The Infinite Zenith

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

Yuru Camp△: Review and Reflections on the Live Action Adaptation, or, Les Stroud’s Survivorman meets Adam Richman’s Man v. Food

“各位,而家唔係冇電,又唔係真人登台,係打劫。” –九叔, 半斤八兩

2018’s Yuru Camp△ proved to be a fantastic hit, following the camping adventures of the stoic Rin Shima and energetic Nadeshiko Kagamihama as their mutual love for the scenery surrounding Mount Fuji gradually leads Rin to be more open to camping with others, as well as developing Nadeshiko’s own love for camping. After a fateful meeting at Koan Campground on the shores of Lake Motosu when Nadeshiko found herelf lost, Rin helps her to call home, and earns Nadeshiko’s gratitude. Nadeshiko falls in love with camping and joins her high school’s Outdoors Activity Club, befriending Chiaki Ōgaki and Aoi “Inuko” Inuyama and accompanies them on several adventures. Even though Rin is reluctant to camp with Nadeshiko at first, she begins to accept Nadeshiko and shares in her adventures with her, as well as the Outdoors Activity Club. After inviting Nadeshiko to try out her new portable grill at Lake Shibire and receiving help from Chiaki on her latest solo excursion, Rin agrees to join Nadeshiko and the Outdoors Activity Club on a Christmas camping trip, coming to appreciate that camping with others has its own merits. Originally adapted from Afro’s manga, Yuru Camp△‘s animated adaptation became a runaway success, and besides a second season that is to air in the winter of 2021, Yuru Camp△ also received a live-action adaptation, featuring Haruka Fukuhara as Rin, Yuno Ōhara as Nadeshiko, Momoko Tanabe as Chiaki, Yumena Yanai as Aoi and Sara Shida as Ena Saitō. Announced in November 2019, this television drama aired from January to April this year, and is a largely faithful retelling of the events in Yuru Camp△. It marks the first time I’ve watched a J-drama front to back: Yuru Camp△‘s short length and premise meant I had no difficulty in following the live-action drama’s events, and before long, I’d finished all twelve episodes. The drama acts as an enjoyable bridge between Heya Camp△ and the long-awaited second season, treading upon familiar ground with a fresh new perspective and the extra dimension that live actions offer.

The question of how effectively a live-action adaptation of Yuru Camp△ can capture the atmosphere of the anime is likely the first thing on all viewers’ minds, and the answer to this might be a disappointment for some. In general, the highly exaggerated mannerisms and expressions that characters of an anime exhibit are a deliberate choice, to accentuate a certain emotion or manner effectively to the viewer. This is done because in the two-dimensional medium, nuances in communication are lost. Without things like body language and subtle facial expressions to convey how someone is feeling, anime employs highly visceral means of capturing and conveying those same emotions. For instance, someone with an open posture and focused eye contact on a speaker indicates they are paying full attention, excited about the topic at hand, but this is trickier to capture with anime, so an anime must therefore use wild gestures to capture the same. However, translating the gestures and mannerisms of anime characters into a live-action comes across as being jarring: Yuru Camp△‘s live action adaptation chooses to have Rin, Nadeshiko et al. act similarly to their anime counterparts, and the result is that the girls come across as overacting. Nadeshiko feels even more excitable than her anime counterpart, and even the stoic Rin feels highly expressive. The end result is that anime mannerisms appear strange, exaggerated in real life; because real people have more subtle cues in body language that speak to how they are feeling, porting the anime’s manner into to the live action Yuru Camp△ creates a far more rambunctious environment than was present in Yuru Camp△. The other aspect that the live action drama does not capture from the anime is the incidental music: Yuru Camp△‘s anime adaptation, with a soundtrack from Akiyuki Tateyama, features a section of pieces with a distinct Celtic influence that universally captures the grandeur and wonder of the outdoors. By comparison, the drama’s music is much more mundane and does not illustrate the joys that Rin, Nadeshiko and the others experience in their adventures to the same extent. Consequently, the drama’s soundscape feels subdued by comparison; the anime’s soundtrack created an outdoors feel with its use of the Irish instruments and whistling, which figured in scenes ranging from the panoramas of a campsite to more ordinary moments at school.  Those same moments are not as majestic within the drama.

