“One thing is for sure: there is no escaping the forces of wind, cold, heat or rain. Nature, in the end, rules the day, and if I don’t respect it, the natural forces meant to keep the planet alive will likely be the same forces that cause my own death.” –Les Stroud, Secrets of Survival
Chiaki, Aoi and Ena begin setting up camp, and it turns out the solution that the Caribou staff had for Chiaki was simply to buy two compact camping chairs to create a comfortable, hammock-like set-up. A Corgi shows up as the trio get their gear in order, with the owner in tow. With their camp set up, Ena, Chiaki and Aoi relax on the cape with their new chairs: Chiaki prepares hot buttered rum for the others as RC planes fly overhead. As the day passes, a distinct chill begins settling into the area. Ice begins forming on the girls’ mugs, and Chiaki realises that the temperatures have dropped to -2°C. Meanwhile, Rin sets about using a lye solution to clean up her grill and receives a message from Chiaki; worried about the temperatures, she messages Minami. As the thermometer continues to plummet at Lake Yamanaka, Chiaki decides to go and pick up some high-altitude heat packs for everyone, while Ena and Aoi set about trying gathering firewood, only to find the manager’s office closed. Ena and Aoi run into the Corgi’s owner and her father; they invite the pair over into their tent, which has a wood-fired stove, and after sharing a conversation, begin preparing dinner together. Chiaki returns to the campsite with heat packs and cardboard in tow, and while she finds their tents abandoned, Ena beacons her over. During preparations for dinner, Chiaki hears a voice calling out for them: it turns out that Minami had also shown up. As it turns out, Rin had contacted Minami and mentioned that Chiaki and the others were headed out to Lake Yamanaka, where temperatures can reach -15°C during the night. Worrying for the girls’ safety, Minami drove out to Lake Yamanaka, and while relieved the girls are alright, also reminds them of the dangers of camping in the winter without sufficient preparations. Minami arrived just as dinner was ready, and when the father offers Minami a stiff drink, she is all too happy to oblige. The Outdoor Activities Club overnight in Minami’s car, and the next morning, Ena admires the sunrise. After preparing breakfast, they send a message to Rin, thanking her for looking out for them. Later, Rin decides to give her moped a cleaning as well, while Nadeshiko contemplates solo camping and phones Rin for advice.
At Yuru Camp△ 2‘s halfway point, the series portrays the side of camping that had traditionally been skated over: outdoor activities demand a level of survival knowledge, and as Les Stroud puts it, the weather is always going to be the biggest impacting factor on survival. Here in Yuru Camp△ 2, as a result of the Outdoor Activities Club not properly researching the conditions at Lake Yamanaka, they put themselves in a dangerous situation. Hypothermia can begin when air temperatures are 10°C, and with the night temperatures potentially reaching -15°C, Chiaki, Ena and Aoi find themselves facing a problem unlike any previously. This was a case where, in the absence of insufficient preparation, no amount of adaptivity would’ve been enough to help them along: such a scenario would result in a survival situation. Throughout Yuru Camp△ 2, the Outdoor Activities Club is shown to have a basic knowledge of camping, but beyond this, lack the know-how to prepare for and deal with adverse situations. For instance, after camp is set up, rather than immediately gathering firewood while there is still light (when the manager’s building is still open), they choose to relax instead. In the winter, this decision could easily prove fatal. However, even with the preparations, getting through the night would have remained difficult: in winter situations, Stroud constantly must keep the fire going, sleeping for fifteen minutes at a time before adding more wood to the fire. The romanticism of winter camping swiftly disappears when it turns into a survival ordeal, and it takes a combination of knowledge, experience, luck and the will to survive. Yuru Camp△ 2 fortuitously has Rin and Minami looking out for Chiaki, Aoi and Ena, as well as plenty of luck (the other campers have significantly better gear and are kind enough to give them a place to regroup, before Minami herself appears). It becomes apparent that it is only with advance preparations that one can stay safe during camping trips, and having narrowly evaded danger thanks to their friends, I imagine that this experience will help the Outdoor Activities Club to both let others know of where they’re going and better research both traits of their camp site and survival techniques.
