“In the adventure known as life, there are those who live it vicariously, and enjoy the ride from the safety of an arm-chair, and that’s good. There are those who have a few chances to realise incredible and life-changing experiences; and though they don’t repeat them, they carry with them a growth and personal philosophy for the rest of their lives. And there are those for whom a taste, is never enough; for whom the lust of adventure, is nearly insatiable. And if you add to that the overwhelming desire to create, and to share, then you get where I reside. For the end of one adventure, only signifies the beginning of another.” –Les Stroud, Survivorman
Having overslept, Rin continues on to her destination at Jinbagatayama campsite. Detouring through a winding mountain path, she finds that her path is impeded by a construction sign. Sending Nadeshiko a photo of her predicament, Chiaki quickly ascertains that the road is likely traversable, having experienced the same situation before when construction crews left their signs behind. Rin continues on her journey and reaches Jinbagatayama. After checking in, she sets up camp amidst a very blustery evening and enjoys her dinner: a pan-fried pork bun and the hōjicha tea from a mountain climber Rin had met earlier. Settling in for the night, Rin sends a photo to Nadeshiko. Back at school, the Outdoors Activity Club gear up for their Christmas camping trip and invite Ena along. When their club activities catch the attention of instructor Minami Toba, the girls manage to rope her into being the Outdoor Activities Club’s advisor. Chiaki decides to try and invite Rin to accompany them, and while Rin initially declines, she recalls her interactions with the Outdoors Activity Club. In conjunction with Ena’s encouragement, Rin accepts the invitation. On the day of the camping trip, Rin arrives at the Asagiri Plateau shortly after Chiaki and Aoi, who’ve gone off for some ice cream. She explores the area and runs into Nadeshiko; the pair find Chiaki and Aoi, purchase firewood and make their way back to the campsite, where they begin cooking Christmas dinner with the Kobe beef that Aoi’s brought. The girls run out of gas, and Rin decides to buy some from a nearby shop. When she returns with the gas, the girls spend the evening watching movies before retiring. The next morning, Rin and Nadeshiko awaken early to prepare breakfast. As Chiaki, Aoi, Ena and Minami tuck in, the sun rises, bathing the land in light. New Year’s approaches, and the girls decide to give their clubroom a cleaning. Nadeshiko is still in search of a part time position, but things turn around when Ena asks if she’d be interested in helping deliver New Year cards. Some time later, Nadeshiko sets out on a solo camping trip, and with a beautiful day ahead, she runs into Rin, who is on a trip of her own.
At its core, Yuru Camp△ follows the progression of how a group of disparate individuals befriended one another through their mutual love of camping despite fundamental differences in their approaches. Rin’s camp is one of individualism and solitude; she prefers her solo adventures owing to the quiet and freedom that offers. At the opposite end of the spectrum is the approach that the Outdoor Activities Club takes. Nadeshiko, Chiaki and Aoi share their adventures together, and have one another to fall upon on if things turn out unexpectedly. As Yuru Camp△ continues, Rin begins encountering the unexpected in her adventures that threaten to derail her planned excursions, and in each instance, Nadeshiko and Chiaki have risen to the occasion to help her work out a solution. While solitude is conferred by solo camping, it also means that one must work out their own solutions in response to a challenge, whereas in company, one can solve a particular challenge as a group. Consequently, Rin begins to understand that camping together with friends has its merits, and begins opening up to individuals that she was initially cold towards. Taking small steps in inviting Nadeshiko out, Rin similarly appreciates Chiaki’s help when she finds a roadblock on a remote mountain road to her campsite. Her experiences lead her to accept an invitation from Chiaki to camp with the Outdoors Activity Club during Christmas. By the time of the Christmas camp, Rin has evidently accepted that camping in a group could have its merits. Her experiences with Nadeshiko, Ena, Chiaki and Aoi are overwhelmingly positive, and she learns that the trade-off for solitude is companionship. Having her friends around allows Rin to enjoy moments far more profoundly than on her own, as well as giving her support when she runs into difficulty. Similarly, when Nadeshiko runs out of burner fuel, Rin is on station to provide assistance. Through its presentation, Yuru Camp△‘s central message is that the main merit to being together with friends is precisely being able to provide and receive assistance; this particular aspect of friendship is invaluable, and the mutual concessions associated with companionship is one of the most crucial element in friendship.