While it appears that I’ve rattled off a large list of detractors about the live action adaptation of Yuru Camp△, the reality is that the live action has more positives than negatives, and typically, I prefer dealing with the negatives first. The live action drama, on virtue of being set in the real world, offers a new-found sense of realism that exceeds that of even the anime’s. By taking viewers to the real world locations the anime portrayed, Yuru Camp△‘s drama reinforces the feel that everything that happens in the series is something that viewers can experience and enjoy for themselves. The anime had done a spectacular job of portraying real world locations, but this portrayal is a highly idealised one: in a manner of speaking, the anime can be said to make each spot look more impressive than it appears in reality. However, the live action drama presents each location precisely as it appears in real life, and so, the true beauty and splendour of every site is captured without embellishment or modification. This serves to really bring out the sights and sounds that the girls see when visiting each location, bringing to mind the places Les Stroud visits throughout the course of Survivorman. For instance, at Lake Shibire, Yuru Camp△‘s anime presents it as an idyllic spot with autumn colours worthy of a painting, set under the blue sky of a fading autumn’s day. In the live action, however, it is a cloudy day, and the trees are more subdued in colour. However, the reflection of the surrounding forests and mountains in the lake itself is far more vivid: the beauty of Lake Shibire lies not in the autumn colours, but also the lake and its quiet surroundings, perfect for grilling meat under on a brisk day. Yuru Camp△‘s drama adheres to authenticity to an even greater extent than the anime did: whereas Nadeshiko, Chiaki and Aoi visit the fictional Caribou outdoors shop in the anime, visiting by train because that store was near Minobu’s old town, the real world equivalent, Swen, is actually located in Hamamatsu, Nadeshiko’s hometown, which is about 143 kilometres from Minobu Station. By comparison, the live action adaptation takes Chiaki, Aoi and Nadeshiko to Outings Products Elk; located in Kofu, Outings Products Elk is a more manageable 48.8 kilometres from Minobu Station. In reality, it takes around two and a half hours to arrive by train, so it was a very nice touch to have Sakura drive the girls here. Besides capturing the true aesthetics and beauty of the different locations the girls visit, Yuru Camp△‘s live action adaptation also holds one major edge over the anime in its portrayal of food. Owing to the lack of specularity in anime, the glisten of sauces and rich colours on food are not usually captured as effectively; food is a key part of Yuru Camp△, and while the anime had done a strong job with depicting food, the drama holds the clear advantage in presentation. Close-ups of the food in Yuru Camp△‘s drama show the details of every dish, and the girls, especially Rin, enjoy camping food with the same enthusiasm that Adam Richman digs into a dish in Man v. Food to capture their taste. From the spicy gyoza nabe Nadeshiko cooks for Rin at Fumotoppara, the grilled chicken skewers and jambalaya at Shibireko, to the hōtō that Chiaki cooks and the top-grade sukiyaki that Aoi prepares for everyone at the Christmas camp, seeing the girls eating in Yuru Camp△‘s live action adaptation succeeds in conveying the flavour of every dish, even more so than the anime. The live action adaptation evidently has its strengths, and showcases different aspects of Yuru Camp△ relative to the anime adaptation.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • In the live action Yuru Camp△ drama, Haruka Fukuhara plays Rin: an actress, Fukuhara has had roles in television shows and movies, but she also performs some voice work, playing secondary characters in After the Rain and Hello World. Yuru Camp△’s drama replicates the appearances of each character very similarly for the most part, and Fukuhara plays Rin well. I believe this post is the internet’s first and only complete English-language discussion of the drama. While there are a few YouTube videos here and there, as well as a few posts on Reddit, but these are packed with vociferous reactions and obscure memes, making them quite jarring to watch. I use science to take out the memes, leaving readers with what they come for. Before I continue, I’ll briefly explain how this post suddenly consumed the remainder of April.

  • The reason for this post requiring more time to write was two-fold. The first is that I felt it worthwhile to include an inset screenshot of the corresponding moment from Yuru Camp△‘s anime, and therefore, it took a bit of time to ensure that I got an appropriate moment to include, and then create these modified screenshots which showcase the moments side-by-side. Each screenshot thus shows the live action scene in conjunction with the equivalent moment within the anime as an inset. The job isn’t perfect, but I’ve done my best to ensure that the inset images are placed to maximise visibility: there is no pattern to their positioning whatsoever.

  • The second reason is that there’s a bit of material to cover, and I felt that sixty screenshots would be appropriate to ensure I could cover everything to a suitable extent. Even then, there are many moments that I won’t have the space to go over. Sleeping Nadeshiko by the faculties looked hilarious in the anime, and in the live action version, things look a little more ridiculous. With this in mind, it’s certainly not hygienic, and in real life, one would question seeing such a sight.

  • When Yuru Camp△ first aired, I likened the anime to Survivorman for how detailed the series was in explaining techniques for starting campfires, setting tents up and the like. The anime had Rin’s grandfather providing the narration, while in the live action drama, the cast would act out skits that portray how to do certain things. It’s certainly a novel way to keep viewers engaged, and since Rin’s grandfather only has a limited appearance in the drama, this approach also lessens the need for a narrator.

  • Upon seeing Yuru Camp△’s first episode in live action, I wondered how they would handle certain of things, like Nadeshiko tripping on the chain that cordons off the road down to the Koan Camping Grounds off Route 709. It turns out that the live action is a little more tactful, and doesn’t portray what happens next. The first episode had me impressed at just how faithful the series would be towards the original Yuru Camp△, and while there are some changes throughout, the overall thematic elements aren’t changed.

  • In reality, Motosu High School is located nine minutes from Kai-Tokiwa Station, but stands empty. Thanks to Yuru Camp△, the site has seen a surge in visits from fans of the series, and is now counted as a tourist attraction. The anime took some creative liberties with the school’s layout, but the narrow storeroom that the Outdoors Activity Club uses is indeed a part of the school. The anime had Chiaki encounter Nadeshiko looking through the clubroom, but in the live action, both Aoi and Chiaki are present.

  • After accidentally snapping one of the poles on their 900 Yen (11.72 CAD) tent, Ena appears to help the Outdoor Activities Club out, resulting in a similar moment of joy. However, in the drama, Nadeshiko does not run into the window as she did in the anime: such an action would speak poorly to her character. Instead of running into the window, Nadeshiko appears in the library moments later, surprising Rin. The drama makes minor changes to the characters’ actions, improving them in some cases.

  • Rin’s view of Mount Fuji from Fumotoppara in both the anime and drama is a million-yen one. During my trip to Japan three years earlier, I had been in the Yamanashi region, but Mount Fuji was largely obscured by cloud cover. On a clear day, the view really is spectacular, and it’s easy to see why Mount Fuji is the most iconic of all the mountains in Japan, with its distinct shape. There are no equivalents over on this side of the world, and I believe the only other mountain out there with an iconic appearance is the Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps.

  • In an earlier post where I compared Yuru Camp△‘s campground and locations with some of their real-world equivalents, I exclusively used Google Maps and Street View to illustrate how faithful the anime had been to the real world. The live action drama has no trouble with its locations, and promptly returns to the same spots seen in the anime: here, Rin photographs a barn at Fumotoppara while out a walk. In the anime, the barn’s door cover is closed, while in the drama, it’s been rolled back.

