“Cakes are special. Every birthday, every celebration ends with something sweet, a cake, and people remember. It’s all about the memories.” –Buddy Valastro
By the time Ena and the others wake up, it’s close to noon: they stop for sashimi before continuing on with their tour of Izu’s geospots, which includes Dōgashima, Sanshirō Island and concludes at the Mount Daruma Highland. At the Sanshirō Island, while Akari is disappointed to learn a tombolo isn’t edible, she and the Outdoor Activities Club have a fantastic time exploring the natural wonders of this island. After arriving at their campsite, Darumayama Kogen Campground, Chiaki and Ena ask Akari to look after Aoi and Nadeshiko while they go ahead with preparing a birthday celebration for the two. Minami drives them to a hot springs and Cape Mihama to round the day off. While Akari is shocked to learn that Nadeshiko and Aoi had already known about the event, upon arrival, Rin, Ena and Chiaki have prepared a fantastic party for Aoi and Nadeshiko. After the two blow out the candles to their cake, Nadeshiko and Aoi open their gifts, which turn out to be wooden cookware made for camping. Whilst tucking in to dinner, a shrimp and tomato risotto made using broth from the spiny lobster shell, the girls are completely blown away by the intense flavours. Minami receives a phone call from Ryōko, who remarks that it’s fantastic that Minami’s students have allowed her to experience a wider variety of things. Because one more day of travels await Rin and the Outdoor Activities Club, everyone turns in early this evening. The next morning, to watch the sun rise, everyone wakes up early. Akari is still tired, so Minami remains behind to look after her, while Rin and the others climb Mount Daruma, where a breathtaking sunrise awaits them. Thus, Yuru Camp△ 2‘s twelfth episode draws to a close, and surprisingly enough, this was not the season finale. As the twelfth episode drew to a close, a portion of the girls’ itinerary, namely the capybaras, still remain unvisited, and once the episode finished, with a title card for the next episode, it would appear that we are getting one more episode to wrap everything up. This was such an unexpected surprise and accounts for why this post isn’t titled “finale”. With the extra episode, this means that Yuru Camp△ 2 will get to continue with the girls’ adventures for one more episode, making use of the extra run time to ensure that everything that needs to be said and done gets proper shine time.
The twelfth episode’s focus is largely on Nadeshiko and Aoi’s birthday party, which serves to highlight how close Nadeshiko’s become with her new friends. When the episode opened, Nadeshiko and Ayano had been sharing a farewell with one another. Nadeshiko, who’d lived in Hamamatsu all her life, had been sad to leave her hometown and friends behind for Yamanashi, and Ayano promises to visit her when she’s settled in. She also suggests that Nadeshiko pick up something new to make the most of things. This would inevitably set in motion Nadeshiko’s love for camping and put her on a path to meet Rin, Chiaki, Aoi and Ena. Life-changing encounters come from having an open mind, and being made aware of how Nadeshiko had been feeling prior to her arrival in Yamanashi acts as a powerful juxtaposition: in this episode’s events, Nadeshiko is celebrating her birthday with her best friends, attesting to how close everyone’s become in the past few months on account of their shared experiences together. However, this change isn’t just one way: if meeting Rin, Chiaki, Aoi and Ena have allowed Nadeshiko to camp and experience new things, then Nadeshiko’s entry into everyone’s lives have brightened things up, too. Chiaki and Aoi now camp in ways they certainly wouldn’t have considered thanks to Nadeshiko’s energy, and Rin herself becomes more open to group activities. Ena, who’d previously preferred the comfort of her own bed and sleeping in to ludicrous hours, finds herself feeling an inclination to travel more, as well. Minami similarly is grateful for having taken up advising the Outdoor Activities Club, feeling a sense of pride in watching her students learn and mature. This episode of Yuru Camp△ 2 indicates, beyond any doubt, the significance of these fateful meetings; such meetings bring people together, challenge their world-views and ultimately allow people to come out stronger for it.
