“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” –Zig Ziglar
Over the winter break, Chiaki picked up a new tarp for the Outdoor Activities Club, and after classes end, they decide to try setting it up on school grounds to become familiar with the process. However, Chiaki had forgotten the poles, and so, they end up getting Nadeshiko to prop the tarp up. Eventually, Nadeshiko finds an easel to stand in for the pole, as things had been getting exhausting. The girls begin considering what they’d like to buy next: while Chiaki is excited about a hammock, and Aoi is looking for the sort of camping chair that Rin has, Nadeshiko’s sights are set on the propane lantern she’d seen at Caribou a few months earlier. At the train station, Nadeshiko notices that the platform is empty, save for herself, and begins to wonder what the solo camping experience is like. However, to camp solo, she’d need more gear, and so, she sets about searching for other part-time jobs in the area. The next day, after sharing her thoughts with Chiaki and Aoi, who think that Nadeshiko might be able to work at a campsite, the girls notice an oil heater in the camping gear magazine. Later that evening, Sakura invites Nadeshiko out to dinner at a tempura restaurant, noting that they’ve got a recently opened part time position. Nadeshiko later purchases the propane lantern and shows it to her family, before gifting a picket oil heater to Sakura as thanks. With the winter break over, we’re back in Yamanashi for Yuru Camp△ 2, and this fourth episode represents a return to routine as the girls settle in to their next semester. However, Yuru Camp△ 2 demonstrates that routine or not, there’s always a new discovery to be made in the world of camping, even though no tents are pitched this time around.
Now that classes are back in session, the Outdoors Activity Club resumes with the new gear that Chiaki’s picked up, and with it, the possibility of the Outdoors Activity Club acquiring increasingly sophisticated gear to further their camping experience. Yuru Camp△ had established how people could have a remarkable, memorable time with the bare minimum of equipment and a bit of creativity: the girls might not have the most top-of-the line tents, sleeping bags, pads or burners, but they did have resourcefulness. By adapting and learning, both Rin and the Outdoors Activity Club bring out the best in camping. However, having established this, Yuru Camp△ 2 begins to suggest at what lies ahead: as the girls earn the money for improved camping equipment, they simultaneously become more experienced in managing and making the most of their gear to have even bigger adventures. Yuru Camp△ 2 thus indicates that camping itself (and indeed, any activity) is a journey in and of itself: as people start out, inexperience results in clumsy mistakes and hard lessons learnt. However, as people become more familiar with their activity, they begin to appreciate the nuances and skills (colloquially referred to as “life hacks”) needed to get more out of things. Having shown what the beginnings look like for both Rin and the Outdoors Activity Club, then, a meaningful journey lies ahead in Yuru Camp△ 2 as both Rin and the Outdoors Activity Club continue to camp; only this time, we’ll be able to see what intermediate camping looks like now that the girls have more experience and better gear.
Screenshots and Commentary
- In this episode, the party returns to the Outdoor Activities Club’s Industrial Hallway-like clubroom since Yuru Camp△ 2 started. I was a bit surprised to learn that there was in fact such a room in Motosu High School’s real world equivalent – Yuru Camp△‘s live action drama had made use of Minobu Municipal Lower Junior High as a filming site, and indeed, the Outdoors Activity Club made their home here when not outside. As Aoi and Nadeshiko catches up, Chiaki eats her way through the souvenirs the others had gotten for her, in effect, experiencing the their travels through taste.
- Once Chiaki realises that she’ll have to save Rin’s curry for home, the girls turn their focus to a tarp that Chiaki had picked up during the winter break: her tarp comes with both a ground tarp, for protecting a tent from moisture and the possibility of a puncture, as well as a tarp-tent, an ultra-portable sort of shelter that is easier to carry around than a tent, at the expense of offering less cover from the elements. Moreover, having this bit of extra insulation from the ground can go a long way in keeping everyone warm: Les Stroud has noted that in winter survival, getting off the ground is key if one wishes to get some sleep without freezing. Chiaki states that hers cost 6000 Yen (about 73.75 CAD), which is right within the range of what a tarp would cost at the local outdoors shop.
- Unlike Yuru Camp△, this time around, there’s been no questions surrounding the cost of gear – after the first season had established that the writers had thoroughly researched everything, from equipment and locations, right down to the bushcraft, viewers can rest assured knowing that Yuru Camp△ is the real deal. For the Outdoor Activities Club, a tarp and other camping implements are most useful when put into use, and so, the girls set about putting their latest bit of equipment together. While the club’s activities at school seem light, there is one important function in messing around with their gear here: it offers everyone a chance to learn how to set things up in a controlled environment.