  • Rin begins to wish she hadn’t been quite so cold to Nadeshiko, and begins to hear Nadeshiko calling her name out. When Rin opens her eyes, she sees Nadeshiko carrying a basket of ingredients and a blanket, set to prepare a camping meal of a calibre that Rin had never made before. Previously, on her solo outings, Rin carried simpler fare like cup noodles, preferring to spend most of her time in a quiet environment. Meeting with Nadeshiko changes her view of camping, and initially, this change manifests as a desire to try more sophisticated (but still manageable) dishes.

  • The spicy gyoza nabe that Nadeshiko prepares appears absolutely delicious, and the real-world version captures the spices readily: gyoza are Japanese dumplings that are, compared to the Chinese jiaozi (餃子), smaller and made with a thinner wrapper. Nadeshiko’s recipe calls for sesame oil, miso, Chili, chicken stock, cabbage, green onions, garlic chives, White Button mushrooms and tofu, as well as some bean sprouts.

  • Nadeshiko’s love for gyoza foreshadows her origins as a resident of Hamamatsu: Shizuoka vies with Tochigi prefecture as the leading consumers of gyoza in Japan, and in these prefectures, the dish is so popular that unconventional fillings, like shrimp, can also be found. Watching Nadeshiko and Rin enjoying their dinner as the evening wears on in the live action was particularly fun, bringing to mind Adam Richman’s early Man v. Food episodes where he would visit two restaurants in a city for some authentic local eats before squaring off against that city’s challenge.

  • I’ve long felt that Man v. Food could’ve been just as fun without the eating challenges, and while shows like You Gotta Eat Here! and Diners, Drive-ins and Dives showcase excellent foods all around (including Calgary’s very own Big T’s BBQ), there’s a magic about Adam Richman and the way he expresses his enjoyment of food that other food show hosts can’t replicate. It is therefore high praise when I say that Yuru Camp△‘s drama captures the taste of food as effectively as Richman does in Man v. Food.

  • I remember Man v. Food best for accompanying me nearly eight summers ago: when I was stating down the MCAT, to cope with the stresses, I would crack frequent jokes about the challenge the MCAT presented in the context of Adam Richman’s stylised portrayal of his food challenges. While this seems a childish practise, being able to make light of a difficult situation is a vital skill in keeping morale and focus up, and this is something Les Stroud supports, as well. With frequently allusions to Man v. Food and Survivorman, the comparisons I draw between these shows and Yuru Camp△ demonstrates the extent of my enjoyment of the series.

  • Yuru Camp△‘s live action uses the library at Motosu High School, but unlike the anime, where the lights are usually switched off, the drama’s library is more brightly lit and inviting. I imagine that for the live action, the producers obtained permission to use parts of the school during their filming. Previously, the old Motosu High School stood empty as a haikyo until Yuru Camp△ brought the site back to life as a tourist attraction.

  • One aspect that I was particularly impressed with was how closely the drama’s actresses matched their anime counterparts: Yuno Ōhara does capture the energy and warmth that Nadeshiko projects, and similarly, Momoko Tanabe does an excellent job with Chiaki in both manner and facial expressions. On the other hand, Aoi is a bit of an interesting character, and while Yumena Yanai does speak with a light Kansai accent as Aoi, her drama counterpart lacks Aki Toyosaki’s soft voice and a propensity towards bad jokes.

  • While viewers have long known that Yuru Camp△ had been modelled after the real world, seeing the drama take the Outdoor Activities Club to the actual locations themselves really drives home the idea that everything seen in Yuru Camp△ could be done in reality. During my trip to Japan three years ago, my itinerary actually took me very close to the locations of Yuru Camp△, and this was a particularly enjoyable visit precisely because so much of it was spent in the countryside. While I get that Tokyo is the home of pretty much everything that’s cool in Japan, there is much character in the smaller cities, towns and inaka.

  • After spending a full day in Yamanashi, I travelled up to Nagano down the same route that Rin took, although unlike Rin, my destination was actually Shirakabako, where there are several resort hotels. I’ve opted to draw a comparison here between what is essentially the corresponding moments between the anime and drama where Rin stops behind another vehicle at an intersection. Rin rides a Yamaha Vino Classic, a moped with an 49 cc engine and impressive theoretical range of 248 kilometres. Because of its engine size, the Vino Classic is classified as a moped, and in my jurisdiction, only requires a Class VII license to operate. Motorcycles, on the other hand, require a special Class VI, while most motor vehicles require a Class V.

  • While the climb up to Fuefukigawa Fruit Park leaves Chiaki and Aoi exhausted, Nadeshiko has energy to spare, and asks the others to take a self-portrait with her before she runs around the open plaza at the park’s entrance. One small detail I noticed in the anime, is that Aoi’s eyebrows are so prominent that they show up through any headgear she’s sporting. This naturally cannot be replicated in real life, but the drama does have Aoi wearing the same hat as she did in the anime, as a nice touch.

  • Even though Rin is fond of her solo camping trips, Yuru Camp△ portrays her as being fond of keeping in touch with others on her travels: Rin may have coldly rejected Nadeshiko’s invitation earlier, but in general, she’s never bothered whenever Nadeshiko exchanges messages with her. One touch about Yuru Camp△ that was subtle, but clever, is that Rin gets to know Nadeshiko (and later, Chiaki) better through exchanging messages on their phones. Rin’s messages with Ena serve as the baseline for how Rin interacts with people she’s familiar with; while her early messages with Nadeshiko are a bit more formal, over time, the exchanges become more spirited.

