“Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach of us more than we can ever learn from books.” –John Lubbock
Upon arriving at the summit of Mount Misuji, Rin and the Outdoor Activities Club take in the sights before setting off for their campsite, Camp Koganezaki. Along the way, Minami allows Nadeshiko’s suggestion of stopping at an onsen along the way, and after doing some searching with Ena, she and Nadeshiko suggest Seiryu Hotel’s Hot Springs, which is known for offering a beautiful sunset view to bathers. Rin, having been up all day, has become incredibly tired – upon arriving at the onsen, she all but falls asleep. After their soak, Minami accidentally lets loose and drinks a beer, resulting in the Outdoor Activities Club calling a replacement driver service to help get everyone to their campsite. Once they arrive, the girls immediately set up their tents and begin preparing dinner. While still drowsy, Rin manages to teach Akari how to get a campfire going. Nadeshiko and Aoi begin preparations for dinner, which opens with a garlic shrimp ajillo. Meanwhile, while Ena and Chiaki grill up the spiny lobster and ask that Minami save the shells. Once round one is finished, Nadeshiko reveals that she had a special plan in mind for the alfonsino she’d brought: using the leftover broth from the afillo as the base, she creates an alfonsino acqua pazza pasta. The overwhelmingly delicious flavours knocks Rin out cold, and while Nadeshiko looks after her, the others clean up before kicking back with a horror flick. Later, Nadeshiko and Ena share a conversation about how these camping experiences has given Ena the encouragement to procure a driver’s license and take Chikuwa around to more places, while Nadeshiko similarly feels that meeting everyone has allowed her to go on fantastic adventures. When Rin wakes up a while later, she decides to go exploring and messages everyone about where’d she gone, asking them not to go searching for her. She explores a few more geospots and takes another dip at a nearby onsen, declaring that having the whole place to herself feels great.
Yuru Camp△ 2‘s penultimate episode is a callback to the Christmas camping trip from the first season – incredible attention is paid to meal preparation, the enjoyment of good food and fantastic company. In the short three months that has passed since the Christmas camp, Rin and the Outdoor Activities Club have upped their game, finding new and exciting ways to enjoy camping in a greater range of environs. With their accumulated knowledge, the girls strike a balance between planning out their itinerary and playing things by ear when the unexpected happens – the culmination of two seasons of discoveries and experiences have allowed everyone to really begin enjoying each trip to the fullest extent possible and create new memories. In conjunction with what was definitely a notable evening, Yuru Camp△ 2‘s penultimate episode reiterates themes of appreciation and gratitude through Ena’s conversation with Nadeshiko. Having met everyone and being pushed out of her comfort zone has encouraged Ena to begin looking more closely at the world around her and taking Chikuwa to more places to ensure he lives the best possible life. Similarly, Nadeshiko had not expected to become so engaged with camping after moving to Yamanashi, and she’s very happy to have met Rin and the others. Fateful meetings impact everyone, both ways, and Yuru Camp△ 2 has done a wonderful job of conveying how open-mindedness and kindness can unequivocally improve one’s world views through shared experiences.
Screenshots and Commentary
- Like the previous Yuru Camp△ 2 episode, episode eleven features a collection of clearly-identified locations, and this has made it a very straightforward exercise to determine where everything was: no effort was involved in finding all of the locations. This frees me to really just focus on the episode itself, which opens with the results of Nadeshiko, Chiaki and Akari’s footrace to the top of the summit. Unsurprisingly, Nadeshiko wins, and Chiaki is defeated. After everyone has a chance to catch their breath, they admire the sights from up on the summit, and Aoi attempts a panorama shot before Chiaki (unintentionally) ruins her photo.
- Whilst heading to their campsite at Cape Kogane, the girls suggest kicking back in the onsen. From what Yuru Camp△ 2 has presented to viewers, the series definitely has established a common set of spots the girls will always visit during their trips: Yuru Camp△ 2 could be seen as a travel show about the Yamanashi, Nagano and Shizuoka onsen in this regard, reminding me of a book I picked up back in August about the various ryōkan in Japan – these delightful traditional Japanese accommodations feel like an extravagant, amped-up version of the adventures seen in Yuru Camp△ and look very enjoyable to visit, although in exchange for unparalleled service and food, staying at a ryōkan can be quite pricey. Back in Yuru Camp△ 2, upon hearing that Rin’s probably freezing her buns off, Aoi imagines a Shimarin-shaped ice cream ad in her mind’s eye.
- Having driven all day, Rin’s becoming very exhausted and is barely holding together. Fortunately, at this point, they’re a mere two kilometres from their next destination. Driving while tired is no joke, and during driving school, I remember reading how the recommended maximum duration one should drive for at a time is two hours, with fifteen minute breaks punctuating things. Having an extra driver on hand is helpful, and while the girls have been taking breaks, Rin’s exposure to the elements make it tougher for her, as her body must work harder to keep warm (and everyone else gets to enjoy the comfort of a car’s cabin).
- It is therefore unsurprising that Rin melts into a puddle the moment she sets foot in the onsen at Seiryu Hotel, where the waters are pleasant and carry her into a state of bliss surpassing that of the others. She’s so out of it that she doesn’t enjoy the onsen‘s famous sunset. Yuru Camp△ 2 had actually been quite disciplined with fanservice as far as onsen goes up until now, which works in the series’ favour. With this being said, when used sparingly and with restraint, it does augment the Yuru Camp△ 2 experience – here, I will make an unnecessary aside that Aoi is stacked, even more so than Minami.
- Discussing fanservice for the sake of fanservice has never really been my strong suit, so I’ll transition to a slightly different perspective which affords us viewers with the sunset that Seiryu’s onsen offers to Akari, Chiaki, Minami, Ena, Nadeshiko and Aoi. This really is a sight to behold, acting as a perfect way to wrap up a lengthy road trip: the hot waters of the onsen would doubtlessly do wonders to ease the aches of having sat inside a vehicle for much of the day, and I find myself wishing that my area had a few more hot springs beyond the radium-powered hot springs of the mountains. I suppose the trade off for more onsen would be seismic activity, so I’ll leave it as an exercise for readers to decide if it is one they’d be willing to make.
- After exiting the onsen, Chiaki and the others grab a cold drink: Chiaki goes for a coffee milk, which is a quintessential part of the experience – this tradition actually dates back to the 1950s, when a coffee milk producer was looking to sell their product but had difficulties because most people didn’t have refrigerators. However, public baths (sentō) did, and it was decided that selling coffee milk at public baths would allow people a chance to enjoy experiences counted as luxurious. There is a scientific reason for why a cold drink hits the spot after soaking in an onsen or bath: the heat causes water to leave the body via sweat, and replenishing this water feels very refreshing. During my visit to Japan in 2017, I did not have coffee milk, as I lacked the coins to operate the vending machine, but drinking a cool bottle of water had the same quenching effect.
- Since Minami accidentally eases up and drinks at the onsen, she renders herself unfit to drive, and the girls call in a replacement driver service, which sounds somewhat similar to Uber in that a driver is dispatched to one’s location, only here, they operate the owner’s vehicle to a given destination and then are picked up by another driver. While this was a hassle, it’s also Yuru Camp△ 2‘s way of showing what responsibility looks like. Eventually, the Outdoor Activities Club arrives at their camp ground, Koganezaki. The manager notes that there’s only two other groups around, so they’re free to pick any open spot.
- While Rin’s exhausted, she’s still able to walk Akari through setting a campfire up as the others prepare dinner. The talking pinecones make yet another glorious return, and here, I note that with matches, getting a good fire going is much more straightforward. However, without matches, starting a fire becomes much trickier. Les Stroud had previously covered fire-starting in a Secrets of Survival special, counting the venerable fire bow as being the best way to start a fire: it only requires a heavy string and a smooth piece of wood, like a dowel. In a survival situation, however, Stroud also has used exothermic chemical reactions and flint strikers. Having seen Stroud’s methods, I personally would feel having a good flint striker or fire piston, since they’re infinitely reusable, would be the best, and if I were asked for a list of items to have in a survival situation, a flint striker or fire piston would definitely be on that list.
- Other items I’d value include a hatchet, multi-tool, a metal water bottle, lengths of rope and an emergency blanket. Of course, since Yuru Camp△ 2 isn’t Survivorman, these items and their usage are secondary to things like having a good propane burner and utensils. Once camp is set up, Yuru Camp△ 2‘s penultimate episode turns into a cooking show as Aoi and Nadeshiko prepare dinner. Their first item is a ajillo, a Spanish recipe that calls for large prawns and a boatload of garlic cooked in olive oil. The Yuru Camp△ 2 version of this dish adds mushrooms, broccoli, yams, baby corn, sausage and octopus on to of things, resulting in a dish that is a veritable flavour explosion, a party in one’s mouth.
- While Aoi and Nadeshiko prep the ajillo, Chiaki and Ena set about grilling the spiny lobster. As thanks for having driven everyone for the trip (and for buying the lobster), the girls invite Minami to dig in. She wastes no time digging in and finds that her sake pairs perfectly with the grilled lobster. Chiaki and Ena prepare their lobster by cutting it lengthwise, bisecting it and exposing the most surface area to the grill, allowing the whole thing to cook pretty quickly.
- It turns out that Chiaki and Ena have special plans for the lobster shells, which are packed with flavour, and while Minami is sending her taste buds on a journey, Chikai and Ena remark that on top of being thanks for having driven everyone, they worried that a drunken Minami wouldn’t be too helpful in cooking. Viewers learn here that Minami’s younger sister is called Ryōko, when she messages Minami and asks her to keep her drinking in check so she can keep driving everyone: up until now, I don’t think Minami’s younger sister was ever mentioned by name up. Knowing this does make it easier to refer to Minami’s younger sister by name, whereas until now, the only other suitable alternative would’ve been Rin’s “fire-starting lady”.
- As the girls dig in to the first course, Rin eats an entire clove of garlic and practically melts from the intense flavours, threatening to fall asleep there and then. I have a love-hate relationship with garlic: on one hand, it is delicious and brings about a very distinct flavour when cooked. Further to this, garlic has antibiotic properties thanks to the presence of compounds like allicin, which is responsible for the distinct smell and possesses a sulfur group that allows it to bind to thiol groups in prokaryotic enzymes, inactivating them. In other words, garlic sounds great on paper. The downside is that eating large amounts of garlic also creates bad breath and a burning aftertaste that can persist for hours afterwards.
- In this episode, I did end up feeling that a secondary message was that one should always pace themselves while travelling: Rin’s day has been filled to the brim with adventure, and she’d been up since 0300, so it is natural she’d be exhausted by now. This is where the conflict between group and solo activities come in; normally, Rin would be able to make a decision and call it quits if she’s tired, but with the other, she’s naturally inclined to push herself a little. There’s nothing wrong with this every now and then, of course, but as a result, Rin finds herself nodding off during dinner while the others are still fully awake. One suggestion would be able to take would be to have a slightly less packed solo plan for situations like these, which would leave her open to doing things with the others.
- I’ve always found that when it comes to events, I prioritise things that have an expiry date first: things that I can’t do or get as easily at any other time are the things I save my energy for, and the things that I can do whenever I choose are what I’ll let go of. In this way, I am able to make the most of special circumstances and get the most out of activities that I normally wouldn’t otherwise be able to do. This mindset is picked up over time, and I imagine that Rin will likely be able to do the same as she matures. Once the first course is done, Nadeshiko explains that the alfonsino was for a second course. Using the remaining olive oil and the flavours it’s soaked up, Nadeshiko prepares a pasta that rivals those of a proper Italian restaurant, sourcing a white wine from Minami’s private stores to bolster the dish.
- An acqua pazza (literally “crazy water”) is a pasta dish with fish and a herbed broth; Nadeshiko’s spin on it adds black olives, cherry tomatos, capers, basil and replaces the white fish for dried alfonsino. The intense flavours from the ajillo will infuse the pasta with an unparalleled flavour. A similar approach had been see in the first season, where after cooking sukiyaki, Nadeshiko turns and uses the leftovers as the base for a pasta with tomato sauce. Yuru Camp△ 2 has evidently spare no expense on the food – the sorts of things Nadeshiko cooks are worthy of Man v. Food. Having eaten so well, Rin’s offline again. Nadeshiko subsequently helps Rin to turn in for the night while the others clean up.
