The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games and life converge

New Year’s Solo Camper Girl: Yuru Camp△ 2 Second Episode Impressions and Review

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” ―Eleanor Roosevelt

After enjoying the ocean scenery at the southernmost point of Shizuoka, Rin takes off for Kakegawa to buy her mother some tea. Here, she runs into the same lady she’d encountered during a detour on trip to Kamiina: it turns out the lady works at the same teahouse, and after learning about the New Year’s event at Fukude Beach, decides to check it out. Rin’s mother also suggests checking out the teahouse on the top floor. After this stop, Rin hits Mitsuke-Tenjin Shrine, where she decides to do her New Year’s visit before learning that Shippeitarou III had passed away a few years earlier. Rin contacts Ena, who says that a dog’s lifespan is why she’s about having as much fun with Chikuwa as possible, and Rin promises to play with Chikuwa, too. Upon her arrival at Ryuyokaiyo Koen Campground, Rin hastily erects her tent before taking off to explore. After a walk to the nearby lighthouse, Rin returns to camp as the sun sets, and using feather sticks to light her fire, Rin is soon able to begin preparing her New Year’s Eve dinner: soba with deep-fried fish and egg. The next morning, Rin heads over to Fukude Beach to admire the first sunrise of the year. Back home in Minobu, Chiaki, Aoi and Akari accompany Minami to the top of Mount Minobu to see their first sunrise of the year. It turns out that Chiaki had planned for a double-sunrise viewing, but because she misread the time, they end up missing it by half an hour, despite Minami’s efforts to drive everyone up to the viewpoint. Both Rin and the others send Nadeshiko photographs of their first sunrise of the year. However, as a snowfall has blanketed the Minobu area, the roads become impassible to Rin’s moped, and her mother informs her that her grandfather will pick her up in three days, leaving her with two extra days to explore. In a return to form, Yuru Camp△ 2 brings back the juxtaposition between the serene quiet of Rin’s travels, and the energetic thrills that accompany the Outdoors Activity Club. This time around, with Nadeshiko working hard into the New Year, it’s Chiaki and Aoi who liven their New Year’s experiences up.

Yuru Camp△‘s choice to compare and contrast the two camps’ (pun intended) different approaches is to establish the dramatic differences in how Rin and the others do things. Rin’s journey is a peaceful journey of exploration and introspection, of silent appreciation for the sights and experiences in the world: she travels with a certain dignity about her, doing her best to simply take everything in during the moment. Conversely, Chiaki and Aoi’s adventures are boisterous and rowdy. Every sight is a cause for celebration, and every moment is a spirited one. Most notably, when Chiaki misreads the sunrise time for the Diamond Fuji phenomenon, an irate Aoi and Akari chase her around the parking lot, with snowballs in hand as retribution. The juxtaposition of two different styles towards life are apparent, and in between the two ends of the spectrum is Nadeshiko: while she’s been hard at work earning coin for her camping gear, in seeing both Rin and the Outdoor Activities Club’s events allows her to see two different perspectives on life itself. This choice here, then, is to suggest that Nadeshiko’s experiences will be at the heart of Yuru Camp△ 2, as she comes to discover the joys of quiet and rowdy events, as well as everything in between: with a promising start to the new year, the months ahead are sure to be filled to the brim with adventure and discovery, which is what viewers doubtlessly have come to see. In the meantime, Rin will continue to get some shine time as she tries to figure out what to do with her additional time in Shizuoka, helping her to adapt to ever-changing situations and come away with lifelong memories.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • After last week’s welcome-back episode, Yuru Camp△ 2 is off to a strong start as Rin travels along the coast of Shizuoka, whose views of the ocean are remarkable. With a humid subtropical climate, the average temperature in Shizuoka is around 6-9ºC during December and January: thermal regulation from the ocean allows the area to be warmer than in Minobu, which averages around 3ºC during December and January. Rin’s excitement is apparent as she gazes out over the ocean.

  • There is something immensely pleasant about skies and ocean waters of a deep blue hue, so one cannot begrudge Rin for taking so many photographs of the ocean. This particular spot is at Cape Omaezaki, the southernmost point of Shizuoka: Rin explores an observation platform near Omaezaki Lighthouse, which was built during the Meiji Restoration and upgraded in 1917. It is still operational, but is now open to the public as a tourist attraction of sorts.

  • Coastal drives are indeed nice owing to the unparalleled views they offer – Rin really takes in the sights of the coastal highway as the travels down Route 357 to her next destination, the Kimikura Teahouse (きみくら本店). This rustic store is located about forty minutes northwest of Cape Omaezaki, and on a day where the temperature is about 6ºC, the drive there can indeed get a little chilly. Cars don’t have this issue, although being the driver means that one’s attention is focused on the road, rather than on the scenery.

