The Infinite Zenith

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

Survival Camp!, or Surviorman’s Pacific Island meets Yuru Camp△: An OVA Review and Reflection

“No one wants to find themselves in a survival situation; you just want to go home, but sometimes, the ordeal becomes long-term survival, longer than seven days. Whether in a life raft, on a mountain, in a desert, or on a tropical island, long-term survival is always about maintaining the will to live, and then becoming familiar with the surroundings.” —Les Stroud, South Pacific, Survivorman

En route to Australia for some winter camping, Nadeshiko and her friends find themselves bailing out of their private jet when the pilot reports that the controls have become unresponsive. They land on an uninhabited tropical island, and after getting themselves oriented, set about trying to find food. They are unsuccessful, and morale plummets, although the girls do their best to remain positive. The next morning, Chiaki is able to find a large number of bananas, and Rin succeeds in catching a large fish that the girls cook later that evening. As they explore other options for cooking their food, they girls also enjoy the tropical weather, but when Nadeshiko begins recanting phrases and terms that remind them of home during a game of Shiritori, Chiaki and the others realise that they need to be rescued. Sprinting to an outcrop, the girls desperately shout out for rescue while Ena sleeps on. Running for half the length of a conventional episode, Survival Camp is a fun addition to Yuru Camp△ that sees Nadeshiko and the others stranded on a beautiful island, reminiscent of Survivorman‘s second season, where Les Stroud survives on a week on an island. I’ve long drawn comparisons between Survivorman and Yuru Camp△, a complement to Yuru Camp△‘s attention to detail and providing practical information on top of a highly relaxing adventure for audiences. While this comparison is not unique to me, the other, perhaps unintended, consequence of comparing Yuru Camp△ to Survivorman is that this blog is prominently featured any search whenever keywords pertaining to Yuru Camp△ and Survivorman are used in conjunction with one another. As a result, upon viewing the contents of the latest Yuru Camp△ OVA, I cannot help but wonder if C-Station’s staff have seen discussions on the ‘net, especially from here, about Yuru Camp△ and decided to take a look at Survivorman, then realised a tropical setting, akin to Les Stroud’s time on a Pacific island, would provide a suitable opportunity to portray a novel story within the latest of the OVAs.

Yuru Camp△‘s original run was an impressive showing, but the Survival Camp OVA takes survival to the next level, drawing numerous parallels with real-world presentations of survival; despite featuring high school girls in place of an experienced outdoorsman, Yuru Camp△ never strays far from reality, and as a result, the Survival Camp OVA is all the more enjoyable for it. After a bailing out of a plane and landing on a tropical island, the girls immediately take stock of their surroundings, and build a shelter. In every episode of Survivorman, Les Stroud runs through the tools and materials he has available to him, before constructing a shelter. Because the island Stroud landed in had a sizeable rat population, he builds a shelter from a derelict boat to keep him off the ground and also, away from the blistering tropical sun. He subsequently creates a rain trap for water, and explores the island in search for food. In Yuru Camp△, after they handle shelter and gain a better idea of their situation, the girls are faced with the struggle of finding food and the attendant decrease in morale: Stroud notes constantly that in a survival situation that a lack of food is one of the biggest struggles he faces, as the reduced energy can impede judgement. Nadeshiko and Chiaki are particularly hard-hit by the initial lack of food, but immediately after Chiaki’s discovery of bananas on the island, and Rin’s success in fishing, the mood turns around immediately. In the South Pacific episode, Les Stroud is in a rare situation where food is not a major concern: he finds coconuts and birds on the island, as well as clams and palm shoots. Once the matter of food and shelter are dealt with, both Stroud and the girls of Yuru Camp△ have the energy to further their situation. This is where Yuru Camp△ deviates somewhat from the Survivorman approach: Nadeshiko and the others take it easy, nearly forgetting that they still need to be rescued, while Stroud will either set about creating a signal for escape or craft transportation to facilitate an exit out of the area. In spite of this, the methods that are seen in Yuru Camp△ is largely consistent with the basics that Stroud recommends in Survivorman. It is important to note that while assessment, shelter-building and finding food is common sense in a survival situation, the aspects that Yuru Camp△ excels in depicting are the subtleties: from notions of morale, to the incredible rush of finding food, Yuru Camp△ captures highly realistic responses amongst the characters, which really gives the sense that Yuru Camp△ could be seen as another take on Survivorman.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I open with an apology: my last post on Harukana Receive was a bit of a tirade about people acting like they know more than they actually do. So, to make up for that, this post will deal with none of that. Featuring thirty screenshots, I will delve into the latest Yuru Camp△ OVA and bring some fun to the table. Ena outwardly does not seem to be wealthy, and the only indicator otherwise was that her father bought her a four hundred dollar sleeping bag so she could camp with her friends in Yuru Camp△ proper, but this OVA seems to suggest otherwise: the girls are on a private jet here en route to Australia. However, when the plane suffers from an unknown problem, Chiaki immediately bails out, prompting the others to follow.