  • Despite being utterly wasted from the walk up to Fuefuki Fruits Garden, Chiaki and Aoi get a second wind when they learn of the ice cream shop inside the visitor centre. The drama has the girls leaving their stuff behind to indicate how excited they are, whereas in the anime, Chiaki and Aoi have the presence of mind to take their stuff with them. Since the drama does not have the same facial expressions the anime does, it falls to other visual methods of conveying the energy that the girls have.

  • At Korobokkuru Hutte, a small restaurant with rustic outdoors decor, Rin stops for a lunch of her own: a borscht combo that warms her right up. Korobokkuru Hutte’s borscht is 羅宋湯 (jyutping lo4 sung3 tong1, literally “Russian Soup”), or Chinese borscht, which is made from tomato, cabbage, onion and beef broth. This dish is so named because of its origins in Harbin, which is located close to the Russian border. It’s an excellent soup, being flavourful and warming, but unlike true Ukrainian borscht, Chinese borscht does not have any beets in it. Hong Kong restaurants serve this as an appetiser, where the sour and spicy soup helps to kick off the meal. At Korobokkuru Hutte, their borscht set costs 1300 yen and comes with bread, as well as a drink of choice – the borscht itself includes succulent chunks of beef, making it a hearty meal perfect for the cold of Nagano.

  • The last time I wrote about the Kirigamine webcam for Yuru Camp△, Flash was on the way out, and these days, most browsers will warn visitors that their Flash plugin is blocked. Nadeshiko and the others manage to catch Rin waving to them here in the drama, just like in the anime, although I note that attempting to do this in reality would very likely need an Android phone: Steve Jobs was very adamant about Flash never coming to iOS devices, citing bloat and security concerns, and the superior HTML5 has since superseded flash in most applications. I imagine that the prefectural government will need to update their site if fans of Yuru Camp△ are to be able to view their webcam on any smartphone, just as Nadeshiko, Aoi and Chiaki do.

  • While Aoi, Chiaki and Nadeshiko enjoy the warm waters of the onsen at Hottarakashi, which is a little further up the hill, Rin struggles with the cold of Nagano’s Kirigamine Highlands. Yuru Camp△ shows Rin as being relatively new to the idea of ad hoc travel: whereas her solo camping excursions previously took her to a campsite, where she would set up and then take it easy for the remainder of a day, she begins to be more inquisitive and travel around more after securing her moped license. However, on multiple occasions, Rin fails to recall that many attractions, open during the summer, are now closed for the winter, and so, when things don’t turn out to be as expected, she lacks a backup plan of sorts. However, when Rin learns to improvise, she comes to appreciate the joys that accompany maintaining an open mind.

  • Because they plan on having a substantial cook-out later with the ingredients they’ve brought, the Outdoors Activity Club refrains from having a full lunch, but are still tempted by the onsen eggs: these are essentially fried soft-boiled eggs, but cooked within the waters of an onsen that give them a distinct, custard-like taste. They’re traditionally served with soy sauce, but Hottarakashi Onsen has a deep-fried version: fried soft-boiled eggs aren’t too tricky to make, but the unique combination of boiling them in onsen water ahead of time would impart a completely different taste.

  • Yuru Camp△ represents the sweet spot between watching Adam Richman struggle to finish some gigantic burger or burrito for a food challenge, and watching Les Stroud hunting for wild edibles while in the bush: unlike Survivorman, Rin and the others have access to delicious food for camping that is enjoyable to watch, and the show focuses on the enjoyment of just the right amount of food, unlike Man v. Food. Here, Rin enjoys a bacon-vegetable pasta with a white cream sauce: she notes its the first time she’s had something so fancy while camping, and savours every moment of it. In the anime, the narrator explains that the advantage of this recipe is that nothing goes to waste, and with a little bit of preparation ahead of time, yields a delicious pasta that leaves very little mess.

  • By comparison, the Outdoors Activity Club enjoy a full-on curry together. Even when camping, the recipes Nadeshiko uses is more sophisticated than what I typically cook: for me, a good curry involves either chicken or beef, potatoes, carrots and onions. This is the simplest curry to make: one only need to cook the meats, then separately, boil the potatoes, carrots and onions, and mix in everything with the curry. However, Nadeshiko’s recipe adds okra and eggplant as well: eggplant can work out of the box, but with okra, since it produces mucilage, has a slimy texture if not prepared properly. The trick here would be to soak it in vinegar for half an hour before cooking it, or else cook it separately at higher temperatures and then use the cooked okra in the dish of choice.

  • The point of showing a side-by-side comparison of Rin and Nadeshiko’s camping adventure was to accentuate that, despite their differences in camping preferences, the outcome is the same; both get to experience something wonderful, and for the viewer, it means that Rin eventually deciding to accept a group camping invitation isn’t too far off. It’s one of the best scenes in all of Yuru Camp△, and while the drama does a solid job of creating the scene, the superimposing of the two campers, side-by-side is not done. The impact of the scene, while still present in the drama, is not quite as profound as in the anime, though.

  • The differences between the anime and drama are noticeable, and it’s not a 1:1 adaptation, but overall, I would say that most of the gripes I have are to be knit-picking to an unfair extent. In case it was not clear, I thoroughly enjoyed watching the live-action version of Yuru Camp△ – once I got started into the series, I began looking forwards to it each week. The page quote, taken from Sam Hui’s 1976 movie, The Private Eyes, was prompted by my initial reaction to learning that there was a live action version of Yuru Camp△. In The Private Eyes, during the climactic robbery scene at the theatre, villain Uncle Nine (Shih Kien) declares that they’re stopping a movie the patrons are watching, not because there’s a power outage or because they’re switching to a live-action show, but because it’s going to be a robbery. Yuru Camp△‘s live action drama, on the other hand, can be considered to be the “真人登台” (jyutping zan1 jan4 dang1 toi4, “live acting on stage”) that Uncle Nine is referring to.

