The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games, academia and life dare to converge

Yuru Camp△: Review and Reflection at the ¾ Mark

“There’s no room for bravado when you’re alone in the bush.” –Les Stroud

After their arrival at Lake Shibire, Nadeshiko and Rin set up their tents, with Nadeshiko positively terrified of the legend of a bull spirit at the lake. Evening soon sets in, and the two begin preparing their dinner; Rin has difficulty igniting her coals, and Nadeshiko recruits assistance from a pair of fellow campers. With his suggestion, Rin is able to light a warm fire and prepares the chicken skewers, sharing some with the other two campers as thanks. In return, the camper and his sister provide Rin and Nadeshiko with jambalaya. Rin later runs into what appears to be the bull spirit and has the living daylights frightened out of her. Scared beyond all measure, she takes refuge inside Nadeshiko’s tent, but it turns out that this was merely the camper’s sister attempting to sober up. Back at school, exam season is in full swing, and procrastinating from her studies, Chiaki prepares a cooking set for use with hot food. She had earlier purchased a lacquered wooden bowl and skillet; using the school’s facilities, she removes the lacquer and seasons the skillet. After their examination period is over, Nadeshiko visits a local outdoors sporting equipment store with Chiaki and Aoi. On the eve of a camping trip with Rin, Nadeshiko falls ill and implores Rin to go on ahead without her; Rin decides to travel to a campsite in Ina, but finds that her shortest route is inaccessible. After speaking with some mountain climbers, she allows Nadeshiko to guide her travels, recalling her grandfather’s advice about how the most enjoyable trips can often arise from an open mind. While Chiaki visits Nadeshiko to give her a get-well gift and ends up cooking houtou for the entire Kagamihara family, Rin visits a temple, soaks in an onsen and enjoys a delicious katsu before oversleeping, much to her consternation.

Aside from camping itself, Yuru Camp△ has done much to present more on the personalities of each of the supporting characters, as well as continuing to explore knowledge in its run. Up until now, audiences have only seen Chiaki and Aoi’s personalities in the passing, but with a full episode dedicated towards their interactions at school, viewers gain more insight into both Chiaki and Rin. At the three-quarters mark, it is apparent that Chiaki is spirited and resourceful. Her engrossment with camping and know-how prove generally successful, and while she occasionally misses a step from excitement (such as forgetting to soak her newly de-lacquered bowl in vinegar to remove the residues), she’s able to make the most of her surroundings to prepare her equipment. The slow, methodical pace that Yuru Camp△ takes in presenting this process is instructive, and as such, Yuru Camp△ has proven to be surprisingly worthy of being counted as Survivorman The Anime. The additional time with Aoi also shows that despite her soft-spoken, gentle nature, she’s pragmatic and will not hesitate to set Chiaki straight if the need arises. This side of her personality comes from her having a younger sister. Between Chiaki’s resourcefulness and Aoi’s practical approach, they serve as a bit of a foil for Nadeshiko’s free spirit and also suggests that, despite what Rin might think now, the two will get along with Rin quite well as their paths cross. Exploring Chiaki and Aoi’s personalities thus set the stage for their eventual camping trip together – while Rin is unaware of this, audiences are being primed to expect what Rin will count as an unexpected, but welcome friendship with the remainder of the Outdoors Activity Club.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I wonder how many readers I lost and/or offended over the past half-month, what with the seemingly endless stream of posts about The Division and Battlefield 1. For those brave (or foolish) enough to have remained behind, you are rewarded with a return to what might constitute as standard fare for this blog: a talk on Yuru Camp△ now that we’re nine episodes in. I love the composition of this moment, as Nadeshiko and Rin make their way around the lake to their camp. The bright, welcoming light on the left, where their campsite is, stands in stark contrast to the foreboding dark of the right side.

  • The majestic autumn scenery is what I was aiming to showcase in my last post, but Rin and Nadeshiko only arrive in the sixth episode’s latter half. Rin gently teases Nadeshiko with the story of a bull spirit in the area, and suggests that she sleep earlier to avoid the wrath of the ghost. With their tents set up, Nadeshiko wonders about Rin’s tent, which has a different design to hers. Rin’s tent is a suspended type, whereas Nadeshiko rolls with a sleeve type. Yuru Camp△ explains that although the latter is more economical, with experience, the setup times for both tents are quite similar.