  • The pilot is a rather comical fellow, speaking English, but the girls’ reactions to the plane’s malfunctions are even more over-the-top. Evidently, none of Chiaki, Rin, Nadeshiko, Aoi or Ena have read Patrick Smith’s Cockpit Confidential, an excellent book that explains all of the withertos and why-fors of air travel (specifically, that some “big deals” for passengers are routine for pilots). With his wit and approachable manner, Smith’s book provides insight into why air travel is the way it is and is a reassuring companion for anyone who dislikes air travel.

  • Shortly after their landing, Aoi discovers that she has no cellular signal, and Chiaki concludes that they are on a remote, uninhabited island. This is the proper depiction of a desert island: comical portrays show such islands as being only a few metres across, with a single palm tree and just enough room for two people. This particular visual gag originated in the 1930s and became quite popular in the late 1950s, a consequence of trying to fit an entire island into a comic panel. The image has since endured. However, such islands physically cannot exist: islands in the Pacific are part of atolls and belong to chains of islands.

  • While the others managed to make it to the ground, Rin finds herself stuck in a tree. When Nadeshiko and the others find her, they are immensely relieved. The process of getting Rin down is never shown, although from the height seen in this image, it should be clear that extricating Rin is probably not an easy feat. Nadeshiko’s crying is absolutely adorable, and one of Yuru Camp△‘s most distinct features is being able to capture the almost child-like innocence of youth while simultaneously providing a solid series on camping.

  • The first order of business is setting up shelter to provide cover from the elements. In Survivorman, Les Stroud mentions that tropical islands may have a large rodent or insect population, standing in contrast of the paradise image that such islands typically conjure, and so, having ground coverings or something to elevate one above the ground becomes important in a shelter. For Yuru Camp△, we can suppose that such hazards are not present, allowing the girls to put a simple lean-to shelter together to cover them from the tropical sun.

  • Both Nadeshiko and Chiako become a little loopy from the lack of food. On some of his more difficult survival challenges, Stroud has minimal food, and the impact on his psyche is immense, equaling the physical fatigue. The act of finding food is an energy expenditure, and is very frustrating to come up empty-handed. In some episodes, a lack of food also impacts Stroud’s ability to clearly communicate to audiences what he’s doing: during one survival challenge in the Colorado Rockies, Stroud begins swearing after messing up his sentences, before saying that his goal now is simply to get some food energy before continuing.

  • In almost all episodes of Survivorman, Stroud emphasises the importance of having a good fishing tackle in one’s kit. Having the right equipment allows one to catch fish for survival, and in many of his experiences, from his time in the Colorado Rockies, to the South Pacific and Baffin Island, having fishing lines has proven critical to helping Stroud survive. In Baffin Island, for instance, a narwhal corralled Arctic Char closer to the shore, allowing Stroud to catch four fish back-to-back.

  • While Rin focuses on fishing and is initially unsuccessful, Chiaki and Nadeshiko make to gather wild edibles. Ena and Aoi gather firewood. Unlike Stroud, who does many of his Survivorman episodes alone or with one other companion, Rin and the others are together, which makes possible the division of labour. Yuru Camp△ also removes the necessity of having to haul sixty pounds of camera gear around, allowing the girls to focus entirely on survival.