- Thus, when the Outdoor Activities Club does get into the bush (or at least, their campground), they’d be immediately familiar with their gear and can get set up more efficiently. This is, of course, assuming they do bring everything with them; right out of the gates, Chiaki’s forgotten the poles, and while they’re able to use a tree as a makeshift pole, the missing second pole requires substitution. The girls decide to resolve this with a bit of scissors, stone, cloth, and Nadeshiko is defeated. While she makes for a good pole, exhaustion soon sets in.
- Slower moments in Yuru Camp△ really help viewers to appreciate being in the moment – even something as simple as putting together a tarp without the poles (and improvising in hilarious ways) becomes memorable. I’ve noticed that outside of slice-of-life series, contemporary anime tend to move very quickly in terms of their pacing, trying to tell all of the important points of a story within the space of twelve to twenty-six episodes. Having now started Gundam SEED, which had fifty episodes, the story there feels a lot slower in comparison. However, despite this, episodes remain engaging and fun to watch, indicating that just because works are slower, doesn’t mean the time isn’t used in a meaningful fashion.
- It certainly is the case that dog camping gear (and dog gear in general) is every bit as sophisticated as their human counterparts. While Rin wonders what the point of Ena having a tent for Chikuwa is, Ena suggests that having a tent would allow Chikuwa to accompany them on longer adventures; during the first season, Ena’s parents stopped by to pick Chikuwa up before the girls turned in. Ena remarks that Chikuwa is adverse to the cold, and it is the case that despite their coats, long-haired Chihuahuas do not fare so well in cold weather (hence their love of borrowing into blankets and sleeping on warm, soft surfaces). Conversely, with a tent, Chikuwa could overnight with everyone, and at this prospect, Rin melts.
- Because Chiaki can’t eat all of the souvenir sweets on her own, she and the Outdoor Activities Club decide to gift a handful to Minami Toba, their instructor-turned-advisor: Chiaki and the others managed to talk her into the role, and while hesitant at first, Minami realised that most of the Club activities weren’t too time-consuming, allowing her to continue enjoying her beer and dramas. While Minami is very fond of drinking, the most that usually happens is that she’ll fall asleep after consuming enough (whereas Houkago Teibou Nisshi‘s Sayaka becomes a mean drunk). When she’s not under the influence, she gives off the air of a competent, if somewhat shy, instructor.
- According to the staff at Caribou, it appears that Nadeshiko’s habit of swinging by to admire the Coleman Model 2301 Gas Lamp has made her somewhat of a familiar face, and as Nadeshiko gazes upon this product wistfully, the staff comment on how there’s a certain adorableness to what Nadeshiko is doing. Such an occurrence is probably rarer now, since folks can simply pop online to look closely at a product they’re considering making a purchase for: despite featuring ubiquitous internet and smartphones, Yuru Camp△ has a talent for encouraging its viewers to set down their devices and take things in more slowly.
- Nadeshiko rushes off in order to catch a train from Minobu station back to Nambu. As she hits the platform, she’s struck by a sense of emptiness. To really build up to this moment, Nadeshiko’s thoughts are overlaid, conveying the sort of excitement and energy she’s known for, as well as the energy in her surroundings. However, as she hits the last step leading onto the platform, the scene goes quiet. The sudden halting of sound gives a visible indicator to viewers of what Nadeshiko is experiencing, and it is here that she realises that, as much fun as group camping in, there’s an intrigue to Rin’s solo camping, as well. Yuru Camp△‘s first season had been as much about Nadeshiko picking up camping as much as it was convincing Rin to camp with Nadeshiko and the others, so I think that season two’s aims will be to build Nadeshiko to a point where she can comfortably solo camp, while at the same time, seeing Rin join the others on a few more adventures.
- Once the New Year’s is over, there’s a reduced need to have extra hands delivering mail, and so, Nadeshiko’s job hunt continues, as she wishes to properly fund her love for camping. However, her initial job search begins slowly: all of the jobs suited for a high school student are located in Kofu, the largest city in Yamanashi and also a bit of a ways from Nambu. If memory serves, it’s an hour-and-a-half train ride from Nambu up here, so for Nadeshiko, this isn’t an option. Even if Nadeshiko were to ask Sakura to drive her, the fifty kilometre distance would require around 55 minutes to cover by car, one way. This moment, again speaks to the presence of nostalgia in Yuru Camp△ – Nadeshiko is looking at job postings through a magazine, reminiscent of how job searches were conducted back during the 1990s and earlier.