  • Rin’s brought white charcoal (備長炭, romaji binchō-tan) to use for her campfire; burning with a lower temperature than standard charcoal that allows it to last longer, the charcoal is also suited for cooking because it does not impart a sooty flavour into foods. Slow to ignite, Rin exhausts her fire-starter and is out of ideas, but Nadeshiko manages to bring in assistance from two campers she’d met earlier: an approachable gentleman and his sister, who’s fond of drinking herself into oblivion.

  • White charcoal can take upwards of half an hour to heat up to the point where it can be used to cook, and guides out there recommend what the gentleman has done: using another charcoal to provide the initial heat source is what’s needed to light white charcoal. Besides Rin’s grill, Nadeshiko had also brought her propane stove, allowing the two to prepare nabe on top of their yakiniku. While Rin tends to the grilling of meat, Nadeshiko sets up her nabe, and soon, dinner is ready.

  • As thanks, Rin and Nadeshiko bring some of their food over to share with the siblings. They receive some jumbalaya in return and savour the diverse flavours of their dinner under darkening skies. It turns out that the woman who’s smashed is actually an instructor at Minobu high school; one of the elements in anime such as Yuru Camp△ is that all characters who are introduced are introduced for a reason, playing some sort of role in the narrative. The older gentleman that Chiaki encountered while scouting locations for a future camping trip, for instance, happens to be Rin’s grandfather, a veteran camper who inspired Rin to take up the hobby.

  • Why is grilled meat as tasty and delicious as it is? The answer lies in something called the Maillard Reaction, a reaction between the constituent amino acids and long-chain carbohydrates in the meat that causes visible browning and a distinct, savoury flavour. From an evolutionary perspective, we developed a liking for this flavour because it is indicative of cooking, which increases the accessibility of nutrients within the food.

  • For each Yuru Camp△ post I’ve written so far, I’ve managed to feature at least one screenshot of the happy campers resting by a campfire during the night. This is not expected to change for the finale post. The finale, however, does not mark the end of Yuru Camp△: there’s an OVA that will release on March 28 accompanying the first BD/DVD volume. This special will follow the Outdoors Activity Club prior to Nadeshiko’s arrival.

  • The darkness causes Nadeshiko’s mind to wander back to the bull spirit, and she wishes to sleep beside Rin as a security measure. Rin remarks that her tent isn’t capable of accommodating two, and Nadeshiko returns to her own tent. Later, Rin makes for the bathroom, and in one of Yuru Camp△‘s most hilarious moments, finds herself face-to-face with a “ghost”. She bolts off and makes for Nadeshiko’s tent. I’ve deliberately chosen to leave out the screenshots and will encourage readers to check this moment out for themselves if they’ve not already done so. This moment also prompts the page quote from Les Stroud: in survival, bravado is not a priority compared to making it out alive, and for Rin, she learns that sometimes, it’s okay to swallow her pride.

  • Had Rin been camping solo, this certainly would not have been possible, and similarly, Rin would’ve likely continued to struggle lighting her charcoals earlier were it not for Nadeshiko’s bringing a fellow camper for help. Here, Yuru Camp△ shows that Rin is a very structured individual who does things by the book, but her weakness is not having the mindset to deal with unexpected situations. This is something that people of the ISTJ temperament face – the solution is to be more open-minded and deal with things as they come, rather than relying entirely on plans and backup plans. It thus becomes clear that Nadeshiko and Rin complement one another: Rin’s organisation and skill helps Nadeshiko get on track, while Nadeshiko’s open-mindedness and adaptiveness allows her to help Rin when the latter becomes stuck.

  • With her boundless energy and desire for experiences, Nadeshiko decides to take a boat back across the lake, waving in a spirited manner at Rin, who waves back. This camping trip is the point where Rin opens up to being with Nadeshiko, and while her words might not indicate thus, she’s definitely accepted Nadeshiko now, as seen in her smile. The scenery here is, again, top-notch: the water looks as detailed as it does in the Frostbite Engine, with its reflections and ripples.

  • To augment their camping experience, Chiaki’s brought a wooden bowl and cast-iron skillet; her excitement at putting them to use means she spends a bit of time preparing them in favour of studying for their upcoming exams. Aoi shows a hitherto unseen side to her personality here, reprimanding Chiaki and reminding her to hit the books. Aki Toyosaki’s characters, such as Yui Hirasawa, are usually quite absent-minded and carefree, but Aoi, like Hanasaku Iroha‘s Nako Oshimizu, is reliable and focused despite her soft-spoken demeanor.

