of mountaineering knowledge; gentle appreciations of nature), this season's episodes spread the same amount of charm over four times the space. For all its objective brevity, this half-episode feels attenuated—stretched until empty spaces show, slow and uneventful. There are cutesy dream sequences that feel like padding, conversations that meander, whole minutes that pass sans blossoming of wonder or warming of heart.
That said, the charm's still there. Our four girl-mountaineers retain their allure—especially mountaineering sempai Kaede, who remains the cool voice of reason and experience amongst all the youthful enthusiasm and general spaciness. (Also, being an athletic young woman who likes sports bras, she's the go-to source for the show's refreshingly underplayed fan-service.) And then there are those little grace-notes: Aoi waking early after the campout, savoring the dawn as it breaks above the panorama below; Kaede singing a lovely mountaineering ballad as the other three join in. Diluted they may be, leaving the show feeling a lot more like a run-of-the-mill slice-of-life series, but they're there. And worth waiting for.
Encouragement of Climb 2 is available streaming on Crunchyroll.