The Infinite Zenith

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Curry Noodles Are the Best Travel Companion: Yuru Camp△ 2 First Episode Impressions and Review

出入平安

After receiving camping gear from her grandfather during the summer, Rin sets up his old tent in her living room one winter day and decides to go camping nearby; her father drives her to Koan Campground on the shores of Lake Motosu. After setting her tent up, Rin decides to start a campfire on account of it being a brisk one, but is unsuccessful. With help from the campground manager, she gets a fire going and begins to cook dinner, but ruins the rice. Fortunately, Rin’s mother had the foresight of packing additional food for her. After a dinner of instant curry ramen, Rin appreciates the beauty of Mount Fuji under sunset. In the present day, Nadeshiko’s finished her delivery route for the morning and takes a lunch break with Ena. As it turns out, everyone except Chiaki has a bit of time off for the New Year. Rin plans to visit Shizuoka so that she can check out an ocean sunrise, and sets her eyes on the Mitsuke-Tenjin Shrine, home of Shippei Taro. She sets out the next morning and runs into Nadeshiko, who hands her a package of instant curry ramen and wishes her safe travels. Thus begins the long-awaited second season to Yuru Camp△, an iyashikei anime whose focus on camping, and an appreciation of moments, struck a resonant chord with viewers. In its first season, the manga’s themes of companionship, open-mindedness, adaptability and resourcefulness were tied together with a faithful portrayal of camping and brought to life, captivating viewers who universally reported a cathartic, relaxing experience. Announcement of a second season was thus met with anticipation, and out of the gates, Yuru Camp△ 2 does not disappoint, easing viewers back into where things had left off some three years earlier.

Yuru Camp△ 2‘s decision to open with Rin’s first camping trip, set during the late winter, establishes how Rin came to be an avid solo camper: while she’d been tangentially curious about her grandfather’s old gear and preferred to stick to her books, after she found enjoyment in assembling his tent, Rin decided to put the gear to use. Her first-ever camping trip, on the shores of Lake Motosu, is a far cry from how she currently camps: she bends one of the stakes holding the tent in place while hammering them into the ground, struggles to start a fire and improperly cooks her first camping meal. However, after eating curry ramen and taking in Mount Fuji by sunset, Rin was moved, realising that with more equipment and preparation, she’d be able to really enjoy the sights and sounds of nature more often. While Rin has been shown to be somewhat inflexible and not always thoroughly preparing for her trips during Yuru Camp△, she manages to have fun nonetheless, and Yuru Camp△ 2‘s choice of flashback is a reminder that every journey had to have begun somewhere; even though her first camping trip had been comparatively rougher, she came out with precious memories that would start her hobby off in earnest. To open off Yuru Camp△ 2 in this manner is to gently remind viewers that half the fun in adventures is handling the unexpected, and so, as Rin sets off for the Shizuoka, it becomes clear that her journey there will be full of the unexpected but memorable, much as how this second season is going to be full of enjoyable surprises.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • It’s fantastic to be back: after a full year without any Yuru Camp△, and then last year’s excellent live-action drama and Heya Camp△, Yuru Camp△ is now back in full force. This second season opens with Rin returning home from classes to find a package for her. The background is verdant and warm: together with the uniform Rin’s wearing, it would suggest that it is somewhere during the summer. This would mark the first time that Yuru Camp△ has portrayed the Yamanashi area by summer; the story’s events up until now have purely been set during the autumn and winter.

  • For this post and all future posts, I’ve chosen to render the title for Yuru Camp△‘s second season as Yuru Camp△ 2, to differentiate it from the first season. The location of Rin’s house has been a topic of interest for viewers. The location from the live action drama was readily found, but at present, I’m still hunting down the spot for Rin’s house in the anime: the location in real life is supposed to be occupied by a small shed belonging to local flood control crews, but beyond this, I’ve not found the spot for myself yet. The only thing I know right now is that the location is by the Hanki River, a tributary of the Tokiwa River, and while this narrows down the size of the search space, it’ll still take some time to figure the spot out.

  • At this point in time, Rin’s still very much fond of her books, and typically spends most of her days engrossed in a book of some sort. However, on a gentle autumn afternoon, Rin decides to check out the camping gear after pulling open a window and feeling the breeze. In no time at all, she gets the tent set up and decides to keep reading. Eventually, curiosity takes over, and Rin decides to try her hand at camping. Attesting to this being her first-ever solo camping trip, Rin does not have any of her specialised gear that she was seen with during Yuru Camp△.