Besides emphasising the importance of communication and preparation, Yuru Camp△ 2‘s sixth episode also shows the disadvantage about being in a group. Having spent the last episode discussing the advantages, the drawbacks of group camping (and by extension, group survival) is that camaraderie means people in the group will often encourage one another. While this is a great asset, it can also result in people pressing onwards when they should take a moment to stop and regroup, often-times putting them in a worse situation. In the worst case, panic can be amplified in an out-of-control feedback loop. In the episode where Bob Wilson and Les Stroud survive together, being together allows them to engage more means of survival, but there are also times where the pair end up making decisions that Stroud would never make on his own. This is not to say that solo survival (and in the context of Yuru Camp△ 2, solo camping) is decisively better than group camping/survival: the point is that both scenarios have their respective advantages and drawbacks. In order to camp or survive well, one must be ready to adapt to changing situations and face challenges for both cases. This is something that Yuru Camp△ 2 is working towards, both with Rin and the Outdoor Activities Club: while Rin is fairly seasoned, there are cases where she fails to fully explore her itinerary and she suffers minor inconvenience as a result (such as making large detours or finding a hot springs closed for the season). However, there could easily be situations where the inconvenience is serious. Again, a bit of luck in the right place, at the right time, saves Chiaki, Aoi and Ena here, but things are not always so serendipitous in nature. It was therefore eye-opening to see Yuru Camp△ 2 going in this direction: up until now, things had been fun and games. Moments like these, however, accentuate Yuru Camp△ 2‘s commitment to realism. While camping is indeed a fun activity, there is also a safety factor as well that must be considered at all times, and it was an especially good move on Yuru Camp△ 2‘s part to emphasise this to viewers.
Screenshots and Commentary
- I will admit that this episode was a bit unexpected in its direction, although in retrospect, its events were not too surprising and a relevant part of camping. Because here at the halfway point, Yuru Camp△ 2 has covered topics that are a bit more serious, and meritorious of additional discussion, I’ve decided to make this post a touch longer than usual so everything can be adequately considered.
- After the Outdoors Activity Club’s finishes setting up their tents, they move on to giving their new camping chairs a whirl. Aoi’s chair is ultra compact and costs 12600 Yen (152.78 CAD): the framing is joined together by elastic so the pieces stay together in one place, and Aoi immediately enjoys the comfort it offers. Meanwhile, Chiaki’s setup consists of two different chairs: while not quite a hammock, it does give her a footrest to extend her comfort. Her main chair has front legs for increased stability and rolls for 10630 Yen (128.89 CAD), while the footrest chair is a comparatively less pricey 7700 Yen (93.36 CAD).
- The girls decide to give the new chairs a go, and Aoi very nearly falls asleep with Chikai’s setup. For a bit of visual humour, Chiaki decides to use Aoi as a table and announces now is the time to begin getting dinner going. I’ve always had a fondness for how Aki Toyosaki presents Aoi, with her soft, relaxing kansai-ben; while Aoi is generally quite peaceable, things can get rowdy when the right buttons are pushed. In this way, Aoi’s similar to Chino Kafuu, who speaks in a gentle and polite manner, but can be loud in her own right when the situation calls for it.
- With camp now set up, the girls decide to enjoy the cape: while the manager has stated that camping there is prohibited, there’s nothing preventing them from placing their chairs here and taking in the quiet of the lake. Slice-of-life series often have animal motifs: with K-On!, it was cats, and in GochiUsa, it’s rabbits. Yuru Camp△‘s motif appears to be dogs; all of the characters are dog people, dogs appear often in the series, Rin is fond of visiting temples with a dog spirit as its main deity, and Ena owns a Chihuahua. In reality, dogs are great for the spirits, and having a dog around definitely is a morale booster.
- This Corgi’s name is Choko, named after ochoko, a small, cylindrical cup that is used for drinking sake. As it turns out, the daughter’s family owns a sake in Ito, hence the Corgi’s name. Choko is a friendly dog and enjoys getting pats from everyone. Ena notes that once the weather warms, she might consider bringing Chikuwa with them on their camping trips. As Chiaki and the others head back to their spot on the cape, they notice a host of RC planes flying in the skies above, and a group of people controlling them from below. There is a gap between RC planes and drones: the latter can be autonomous and generally, are more solidly built.