  • While denied a trip to the onsen in her way to Nagano, Rin manages to find one at a later time, and also buys a souvenir for Nadeshiko, who eats the souvenir buns with zeal once Rin gifts them to her. Here, Rin’s portable grill is visible: both Ena and Nadeshiko wonder if it’s an offertory box (colloquially, a “poor box”), which is a stab how Rin’s highly specialised gear is obscure enough so that its function is not immediately apparent to common folk. This other perspective of the library in the drama, when compared to the anime, shows the differences in lighting, and again, the library of the drama feels much more inviting than its counterpart in the anime.

  • Rin invites Nadeshiko to go camping and try out the new portable grill; this trip takes them to the shores of Lake Shibire, and it’s a bit of a distance, so Sakura will be driving the two. In using a real-world location for Rin’s house, the drama also shows that in Yuru Camp△‘s anime, the Shima residence has been fictionalised: the forest is thicker, and there are fewer other houses around. In the interest of not having droves of Yuru Camp△ fans show up at the real world location and potentially hassling the residents, I’ve elected not to disclose where Rin’s house was filmed in this discussion despite having found the location. I’ve seen discussions on Reddit where some folks from Japan have attempted to find Rin’s house and were unsuccessful in doing so: I note that location hunting is a bit of a talent, and that even residents can have trouble identifying things shot in their area. For instance, Pure Pwnage filmed the infamous FPS_Doug segment in a community in the south of my city, but because I don’t go to the south, I didn’t recognise the neighbourhood.

  • While shopping for meat to cook during their camping trip, Rin discovers that the Selva in Minobu does not have all the exotic cuts she was looking for on account of it being winter: of pork jowl, ribs, kalbi (Korean beef short-ribs), horumon (offal of pork and beef) and other specialty cuts, only the kalbi and ribs are available. In the anime, Rin breaks down, while in the drama, she retains a bit more composure but still looks on the verge of tears. Nadeshiko’s quick thinking sorts things out: the store still has chicken and pork skewers, which go great on a grill.

  • Upon arriving at Lake Shibire, the fellow managing the campsite provides instructions for reaching the actual campgrounds across the lake. Nadeshiko had picked the site out on recommendation from Chiaki, who wanted to check the site out on account of its mysteries. The anime has the narrator explaining the story of a phantom bull that sometimes appears on the lake shores, while in the drama, Rin takes the responsibility of recounting this legend.

  • After setting up camp, Nadeshiko goes exploring while Rin warms up her binchotan coals; these coals are named after Bicchuya Chozaemon, a charcoal (tan) maker who lived in Wakayama during the 1600s. Using Ubame oak in his area, which is tougher and having a smaller grain than other trees, the charcoal he produced burned much more cleanly and for longer than standard charcoal. However, it is also tougher to light because of the charcoal’s composition, and so, Rin finds herself lacking the materials to generate a heat long enough to light them. Fortunately, Nadeshiko’s just met some friendly people, and gets some help in lighting the charcoal from a fellow camper.

  • Binchotan requires at least 25 minutes to fully light, and after that, require around an hour to reach a maximum temperature of 370℃. Rin remarks that food cooked over binchotan tastes better, and there is a fact in this point: because binchotan burns with less smoke than regular charcoal, it leaves a very subtle flavour on food grilled over it that a learned palette can distinguish. This is why Rin was so excited about grilling over her new grill, and in the end, even conventional chicken and pork skewers taste amazing. She decides to share some, along with Nadeshiko’s nabe, with the campers who’d helped them, and receive jambalaya for their troubles.

  • Thus, by camping with Nadeshiko, Rin sees first-hand how rolling with the punches can result in an experience that is enjoyable. Every camping trip in Yuru Camp△ serves a purpose: Koan was where Rin and Nadeshiko first met, Fumotoppara gave Rin a chance to know the real Nadeshiko better, Fuefuki/Nagano was a chance for Rin to see how much the two had in common despite their different personalities through electronic messaging (which allows Rin a modicum of solitude while at once still discovering more about Nadeshiko), and Shibireko gives Rin a look at Nadeshiko’s “play-it-by-ear” style.

  • As evening sets in, Rin and Nadeshiko prepare to turn in. Nadeshiko is still worried about the phantom bull, but ironically, it is Rin who ends up crashing in Nadeshiko’s tent after coming face-to-face with the “bull” (actually Minami Toba, one of the campers they’d encountered earlier). I stand by my old assertion that prior to meeting Nadeshiko, Rin is very much someone who doesn’t have a mind for handling the unexpected, and when problems look like they’re outside of her scope, she tends to panic. This is something that gradually dissipates as she spends more time with Nadeshiko.

  • Yuru Camp△ had Chiaki and Aoi spend a half-episode seasoning a cast-iron skillet and removing the varnish from a wooden bowl for use with hot foods, but the drama skips over this segment entirely: Chiaki and Aoi invite Ena to camp with them for Christmas after exams, and then with Nadeshiko, head straight to Outings Products Elk to check out sleeping pads. This was one of the best changes in Yuru Camp△‘s drama: there is no outdoors product store in Minobu, and Caribou is based off Sven in Hamamatsu. However, it is named after Outings Products Elk in Kofu, and the drama takes the care of having Sakura drive them here, rather than taking the train, because of how far away it is from Minobu and Nambu.