  • When Chiaki and Nadeshiko recover some of their provisions, it turns out that there was a single cup of instant noodles (and perhaps, a bottle of water, since they are able to cook the instant noodles) that the girls provision. By the time the cup reaches Chiaki, it’s nearly empty. She attempts to open a coconut and only gets a limited amount of juice out of it. One of the aspects that Survival Camp did not depict is the acquisition of fresh water; surrounded by ocean, desert islands do not always have a readily-available supply of fresh water for use. However, some islands have a freshwater lens that can be reached by digging a well, and other islands may be large enough to have flowing water, so it stands to reason that there’s freshwater somewhere on the island that the girls are on.

  • As food stores are depleted, the girls wonder about their odds of survival and become gloomy in disposition. Stroud notes that one of the biggest make-or-break factor in survival is the will to live, and as morale fades, so does the desire to continue living. Contributing to this is boredom, which is why in some episodes of Survivorman, where Stroud has a few free moments, he spends it making makeshift items, such as oil lamps or fishing floats that can help him out. Besides occupying his time and giving him focus, crafting things also gives him additional tools for survival.

  • Because Nadeshiko and the others are in a group, however, this confers on the girls an advantage: they can support one another and boost one another’s morale. Watching Ena sleeping peacefully also gives everyone a sense of normalcy: that Ena can rest easily reassures the girls, as well. Aoi mentions that their situation is no different than camping, albeit with less gear and in a place they are not familiar with, giving everyone a second wind and taking their minds off hunger for a moment.

  • The next morning, Rin awakens bright and early to fish. Meanwhile, Chiaki’s found a massive store of bananas somewhere on the island. A member of the musa genus, Bananas are native to tropical Indomalaya and Australia, and are thought to have first been domesticated in Papua New Guinea. Rich in starch, bananas become sweeter as they ripen, and are good sources of potassium. It is my go-to fruit when I’m in a hurry.

  • One of my biggest questions is how Chiaki is able to go bananas finding seedless bananas: in commercially-available bananas, the seeds are tiny, but in natural bananas, there are large, tough seeds that would prevent the bananas from being eaten as we normally would. This inconsistency is a minor detail I am willing to overlook, since this is a Yuru Camp△ post and not a post on the history of banana cultivation in human civilisation: the fact is that Chiaki has found bananas and this gives the girls renewed energy.

  • Rin, meanwhile, succeeds in catching a very large fish, enough to adequately make a delicious dinner. Different fishes have different flavours and textures, and similarly, different fishes have different nutritional contents, as well. However, in a survival situation, most fishes are an excellent food source, being rich in protein and fat, and survival guides also note that fishing is less energy intensive than setting up traps or going hunting for small game or birds with makeshift weapons. Les Stroud would say that one should always be mindful of their surroundings and do whatever is necessary: proactive survival is how one gets through difficult situations, and just because one has fish does not mean they can’t continue finding alternative food sources, as well.

  • With Rin’s catch, the finding of suitable coconuts and a steady supply of bananas on the island means that food’s been taken care of. The process of cleaning out the fish is likewise skipped over in Yuru Camp△ because it’s a bit of a bloody operation, and Survivorman has a disclaimer saying that gutting a fish might not be suitable for all audiences. In a survival situation, almost all parts of the fish can be eaten, including the heart and liver. The intestines, on the other hand, should be discarded or recycled as bait.

  • Because Chiaki received the short end of the stick earlier, I’d figured that I’d have a screenshot of her taking a bite of fish and savouring the moment. Nadeshiko suggests using the banana leaves to cook the fish in, and it’s shown that the girls managed to find some coconuts with more edible components than they previously had. At different stages, coconuts may provide oil and meat that both can be consumed. Rich in carbohydrates, fats and proteins, coconut meat is also high in manganese, zinc and iron.

  • The last time I saw people eating fish by night on a beach in a survival situation was in the Costa Rica, where Stroud survives on a coastal beach. Here, he uses a deliberately broken ballpoint pen and fashions a makeshift spear that he uses to catch a fish. Cooking it and enjoying it under moonlight, Stroud remarks that one of the hazards he faces while preparing fresh meat and fish for consumption is that the smell of blood can attract predators to his location. Yuru Camp△ again abstracts out this element, allowing the girls to enjoy their dinner in peace without imminent threat from sharks.