  • The procedure outlined in Yuru Camp△ for seasoning a cast-iron skillet is accurately presented: seasoning is the process whereby a layer of oil is overlaid on top of the iron and heated. The heating process causes the oil to polymerise and bond to the iron, forming a natural layer that prevents sticking. The process requires three steps: after giving the skillet a cleaning to ensure there are no residues, a layer of oil is applied and heated. The process is then repeated to form a more substantial layer. Any unsaturated oil can be used: I’ve heard complaints that Chiaki’s choice of olive oil is uneconomical, but this is besides the point, as it still unsaturated. Saturated fats, such as lard or shortening, also work, but are trickier to apply.

  • While we may share a cruel laugh at both Aoi and Chiaki for burning themselves, the fact is that great care must be taken around heated elements: hot surfaces do not visibly indicate themselves as thus and exposes users to the risk of burns if caution is not exercised. The Survivorman aspects of Yuru Camp△ are impressive, and while some episodes focus more heavily on character growth, the series overall strikes a fine balance between characters and details. Back in Yuru Camp△, Aoi and Chiaki’s misfortunate does not last; their burns are very minor, and fall to the back of their minds as Ena arrives and discuss their new substitute instructor. Ena also expresses an interest in camping with the Outdoors Activity Club.

  • Exams are finally over, and Aoi’s done reasonably well, while Nadeshiko manages a satisfactory performance. Chiaki, on the other hand, squeaks by. With the winter break ahead, the girls decide to visit an outdoors sporting goods store in order to pick up sleeping pads: pricier ones can reach 150 CAD, but basic foam pads can go for as little as 25 CAD. Their advantage is as Rin stated – they prevent wear and tent on the tent floor and also provides insulation from the ground, which is especially important considering that the girls are camping in winter.

  • After arriving in Minobu, the girls walk through the main street and reach a warehouse: this is the Caribou shop that gives the eighth episode its name. I’ve taken a cursory look around, and to the  there’s no indicator that such a shop exists in the area. My best guess is that Caribou is probably based off another shop in a different location, but it is equally possible that I could simply not be looking hard enough.

  • Nadeshiko becomes enamoured with a small gas lamp, and after learning of the price from a clerk, decides not to buy it at the present: the one she eyes runs for 5000 Yen. She subsequently resolves to take up a part-time job to fund her activities and consents to take a picture of it while it’s lit. The interior of Caribou reminds me a great deal of Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s and even Canadian Tire: these shops form the bulk of where most of my outdoors equipment comes from, and it’s always fun to browse through these shops to see what they’ve got.

  • As seen at Caribou, the amount of equipment one could potentially bring with them on an outdoors trip is limitless: Nadeshiko, Chiaki and Aoi spend an entire afternoon browsing around all of the different items available for purchase at Caribou. Folks bring different types of gear with them depending on the nature of their adventure. With this being said, Les Stroud has long stated in Survivorman that one could survive reasonably well with a multi-tool, hatchet, a pot, some string and a fishing tackle, with an optional harmonica to bolster one’s morale.

  • Chiaki, Nadeshiko and Aoi check out a screen-house on display: more basic variants can run for 90 CAD, with higher end designs costing 400 CAD. While unsuited for the sort of camping that the Outdoors Activity Club partake in, they are usually used for providing a bit of shelter for groups to relax under, and I’ve most frequently seen screen-houses being used by folks who are camping with an RV. RVs are not particularly popular in Japan owing to parking costs, but the open spaces of Hokkaido are more conducive for folks looking to have such trips in Japan.

  • After they pick up their sleeping pads, Aoi, Nadeshiko and Chiaki stop to buy some manju back in town, and enjoy them on a bench overlooking the Fuji River. This particular angle is roughly 271 meters from the truss bridge spanning the Fuji River. I note here that I’m well aware of Nadeshiko appearing in a Google Maps equivalent earlier in the episode, but I’ve chosen not to include this moment. Now is also a good time to mention that at some point in the future, I will be returning to do an Armchair Tour of the locations in Yuru Camp△.

  • Nadeshiko’s enjoyment of food knows no bounds, and she finishes off her manju without realising it. She subsequently dashes off to buy more for her family, with Aoi doing the same, leaving Chiaki to look after their stuff. It typifies Yuru Camp△‘s ability to draw out and depict in great detail the subtleties of moments that we often take for granted in life – I am fond of slice-of-life anime for this particular reason, since it’s a reminder to stop and smell the metaphorical roses when life itself is hectic and highly-paced.