  • When Nadeshiko learns of the price of the gas lamp, she covers her eyes in shock and remarks she’s just looking for now. In one of those rare moments, Nadeshiko’s actions in the anime translate into real life rather elegantly, and the drama’s portrayal of the scene is just as adorable as it was in the anime. If memory serves, the prices are a bit different between the anime and drama: the anime gave the Coleman gas lamp as costing 4690 Yen (61.52 CAD), but in the drama, it’s 5980 Yen (78.44 CAD). This is a ways pricier than the Coleman models available at my local outdoors shop; an equivalent propane lamp from Coleman costs around 50 CAD.

  • Rin actually had another trip planned with Nadeshiko, a sign of the closing distance between the two, but when Nadeshiko catches a cold, Rin is left to travel on her own. She shifts up her itinerary completely, and right out of the gates, runs into problems when her planned route is closed. Fortunately, even though Nadeshiko might be sick, she’s on the mend, and Chiaki decides to visit her, both keeping her company and watching Nadeshiko message Rin, which gives her a better idea of what Shimarin is like. Their guidance and support of Rin helps her to have an amazing time, as well as making it feel as though they were there with her.

  • With her pride as a Yamanashi girl at stake, Chiaki ends up making enough hōtō for the entire Kagamihama family: she had brought some over as a get-well gift for Nadeshiko, but when the entire family shows up, she realises that she can’t just do some basic recipe. One thing that I found surprising about hōtō is that one needn’t quench the noodles with cold water after boiling it: in Chinese noodle soup, I do this to to immediately halt the cooking process and cool the noodles so they don’t cook any further and become a soggy mess. As it turns out, the starch on the hōtō is there to thicken the broth. The entire family enjoy Chiaki’s recipe, much to her relief, and Sakura asks her for the recipe. It’s a fun scene that captures the Kagamihama family’s atmosphere – everyone is easygoing except for Sakura, but even then, she’s still kind-hearted.

  • While Chiaki’s whipped up delicious hōtō for Nadeshiko and her family, Rin is settling in to a soak at Hayataro Onsen overlooking the Minami Alps in Komagane. This onsen is named after an area legend and is renowned for its seamless integration with nature. With odourless water, Hayataro Onsen is popular amongst those looking to refresh their skin, and the drama portrayal makes it doubly clear that these hot springs are beautiful: the lighting in the real onsen gives the baths an even warmer and more inviting feel than that of the anime.

  • After Rin leaves the baths, Nadeshiko and Chiaki have an adorable fight about what Rin should have for lunch: both agree that she should eat something specific to the area, but there are two specialties. As it turns out, there’s a sauce katsu and udon combo that lets Rin have best of both worlds for a mere 1000 yen. After a delicious meal, Rin falls asleep in the canteen and finds herself late for the next leg of her journey. Things rapidly look to go south when the fastest route to her campsite appears blocked, and ultimately, it is Chiaki who walks Rin through what to do next.

  • By having Chiaki provide assistance to Rin during this time, it gives Chiaki a chance to interact with Rin and bring Rin closer to the Outdoor Activities Club itself; until now, Rin had largely conversed and spent time with Nadeshiko, but is otherwise unfamiliar with Chiaki and Aoi. Chiaki’s help shows Rin that Nadeshiko is in a club with friendly and warm people – despite being very boisterous and fond of posturing, Chiaki does genuinely care for those around her and will do her best to help them. Rin is ultimately very grateful for the help: she makes it to the campsite on time, checks in and prepares a simple but delicious dinner of fried pork bun with the tea she’d gotten from some hikers earlier.

  • While Rin initially declines Chikai’s invitation to camp with the Outdoors Activity Club at Christmas, she comes around after giving it some thought: being with Nadeshiko has made her more aware of being mindful of others, and recalling Chiaki’s kindness earlier, she decides that it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to hang out with the others. When things get tricky, Chiaki prefers to do voice calls over messaging: hearing a friendly voice on the other end of the line was much more reassuring for Rin when she was trying to traverse the road, and similarly, a voice inviting her to camp ends up being more effective.

  • While the Outdoors Activity Club had been sharing an advisor with the more involved Hiking Club, there was a limit on how much time that instructor could spend on both clubs. With Minami Toba formally arriving as a teacher, she’s made the advisor of the Outdoors Activity Club; Minami is initially reluctant to do anything that might cut away from her free time, but upon learning that Chiaki and the others are fairly independent, she relents. Both the anime and drama present her as being a graceful-looking individual with a not-so-secret love for drinking.

  • We’ve come to it at last: Yuru Camp△‘s anime and live-action adaptation open the girls’ Christmas camp at the Asagiri YMCA Global Eco Village, with a shot of Chiaki and Aoi running up and down the open plains in sheer joy as they marvel at how much space there is. Whereas the anime has Chiaki tripping on Aoi’s foot and then rolling a ways down the hillside, the drama has Chiaki falling on her own and coming to a stop immediately, saving her some face.

  • Since Chiaki and Aoi have arrived so early, they’ve already gone ahead and checked in. Thinking she’d been the first to arrive, Rin makes to check in but aren’t able to find the others anywhere, so she begins setting up her gear. Nadeshiko arrives shortly after, and Rin decides to make some s’mores, a camping confectionery with North American origins: these treats are a simple combination of graham crackers with chocolate and marshmallow melted in between, and the earliest recipe for the “Some More” was published in 1920. They’ve become quite popular for being very tasty despite their simple preparation, and over time, “Some More” eventually became contracted as s’more.

  • Since they’d arrived so early, Chiaki and Aoi walked to the Makaino Farm Resort café, which is located a mere 641 metres from the YMCA Global Eco Village building. After linking up with Chiaki and Aoi, Rin buys firewood as a thanks to Aoi for providing the bulk of dinner, and makes to carry them back on her moped, but leaves one bundle behind because she’s hit her capacity, leaving Chiaki to carry the remaining bundle an estimated 850 metres.