  • After their fish dinner, the girls decide to cook some bananas over the fire, and end up with a melt-in-your-mouth dessert that is delicious beyond words. Chiaki is elated that her bananas are delicious and fashions herself a Pacific-style dress, dancing about joyfully. While grass skirts are long associated with Hawaiian culture, they originate from the Gilbert Islands and Samoa, being brought to Hawaii by immigrants. The banana crown and staff are a bit excessive, and are likely present in Yuru Camp△ to indicate the girls’ carefree approach to all things.

  • Nadeshiko is seen here holding a frisbee made from banana leaves, attesting to their versatility. Besides their applications in cooking (banana leaves leave food with a slightly sweet flavour), their resilient, flexible, waterproof structure means they can be fashioned into a variety of things, including roofing materials and plates. Natural materials are often well-suited for human constructs; being able to use the environment so well (and communicating what works to future generations) is what allowed people to inhabit every part of the world.

  • Early trailers for the Yuru Camp△ OVA portrayed Chiaki, Aoi, Rin, Nadeshiko and Ena running around in swimwear on a tropical island, leading folks to wonder if fanservice was going to be a major component of the OVA. However, with the OVA in the books, it’s quite clear that Yuru Camp△ has no intent of going down that route. Consider that the well-endowed Aoi is wearing a shirt, and so, despite the opportunity for animators to draw in viewers, their choice not to signifies that Yuru Camp△ is very much about camping, not unnecessary fanservice.

  • In Yuru Camp△, the fanservice is largely confined to the variety that viewers find enjoyable; besides a high attention to detail, Yuru Camp△ also presents various environments beautifully. Here, Nadeshiko swims underwater adjacent to corals, with reef fishes visible in both the foreground and background. Although I cannot readily identify the fish in the foreground, it is clear that these are coral reef fishes; these fish are characterised by a flat body, which is evolved for maneuverability and sharp turns among corals.

  • The imagery seen in Survival Camp’s latter half is what most people think of whenever tropical islands are mentioned, being warm paradises fitting to live on. However, as Les Stroud constantly mentions, beautiful settings often hide danger underneath. Tropical islands may be surrounded by shark-infested waters, or else lack a good water source. Intense sunlight can quickly lead to a heat stroke, and food may be scarce.

  • Of course, strict adherence to realism makes for a much less interesting work of fiction. This fiction presents sound in space, fireball explosions and uncommonly distinct gunfire noises. Similarly, had Yuru Camp△ elected to go with a completely realistic approach, the series would not have the same appeal that it did: Yuru Camp△ is realistic to a reasonable extent, but is completely authentic. In fiction, authenticity refers to how faithfully things create (or recreate) an environment, design or feel for something, while realism is how faithfully behaviours, conditions and situations are. Works can be authentic without being realistic, and for the most part, an authentic and unrealistic work would typically be very enjoyable.

  • Yuru Camp△ is a series that is very authentic and largely realistic, which contributes to its entertainment value. The OVA is a lot less realistic, but being an OVA offers writers some creative freedoms that end up giving viewers twelve minutes of fun. Here, Chiaki displays a hitherto unknown skill in surfing, riding a wave on a piece of driftwood as a makeshift board.

  • Enough time has passed for the girls to craft comfortable beach chairs for themselves. Here, they begin playing Shiritori, a word game where players form the next word using the previous word’s kana. It’s frequently seen in anime and requires at least two players. Players can only use nouns, and using ん or repeating a word results in an instant loss. More sophisticated versions of the game involve using specific subsets of words or kana patterns, and the most similar equivalent in English is called “word chain”. Variations of this game also exist, and it’s typically used as a teaching tool.

  • Amidst the warm tropical weather, Ena’s fallen asleep again. What was a survival situation has turned into a very laid-back camping trip for the girls, and it is perhaps this reason that high school girls are more able to create a highly relaxing atmosphere in an anime version of SurvivormanSurvivorman episodes can be a bit stressful to watch, especially when Les Stroud finds himself in difficult situations brought on by weather conditions, wildlife or bad luck.

  • As tempting as a tropical paradise would be for a vacation spot, and as much as I enjoyed Cancún’s unparalleled weather and waters, I find that my ideal vacation spot would be the West Coast Rainforests and Inside Passage of British Columbia, coastal Alaska, or the Fjords of Norway. There’s a charm about coastal mountains, and having visited Alaska some fifteen years previously, I would love for an opportunity to go back.