  • Here, Rin tries out some tea while hunting for a good choice for her mother: despite being no tea connoisseur, Rin does appreciate the flavours of tea. Kimikura is located just across the road from Maruyama Tea (丸山製茶), and this spot appears to be one of those hole-in-the-wall places that only locals would know about. Unsurprisingly, Kimikura is a very pleasant location: visitors praise the quality of tea and service, but note that the café on the second floor can get a little busy at times. Despite this, it is certainly worth the wait: after learning of the café and that her mother had given her an extra 1000 Yen, Rin decides to stay for the green tea cake and tea. It turns out that the tea set Rin ordered was so good, she ends up wondering if she’ll be delayed on her journey.

  • In a pleasant turn of events, it turns out the lady running Kimikura is the same lady Rin had met during her travels to Kamiina a few weeks earlier; Rin had encountered her after her shortcut failed, and the two share a brief conversation before the lady gives Rin some tea. Seeing secondary characters from Yuru Camp△ return was a nice touch, and although we’re early into Yuru Camp△ 2, I wonder if any new characters will join Nadeshiko and the others as this season progresses.

  • Yuru Camp△ 2‘s biggest takeaway message on each camping trip is the idea that the journey matters; Rin doesn’t just head for her destination right away, but instead, stops to really appreciate all of the sights and sounds along the way. It was doing something similar to this that allowed me to experience some of the things in Canmore that I’d missed over the years: most visitors enjoy visiting Banff because it is located at the heart of Banff National Park, and skip over Canmore, a larger town that is located just on the edge of Banff National Park. While both towns have their charm, Canmore’s location means visitors don’t need to pay for the park pass (20 CAD per day), and there are some out-of-the-way places that are excellent. In particular, 514 Poutine serves the best smoked meat poutine this side of the continent.

  • In Minobu, Nadeshiko takes five after finishing her morning deliveries. Nadeshiko’s largely absent from this second episode – being the focal point of Yuru Camp△, Nadeshiko represented the novice camper during the first season, and the series suggested that beginners typically have the best go at things when they’re in groups, being able to learn off one another and lean on one another for help. Energetic, and a go-getter, Nadeshiko brings much life into Yuru Camp△, so this time around, while she’s working, the episode feels distinctly quieter and increasing the audience’s appreciation of Nadeshiko.

  • Kimikura to the Mitsuki-Tenjin Shrine is a twenty minute drive, and upon arrival, Rin’s first inclination is to see Shippeitarou III. However, a miko working at Mitsuki-Tenjin informs Rin that Shippeitarou III had died a few years previously. The average dog’s lifespan is ten to thirteen years, and Rin becomes a bit introspective here, wondering if Shippeitarou III enjoyed his life, before messaging Ena. As a dog owner, Ena provides new perspective for Rin – it is true they won’t be able to spend a great deal of time together, but the time that they do have becomes all the more valuable for it.

  • This part of the episode was a nice touch and reinforces one of the themes in Yuru Camp△ 2 – moments won’t last forever, but it is what one does while they have these moments that make the difference. I related strongly to this moment: despite not being a dog-owner myself, I am very fond of animals, and when relatives or coworkers lose their pets to age or health complications, the sense of loss is very tangible. I definitely understand the feeling when people say pets are an integral part of their family: their warmth and love bring a great deal of joy into one’s life.

  • Rin arrives at Ryuyokaiyo Koen Campground as her final destination for the day: this is designated an auto campground, allowing RV Campers on site alongside traditional tents. Attesting to how far Rin has come since her first trip at Motosu Lake, she expertly sets her tent up before rushing off to really enjoy the coastal sights. On her walk, Rin reaches the Kaketsuka Lighthouse, which is no more than nine hundred metres away from where she pitched her tent. In the background here, a wind turbine can be seen: this is a part of Japan Electric Power Development Company LTD’s 44.6 MW Kuzumaki No2 Wind Farm, which became fully operational in December 2020. The sun begins to set, and Rin sets about preparing dinner: after having lamented her gaining weight from the Christmas camp trip, Rin decides to keep it simple this time around, making soba noodles with seaweed, fried egg, mushrooms and a generous piece of fried fish as the centrepiece.

  • On the shores of a beach, Rin decides to use the feather-stick method to light a fire. I don’t think Les Stroud’s ever used this method in Survivorman before, but it is a viable bushcraft technique: slicing the wood into thin strips allows it to catch a spark more easily. While Rin wonders if feather-sticks could replace pine cones, I imagine that outdoorsman would suggest that, where pine cones are available, they’d still be preferred, since anything one can preserve their gear (e.g. not dulling up one’s knife) would make survival easier, and so, feather-sticks would be a fall-back for when dry kindling is not readily available. As night sets in, Rin unwinds with her noodles. which lines up well with the idea of New Year’s Eve: Toshikoshi soba is traditionally eaten because it represents letting go of hardship on account of cutting the noodles.

