“Beauty of whatever kind, in its supreme development, invariably excites the sensitive soul to tears.” –Edgar Allan Poe
Nadeshiko continues onwards to her campsite, passing along a beautiful viewpoint along the way. She eventually arrives at Fujikawa Health Green Space and marvels at its facilities, as well as taking reassurance in the fact that there’s another family here. With only minor difficulty, she manages to get her tent set up, and sets about using her time to experiment with different camping recipes. Meanwhile, on her excursion, deliberately chooses to visit a closed road to gain a better appreciation of the aesthetic before heading off for an onsen, while Sakura visits a speciality shop in the mountains that sells game meat such as boar, bear and deer. When she realises the amount of effort it takes to prepare bear, she goes with the deer. After her soak in the onsen, Rin begins to grow worried about Nadeshiko, having heard nothing from her since the latter last posted that she’d arrived in Fujikawa. Quite separately, Sakura also becomes concerned at this lack of news. Back at Fujikawa, Nadeshiko’s begun preparing foil-roasted vegetables, and when the children from the family show up, Nadeshiko invites them to try out her cooking. The younger brother enthusiastically enjoys everything, and while the older sister is initially more reserved, she comes around after trying Nadeshiko’s shot at making roasted sweet potatoes. When the children’s father shows up, they ask him if it’d be okay to try cooking something next time they camp together. Rin and Sakura arrive in the Fujikawa Health Green Space’s parking lot; Rin’s already seen that Nadeshiko is perfectly okay, and after agreeing to not disturb Nadeshiko’s solo camp, she invites Sakura to check out an overlook, which offers a stunning view of Fujikawa. They duck into the bushes to narrowly avoid Nadeshiko, who’d come up the same way, and on the way back down, after Nadeshiko’s latest photo reaches their phones, Sakura decides to treat Rin out for dinner as thanks for looking out for Nadeshiko.
This episode of Yuru Camp△ 2 reiterates the idea that solo activities give people a chance to learn more about themselves, as Rin had suggested during their New Year’s visit to Hamamatsu. Because individuals are unique, it stands to reason that people would approach things differently – with Nadeshiko, she views solo time as a chance to prepare for future excursions and sharing experiences with others. Her remarks about having a chance to experiment with recipes out in the field without worrying about what to do with an unsuccessful recipe, speak volumes to how Nadeshiko generally prefers to conduct her activities. While it is clear that Nadeshiko is in her element in a group, the solo experience gives her time to consider how to improve future activities. However, even on a solo camping trip, Nadeshiko’s natural talents for striking up conversation and making friends with others become apparent: while alone, Nadeshiko is able to explore her surroundings, which, in this case, is speaking with the children camping at the same site and sharing a meal with them. Yuru Camp△ 2 indicates that even when alone, Nadeshiko is never lonely – thoughts of her friends keep her company, and her ability to get along with a wide range of people means she has no trouble approaching people for help, as well as helping others to experience things from a different perspective. Besides showing Nadeshiko’s first solo camping experience, Yuru Camp△ 2‘s eighth episode also makes it clear the extent to which Sakura and Rin both worry about Nadeshiko – the pair travel a considerable distance to reach Fujikawa and ascertain Nadeshiko’s safety. Once both are satisfied Nadeshiko is doing well, perhaps showing the growth to both characters, both Rin and Sakura extend invitation to the other: Rin suggests they check out the night scenery together, and Sakura asks Rin to join her for dinner.
Screenshots and Commentary
- Nadeshiko’s solo adventure continues in this episode of Yuru Camp△ 2: after walking up the trail and passing through a bit of a forest, she reaches the top in no time at all. After looking briefly around the campsite and checking out the toilets and cooking spaces, Nadeshiko also comes across a pavilion of sorts. Nadeshiko notes the facilities are clean, and although camp fires aren’t allowed here, campers can make use of the cooking area to prepare their food.
- Fujikawa Health Green Space (Nodayama Health Green Space Park in real life) is located at the top of a hill and is surrounded by a forest, but thanks to its elevation, also offers stunning views of Fujikawa and the harbour below. From here, Mount Fuji is also visible; one of the central aspects about Yuru Camp△ had been Nadeshiko’s interest in seeing Mount Fuji, and while this was a core part of season one, as Nadeshiko became better versed with camping, she became open to camping in different places, irrespective of whether or not Mount Fuji could be seen from the site.
- Once she’s had a look around, Nadeshiko begins to pitch her tent. Like Rin, Nadeshiko inadvertently damages one of the pegs holding her tent down, but she swiftly fixes it and continues on with setup. Moments later, her tent is now ready to go, and Nadeshiko switches over to the next part of her day, which entails playing around with different recipes for future camping trips. Nadeshiko notes that, even if the recipes are unsuccessful, since it’s just her today, there’s no problem with experimentation because she’s not serving food to anyone else.
- Yuru Camp△ had shown that Nadeshiko was an expert when it came to preparing nabe, but by the events of season two, it would seem that in general, Nadeshiko is a capable all-around cook. I imagine that this stems from her own love for food leading her to experiment with different recipes, and this would easily explain her extensive knowledge of how to best prepare and season nabe. For this trip, Nadeshiko begins cooking other dishes, like foil-wrapped roast vegetables, with tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, eggplant, onion and even fish visible on her list of ingredients to try out.
- While Rin is exploring the mountain roads of the Southern Japanese Alps, she comes across another closed tunnel. This time around, it turns out Rin had chosen to deliberately visit the site. This was a bit of a subtle detail that shows how Rin’s growing, as well: she’s got a bit of a track record for running into closed roads during Yuru Camp△, but by the events of Yuru Camp△ 2, after giving Nadeshiko suggestions about thoroughly looking up information about a prospective trip, it looks like Rin’s also been applying that approach for herself. This time, she knows in advance the route was closed, and just wished to drive up here and check things out.
- Like Taiwan, winding, narrow roads crisscross the mountains of Japan: Rin travels along the 林道井川雨畑線 Rindō Ikawa Amehata Line, which is the only road that leads to Shizuoka’s Lake Amehata. Rin notes that the roads are undergoing quite a bit of construction, and throughout her drive, Rin’s the only person around. Such roads do seem better suited for mopeds than for cars: reading through Spectral Codex, Alexander Synaptic, the site’s author, recounts countless trips in Taiwan’s mountains where he’d used a scooter, and back when I had been in Taiwan, our bus had actually been too large to drive on the mountain roads between Hualien and Yilan, requiring us to take a train instead.
- Rin decides to check out a suspension bridge and a bit of a trail on the other side of the river, but turns back after feeling the trail could be a little tricky. This split-second decision shows that Rin is very much aware of what’s safe to do and what isn’t: she hadn’t planned on going hiking, and the dangers of checking out an unknown trail without having let someone know of her plans ahead of time are very real. As Rin crosses the bridge back, it begins to sway: such bridges are surprisingly common in the prairies, and during the previous summers, I ended up checking out several of these bridges, one of which did not even have railings, making that a properly scary experience (had I made any mistakes there, it would have a three-metre plunge into the muddy river below, an hour-and-a-half’s drive away from home).
- Instead of exploring the trail, Rin sets her sights on the safer activity of relaxing in the onsen at Villa Amehata (the only onsen in the area, which made it quick to find). Here, she makes use of a massage chair to unwind. However, thoughts of taking it easy are soon disrupted when images of Nadeshiko in trouble enter her mind. This prompts Rin to immediately head south for Fujikawa: I’d estimate that it’s about an hour and a half’s drive over some seventy kilometres for Rin to reach Nadeshiko: this is a nontrivial road distance and speaks volumes to how worried Rin is about Nadeshiko.