  • When the girls realise that they’ve been stuck on the desert island for some time, they immediately make to get help, leading to the scene seen in the episode’s beginning where Nadeshiko, Aoi, Rin and Chiaki are running through the forest, seemingly in a panic, for some unknown destination. The ending of the OVA makes it clear that the girls are trying to be rescued, and so, after sprinting to the island’s outcrop, where Rin had been fishing earlier, they shout out in an adorable manner for help.

  • The incidental music is intended to remind audiences, who remain unconvinced otherwise, that they are supposed to find this moment funny and pitiful, as well. The English seen in Survival Camp is passable, and while I know that folks may criticise Engrish (a phenomenon where a lack of familiarity causes a speaker or writer to butcher English, often in hilarious ways), the fact is that people should be commended for trying to use a language they aren’t familiar with. For instance, I have great respect when people try to speak Cantonese when they are learning it.

  • The episode closes by zooming out and revealing that Nadeshiko and the others are located quite close to Mount Fuji, suggesting the island is located in the Sagami-nada Sea. Given the proximity of the coast, and the shape of the island, I would guess that the desert island of Yuru Camp△ is modelled after Hatsushima, which is located six kilometers off the coast of Japan and in real life, is home to around 215 people, a resort and no volcanic mountain. From the air, at around the same angle the island of Yuru Camp△ is shown in, Mount Fuji is indeed visible. This brings my talk on Yuru Camp△’s third OVA to a close, and not a moment too soon: it would turn out there’s another closed alpha for Battlefield V starting later today.

Survival Camp’s runtime, at twelve minutes, might be shorter than that of a standard episode, but nonetheless manages to fully occupy its runtime with the high-energy, adorable antics and adventures that Rin, Nadeshiko, Chiaki, Aoi and Ena find themselves in while on a tropical island. The premise of ditching a plane and landing on an tropical island within visual sight of Mount Fuji is a little whacky, and the OVA’s place in Yuru Camp△ proper is difficult to pinpoint, but none of these elements seem so relevant when audiences see the girls doing their best to survive in their own way, all the while making the most of the moment to have a good time. Yuru Camp△ has long been counted as one of the strongest anime of the Winter 2018 season, and while we’ve had two modestly enjoyable OVAs following a solid finish to the first season, the Survival Camp OVA demonstrates that Yuru Camp△ is a series whose characters and set up are versatile enough such that they can be applied to a variety of situations and settings. That Nadeshiko and the others’ time on the tropical island progresses with equal measure hilarity and adherence to what is realistic shows that the sky is the limit for what OVAs in Yuru Camp△ can be about. Of course, I do not anticipate that C-Station would have the rights to remake Survivorman and switch out Les Stroud for the likes of Nadeshiko, Rin, Chiako, Aoi and Ena, but the fact remains is that clever writing and resourceful use of camping as a premise has allowed for Yuru Camp△ to remain highly engaging. I greatly enjoyed the OVA, and strongly recommend it for everyone who has seen Yuru Camp△ and found it agreeable: given the strong sales of this series, and the fact that the manga is ongoing, a continuation seems very likely, but until then, OVAs such as Survival Camp will be a fine way of extending the fun from watching this series.

4 responses to “Survival Camp!, or Surviorman’s Pacific Island meets Yuru Camp△: An OVA Review and Reflection

  1. DerekL August 14, 2018 at 12:01

    Speaking of survival… It should come as no surprise the Navy is constantly ready for survival situations. (Ships can be lost in peacetime too.) Equally, it should come as no surprise that everyone is assigned a job/task for practically every situation. My task, in the event of Abandon Ship, was to bring six quart cans of water from their stowage location to the escape hatch.

    Like

    • infinitezenith August 14, 2018 at 18:36

      Thanks for the share! I’m not particularly surprised about how structured and disciplined things are in the navy considering what’s at risk. Yuru Camp△ is the polar opposite, and for fiction, I don’t mind this at all 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • DerekL August 14, 2018 at 23:31

        “Yuru Camp△ is the polar opposite, and for fiction, I don’t mind this at all”

        Oh, agreed! It was just a random memory that popped into my head when reading this. For some reason that keeps happening when reading your posts. 🙂

        Like

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