  • Asagiri’s YMCA Global Eco Village was the campsite whose location was most difficult ascertain, since there’s also another YMCA Global Eco Village some ten kilometres north of the one the girls camp at. Fortunately, Ena has no trouble finding the others: her arrival is preceded by Chikuwa’s arrival. Ena’s dog, Chikuwa, is a long-haired chihuahua. In the anime, Chikuwa has brown and white fur, but for the live-action drama, she’s got white fur. Chihuahuas are small dogs that have a large presence, and they’re excellent companions, being relatively easy to train and willing to accompany their owners. There is a bit of a deviation here between the anime and drama: the former has Chiaki breaking out a Frisbee once she and Aoi arrive, while the drama has Nadeshiko encounter Rin’s grandfather.

  • However, there are more similarities than differences, and in both the drama and anime for Yuru Camp△, the girls swing by to admire Ena’s winter-capable sleeping bag before heading off to check out Rin’s gear. Being kitted out for extremely cold conditions, Ena’s sleeping bag cost 45000 Yen (588.47 CAD): while pricey, to put things in perspective the average winter sleeping bag will cost somewhere in the neighbourhood of 600 CAD.

  • The day draws to a close, and the sun begins setting over the Asagiri Plateau, blanketing Mount Fuji in a red light. This phenomenon is best seen during the autumn months, when a setting sun and cloudless sky creates the perfect conditions for scattering red light. Because of the colours in the drama, I feel that a reddish-orange filter was instead used to create the same effect, since the entire scene, and not just Mount Fuji, are cast in a reddish light.

  • The time has finally come for dinner preparations to begin, and Aoi begins to make dinner using the fancy meat she’d won from the raffle. The anime has Aoi and the others cooking after the sun has set, whereas in the drama, there is still a bit of light. Yuru Camp△‘s anime starts the dinner party a little earlier in the eleventh episode, while the drama has Aoi begin cooking in the finale. The difference is that in the anime, the girls spend a bit more time relaxing as well, whereas in the drama, they hit the hay shortly after enjoying the onsen.

  • The special that Aoi’s got in mind is a Kansai-style sukiyaki, where she adds a bit of beef fat to the pot and lightly heats the meat with soy sauce, sugar, and sake. Subsequently, shiitakeenoki, green onions, fried tofu, shiritaki noodles, and greens are thrown in. The resulting sukiyaki is then brought to a gentle boil and eaten with egg. Rin finds herself in food heaven: she describes food as well as Adam Richman does, and while she’s a lot quieter about enjoying her food, both anime and drama show that she’s greatly enjoying every bite. Nadeshiko and Chiaki, on the other hand, are as energetic as Adam Richman, but do not share is eloquence in conveying the quality of their food.

  • With the remaining meat, Aoi whips up a Western-style tomato pasta with fried onion and basil in the same pot that was used to make the sukiyaki, resulting in a flavour explosion that fuses together the richness of the sukiyaki with a kick from the tomatoes. Yuru Camp△ really emphasises that good food is a massive morale booster, bringing warmth to a cold night; the effects of food cannot be understated, and in Survivorman, Les Stroud notes that being able to eat something nice increases one’s will to survive. Of late, I’ve been watching Les Stroud do live commentary of his old episodes, and for me, the #QuarantineLife means getting to go a little fancier with home cooking, such as two recent dishes: an All-Canadian Spaghetti with bacon, white mushroom and an Alfredo sauce, and a savoury sticky rice with Chinese sausage and shiitake topped with fresh green onion.

  • The beef that Aoi brings to Christmas camping is the same sort of beef that I use with another home recipe: after frying the beef in a bit of olive oil, Korean BBQ sauce is added alongside shallots and enotake mushrooms. Back in Yuru Camp△, because it’s Christmas, everyone is decked out in Santa Claus outfits, as well, with the exception of Rin. Subsequently, everyone swings by the onsen to warm up before preparing to turn in for the night. The anime had an entertaining sequence where Nadeshiko images herself to have devised a rocket-propelled tent, but in the drama, this is noticeably absent.

  • As the night sets in and the air cools, Rin and the Outdoors Activity Club wrap themselves in blankets to keep warm. The characters of the drama are more disciplined than their anime counterparts, hitting the hay shortly after, while in the anime, Chiaki breaks out a tablet and introduces everyone to the joys of Netflix. What is consistant are the blankets and hot cocoa: Yuru Camp△ popularised Nadeshiko’s love of using blankets to keep warm whilst sitting around the fire and it’s become something that’s now synonymous with comfort.

  • As dawn breaks, Rin and Nadeshiko get up to help prepare an all-Japanese breakfast for the others to enjoy. Consisting of grilled salmon and natto on rice with a miso soup, it’s a nutritious and hearty start to the day. Of the items I’ve seen, natto remains the one food I’m reluctant to try: I’ve heard it’s a bit of an acquired taste, and while exposure to it could convince me to come around (for instance, I’ve become much more fond of oysters in recent years), for the time being, it’s the one Japanese food I’m not terribly accustomed to.

  • The Outdoors Activity Club, Rin and Ena enjoy breakfast under a swift sunrise, and then subsequently pack up their gear and head home for the remainder of their Christmas break. Yuru Camp△‘s anime had Nadeshiko meeting Rin at Lake Motosu by spring, whereas in the drama, Rin takes off for an unknown destination, and Nadeshiko is admiring her newly-bought, hard-earned camping gear, ready to make use of it on the Outdoors Activity Club’s next adventure. This is where the second season, set to begin in January 2021, will kick off, and I’m most excited to see what directions Yuru Camp△ will go in.