  • The design of Rin’s home speaks to the Japanese belief about connecting with nature: such a window would easily allow one to welcome in the warm air of a beautiful summer day. Summer in the Japanese countryside are gorgeous, magical, and with nature being such a prominent part of Japanese beliefs, it is unsurprising that architecture is about being in harmony with, rather than keeping out, nature. As Rin’s mind drifts towards properly using her grandfather’s old tent, Yuru Camp△ 2’s opening theme, Seize the Day, begins playing. Asaka’s performance of the song has a late 70s/early 80s city-pop vibe to it, reminiscent of Taeko Ohnuki’s Summer Connection in her Sunshower album.

  • There’s a certain appeal about the sound of city-pop: it is upbeat and lively, and while it did lose popularity during the 90s, made a resurgence in the early 2010s. Yuru Camp△ 2‘s opening theme, in using these elements, creates a sense of joy and yearning in viewers: I found that Seize the Day felt like a distinct upgrade to the first season’s Shiny Days, itself a solid song. At this point in the season, it is still very early, and no release date has been given for Seize the Day just yet. Hence, we return to the shores of Lake Motosu, where Rin’s father prepares to head off after Rin mentions she’ll be okay for getting set up.

  • Right out of the gates, Rin is shown to be a greenhorn with her equipment: this is, after all, her first time camping, and Rin has not yet accrued the experience she is seen with by the events of Yuru Camp△. She is surprised by how hard the ground is, and ends up bending one of the stakes to her tent by sticking it a little too forcefully. Even now, however, Rin is quick to learn, realising that a gentle but firm strike is all that’s needed.

  • The contrast between Rin here and later is also apparent: younger Rin prefers to solely read books after camp is set up, whereas the current Rin also takes the time to explore the camp site and check out all of its sights. However, Rin’s reading party is cut short by the brisk autumn winds: seeing a family with a campfire going, Rin also decides to set up her own campfire. However, when she attempts to light the branches she’s gathered, the flames won’t take. Help from the campground manager means Rin soon has a roaring fire, and she learns here to use kindling to help start her fires. The コンニチワ pinecones make a welcome return here.

  • Once her fire’s ready, Rin sets about preparing dinner; she’s got curry rice planned out for the evening, but ruins the rice. I’ve grown accustomed to cooking rice with a rice cooker, which simplifies the process considerably. In the absence of a good rice cooker, it is fortunate that culinary minds have designed a procedure to ensure great tasting rice. Using a pot, the recommendation is to throw in two units of water per every unit of rice, and after cooking for around seventeen minutes (for a cup of rice, with more time required if there’s more rice), one should simmer the rice. Rin could accomplish this by opening the lid a smidgen and then moving the pot to the side, where the heat is less intense.

  • In the aftermath of her failed efforts to cook dinner, Rin remarks she’ll find some way to properly handle the still-raw grains of rice. Undercooked rice can be easily salvaged: it’s simply not absorbed enough water and expanded into a fluffy, delicious state yet. When Rin attempts to clean the soot off her pot, she finds that it’s stuck on. Experts suggest coating the outside of the pot with a thin film of dishwashing liquid, which reduces the amount of soot that contacts the pot. In Rin’s case, there isn’t anything she’ll be able to feasibly do about the pot at Koan, but once she gets home, a mixture of dish soap and baking soda can be used. After bathing the pot in this for five minutes, using a scouring pad will clear some of the soot off. More stubborn patches can be addressed by immersing the entire pot into a mixture of boiling water and vinegar.

  • Fortunately, Rin’s mother had foreseen that there might be a need for extra food and packed a package of instant curry noodles of the Nissin Cup Noodles variety. Renowned for its rich flavours, and a three-minute prep time, these noodles end up giving Rin some much-needed food energy and taking the edge off hunger. Rin wonders how something so ordinary can be so delicious, scarfing the noodles down as the sun goes down. I would imagine that since this first camping trip, Rin subsequently would always eat instant curry noodles for their simplicity of preparation, and although longing to try more sophisticated recipes, didn’t really get the inspiration to do so until she’d met Nadeshiko.

  • After a day of struggles, Rin finally has a moment to herself. She gazes up to find Mount Fuji bathed in the crimsons and oranges of a day’s last light. This sight is Rin’s magic moment, whereupon she becomes hooked on camping. She begins considering what sort of gear she’d like to have on her next adventure. At around this time, Nadeshiko still lives in Hamamatsu, and can be seen cycling with her childhood friend, Ayano Toki. Because it is commonplace to add more characters into sequels, I expect that that Ayano will appear at some point later this season.