- After noticing that Ena’s got no chair, decides to give her the spare so she can enjoy the scenery of Lake Yamanaka in comfort: the setup that Chikai has is flexible in this regard, hence the Caribou staff recommending it to her, and while it’s initially a great alternative to a hammock, its immediate use is that it doubles as a spare chair. In Cantonese, the phrase that describes objects with multiple functions is 一物兩用 (jyutping jat1 mat6 loeng5 jung6). Camping gear that serves multiple purposes is especially useful, allowing one to reduce the amount of equipment they bring with them.
- In the cold of Lake Yamanaka, everyone’s phones begin to suffer a degradation in battery life. In the Temagami Woods with Bob Wilson, Les Stroud had left his GPS on overnight after forgetting to turn it off, and comments this is a perfect example of how carelessness and a dependence on technology can lead to a survival situation. Most people don’t think to conserve on their device’s power because they don’t expect to be in a survival situation, or otherwise rely on their devices to the point where they’re in a survival situation when said devices fail. The only remedy for this is a willingness to learn techniques to fall back on when the technology fails, as well as not being careless with one’s devices.
- With this being said, I have seen what extreme cold can do to a phone battery even when proper measures are taken: a few years ago, while checking out ice sculptures on a day where it’d been -28°C, and my phone went from a reasonable 80 percent charge down to being unable to power up within five minutes of exposure, even with a case. Conversely, at moderate temperatures, it’s never struggled to retain a charge. I would imagine that a combination of heavy usage and cooler temperatures would explain what happened with the Outdoor Activities Club’s phones. The girls decide to put their phones away for the time being, putting an end to Chikai’s evil scheme of tormenting Nadeshiko and Rin with endless pictures.
- Chiaki whips up a hot buttered rum for everyone. The original recipe calls for brown sugar, butter, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla extract and actual rum, with a dash of cinnamon. It’s considered a quintessential winter beverage, and dates back to the 1700s. Some adventurous versions use a high enough proof liquor so the drink itself can be lit on fire, but because it’s the butter and spices that create the distinct flavour, for a non-alcoholic version, omitting the rum will suffice. It does sound like the perfect thing for a brisk day, which Yuru Camp△ has perfectly captured.
- Previously, I’d noted that defeating soot coating a metal surface could be done using a mixture of dish soap and baking powder. Rin chooses to use lye instead: typically consisting of either sodium or potassium hydroxide, lye is a caustic alkali and is effective as a cleaner because of how reactive the hydroxyl group is. However, this same hydroxyl group makes lye a tricky substance to work with, and care must be observed: unlike strong acids, which induces a burning sensation when it comes into contact with the skin, strong bases dissolve skin and flesh without imparting any sensation, making it easy to sustain damaging chemical burns without even realising it. Yuru Camp△ has always been open about safety, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that, when working with lye, Rin is doing things in a well-ventilated location.
- As evening sets in, temperatures begin dropping rapidly thanks to Lake Yamanaka’s higher elevation. It turns out that Chiaki and Aoi had completely failed to account for how an extra four hundred metres of altitude could have such an impact: nowhere is this more apparent than the fact that Ena’s drink has frozen completely. Aoi remarks that they’d gotten careless after their Christmas camping trip, which succinctly sums up what led to the current situation.
- Chiaki suggests immediately getting dinner ready so the warmth from digestion keeps them warm, then equipping special high-altitude heat packs and sleeping close together to keep warm. In practise, the winter is intensely unforgiving, and Les Stroud’s winter survival episodes show that nothing short of a large fire would come even close to helping everyone out: if the Outdoors Activity Club had followed through with Chiaki’s plan, they’d be icicles by morning had the temperatures really went down to -15°C. In subzero conditions, staying outside for more than two hours is already quite taxing even with the proper winter clothing, and hypothermia can set in with temperatures as little as 10°C .
- The look of worry on Chiaki’s face speaks volumes about what the Outdoor Activities Club stands to face as a result of improper preparations. Until now, Yuru Camp△ had largely been fun and games: to see the show go in this direction is a change of pacing, but an appropriate one, demonstrating that Yuru Camp△ is able to deal with different aspects of camping, both the good and the bad. Last week, I read a remark about how the show could still stand on its own if it were just Nadeshiko and Rin, but this particular individual appears to have misunderstood what Yuru Camp△ is about. The Outdoor Activities Club brings with them a different set of perspectives, and these can be utilised to touch on different topics relevant to camping (in this particular episode, it’s preparedness and safety).