  • When Nadeshiko falls ill on the eve of a camping trip with Rin during Christmas, she begs in to continue in her stead, and Rin decides to attempt another long-distance trip on her moped to Ina in Nagano, south of Lake Suwa. Her use of Google Maps leaves her face-to-face with a roadblock; the way is shut to preserve the natural surroundings from human impact. While viewers may laugh, it’s an important lesson not to rely entirely on mapping software and GPS, given that they may not always be fully accurate; while the online mapping tools, like Google Maps, have become incredibly sophisticated thanks to large data sets, one should still carry their wits about them and use common sense.

  • While the unexpected closure and prospect of travelling back down the mountain frustrates Rin, she decides to stop and take stock of her situation, buying a warm drink and sipping it before making her next move. She runs into some climbers, who share with her some hōjicha, a green tea unique in being prepared by being roasted in porcelain over charcoal rather than being steamed. This process imparts on the tea a sweeter flavour, and also reduces the caffeine content in the tea. The climber recommends this tea to Rin, as it provides her with a warm drink that won’t keep her awake.

  • After parting ways with the climbers, Rin takes in the view from a balcony behind the Tsuetsuki Teahouse, which affords her with a spectacular view of the valley below. Besides its free observation deck, the Tsuetsuki Teahouse is also known for serving excellent coffee. Throughout the episode, and Yuru Camp△ as a whole, SMS conversations between the various characters are interspersed into the show; messages normally do not convey how a character is feeling during a conversation, so Yuru Camp△ makes use of voices to accentuate the feelings of each member in a conversation. Nadeshiko spiritedly suggests navigating for Rin, and Rin soon notices that Nadeshiko’s tone has changed, working out that Chiaki’s come to visit Nadeshiko, as well.

  • While Nadeshiko is on the mend and wishes to join Rin, Sakura firmly declines, stating that Nadeshiko needs her rest. Later, Chiaki pays her a visit and bids her a speedy recovery, also bringing with her some hōtō noodles. With their origins in Yamanashi, hōtō noodles are stewed flat udon noodles with a much heartier quality than standard udon noodles. Nadeshiko is excited at the prospect of having authentic hōtō prepared by a Yamanashi native, and her anticipation is shared by both her father and mother. Feeling that she can no longer half-heartedly put something quick together for Nadeshiko, with her pride as a Yamanashi native at stake, Chiaki quickly looks up a recipe and gets to work.

  • While Chiaki is busy preparing hōtō for the Kagamiharas, Rin visits the Kozen-ji temple, best known for the Legend of Sotaro. She imagines it to be a temple dedicated to puppies, but is disappointed upon seeing a ferocious-looking depiction of Sotaro, the wolf spirit who defeats a monkey-like monster to save a lady from being sacrificed. While exploring the temple grounds, which is open to visitors free of charge, Rin encounters a sign that warns of bears and wolves: for her stoic nature and love of the outdoors, here is another mark that Rin is uncomfortable with wildlife.

  • Rin encounters dog-shaped souvenirs containing fortunes, and after a brief internal conflict as to whether or not she should buy one for 500 Yen, ends up caving. One element in this scene I found amusing was how the dogs seem to shift in angle as to appear to be staring at her. She ends up with average fortune, which is consistent with her travels: while Rin seems to run into her share of challenges, an open-mindedness allows her to nonetheless make the most of things.

  • The whole of the Kagamihara family enjoys the hōtō noodles that Chiaki puts together. Nadeshiko’s mother and father are introduced here, with her father being ill from the same cold that hit Nadeshiko. Both he and Nadeshiko’s mother are friendly folk who enjoy food the same way that Nadeshiko does. Sakura’s reaction troubles Chiaki until she reveals that she also enjoys the noodles immensely. Everyone in the family has brown hair, but Nadeshiko’s pink hair stands out: while some folks are troubled by this, armed with my knowledge of Mendelian genetics, we can work things out without much difficulty. Red hair is caused by the MC1R gene, and for the sake of discussion, we suppose that pink hair in anime works similarly to red hair. We let B represent the dominant gene for brown hair and b be the recessive gene for red/pink hair. Nadeshiko expresses the pink hair phenotype and has the bb phenotype; in a Punnett Square, we can work out that both Nadeshiko’s parents must be heterozygous Bb (otherwise, the recessive bb cannot be expressed). So, this simple test shows that there’s no funny business occuring, which should put some minds at ease.