  • Back in the present, Nadeshiko’s settled into her part time job and appears to be making some headway into saving for her Coleman gas lantern. This pegs the first episode as being a ways before Yuru Camp△’s ending, which saw Nadeshiko running into Rin at Lake Motosu by spring. With New Year’s fast approaching, everyone is busy with their work, doing what they can to save up money for the Outdoors Activity Club’s adventures. Yuru Camp△ had the girls go on some memorable adventures on a minimal budget, so Yuru Camp△ 2 could stand to see the girls go on bigger and more exciting camping trips as their budget increases.

  • It looks like there will be time for me to break out the old location hunting prowess I brought to the table during the first season: Nadeshiko works at Minobu Post office, located on a small street a mere thirty-five metres south of the Hagii River, and here, she shares her lunch break with Ena. On the topic of location hunts on the Hagii’s banks, I intend to do an Oculus Quest powered tour of Koisuru Asteroid at some point in the near future: the superior immersion and visibility conferred meant that I had a straightforward time of finding obscure locations, and my last post on Houkago Teibou Nisshi was well-received. It’s been a year-and-a-half since I received my complementary Oculus Quest by attending F8 2019, and while I’ve had a considerable amount of fun with SUPERHOT VR and Wander (the maps app I’ve used for my last location hunt), I’ve not actually bothered with other games in the store, which feel a bit pricey for the amount of replay I’d get out of it.

  • I might consider Half-Life: Alyx if it is ever ported and scaled down to run on the original Oculus Quest, but for now, I’m most happy with the basic suite of apps I already have. Back in Yuru Camp△ 2, it is on the banks of the Hagii River that that Ena and Nadeshiko break for lunch. It becomes clear that even Ena’s getting excited about camping, and she’s been considering buying some gear for herself, even if she hasn’t officially joined the Outdoors Activity Club yet. While Ena and Nadeshiko enjoy their lunch here in Yuru Camp△ 2, I’ll share a moment where I enjoyed my first homemade burger of the year, topped with the works and a side of yam fries. Yuru Camp△ had always excelled in its presentation of food and the subsequent enjoyment; even something as simple as instant noodles is special, something to be savoured.

  • The iconic text message exchanges make a welcome return in Yuru Camp△ 2, as Chiaki, Aoi, Nadeshiko, Ena and even Rin discuss their plans for the remainder of the Winter Break. Ena has the most laid-back plans, intending to sleep in and do a shrine visit before hitting the malls, while Aoi is headed for Takehara (home of Tamayura). Nadeshiko is returning to Hamamatsu to visit family, and Rin intends to do solo camping in Shizuoka. Chiaki feels shafted, but is happy that her friends are all willing to buy her souvenirs. Her manager reprimands her for getting distracted while at work.

  • Because Rin is unfamiliar with Shizuoka, she checks with her father on spots to visit. Her mother, on the other hand, is worried that the New Years crowds may make the roads more dangerous, so Rin promises to take the road less travelled. With her criteria to see an ocean sunrise and the promise of being able to visit Mitsuke-Tenjin Shrine, Rin sets off on her adventure. I will, of course, take a look at Rin’s points of interest as she visits them (i.e. in a future post).

  • En route to her destination, Rin runs into Nadeshiko and greets her. After their adventures together, Rin’s certainly become more cordial with Nadeshiko, coming to appreciate the energy and joy that she brings with her. The dynamic between Rin and Nadeshiko is a brilliant metaphor between introverted and extroverted personalities: while both have preferences for quiet and bustling events, respectively, there is also a middle ground where introverts appreciate the energy extroverts bring, while extroverts may pick up something worthwhile from an introvert. These traits are not mutually exclusive, and it is commonly accepted that people tend to fall along a spectrum.

  • As Yuru Camp△ 2 proceeds, I thus look forwards to seeing what sorts of themes and life lessons are presented alongside the camping and adventures everyone shares together. As Rin prepares to head for her destination, in a clever callback to the first season and her first-ever camping trip, Nadeshiko gives Rin a package of instant curry noodles, symbolising both how Nadeshiko’s become more learned about camping, and to suggest that whatever happens on Rin’s trip, she’s got backup available to her and is no longer alone even when she’s solo camping. This is a very reassuring feeling to have.

  • As the sun rises, Rin heads south down Route 10, past the Nanbu Utsubuna New Yamazaki Daily Store. A quick glance around the area shows the radio tower seen in one of the stills, and locating this spot was relatively straightforward: inspection of the road sign marked “Nambu Brg. East” was all it took. I am greatly looking forwards to seeing the remainder of Yuru Camp△ 2 unfold this season, and while it might be a foregone conclusion to state that I am going to enjoy this series without question, the part I am most excited about is being able to not only enjoy all of the episodes, but also look up and research all of the details that went into every location and point of interest.