- Aoi quickly realises that, without a campfire going, even the act of preparing dinner will be challenging. While Chiaki makes to get more heavy-duty heat packs and cardboard from the nearest convenience store, Ena and Aoi head off to get firewood, only to find the manager’s office closed. A lack of preparations has turned what was an ordinary camping trip into something that resembles Survivorman, and this is in part why I’m quick to reference Les Stroud’s iconic series: Stroud states that carelessness or lack of preparation is why survival ordeals typically happen, turning a bad situation worse.
- In the Survivorman series, Stroud continually mentions the importance of being ready to face anything and make difficult decisions. With this in mind, I speak about this from the observer’s perspective, and hindsight is twenty-twenty: while Chiaki, Aoi and Ena have put themselves in a dangerous situation, it is not in the viewer’s place to lecture them. Instead, the characters’ experiences are meant to showcase what can happen as a result of inadequate preparations. Because this is Yuru Camp△, the girls’ fortunes turn around very quickly, and viewers can breathe easier, now that everyone’s out of imminent danger.
- It turns out the other camper and her dog were here with her father, who’s evidently a veteran camper: Their tent’s setup is an impressive one, even featuring a portable wood stove and a chimney to vent the smoke out. The average wood stove goes for north of 350 CAD in my area, although more inexpensive models can be had for 250 CAD. Stoves will come with a few pipes that act as the chimney, and are advertised as being great for winter camping, allowing one to dry out wet clothing, swiftly warm up, prepare hot beverages or even cook within the comfort of their tent. A portable wood stove, of course, represents high-end gear: while not above and beyond what Chiaki and the others are capable of reaching (assuming Nadeshiko’s hourly rate, it would take 32 hours to make enough for a portable wood stove), transporting this could prove tricky in the absence of a private car.
- In the warmth of this winterised tent, Aoi and Ena share conversation with the father and daughter, learning that the father is a big fan of RC planes. The father recalls that they were about to prepare motsunabe, a type of hot pot made with beef or pork offal alongside garlic, cabbage, soy sauce, chili pepper and Champon noodles. Motsunabe originates from Fukuoka, but it only really became popular in the 1990s, and after Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy hit Japan, cattle-based versions of the dish dropped out of popularity. However, pork-based motsunabe remains popular, especially in Fukuoka, where it is paired with sake.
- When Chiaki returns, she finds their tents deserted, but Ena quickly calls her over. After joining the others, they begin to prepare what is sure to be a wonderful meal together (Chiaki whips up the kiritanpo to ensure that those not left behind). Yuru Camp△ never really had Ena, Chiaki and Aoi in imminent danger on their earlier trips, but here, they come close, only being saved at the last, last second. Because of shifting circumstances, the Outdoor Activities Club and Ena get to have another wonderful experience brought on by the unexpected rather. Of course, this doesn’t do anything about the fact that there’s still the prospect of overnighting in temperatures that may go well below zero. As the girls busy themselves with preparations, they hear a voice calling out to them.
- As it turns out, Minami had come looking for them: after panicking when she runs into Chiaki and imagines her to be a ghost, she learns that Chiaki, Aoi and Ena had found refuge with the other group of campers. Rin had messaged Minami to let her know of the Outdoor Activities Club’s travel plans, and presumably, because she’d gone camping with her sister often, Minami is familiar with the temperature variations at Lake Yamanaka and, worried for everyone’s safety, heads out to check on them. This drive is no joke and speaks to Minami’s capacity as a teacher, her love of alcohol notwithstanding: the fastest way from the Minobu to Misaki Camping ground is a 54.3 kilometre drive, but thanks to winding mountain roads, the drive takes around an hour one-way.
- Minami makes it clear that Chiaki and the others should’ve let her know of their itinerary, such that in the event of an emergency, they’d have a contact who could help initiate the proper responses. The theme in this Yuru Camp△ episode is simply that when hiking or camping, even if it is for a day, it is of utmost importance to let at least one person (ideally, an emergency contact like a close friend or family member) know of one’s destination. This theme is rarely covered in anime (for instance, in Yama no Susume, it’s a bit more implicit that Hinata, Aoi, Kokona and Kaede do this), but in the Kevin Gillis’ The Raccoons, this was the focal point of one episode, where Bert and Cedric are stranded on an island while searching for a meteorite. Had they told someone of their plans, they would’ve spared themselves a cold and difficult night in the forest.