When Yuru Camp△ began airing, I remarked in jest that the anime could be considered Survivorman The Anime. However, with all twelve episodes of Yuru Camp△ in the books, this statement is no longer a joke: moments of calm and amusement are interspersed with an explanation of the equipment and techniques that Rin and the others make use of throughout Yuru Camp△. From differentiating the different types of sleeping bags, to explaining the procedure for lighting a fire and why some methods need to be modified depending on the fuel used, from detailing the recipes for the different meals that Nadeshiko and the others prepare to concise but relevant remarks on efficiently setting up camp, Yuru Camp△ has evidently taken the time to investigate the processes required to set up a camp site and the attendant luxaries that Nadeshiko and her friends bring into the activity. The processes could easily be reproduced in the real world for folks who are camping. Yuru Camp△ takes a similar, if somewhat more high level, approach to the format that Les Stroud uses in Survivorman. Through his survival trips in remote corners of the world, Stroud explains the rationale behind each of his actions and also outlines to viewers the step-by-step process for activities such as lighting a fire, setting up a makeshift shelter or preparing water for drinking. His explanations have helped several individuals survive when they were caught in unfavourable situations: Chris Traverse of Gypsumville, Manitoba credits Les Stroud with having given him an idea of what to do when his snowmobile ran out of gas in a remote area. Stroud remarks that it’s humbling to learn that Survivorman has helped save lives. While the elements of Yuru Camp△ are focused on the fun of camping rather than surviving a life-or-death situation, one can nonetheless imagine that with its level of detail, Yuru Camp△ could help some campers get their gear together with less frustration. Having said this, I find that Yuru Camp△ has earned the right to be considered as Survivorman The Anime: the only thing Yuru Camp△ is missing is the “man” part of Survivorman, with a group of high school girls in place of a Canadian survival expert to run the show.
Screenshots and Commentary
- There’s nothing like the rush of making one’s way to an objective when they’re off schedule, and by my admission, I’m guilty of pushing the limits for road speeds when the need arises. The tenth episode continues with Rin pushing towards her campsite, with concern written all over her face at the prospect of missing check-in. She stops briefly to pick up dinner before continuing on her journey.
- When her route is blocked by a construction sign, Rin locks up, terrified at the prospect of being forced to go the long way around. She sends a message to Nadeshiko, and when Chiaki spots what’s going on, swiftly steps in to help Rin out. Rin’s irritation with Chiaki vanishes, and she subsequently proceeds to her campsite just in time for checking in. For this finale post, I’ve got the standard thirty screenshots; I originally imagined that there might’ve been more, but as it turns out, the casual pacing in Yuru Camp△ means that there are long moments spent looking at a scene unfolding, which both serves to reinforce the idea that there is merit to taking it easy and also makes it a bit easier to write for.
- At the top of the plateau, Rin’s failure to secure her tent down leads it to blow away in the wind gusts, and she suffers when her gear blow in opposite directions. This particular aspect raised some eyebrows, but interactions of air currents with surface features can create localised cyclones where the wind moves in a circular manner, accounting for the phenomenon in Yuru Camp△. With this being said, I find that it is quite unnecessary to worry about aspects of realism in slice-of-life anime such as these.
- While wishing she’d arrived sooner so she could explore, Rin enjoys her dinner and tea, taking in the night landscapes. Yuru Camp△ might not have the same attention to detail as seen in a given Kyoto Animation, P.A. Works or Makoto Shinkai production, but the visuals nonetheless are produced to a high standard. I’ve taken a look at the manga, and my local bookstores will be stocking the first few volumes of Yuru Camp△ in the upcoming months. The anime adaptation is highly faithful to the source material and brings the monochrome manga to life, adding colour alongside aural elements.