  • I’m not sure if there are any Western equivalents in the culinary arts for symbolic foods, but in Cantonese tradition, homophones mean that dishes for New Years’ are always chosen because they sound similar to phrases for happiness and success. While Rin awakens the next morning ahead of the sunrise, her friends in Minobu are doing the same. Nadeshiko’s gearing up for her delivery route, but Chiaki and Aoi get together with Minami and Akari for their own first sunset at Mount Minobu. Unlike Yama no Susume, there is no rush to ascend the mountain ahead of sunrise – there’s a cable car that takes visitors directly to the summit, and up here, there’s a temple of sorts, where folks can make their New Year shrine visit.

  • It turns out that Akari’s an even bigger prankster than Aoi – her first move after Chiaki shows up, is to shove a snowball up her shirt and then ask her for New Year’s money. Essentially Aoi in miniature, Akari made a few appearances during Yuru Camp△, stopping by to tell tall tales alongside Aoi. While Akari is mischievous, one can’t stay mad at her – like Aoi, she’s got a knack for knowing just where the line is, and her antics thus elicit smiles from viewers.

  • On the topic of New Year’s, in Japan, hatsuhinode (初日の出, “first sunrise of the year”) viewing is custom because it is said to bring good luck. The custom dates back to the Meiji Restoration, and the custom is to view the sunrise from the tallest point possible for the best luck (hence Chiaki and the others visiting Mount Minobu). Sunrises in Japan are early, so some folks will forego the New Year’s Eve countdown and catch enough shut-eye so they can do the hatsuhinode. This stands in stark contrast with the customs I’m used to, which entail staying up to watch the clock roll past twelve, and then sleeping in on New Year’s Day.

  • The first sunrise of Yuru Camp△ 2‘s New Year is gorgeous: I’ve chosen not to show the light pillars from the sun’s rays reflecting off hexagonal ice crystals in the sky, and instead, will merely suggest that readers check the moment out for themselves. Ice crystals can create some truly dramatic effects, although for me, I’ve only ever seen light pillars that appear to emanate from the sun itself. For the event, the community puts up a torii on the beach, and the event draws a few thousand visitors. After the sun’s risen, Rin notices kohaku manjū (紅白饅頭, “red and white manjū“) being given out and rushes off to cash in. She ends up with a boatload of manjū: these are served during special events like the New Year’s and represent gratitude. This scene sees the return of Rin running noises, a carry-over from Yuru Camp△.

  • Some ninety-eight kilometres (as the mole digs) northeast of Rin, Chiaki, Aoi, Akani and Minami also enjoy their first sunrise of the year. However, as the temple at Mount Minobu begins to get busier on account of visitors looking to make their New Year’s shrine visit, Chiaki suggests that they prepare to head off before it becomes too difficult to leave. As it turns out, she’s got another surprise in mind for her friends – by timing things well, it is possible to see two sunrises on New Year’s Day (presumably for double the luck). Chiaki’s plan is to check out Diamond Fuji, the effect when the sun peeks over the summit of Mount Fuji.

  • After Rin begins looking into her day’s schedule, which sees her looking forwards to pork foot curry, she notices a food truck selling pot-au-feu (a sort of beef stew) and pizza. Despite her efforts to hold back, Rin ends up caving, enjoying a pizza slice. Such moments typifies Rin’s character as being someone who is practically-minded and thinking about the future, but also wants to enjoy the moment more. This scene was shown during one of the trailers for Yuru Camp△ 2, and now, we know the context behind it.

  • Minami’s driving sees her hitting speeds of up to 40 km/h on the narrow switchbacks leading to the observation point. The low speeds are shown to accentuate the moment’s humour, but the low speeds actually make sense – on narrow mountain roads, it is unwise to drive too quickly, since one could easily fall off the roads. Displaying uncommon skill with her vehicle (probably a first-generation Suzuki Hustler X), Minami drifts the tougher turns. However, this effort turns out to have been for naught, and upon arrival, Chiaki is surprised to find the sun more than 10º above Mount Fuji. After looking more closely at her reference, Chiaki realises she’d misread the time, and the Diamond Fuji event was forecast for 0720, not 0750 JST as she’d thought.