Last season saw me simultaneously write about GochiUsa: BLOOM and Strike Witches: Road to Berlin in an episodic fashion. Whether or not I delivered consistently interesting and helpful posts is something that is left as an exercise for the reader to look at; what I did discover was that episodic posts require a bit of thought that is quite different than my usual format. Each episode’s contribution to the series and small details that may enhance the viewer’s experience ended up being my focus, and while assuredly fun to write for, episodic posts are also very time consuming. This season, Yuru Camp△ 2 and Non Non Biyori Nonstop are airing – both series have had excellent predecessors and could be written about episodically. However, owing to the time commitment, I can only do one series this time around, and Yuru Camp△ 2 has earned this coveted spot. I will be writing about Yuru Camp△ 2 on a weekly basis, and cover Non Non Biyori Nonstop in the quarterly format – Yuru Camp△ 2 will offer quite a bit of discussion on outdoors techniques, survival knowledge, location hunts and the like, all of which would be interesting to read about and share with readers. This time around, my schedule means that I won’t likely be able to consistently write about the episodes on the same day as the broadcast: Yuru Camp△ talks involve a bit more reading and research, so to ensure the accuracy of what I mention, I would like to take additional time to ensure that future posts are as informative and correct as possible. Consequently, instead of rushing posts out on Thursdays after work each week, I will instead strive to have the posts done the day after at the latest, giving me additional time to look things up before writing about them: posts for Yuru Camp△ 2 will come out either Thursdays or Fridays. There’s definitely a relaxing and enjoyable journey ahead in Yuru Camp△ 2, and with this first episode setting the stage for the season, next week will see Rin’s travels to Shizuoka.

8 responses to “Curry Noodles Are the Best Travel Companion: Yuru Camp△ 2 First Episode Impressions and Review

  1. Christopher Wayne January 7, 2021 at 20:32

    To me, it was the perfect episode to start with. Learning where Rin gets her camping habits from was very enjoyable. The Wife and I really like it and the ending with the predawn morning was great.

    Like

    • infinitezenith January 8, 2021 at 16:46

      The final scenes invite adventure, promising us viewers there’s going to be a fabulous journey ahead of us. Coming in, I had no idea how Yuru Camp△ 2 would start its story, especially on account of the fact that Yuru Camp△ ended during the spring on the shores of Lake Motosu. It turns out the writers more than had us covered there, advancing the story n a meaningful way and easing viewers back into the flow of things!

      Like

  2. Fred (Au Natural) January 8, 2021 at 00:04

    Rin is my waifu here. Knock 45 years off my age and I’d be seriously trying to woo her.

    I can’t say enough for this first episode. I loved the first season and I may love this season even more.

    Like

    • infinitezenith January 8, 2021 at 16:49

      In practise, I’m similar to Rin when it comes to personality: we both enjoy our quiet time, but value spending time with others, as well. I’m not sure who tickles my fancy most, but Aoi is probably up there, what with her love of fibs and bad jokes! The only thing I know of Yuru Camp△ 2 (without drawing on the manga and spoiling things) is that we’re in for a helluva enjoyable ride this season 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. David Birr January 9, 2021 at 18:04

    I was amused and pleased by the way Rin’s enjoyment of the curry noodles her mom had packed for her echoed (or previewed, if we went by strict chronological order) Nadeshiko’s delight in the noodles Rin gave her in the first season’s beginning.

    Like

    • infinitezenith January 13, 2021 at 07:35

      The choice to have this parallel was probably to accentuate the idea that Rin and Nadeshiko are more similar than different despite outward appearances, which of course, makes their meeting and eventual entry in camping all the more meaningful 🙂

      Like

      • David Birr January 16, 2021 at 19:38

        Another link between Rin and Nadeshiko that I noticed back in first season was that as far as I could tell, they’re the only girls to whom pine cones say “Cone-nichiwa.” They were indeed on the same wavelength in that respect.

        Like

        • infinitezenith January 16, 2021 at 21:48

          I remember those scenes. I think this is the reasoning behind Yuru Camp△ 2‘s tagline: “fun but lonely, lonely but fun” (“たのしいも, さびしいい。”, “さびしいいも, たのしいも。”): neither can exist without the other, and so, the commonalities between the two suggest that for the complete experience, Rin and Nadeshiko together learn from one another. I am particularly curious to see how the series’ tagline comes to play in this second season.

          Like

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