- In exchange for the hōtō noodles, the Kagamiharas give Chiaki gyoza. It is explained that the Kagamiharas are from Hamamatsu, which is counted as the gyoza capital of Japan. Owing to the high wheat production and weather patterns in the area, gyoza are seen as the perfect food in being able to both warm during brisk winters and reinvigorate during the summer. Consequently, it’s the prefecture with the highest gyoza consumption, and the Kagamiharas are unsurprisingly fond of them.
- Ena soon joins the Outdoor Activities Club’s activities; when Rin declines Chiaki’s invitation to join the Outdoor Activities Club in camping by Christmas, Ena manages to convince Rin to give it a shot, and here, the girls practise lighting a campfire on a stand on a brisk winter day. After Ena reveals that she’s rolling with a 4500 Yen sleeping bag, she invokes the envy of Nadeshiko, Chiaki and Aoi. It turns out that Ena’s father bought the sleeping bag on account of Ena’s sensitivity to the cold, feeling it’s worthwhile if Ena can spend more time with her friends. This gesture makes it clear that the Saitous, although never seen on screen, love Ena very much, which was a very welcome touch to Yuru Camp△.
- When Minami notices the girls with a fire on campus grounds, she makes the reprimand them, only to learn that the Outdoor Activities Club has permission to partake in their activities. She reluctantly becomes the club’s advisor when Chiaki manages to convince her that most of their activities are self-directed and dependent on being outdoors, and later, Nadeshiko learns that Minami is the intoxicated lady she and Rin had run into at Lake Shibire.
- Minami takes a post as a substitute instructor at Minobu High School and during working hours, looks a world apart from her hammered self. Her greatest enjoyment in life is to kick back with a drink in hand and gets smashed in no time at all, but also recovers surprisingly quickly from the after-effects. While sober, Minami is a quiet, reserved individual who occasionally offers the girls suggestions.
- On the day of the Christmas camping trip, the girls meet at a campground on Asagiri Plateau, so-named for the fog that can roll in during the mornings. Chiaki and Aoi arrived the earliest, and after joyously rolling down a hill, decide to go exploring and settle down for some sweets at a nearby ice cream shop. Because it’s late where I am, I’m not going to bother pinning down the coordinates of the exact locations that Aoi and Chiaki visit. However, I will note that Asagiri Kogen is relatively close to a dairy farm, which translates with some of the freshest ice cream around, and that the presence of Fujisan Winery nearby would keep Minami happy.
- Because it’s winter, I imagine that the nearby Paragliding School is closed, explaining why there aren’t any paragliders around in the skies. Despite being quite unrelated to the image here, I could not find anywhere else in the post to fit the revelation that the individual accompanying Minami camping earlier was in fact her younger sister rather than brother. Minami remarks that her sister is confused for a guy with a nontrivial frequency and that the two of them are familiar with camping since their parents loved camping. From my end, I found this a bit surprising, but I’m not going back to change the fact that I also failed to make the distinction, since that could be anybody’s mistake (especially considering that Rin and Nadeshiko did not notice anything until it was mentioned).
- While waiting for the others to show up, Rin roasts a marshmallow with her gas stove and makes s’mores with Nadeshiko. A gas stove will certainly do the trick, although most people probably will think of campfires. This treat is especially popular in Canada and the United States, with the earliest incarnations being described in cookbooks dating back to the 1920s, when they were known as Graham Cracker Sandwiches. S’mores became known as such in the late 1930s, but regardless of their names, share the simple recipe of Graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate.
- After meeting up with Chiaki and Aoi, Rin agrees to pay for the firewood by ways of thanks, and takes as much as she can back with her. However, her moped has limited storage, so she asks Chiaki to carry the remaining bundle with her.