  • This is a common enough mistake, and I made a similar one a few weeks ago while attempting to watch the full moon rise nearby. Once I reached the viewpoint, I was perplexed after the expected moonrise time had passed. Upon checking more closely, it turns out I’d read the moonrise time for the day previously, and the actual moonrise was still an hour out. I wasn’t going to stand on top of a wind-swept hill for an hour, so I departed. As soon as Chiaki catches her mistake and “apologises” for it (๑≧౪≦)-style, Aoi and Akari voice their displeasure in the form of snowballs. Akari’s particularly salty: she decides to make a bowling-ball sized snowball with the intent of dousing Chiaki with it, and I particularly liked the use of ragtime piano to accentuate the ludicrousness of this outcome.

  • Rin’s adventures are just beginning: thanks to a snowfall making the roads near Yamanashi impassible for her moped, she’s asked to stay in Shizuoka for a ways longer while her grandfather comes to get her once he’s available, and this is going to lend itself to an unexpected journey in the next episode. With this second episode, it does feel like Yuru Camp△ is back, or at least, almost back – Nadeshiko’s been absent from the proceedings, and the show wouldn’t be complete without her. Fortunately, we recall that she’s set to head back to Hamamatsu to visit family, and so, the two will run into one another at some point next episode, which will be awesome.

Par the course for Yuru Camp△, this second episode has faithfully reproduced real-world locations as the backdrop for both Rin and the Outdoors Activity Club’s travels. This serves to really accentuate the idea that Rin, Nadeshiko, Chiaki, Aoi and Ena’s travels are very much things people can get into themselves, and that their discoveries are very much something viewers can make for themselves, as well. With almost all locations in Yuru Camp△ being modelled after their real-world counterparts, this leaves no shortage of places to explore and hunt down: one of the biggest joys about Yuru Camp△ is being able to see how faithfully the anime brings attractions to life. I could occupy entire episodic posts with facts and travel notes about the locations Yuru Camp△ presents. However, these episodic posts are really more to focus on character dynamics, growth and learnings amongst the characters, so I will discuss the locations of Yuru Camp△ 2 quite separately. Even in the absence of location information, Yuru Camp△ 2 leaves much to discuss and consider. This episode, for instance, hints at why living in the moment is such an integral theme in Yuru Camp△; after learning that Shippeitarou III is deceased, Rin wonders what Ena thinks about the fact that Chikuwa won’t always be with her, and Ena’s response demonstrates a respectable level of thought into matters viewers might not always consider. It is precisely because things are finite that makes seizing the day all the more meaningful, tying in with Yuru Camp△ 2‘s opening song. Living in the moment appears to be what Yuru Camp△ 2 aims to convey, and as the series continues, this message will likely return again to the foreground. In the meantime, it would appear that Rin’s certainly living in the moment, deciding to go for a pizza from a food truck before regrouping and figuring out what she’d like to do until her grandfather can pick her up.

4 responses to “New Year’s Solo Camper Girl: Yuru Camp△ 2 Second Episode Impressions and Review

  1. Fred (Au Natural) January 14, 2021 at 23:56

    IMHO, it is Rin who makes this show. Not dissing any of the other characters but I identify with her. She kind of a small scale Kino in an ordinary world, if you’ve seen Kino’s Journey.

    Like

    • infinitezenith January 15, 2021 at 11:24

      I have seen (and greatly enjoyed) Kino’s Journey (having watched the newer iteration a few years back). The charm there was precisely going around and checking out the unique things each country had to offer, and now that you mention it, Rin is remarkably similar to Kino.

      With this in mind, Kino’s Journey excelled because each and every location had its own story (and attendant life lesson), whereas Yuru Camp△ appears to be going for a different, but no less enjoyable message. Being very similar to Rin, myself, I concede that the Rins of this world do occasionally enjoy the company of the Nadeshikos, too 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. David Birr January 16, 2021 at 19:27

    Over on Crunchyroll, there seems to be a consensus among quite a few viewers of this episode that Sensei’s “racing” to the observation point is a salute to a series called *Initial D* … which I’d never heard of before, so I can’t judge if they’re right or wrong. Wikipedia describes *Initial D* as focusing “on the world of illegal Japanese street racing, where all the action is concentrated in the mountain passes and rarely in cities or urban areas, and with the drifting racing style emphasized in particular.”

    Like

    • infinitezenith January 16, 2021 at 21:36

      Initial D is not a series I am familiar with despite its fame. For folks with a familiarity with the series, I am sure that the callback must’ve been an enjoyable one, rather similarly to how some works occasionally reference things from earlier works (such as Skyfall‘s mention of an exploding pen, which references GoldenEye).

      A strong work can stand of its own accord regardless of whether or not one gets some of these references, and since I didn’t feel like I was missing out despite my lack of familiarity with Initial D, I’d say Yuru Camp△ 2 has done an excellent job of keeping a wide range of viewers happy 🙂

      Like

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