  • After visiting Kozen-ji, Rin decides to soak in an onsen, before watching a minor scuffle between Chiaki and Nadeshiko unfold over what Rin should have for lunch. Rin decides to go for a katsu, and I’m left to wonder where exactly Rin has gone. A cursory glance around the area suggest she’s at the Nakayama Tranquil Hot Springs Inn, across the road from the Kozen-ji. If this is the case, Rin’s picked an excellent spot to visit: visitors report a beautiful outdoors hot springs and fantastic food.

  • Despite their distance, Chiaki and Nadeshiko’s communications with Rin act as a bit of a warm-up for Rin to become acclimatised to Chiaki’s presence, despite her initial annoyance with Chiaki for showing up. I imagine that Rin’s reluctance to join the Outdoors Activity Club is largely because of Chiaki; she seems more likely to get along with Aoi, but as with Nadeshiko before her, once Rin is accustomed to Chiaki over electronic communications, she will likely make a more honest effort to get to know her better, which sets the stage for the camping trip with everyone.

  • Rin dozes off after her lunch and has a rather unusual dream before awakening to realise she’s overslept after savouring her katsu. Like grilled meat, there is a joy about eating deep-fried food despite their health risks: the evolutionary reason for this is because deep-fried food has a very high fat content. Fat molecules in fatty foods enhance flavours and also stimulate our taste buds – our sense of taste favours fatty foods because in moderation, lipids are essential in neurological development. This is why after enjoying fried chicken, as I’ve done on this rather snowy Saturday (there’s a fresh 20 cm of snow on the ground outside right now), we feel particularly content, enough to want to close our eyes and rest – as Rin did, I’m going to end this post right here, right now.

Having spent a camping trip with Nadeshiko, Rin herself also demonstrates a surprising side to her personality – well accustomed to being on her own, her happenstance meeting with what appeared to be a yurei and subsequent retreat into Nadeshiko’s tent shows that she’s appreciative of being with someone else now, and sets in motion the slow change in Rin’s perspective. When she plans out a second camping trip with Nadeshiko, it’s a hint that she’s beginning to accept Nadeshiko as a friend; even when Nadeshiko falls ill, Rin decides to take a very Nadeshiko-like approach towards camping, taking things as they come. By asking Nadeshiko to drive her travels, Rin is attempting to both give Nadeshiko the sense that she’s there with Rin on her travels, as well as giving herself the sense that Nadeshiko is accompanying her with her energy. It’s a marked change from the start of Yuru Camp△, and with Ena planning on accompanying the Outdoors Activity Club on their next journey, the stage is set for each of the actors to converge on one more major camping trip that sees everyone together. Before that can happen, however, Rin’s current journey to Ina must continue, and it is clear that despite her going off-schedule, her newfound sense of open-mindedness will allow her to enjoy and make the most of her journey ahead. After nine episodes, Yuru Camp△ has not disappointed, and looks to finish strong with its remaining episodes: I’m definitely keeping a close eye on Yuru Camp△, which has served as this season’s go-to show for my catharsis.

4 responses to “Yuru Camp△: Review and Reflection at the ¾ Mark

  1. DerekL March 4, 2018 at 10:59

    It strikes me that her weakness isn’t not having a backup plan, but incomplete research. She didn’t know the hot springs closed for the season (ep 5), didn’t know how to light the bincho-tan (ep 7), didn’t know the road was closed (ep 9). This is kind of consistent – she has experience, but given her age she’s still a bit lacking on the finer points of planning. She’s still at the enthusiastic leap-then-look stage of life.

    Like

    • infinitezenith March 4, 2018 at 13:24

      ​It still boils down to whether or not one is mentally ready for when things don’t work out as planned. There’s a bit of a limit to what preparation can do, and being prepared for folks with Rin’s personality is not really going to address the underlying problem of what happens when things simply go sideways.

      While age and experience might play a role, I think that Yuru Camp△ aims to show that there’s a fine balance to be struck. This is why Nadeshiko is around: the balance between the two opposites is where the most fun and memorable moments are to be had.

      Like

  2. Hanabira.Kage March 9, 2018 at 03:43

    I ran a quick search on twitter on the Caribou store. Only found one person talking about it, but apparently it’s based on casa&SWEN (http://casa-swen.com/index.htm).

    Like

    • infinitezenith March 9, 2018 at 08:52

      I appreciate the information – having taken a look, it’s probably a bit of a stretch, though: the closest Swen that looks similar to the one that Nadeshiko et al. visit is located on the east end of Shizuoka, some 36 kilometers south of Minobu.

      Pending clarification, I think that the store is most likely fictional as presented in the anime, but for the purposes of Yuru Camp△, this is completely acceptable.

      Like

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