- Ena’s arrival is prefaced by the arrival of Chikuwa, Ena’s dog. Ena lets loose Chikuawa with sausage, and this leads Nadeshiko on a joyful run across the open fields of Asagiri Kogen. Her adventures are joined by some children, and sensing the fun of the moment, Chiaki breaks out a frisbee. The group subsequently spends a spirited afternoon playing frisbee with the children in the plains. The day grows late as the sun sets and evening descends upon the land.
- I’ve chosen not to show the moment here, but Asagiri Kogen is the perfect spot to view Red Fuji, which occurs during the evening when the reddening light cast a crimson colour on the mountain. It’s beautiful, and the Japanese believe that seeing this sight is particularly lucky. Minami awakens from her alcohol-induced sleep, during which Nadeshiko and the others have wrapped her up with a range of blankets to keep her warm.
- Aoi sets about preparing sukiyaki with the ingredients that she’d brought with her. A subtype of nabe, sukiyaki involves thinly-sliced beef cooked in mirin, soy sauce and sugar alongside tofu and leafy vegetables. Compared to other forms of nabe, sukiyaki is sweeter, and is the choice of meal that Aoi goes about making on her grandmother’s suggestion: it’s a dish that’s to be shared with others during the winter months.
- If there was a prize for best smiles in an anime, then Yuru Camp△ would win hands down: Nadeshiko’s smiles are heartwarming to watch, and the smiles in Yuru Camp△ are generally very infectious. It is reasonable to say that the warmth of Yuru Camp△ contributed substantially to me getting through the early months of 2018: the start of a year is always the toughest for me, and this year’s been especially tricky at work. It’s been a difficult period, and in conversations, things are slowly starting to turn around now; having shows like Yuru Camp△ to watch have allowed me to kick back and regroup.
- The portrayal of food and its attendent enjoyment is only second to outdoors activities in Yuru Camp△: the closest equivalents that come to mind when I see Nadeshiko reacting to her food are Man v. Food‘s Adam Richman and Survivorman‘s Les Stroud, both of whom have rather unique ways of expressing their enjoyment of a meal. Hot food on a cold night is especially delicious, and with winter not quite done with my corner of the world yet, I recall a hearty curry katsu on a bed of spaghetti, garnished with a fried pumpkin slice, that I had earlier this week. It’s been a while since I’ve had katsu, and curry katsu is the perfect balance of savoury, creamy and crunchy rolled into one.
- As far as cooking goes, I’m versed in the basics, but one of my goals is to develop my own approach to cooking in the near future. With the first round of sukiyaki in the books, Aoi prepares round two, which is a tomato sukiyaki. In response to the rich flavours, which we viewers will simply have to imagine, Nadeshiko and Chiaki simply gush at the flavours, while Rin, Ena and Aoi quietly marvel at the flavour. Rin’s monologue shows that she’s no novice when it comes to food, and her descriptions are on par with Adam Richman’s approaches, explaining to audiences how the flavours complement and enhance one another in a very poetic manner.
- While Nadeshiko is more than happy to put away more food (the prospect of cheese noodles excites her), the others are content to have a smaller portion as they begin to hit the food wall. To celebrate Christmas, the girls don Santa Claus attire, and even Rin gets in on the festivities. The girls begin running low on propane, and Nadeshiko breaks out into tears on this revelation. It melts my heart whenever Nadeshiko cries, and a part of the appeal about Yuru Camp△ is how endearing the characters are; they remind me of the vibe that GochiUsa‘s characters exuded.
- In response to the lack of propane, Rin offers to go get some. She reflects on the day’s events and smiles, the surest sign that Rin’s perspective on group camping has come around since the start of Yuru Camp△. Whenever she’s wearing her glasses, Minami reminds me of Ah! My Goddess‘ Sora Hasegawa, one of the Motor Club’s members with similar glasses. I prefer Minami’s appearance sans glasses and a blood alcohol content high enough to put me on the floor: it’s no joke when I say that what Minami drinks in one sitting is probably enough to kill me per alcohol poisoning. While Rin’s off buying the propane, Nadeshiko imagines what things might be like ten years from now – her imagination remains quite plausible right up until she introduces the idea of a rocket-propelled tent.