  • Whether it’s the drama or anime, Yuru Camp△ concludes in an immensely enjoyable and satisfying manner, definitely worth the watch. With the drama in the books, this brings one of the longest posts I’ve written in a while to its end (this post spans some eight thousand and fifty seven words). Because of the global health crisis and its impact on all aspects of everyday life, the spring anime season has essentially ground to a halt for me, so in the upcoming month, I will be focusing on the sizeable backlog of shows I’ve accumulated. Bofuri and Nekopara are two shows I plan on looking at, along with an older anime called Sketchbook. Besides catching up on older shows for the remainder of the spring season, KonoSuba‘s movie, and Hello World, are also on the horizon.

When everything is said and done, the live action adaptation of Yuru Camp△ acts as a wonderful companion to the anime and original manga. While the flow of events may differ slightly from the anime, and the characterisation is a little over-the-top, Yuru Camp△‘s drama retains all of the joys seen in the original series, bringing out a different side to the series in its portrayal of locations and the wonderful camping cuisine Nadeshiko and the others bring to the table. The drama also replicates the smaller details seen in the anime extremely well. The girls use the same camping implements that were seen in the anime, and the drama also goes through the pains of ensuring that the actresses playing Rin, Nadeshiko, Chiaki, Ena and instructor Toba resemble their anime counterparts (with the exception that Aoi’s actress only vaguely resembles her in manner and appearance). Ena does make “bear hair” out of Rin’s bun, and Sakura drives a Nissan Rasheen of the same make and colour as she did in the anime. The SMS conversations that Rin and the others exchange are faithful to the originals, as well. Altogether, while perhaps not possessing the same fluffiness as the anime, there is a magic in Yuru Camp△‘s drama that makes the series worth watching: the drama accentuates different aspects of the series and brings them to light, augmenting one’s appreciation of the work that went into making Yuru Camp△ as a whole. It’s relatively straightforward to recommend the Yuru Camp△ drama to anyone who enjoyed Yuru Camp△ and is suffering from withdrawal now that Heya Camp△ is done; until the second season airs in 2021, the Yuru Camp△ drama represents the latest addition to the franchise and provides a different, but superbly enjoyable experience for fans of the series.

9 responses to “Yuru Camp△: Review and Reflections on the Live Action Adaptation, or, Les Stroud’s Survivorman meets Adam Richman’s Man v. Food

  1. moyatori May 1, 2020 at 21:27

    This is the second post from you that opens with a Chinese quote! Been watching Canto films?

    Gyoza nabe looks like such an exciting comfort food…🤤

    Like

    • infinitezenith May 3, 2020 at 20:17

      Gyoza nabe looks delicious, and it would be very hearty. In a curious bit of a twist, it turns out the potstickers I get to accompany congee and Chinese doughtnuts on Sundays are actually gyoza: they’re delicious when fried lightly with oil and dipped in red vinegar 🙂

      I think there is no hiding from the fact I’ve been knee-deep in watching Cantonese movies! Sam Hui’s old films are great, this page quote is from The Private Eyes, one of the funniest and best-received movies he’s ever produced and starred in. There are some cases where I write a post, think about something in Cantonese and then get inspired to use the quote. I find that vernacular spoken Cantonese, rather than standard written Chinese, leaves a bit more of an impact, even if it is a bit more effort to ensure the characters are correct.

      Liked by 1 person

      • moyatori May 3, 2020 at 21:36

        I should totally try watching some myself. I was determined to start learning Cantonese, but my efforts so far have been limited to my 10 min. a day app. Vernacular Cantonese is quite fascinating!

        Like

        • infinitezenith May 4, 2020 at 16:00

          Sam Hui and Steven Chow’s movies are great; they’re a bit slang heavy, but outright hilarious for it 🙂 With this in mind, I need to make a more serious effort to learn Mandarin: with north of a billion speakers, it’s superbly useful all around.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. David Birr June 7, 2020 at 13:39

    An omake in Volume 8 of the manga claims that Aoi’s eyebrows show not only through her hair or her cap, but through EVERYTHING … including the walls of the school. This is brought out when she’s puzzled that her friends always know just where to find her. At the end of the sequence, her eyebrows show through the back of her head….

    Liked by 1 person

    • infinitezenith June 11, 2020 at 21:36

      In the context of the bonus chapters, it looks like there’s some z-ordering property that determines where in world-space Inuko’s eyebrows are rendered at. This brings back memories of when I was working on a Unity project and needed to ensure certain things were always visible in world space (otherwise, I would’ve rendered things as a part of the HUD on screen space). It is a clever bit of humour on the omake, and I imagine that in the series proper, Inuko’s eyebrows are probably present simply to allow for increased expressiveness 🙂

      Like

  3. Pingback: Jon’s Creator Showcase: June 2020 Edition – Mechanical Anime Reviews

  4. Nguyễn Hoàng Trung (@Cosmic_Trung) May 22, 2021 at 06:09

    frankly I can’t have a single complaint on Fukuhara’s acting as Rin, anime-ish cheek lines, expressive when she’s alone and with those she’s comfortable with like kind of person Rin is, great voice works. Hence her acting was well on the line between real and uncanny, which was fun to watch

    Like

    • infinitezenith May 24, 2021 at 13:48

      Indeed, Fukuhara has done a phenomenal job as Rin, bringing her character to life. If you’re interested there’s a second season of Yuru Camp△‘s live action drama, and as memory serves, they’re up to episode seven. It’s definitely worth a watch 🙂

      Like

Were we helpful? Did you see something we can improve on? Please provide your feedback today!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: