Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Encouragement of Faith: Yama no Susume and Conquering the Mountain of Fear

Yama no Susume, also known as Encouragement of Climb on Crunchyroll, is a show I mentioned in my best anime of 2013 series as my favorite anime short series ever. And in this newly-starting summer 2014 season, it starts up again, this time with the total length of a full TV series, albeit split into 24 fifteen-minute episodes. If you haven't watched the first season yet, I highly encourage you to do so; with 12 episodes at only three and a half minutes each, it won't take long, so why not?

One thing I especially liked about Yama no Susume was the growth that main character Aoi goes through as she challenges her fear of heights and her social awkwardness as she gets more into mountain climbing. At first, she just wants to live a normal high school life, but as her old childhood friend Hinata re-enters her life and gets her to make good on a promise to climb a mountain to see the mountain sunrise again, Aoi finds herself hesitantly trying to scale greater heights. She starts small with a local hill, moves on to a lesser mountain that's popular among casual tourists, and then... well, that's where the second season will start off.

Aoi's journey is much like that of a new Christian. She is pulled out of her comfort zone by a friend and finds that she has to now face the fears that will hold her back from fulfilling her promise. Likewise, if we, as Christians, are to fulfill our purpose in God, we are going to be put in uncomfortable, uncertain, and even downright scary situations.

Probably the modern age's default reaction to such situations.
In these situations, trying to climb the mountains in front of us alone is a daunting task. However, through faith, we can gain the courage to take those first steps up the mountain. For Aoi, she takes faith in Hinata and other mountaineering friends to guide her through the whole mountain-climbing experience. For Christians, we put our faith in God to guide us into His purpose while believing that He will take care of us regardless of the situation.

As for what the reward of such faith is, let's just say that the view on top of the mountain is quite a sight to behold... but we will never see that view until we reach the top. (Photographs and videos just don't quite do it justice.) We might not experience the full reward of our faith until we are with God in heaven, but until then, we can keep climbing and maybe get some glimpses along the way: encounters with God's love, worthwhile connections with His people, experiences with the beauty of the world He created, and our own personal growth.

Aside from the mountaintop views, it is the last one that Aoi is blessed with. As she goes into the second season, she is no longer the shy, insecure mountain-climbing newbie, but a novice who is genuinely interested in tackling taller mountains with her new friends. That's quite a lot of growth for a girl in the timespan of effectively 36 minutes of anime.

This post is a prelude to a series I will be doing this summer, which I call YamaHanaBara. What is YamaHanaBara? You'll find out soon--these next few days are going to be full of posts!

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