- I suppose you could say that such a notion is pretty in-tents. While winter camping in Japan looks quite cozy and comfortable as per the portrayal in Yuru Camp△, it turns out that Canadians are even hardier: guides for camping in Alberta by winter boldly state that a little cold (to the tune of -20ºC) is not a justification for not camping, and note that winter camping has its charms in that it offers quieter campsites. Keeping warm in a Real Canadian Winter™ requires sleeping bags similar to that of Ena’s, making use of ground covers, dressing in layers and one of the most effective tips that Les Stroud mentions, hitting the bathroom before sleeping – the body expends additional energy in keeping fluid in the bladder warm, which is energy better spent keeping the rest of the body warm. Considering the specific heat of water, this is nontrivial!
- It was most welcoming to see the whole party together in Yuru Camp△‘s final two episodes, marking the culmination of an entire season’s set of experiences that lead Rin to enjoy camping in groups. While Yuru Camp△ might ostensibly be about Nadeshiko, the themes primarily deal with Rin and her gradual warming up to the idea of group camping on top of her existing enjoyment of camping alone. As the evening becomes night, the girls begin streaming videos on Chiaki’s tablet, doing the Yuru Camp△ equivalent of a Netflix night.
- The next morning, Chiaki, Aoi, Ena and Minami awaken to find Rin and Nadeshiko preparing an all-Japanese breakfast. Here, I mention that the page quote, sourced from Les Stroud, best captures the different approaches to adventures that people take: quite simply, there are people who are okay with not doing too much, people who are profoundly moved by doing something, and people who love doing things all the time. I sit squarely in the middle category: like most Hobbits, I love the comforts of home, but will occasionally step into the wider world in search of adventure and come away from the adventure more learned than before. Rin and Nadeshiko are described by the last category, seeking new adventures and making the most of their youth.
- While Rin and the others enjoy a brilliant sunrise under perfectly clear skies, I will comment on the soundtrack in a bit more detail since my last post, now that I’ve had a chance to listen to it in more detail. The music of Yuru Camp△ is phenomenal, capturing the different characters of each campsite and the camping hobby in general. From the whistling tunes that I’ve long associated with Canadian Tire (and outdoorsmanship) and the use of kazoos in the more light-hearted pieces, to the Celtic and Scottish inspired suites that serve as the themes for different campsites, and the gentle piece that describes Rin’s feelings towards solo camping, the soundtrack plays a major role in contributing to the unique atmosphere of Yuru Camp△.
- This screenshot almost looks photorealistic: Yuru Camp△‘s art style adheres to the idea that less is more, expertly bringing out the experience that Nadeshiko and the others share to viewers behind a screen. I’ve heard that since Yuru Camp△‘s airing, camping rates have gone up in Japan as fans take to the different campsites around Mount Fuji with the aim of recreating Rin and the Outdoor Activities Club’s adventures. This is yet another example of how, far from being an unhealthy hobby, anime has the potential to inspire individuals to be open to new experiences. One of my personal examples of how anime led me to do something different is how I got into tea and coffee through Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?.
- Nadeshiko struggles to find a part-time job nearby to help her fund her camping equipment, but her fortunes change when Ena contacts her with a position. I empathise with Nadeshiko’s situation entirely: hunting for work is a difficult process that can be considered a full-time job in its own right, and there are occasions where knowing the right people can make a significant difference. In Yuru Camp△‘s case, the stakes are a bit lessened, since Nadeshiko simply seeks to earn some disposable income, but when one reaches a point where they need to be financially stable, things can become more stressful. Consequently, I’m most thankful that there are shows like Yuru Camp△ that help us relax, put things in perspective and come out refreshed, ready to handle adversity again when a new day begins.
