The girls still look like 12 year olds (except for Kaede) and talk like 10 year olds. Kaede gets to have rather large grown up breasts and to talk like a 12 year old. I think they were drawn to look more like their target audience than the high school girls they were playing. It is a manual for growing up.
All spoilers all the time.
While I am here I might as well mention the special episodes only available on the DVDs. One was a selection of fond memories from previous episodes. Another was where Kaede and Hinata go in to be fitted for bras. I got the same kind of vibe from it I’d get having to hang out with my wife in the ladies undergarments department in a store. Not a terrible thing to do but something that just didn’t interest me. (I’m sure young teenage girls would think differently.) The third was a collection of “top ten” scenes from Yama done in an awards show format. These scenes start with an actual scene from the series but continue from there in a kind of fantasy alternate reality. It was pretty interesting.
This season we had more character development than last season. We see the friendship
between Aoi and Hinata endure some stress as Aoi spends some time with Honoka. Hinata is visibly upset by this as she thinks Aoi has a new bestie. Jealousy!
OTOH there is a lot less hiking, which I found disappointing. The show has changed from being Cute Girls Doing Difficult Things to Cute Girls Doing Mostly Cute Things with some Difficult Stuff Thrown In. It was only 13 eps. I still found it fun, just not as much.
Honoka, who was introduced near the end of season 2, plays a more important role while Kokona does less. Honoka is a photographer who lives some distance away so she only gets featured in a few episodes but it is enough to get Hinata upset enough to take risks on the trail that leaves her with a sore knee.
Season 3 was a pleasant diversion for me while seasons one and two really grabbed my interest. The content posed questions about how one should relate to ones friends which was ok but I rather more enjoyed the girls conquering mountains. Too much slice of life and too little purposeful action for my taste. The season ends with a birthday party for Hinata and all 5 of our girls reaffirming their friendship. Then Hinata and Aoi exchange secrets. Maybe a confession?
My feeling is that they should return to the Cute Girls Doing Difficult Things theme. Develop those characters on the mountainside!
One and three quarters thumbs up for season 3.