- Like the Christmas Camp, the girls spend the remainder of the evening watching a horror film, which leaves Nadeshiko a little too skittish to sleep. She and Ena eventually share a conversation that spoke volumes to what this episode had been about, and from their dialogue, Ena’s begun seeing the merit in being more proactive about having fun. Everyone’s friendship with one another has resulted in considerable growth; having fun while making valuable discoveries and becoming more capable people for it is the journey that Yuru Camp△ 2 portrays, and I personally find this to be the single most standout aspect about an anime that has already gotten everything else right.
- The next morning, Rin wakes up at 0400, notices everyone is still fast asleep and decides to checkout the nearby geospots on her own. I admit that, if given the chance to, I also have similar tendencies, preferring to explore something for myself on the side. Here, Rin reaches Sawada Park, which offers a beautiful open-air bath perched on the edge of a cliff. The volcanic origins of the Izu Peninsula means that it is home to some of Japan’s most extraordinary sights, and unsurprisingly, the area also sees a great deal of seismic activity.
- After Aoi and Ena wake up, they find that Rin’s left them a message indicating that she’d gone exploring nearby; since nothing’s happened to her, there’s no need to go searching for her. With the others still sleeping, the two crawl back into their tent to catch a few more winks before the second day’s adventures. It suddenly strikes me that we’re only just starting the second day, and there’s a full episode left to portray things. Considering that there are a great many spots in Izu the girls do plan on visiting, the second day is going to be booked solid, and now, I am looking forwards to seeing which places Rin and the Outdoor Activities Club do end up visiting.
- The fuzzy eyes in Yuru Camp△ have always been adorable, conveying to viewers the sense of comfort and warmth the characters are experiencing. Yuru Camp△ 2 has put a smile on my face with each and every one of its episodes, without fail – when I began watching this long-awaited second season, winter was still upon us, but of late, with the Vernal Equinox fast approaching, winter is beginning to recede and take with it the bitterly cold wind, snow and short days that define the season in my area.
- I’ll close off this talk on Yuru Camp△ 2‘s penultimate episode with a still of Rin smiling warmly at the prospect of having an entire onsen to herself. It is when she’s on her own that Rin fully rejuvenates: while Rin does have some excellent adventures with others, it’s also quite taxing for her. Similarly, I am at my happiest when doing things solo: this isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy being with people, but I refresh and regroup best in solitude. With this post in the books, there is only going to be one more Yuru Camp△ 2 episode left to write about before the series concludes, and with a bit more break time on my hands now, I think it’s also time for me to wrap up a few things before April kicks off, including a post for Left 4 Dead 2‘s classic campaign and a special feature on Gundam 00. Furthermore, the weather of late’s been remarkably pleasant, so it would be a shame to squander it and not go for at least a short walk.
We are now down to one more episode left in Yuru Camp△ 2 – while I certainly would’ve liked this series to continue on forever with its cathartic portrayal of travel and meaningful, heartwarming displays of friendship and gratitude, all good things must come to an end. The finale will doubtlessly wrap up the story surrounding Aoi and Nadeshiko’s birthdays, showing how closely this group of travellers have become since their meetings a few months earlier. While we are often taught the significance of expressing gratitude and counting our blessings for the things we do have in our lives, the fast-paced world in which we live in oftentimes cause us to lose sight of, and forget, what the important things are. Anime such as Yuru Camp△ 2 are universally enjoyed precisely because they are able to gently remind viewers of these critical messages, about the importance of benevolence and empathy, as well as trust and kindness. When paired with a fantastic backdrop that informs and amuses, Yuru Camp△ had the makings of a home run; the first season had focused on getting everyone familiar with outdoor techniques and bushcraft, as well as with one another. Now that everyone’s well-acquainted with one another, Yuru Camp△ 2 is able to really shine and tell a highly compelling, meaningful story about the aspects of life that viewers will find relevant and heart-warming. It goes without saying that I’m both excited to see how Yuru Camp△ 2 will conclude, and saddened that this excellent series will be drawing to a close next week.