- As greenery and life seep back into the world with the arrival of spring, it’s clear that things have come full swing since the first episode of Yuru Camp△: with her experience now, Nadeshiko tries her hand at solo camping and sets off for the shores of Lake Motosu, where she first met Rin. Rin’s experiences throughout Yuru Camp△ is equivalent to my partying up with random players to complete legendary missions in The Division, while Nadeshiko is the equivalent of someone trying to solo The Division‘s campaign having beaten it once and experienced the endgame with a group of friends at every step of the way. Both are completely unique experiences, and it’s logical to see Nadeshiko’s interest develop in experiencing things from Rin’s perspective.
- Nadeshiko holds up the gas lamp (which looks like a Coleman model) that she’s brought along with her. Rocking a reasonably complete loadout, Nadeshiko looks like she’s done a good enough job at her workplace to have continued working there and so, has earned enough money to buy some reasonably good quality equipment of her own. It’s a subtle show that for her carefree spirits, Nadeshiko can be serious and focused when the situation calls for it, working hard to earn the things and goals that she desires.
- Lake Motosu looks quite different than it did during Yuru Camp△‘s first episode, attesting to the dramatic changes that a shift in seasons may bring. I note here that if there was a single grievance I had about Yuru Camp△, it was that the airing date, being on Thursdays, is quite unconducive towards episodic reviews. This is a series that I could see myself writing about each week, but being on a weeknight would’ve made it challenging. Thursdays and Tuesdays have been quite busy this year, only lightening up as of late – I spent the Tuesdays and Thursdays of February training at the dōjō in preparation for my ni-dan exam, which I managed to pass.
- Of course, it would be unfair (and unwise) to factor airing date into my final verdict for Yuru Camp△. This series earns an A+, a 9.5 of 1o for its delivery and presentation, as well as for having a fun cast of characters, losing points only because I find myself wishing there’d be a continuation beyond the OVA. Here, Nadeshiko runs off to greet Rin, who happens to be “solo” camping at Lake Motosu, and I conclude my Yuru Camp△ post by looking ahead into the future; March is quickly drawing to a close, and I’ve got plans to write about Slow Start, as well as A Place Further Than The Universe once their finales air. Before that, Girls und Panzer Das Finale‘s first episode will be available for viewing soon, so I’ll be writing about that on very short order.
At the end of Yuru Camp△‘s main run, I find an anime that is this season’s premiere title for catharsis. With its combination of warm character dynamics that are occasionally punctuated with some good old-fashioned comedy, a soundtrack that captures the excitement and calm of camping, and clean, expressive landscapes, Yuru Camp△ does a phenomenal job of depicting the ins and outs of camping amongst a group of friends who’ve come together thanks to their shared interest in taking the outdoors in a laid-back manner. With additional elements that help viewers familiarise themselves with camping, Yuru Camp△ is inviting and approachable – the deliberately slow pacing of the anime will likely be off-putting for viewers who are expecting greater intensity, but for others, it will be a welcome change of scenery from routine, allowing one time to slow down from the rush that life can be. Consequently, while I greatly enjoyed Yuru Camp△ and would give it a strong recommendation, I also acknowledge that the genre might not be for everyone; as a result, I would give Yuru Camp△ a strong recommendation for audiences who are looking for something relaxing, as well as for viewers who are long-time fans of the slice-of-life genre. For everyone else, this series is still worth watching if one is up for a more languid story whose aim is to help heal, rather than be thought provoking. With this being said, reception to Yuru Camp△ has been largely positive, and most viewers have also wondered whether or not a continuation is possible. Given that Yuru Camp△‘s manga is ongoing, and if sales for the home release are good, there’s no reason not to believe that Yuru Camp△ would not get a second season. I certainly would continue watching Yuru Camp△ with great interest should there be a continuation, and there’s an OVA upcoming that will give audiences one more story from Yuru Camp△ before things come to an end for the present.