- Although Nambu is a ways warmer than my home town in January, I can imagine how for someone coming from Hamamatsu, like Sakura (who’d just burned through a pile of disposable hand warmers), the winters’ chill would be more visibly felt: Hamamatsu is considerably warmer on account of its proximity to the ocean, and moreover, Japanese homes do not have central heating for the most part, so even a daily average of 2°C would be cold. Of course, here in Canada, central heating is a requirement, especially since the the average temperature in my home town is -7°C in January, and we can get cold periods where it’s -20°C or lower for up to five weeks at a time: I remember a few years back, our furnace malfunctioned outright, and despite the temperatures being “only” 12ºC, it felt positively frigid inside the house until we had the furnace replaced.
- After Chiaki and Aoi promise to keep an eye out for openings at their workplaces, Chiaki breaks out the latest issue of their camping magazine and come across reusable hand-warmers. These hand-warmers use a catalytic burner to generate heat over a long period of time. In catalytic combustion, the catalyst (such as platinum), acts as a surface that binds to fuel molecules and consistently exposes them to an oxidiser. Once the reaction is started with a heat source (such as a lighter), the energy supplied creates a temperature where oxidation can start occurring. The resulting thermal energy from combustion is used to sustain the reaction so as long as the fuel available, and because the efficiency of reaction is high, the activation energy is lowered, meaning combustion can happen at lower temperatures (but this is still higher than the ambient temperature, producing heat for the user). The approach is a very efficient form of combustion that does not yield the same products as would occur in conventional combustion (e.g. nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide), and is notably safer because the lower temperatures do not produce an open flame. Aoi remarks that her grandmother uses one, noting that the heat from these is more consistent and intense than from disposable hand warmers, which use an exothermic reaction to generate heat – as the reactants are consumed, the thermal output weakens dramatically.
- Upon receiving a message from Sakura, who’s invited her to dinner, Nadeshiko immediately runs off for the restaurant and makes it in record time, skipping right past Caribou with a cloud of dust reminiscent of Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner, an old classic. She passes by a vending machine here at Minobu Station: Japan has the highest vending machine density on the planet, and unlike the more boring machines seen in North America, which only give soft drinks or bottled water, Japanese vending machines serve milk tea, instant noodles and even burgers. The large number of vending machines in Japan is an answer to the cost of labour and low crime: it is cheaper to build a vending machine than open a kiosk and staff it with people, and citizens are not predisposed to smashing stuff, making vending machines economically viable.
- A cursory search has not found any candidates in the Minobu area for the restaurant that Sakura and Nadeshiko visit: after a bit of searching, I found that the exterior was modelled after a soba joint in Kai, Yamanashi. This isn’t the first time Yuru Camp△ had done something similarly: Caribou is based off Sven in Hamamatsu but named similarly to Outings Product Elk in Kofu. Knowing that Yuru Camp△ transplants locations to Minobu, I ended up searching around Outings Product Elk for restaurants and ended up finding my target. I’ll detail the restaurant in my next location hunt post.
- The dinner special Nadeshiko and Sakura enjoy is the large prawn tempura box set, which looks absolutely amazing, and goes for a relatively reasonable 1700 Yen (20.91 CAD; for comparison, most dinners back home cost around 25-35 dollars): the crispiness of the tempura and juiciness of the shrimp is evident just by looking at this image. I am admittedly excited about the Yuru Camp△ live action: on the sole virtue of being a live action, the food looks amazing. I’ve always been a big fan of shellfish. Prawns and shrimp are my favourites: possessing a light, sweet and mild flavour, plus a springy texture, these shellfish are easy to eat (lobster and crab are great, but require more time be spent on removing the shells). Besides a taste I find pleasant, shrimps and prawns also have a great nutritional profile, containing a good protein-to-cholesterol ratio, Vitamin D and B12, and omega-3 fatty acids.