- Sakura had been shopping for game meats earlier, and after realising how tricky it is to prepare braised bear paw (which involves boiling the paw in a ginger and green onion bath for a few hours to dissipate the intense smells, then manually plucking the fur out. After this, it’s another four hour bath to loosen the skin up so that it can be removed along with the bones and claws), she decides to go with deer, which has a lower barrier of entry. To emphasise the challenges of this process, the narrator’s voice and incidental music is pitched and sped up for comedic effect.
- Back at Fujikawa, Nadeshiko’s bundled up in full while awaiting her food to finish cooking. When the two children arrive to cook dinner for their trip, they wonder if Nadeshiko is involved in some sort of Satanic ritual or witchcraft. The same children had been camping with their father earlier, and unlike Rin, who usually reads, the children ended up watching anime for most of their day on a laptop, with the older sister wondering why Nadeshiko is camping on her own.
- Yuru Camp△, fortunately, isn’t going to delve down the realm of the paranormal, and once her phone’s timer goes off, Nadeshiko begins to enjoy dinner. Unsurprisingly, roasting vegetables turns out to be very tasty, and here, Nadeshiko digs into a tomato, with the entire scene lit by her new gas lantern. Upon spotting the children, Nadeshiko invites them over to try things out. While the older sister is reluctant, her younger brother immediately expresses a wish to try things out. It is common occurrence for children to dislike vegetables because of their bitter flavour (and bitterness is associated with alkaloid compounds that are usually toxic to people), which they perceive more strongly as a result of their taste buds being more attuned for such compounds.
- Adults usually have a lesser challenge because their taste buds have adapted, and because their renal systems are better equipped for flushing potentially toxic compounds. The trace amounts of alkaloid compounds are therefore not an issue, so what tastes unpleasant for children might be fine for adults. With Nadeshiko’s cooking, however, the children have no problem eating their vegetables here. As they begin trying the various vegetables that Nadeshiko’s prepared, thoughts of their own dinner are quickly forgotten.
- The older sister is blown away by how delicious the sweet potato is; she wonders if it’s a particularly high-grade sweet potato, but upon learning that it was an ordinary sweet potato (that had been on sale), she quickly realises that there’s more to camping than sitting outside and re-heating convenience store food. The change that Nadeshiko imparts on the older sister is non-trivial, and when the children’s father arrives to check up on them, the older sister expresses a newfound enthusiasm for going a little fancier on the camping cuisine.
- Much as how Rin influenced Nadeshiko to pick up camping, the children’s chance encounter with Nadeshiko lead them to suddenly approach camping with a greater appreciation. They can be heard asking their father if they can come back some day with their mother (who’s currently hanging out with her friends). The propagation of happiness and gratitude in Yuru Camp△ 2 is especially tangible: the first season had largely been about being open to new experiences, but Yuru Camp△ 2 goes above and beyond in its portrayal of camping to speak about other facets of the journey that is life.
- Upon seeing how happy Nadeshiko is, Rin’s worries are assuaged, and she makes to head off. However, when she runs into Sakura, terror grips her. It was always funny how, despite her love for the paranormal, Rin’s actual ability to deal with scary occurrences is practically nil. Her resulting scream is loud enough for the family to hear, leading them to wonder if there had been deer at the camp site or similar. Once the misunderstanding is resolved, both Rin and Sakura express relief that Nadeshiko is fine, but because they’re now here, Rin invites Sakura to check out the nightscape with her.
- In a series where every moment is a magic moment, watching Rin take the initiative to do this was Yuru Camp△ 2‘s magic moment of magic moments, showing how Nadeshiko has pushed her out of her comfort zone and helped her to grow, as well. The pair’s moment of peace together vanishes when they hear Nadeshiko singing: she’s headed up the hill to enjoy the sight, as well, and having promised to give Nadeshiko a full solo experience, the pair do their best to stay hidden. Nadeshiko’s songs are actually reminiscent of the sort of thing that Cocoa does: while Chino and Sharo initially find Cocoa irritating, they also begrudgingly acknowledge that Cocoa’s energy helped them to grow as people and make new discoveries, as well (rather like how Nadeshiko sets Rin down a new path).