- Yuru Camp△ never shows what sort of drinker Minami is: it does feel like that as long as she can get hammered from it, any drink will cut it. Of course, given the series’ tendency to lovingly portray cuisine, it is equally possible that Minami is fond of some drinks over others. With her now well above the legal limit, Minami will also spend the evening with the Outdoor Activities Club. Much as it is in Canada and the United States, Japan has severe laws for those who drink and drive: according to Japanese law, the legal limit is 0.03 BAC (stricter than my province’s 0.05 BAC and the federal limit of 0.08 BAC), and driving under the influence is punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment, plus a one million yen fine (again, my local laws seem more lenient, involving suspension of one’s license and the requirement of taking remedial courses). The impaired driving laws in Japan are no joke, and in my opinion, Canadian laws could stand to take a leaf from Japan.
- It really is true that, assuming shelter is taken care of, nothing is comparable to hot food on a cold night: we’re now into the first week this year where it’s been exceptionally cold. However, with it being close to the Chinese New Year, and the fact that the Super Bowl happened this past weekend, it was a time of good food: on Sunday, I whipped up a batch of home-made nachos with tortilla chips, green pepper, cherry tomatoes, marble cheese and bacon bits, with salsa and sour cream on the side. While quite tasty, I feel the nachos could’ve had a bit more cheese. Then, on Monday night, we had white-cut chicken, char sui, a shrimp stir-fry and shiitake on a bed of 髮菜 (jyutping faat3 coi3) and vegetables for our home-made Chinese New Year 團年飯 (jyutping tyun4 nin4 faan6).
- Once dinner’s done, the Outdoor Activities Club and the father daughter campers go their separate ways for the evening. The former end up sleeping inside Minami’s car: while cars can still get pretty cold, their rigid construction keeps the wind out, and the insulation allows a car to be just barely warmer than a tent. In conjunction with their winter sleeping bags, extra wool blankets and the high-altitude heat packs Chiaki’s secured, everyone makes it through the night okay. With this in mind, Les Stroud has done something similar during a ten-day survival special in Norway, and while a car does initially feel like it offers more in the way of shelter than having nothing at all, but even then, a vehicle can become a trap of sorts. Stroud eventually abandoned his vehicle for more proactive survival, and in his words, would encounter both the highest of highs and lowest of lows. Fortunately, Yuru Camp△ is not Survivorman, and Minami’s car is good to go as an overnight shelter.
- When Ena wakes up to frost-covered windows and a swift sunrise, she recalls the events of the day before and believes that, were it not for for the other campers and Minami, things might’ve turned out very differently. Yuru Camp△ 2 turns a potentially dangerous experience into something memorable, and while real life won’t always work out quite so elegantly, it would stand contrary to the series’ themes had events turned out for the worst. Her reflections here suggest that Ena’s second camping trip with the Outdoors Activity Club, while more perilous than the Christmas camping trip, still came across as being a memorable and important experience that serves to show her all aspects of camping, from the ups to the downs. My perspective from the previous episode therefore has not changed: I had previously speculated that adapting and overcoming would be a part of this episode, and sometimes, luck comes into play with things, as well.
- I emphasise again that folks expecting anime to always go in more negative directions for realism’s sake are completely mistaken; things unfold in a way to accommodate the story, even if this comes at the expense of realism. With this being said, the truth is sometimes stranger than fiction: in survival situations, Les Stroud has managed to find a partially-eaten fish discarded by eagles, half a deer carcass and even cottages during his series, speaking to the importance of proactive survival and how luck can play a role in things. So, before folks go dismissing the outcome of the Outdoor Activities Club’ experiences at Lake Yamanaka, I will reiterate that what unfolded is certainly not unrealistic by any stretch: seasoned campers are generally open-minded and friendly folks aware of the dangers posed by the bush, and Rin’s evidently a kind person, having informed Minami of what’s happening so she’s in the loop.