- As Nadeshiko prepares to dig in, Sakura remarks that since it’s Nadeshiko’s payday, dinner will be her treat, causing Nadeshiko to lose all colour in a moment of shock. This turns out to have been a joke. Unlike the rest of the easygoing Kagamihara family, Sakura is usually serious and composed, rarely expressing any emotion. Consequently, it can be very tricky to tell when she’s cracking jokes or not. However, it turns out there’s a reason that Sakura’s chosen this restaurant: they have an opening for servers, but since the posting is newer, the restaurant’s owners haven’t had a chance to place any ads for the job yet. Nadeshiko accepts this with zeal, and soon after, has the funds she needs to buy the gas lamp.
- Nadeshiko’s look of joy is, as folks are wont to say these days, next level: Yuru Camp△ had always had a particularly joyful representation of smiles, so I’d long wondered how emotions transcending happiness would be portrayed. In this episode of Yuru Camp△ 2, I’ve found my answer, and the results are hilarious to behold. This is one of the joys about an anime that make it fun to watch: while the drama has its own merits, certain of emotions that just work in an anime medium come across as being excessive, inordinate in a real-world setting. Yuru Camp△’s live action drama had done a reasonable job of portraying its equivalent moments from the anime, although when it comes to facial expressions, the anime has the advantage.
- Just as the clerks advise Nadeshiko to be careful, since the glass bulb is fragile and costly to replace, she walks into a shoebox and very nearly drops her lamp. I admit that a part of me was expecting something of this nature to unfold: Yuru Camp△, does, after all, incorporate a generous bit of comedy in its stories. Fortunately for Nadeshiko and all viewers, her reflexes are swift, and her training under Sakura has left her in great shape. She catches the box with deft hands, and her return journey home is mercifully uneventful. As it turns out, she’d bought something else, too, but decides not to tell Chiaki and Aoi about it yet.
- After arriving home, Nadeshiko lights the new lamp for her parents to check out, and Sakura arrives momentarily: upon seeing her family gathered around the gentle glow of the lantern, Sakura smiles. The ending sequence to this episode was particularly well done: despite being set outside the Kagamihara residence and inset with the ending song, an entire story is told simply through having the lights in their house change. It’s a clever and heart-warming ending: even the lack of movement in the stars is not enough to take away from it. Come midnight, Nadeshiko sneaks outside and places a package on the dashboard of Sakura’s Nissan. It appears that Sakura keeps the doors unlocked, since Nadeshiko just walks up to the vehicle and opens the door. It would be nice to live in a place that tranquil; in my side of the world, leaving a car unlocked is a recipe for disaster.
- It turns out that Nadeshiko had also picked up an oil hand-warmer for Sakura. This gift is well-chosen for the winter, but it also is to act as a big “thank you” to her, for having driven Nadeshiko around to so many places in the few months after they’d moved to Yamanashi. It’s rare to see Sakura smile, and so, this was a big moment in Yuru Camp△ 2. Sakura genuinely cares for Nadeshiko (which is why she’s so strict with her), and while Nadeshiko’s numerous excursions may seem a bother to Sakura, the fact is that she actually does enjoy driving around. With the temperatures today hovering around a high of -14°C, I wouldn’t mind picking up a hand warmer of my own, although in lieu of one, watching Yuru Camp△ 2 provides equivalent warmth.
Besides hinting at the girls beginning to learn more advanced outdoors techniques over time, Yuru Camp△ 2‘s fourth episode also conveys a story about appreciation. At the episode’s opening, Chiaki is happily enjoying the snacks her friends have brought her from Takahara and Hamamatsu; having worked hard over the winter break, she’s now able to pick up a new tarp for the Outdoor Activity Club’s camping trips in the future. Similarly, after noticing that Sakura is struggling with the cold Yamanashi winters, and upon learning that Sakura had found a part time job in the Minobu area for her, Nadeshiko returns the favour immediately with a reusable pocket oil heater, putting a smile on Sakura’s face. The expression and repayment of gratitude within Yuru Camp△ creates an exceptional sense of warmth, and as the previous episode had demonstrated, the act of saying “thank you” is an adventure in and of itself. These are important life lessons, and Yuru Camp△ succeeds in conveying them without every preaching them or coming across as overbearing in its messages. This is one of the joys about slice-of-life series that accounts for their consistent success; besides their central activity, topics as varied as counting one’s blessings, repaying acts of kindness, being adaptive and open minded are always covered in a meaningful, thoughtful manner. That slice-of-life anime like Yuru Camp△, Tamayura, ARIA, Koisuru Asteroid, Houkago Teibou Nisshi and GochiUsa, to name a few, consistently succeed in doing so, would suggest that people maturing as a result of their pursuits, brought together by common interests and shared experiences.