- While Nadeshiko is focused on taking photos, Rin and Sakura stealthily run back down the mountain path. With her picture secured, Nadeshiko wanders around the mountain top looking for a signal, until at last, she finds a place with a bar of signal. Her phone connects back to the network, and moments later, Sakura and Rin both receive Nadeshiko’s latest photo. Up here on the mountain overlooking Fujikawa, Nadeshiko’s doing well. The smiles on Rin and Sakura’s faces speak volumes to the relief and joy the pair simultaneously feel.
- Immensely grateful that Rin has supported Nadeshiko for so long, Sakura invites her out for dinner. I imagine this story is where the key visuals of Rin and Sakura eating dinner together at an okonomiyaki place comes from: prior to the Yuru Camp△ 2‘s airing, I came across one such key visual and became quite curious to know of the context. This episode doesn’t actually show the moment yet, but it seems logical that such a scene would follow. It was right around here that the waterworks began flowing in me; I emphasise that this episode was by no means an emotional experience per se, but there was something about how everything came together that precipitated such a reaction: between the warmth conveyed in the dialogue, the gentle colours of nightfall and the incidental music, there as a sense of overwhelming calm that I can only say is indescribable.
- I am normally very much in control of my emotions; I have a feeling that the stress I’ve been dealing with in the past while is starting to manifest itself. Because Yuru Camp△ 2 had been always about honesty, the atmosphere it created likely acted as a subconscious signal to me that this was the moment to cry out said stress. I’m not usually one to talk about these sorts of things, but admittedly, what I’ve been up to has been impacting my blogging and my ability to host Jon’s Creator Showcase. I’m not quite ready to share what’s been going on yet, but once things settle down a little, I’ll definitely give readers an explanation of things.
- I’ll wrap this Yuru Camp△ 2 post up with a screenshot of Nadeshiko sleeping outside overlooking the city below. It is a peaceful end to an episode that was simultaneously expected and unexpected, one that was superbly enjoyable. With this episode in the books, we are leaving February and making our way into March. Daylight is beginning to return to this side of the world as the march towards spring continues, and I am hoping soon, there will be time to enjoy the warm air and blue skies of the prairies again. The only major posts I have left on the table for the month will be for Jon’s Creator Showcase, and having seen the Luminous Witches PV, I will be aiming writing about this, as well.
Heartwarming, fuzzy and rewarding, Yuru Camp△ 2 has pulled no punches this season in really showcasing the human side of camping, beyond the destinations, equipment and bush-craft techniques that the first season had presented. Characters express gratitude for one another, begin sharing their reasons for their decisions, and look out for each other when the going becomes difficult. These lessons, when applied in a camping scenario, serves to improve one’s adventures considerably. However, when abstracted out to life in general, it speaks to the importance of kindness, empathy and benevolence to the people around us, both those we know well, and those we are unfamiliar with. Yuru Camp△ 2 reminds viewers of what matters most in life by presenting how even the smallest of actions can have a tangible, meaningful impact on people. Yuru Camp△ 2 has certainly excelled in this area, and perhaps, as a consequence of seeing the relief that Sakura and Rin express upon learning Nadeshiko had been doing well the entire time, in conjunction with the fact that I’ve been going through a great deal over the past month, I dissolved into tears towards the end of this episode. It would be five minutes before I regained the composure to continue watching the episode, but I did leave the episode feeling a little better than I had before. I recount this as part of my post for Yuru Camp△ 2‘s eighth episode because what had happened does speak to how empathy is something I believe can augment one’s experience with anime – being able to understand what the characters are thinking, and feeling, gives one the impression that they were immersed in a show, alongside the characters. Many slice-of-life anime excel in this area, but for being able to precipitate a chance for me to let off some stress, it does feel like Yuru Camp△ 2‘s writing and atmospherics are particularly standout, a cut above even the other excellent slice-of-life anime I’ve come to greatly respect and enjoy.