- I vaguely remember reading somewhere that I would be eating my words this episode, as Ena’s experiences might’ve been enough to deter her from camping with the Outdoor Activities Club until things got a little warmer, but the smile on her face as she watches the sunrise speaks otherwise. Yuru Camp△ does seem to suggest that like all meaningful activities, camping does entail a bit of risk-taking. When the risks are calculated and safety is considered, the experiences are well worth it. This episode might’ve brought Ena to the precipice of backing away from camping, but to do so would contradict the themes in Yuru Camp△, which is to do things properly and keep an open mind. Consequently, I do not believe that this experience will convince Ena to outright drop camping.
- The sunrise at Lake Yamanaka is photorealistic: from afar, this screenshot really does look like a photograph rather than a still from C-Station. From the choice of colouration, to the play of light and reflections on the lake surface, this moment captures the brisk morning air, and its associated beauty. The imagery in Yuru Camp△ is why I’ve gone with the conclusion that Ena’s experience, her second camping trip with the Outdoor Activities Club, is still a positive one in the end.
- As Chikai, Ena and Aoi enjoy the sunrise, I’ll note that for this week, because the episode’s focus is on Lake Yamanaka, there are no new locations that I needed to hunt down for this post. Having now settled into the series and its pacing, I think it to be appropriate if I do another location hunt after the eighth episode, and then finish off with the set of locations in the final third of Yuru Camp△ 2. This approach ensures that I both have enough material for a location hunt post, and not become overwhelmed by doing everything all at once: things are busy right now, as I’m trying to balance work with #TheJCS and a collaboration on Higurashi, amongst a handful of other endeavours.
- The ingredients that Chaiki, Aoi and Ena purchased the day before for a smelt tempura are now put to use; the girls fry up breakfast, just as they’d imagined doing after Ena was inspired by a television programme, and enjoy hot food as the sun illuminates the land in a new light. As it turns out, there is something particularly appealing about eating hot foods whenever it’s cold out that extends beyond the psychological piece. In colder temperatures, special channel proteins called TRPM5 are more sensitive and send a more intense message to the chemoreceptors in our taste buds, resulting in a stronger flavour profile being detected.
- Nadeshiko gives Rin a call and asks about solo camping as the episode draws to a close. This was a natural progression in Nadeshiko’s interests in camping, and viewers had previously noted to me that Yuru Camp△ 2 stands out because most slice-of-life series are about friendship and camaraderie. As such, characters like Rin usually come out of these shows with a deeper appreciation of group activities. However, Yuru Camp△ shows the opposite; Nadeshiko, who’s fallen in love with camping and has done several group trips, is now looking for a quieter trip for the experience. Appreciation of solitude is not usually a topic that anime (or society) generally deals with, but in recent years, mental health experts have found that all people benefit from solitude from time to time.
Given that temperatures this past week in my area have not risen above -20°C at all (the coldest it was had been this morning, where we hit -30°C (and -40°C with the wind-chill), I’m no stranger to the cold and respect the hazards it presents. The dangers of hypothermia and inadequate preparations that the Outdoor Activities Club faced with their excursion to Lake Yamanaka were narrowly averted by a razor’s edge; it was a bit of luck that everyone was able to make it out okay. However, luck does not always swing in one’s favour, and by presenting the Outdoor Activities Club as placing themselves in this situation, it also reminds viewers that Nadeshiko has a ways to go before she’s ready to solo camp. Since Nadeshiko is consulting with Rin to learn more, I expect that Rin will also share with viewers her process. Yuru Camp△ might’ve been a series that seemingly emphasises comfort and relaxation above all else, but the side of Yuru Camp△ that viewers often forget is how the series consistently makes mention of bushcraft techniques: the series has an educational piece to it, as well, and I imagine that the Outdoor Activities Club’s excursion to Lake Yamanaka will serve as a good reminder that proper preparations and being mindful of safety is something that should always be observed. Once these fundamentals are well in hand, campers can then turn their attention towards making the most of their trips, whether it be whipping up hot pot or making use of newly-acquired gear. This is where Yuru Camp△ 2 truly sets itself as being a logical progression from the messages and learnings shown in its predecessor, and I would hope that viewers take away more from Yuru Camp△ than merely the “comfy” memes: there are highly relevant and applicable learnings that apply to all walks of life, well beyond camping, that makes this series particularly meaningful to watch.