Screenshots and Commentary
- Because there are so many special moments in this episode, I’ve decided to feature a few more screenshots so that I can adequately articulate everything on my mind. The episode opens with a flashback to Nadeshiko’s final days in Hamamatsu, where she shares a moment with Ayano, who encourages her to keep an open mind for new experiences. In the six or seven months since Nadeshiko’s moved to Yamanashi, she’s had a major impact on those she met and transformed her own world, as well. The knowledge that Nadeshiko’s become an integral part of the Outdoor Activities Club now shows just how far reaching the effects of her falling asleep and missing Mount Fuji had on her life, making Yuru Camp△ 2 all the more touching.
- Back in the present, Minami brings everyone to a restaurant for sashimi: the presentation in Yuru Camp△ 2 looks absolutely delicious, and while I still have some hesitation in eating sashimi, the reality is that properly prepared and stored fish is generally safe. Whole marine fish (that isn’t cod) are the safest to consume, while freshwater fish should always be cooked. This brings back memories of when I was in Japan and was served sashimi at a very fancy dinner that also featured kobe beef. Being a novice with sashimi, I ended up dropping the fish into a nabe and cooking things, which was probably unnecessary.
- Yuru Camp△ 2 shows viewers that when she’s not smashed, Minami’s a very gentle and elegant sort of individual. She admires the seaside while enjoying her own lunch here, she comments on how a fish breakfast and an ocean view are unmatched. Chikai mentions that it is noon, however, speaking to how late everyone had slept in until. Nadeshiko’s jealous that Rin was able to get an onsen soak in while everyone was sleeping; like Rin, I’m an early riser, and as soon as I acclimatise to a new time zone, I usually wake up the same time as I would at home. Like most people, I have no trouble adapting when travelling westwards, which makes trips to Hong Kong and East Asia relatively quick to get used to.
- After brunch, Minami takes everyone to Dōgashima, which the narrator explains as possessing a stunning ocean view. Nearby is Tenshodo, a naturally-formed sea cave. Volcanic landscapes are beautiful, and Yuru Camp△ 2 even provides viewers with a shot of the sea cave’s interior. I imagine that the producers probably canoed inside or used reference photos for this frame: guided canoe tours are provided, although I imagine that Chiaki’s wish of jumping in to its cool waters will never be realised. Once everyone’s happy with their sightseeing at Dōgashima, it’s onwards to the next spot: Sanshirō Island.
- Unfortunately for Akari, she still believes the tombolo refers to pork jowl, and is therefore especially excited to set foot on Sanshirō Island itself, eager to find the vendors here. Ena, Nadeshiko, Chiaki and Rin’s faces says it all: they’re impressed that Aoi would pull pranks such as these even on her own little sister. To reiterate for the reader’s benefit, a tombolo is just a sandy or rocky isthmus that links an island to the mainland, and Sanshirō Island’s tombolo appears and disappears with the tides. At low tide, it appears and allows visitors to walk to the islands.
- Excitement sets in, with Akari and Chiaki leading the charge to the island. However, it seems that arriving early means the tide hasn’t fully receded yet, and there’s a foot or so of water separating the islands from the mainland. Undeterred, the girls ditch their socks and shoes to wade through the waters, reaching the islands. While considerably warmer than anything in my neck of the woods (Izu Peninsula averages about 8.2°C in March), I imagine that stepping into the ocean waters would still be quite cold.
- Such an experience brings back memories of the time I was exploring the California coast just north of Sonoma Coast State Park a few years ago: after the F8 2019 conference had ended, I had a bit of extra time to spare and was able to hang out in the Santa Rosa area of California, which I found absolutely beautiful. I believe the name of the beach I stopped at was called Russian Gulch, and at the time, a creek had divided the rocky beach in two. While trying to traverse this, I’d done as Rin and the others have done, but slipped and accidentally dropped my shoes into the water, completely soaking them shoes through. Fortunately, it had been a warm day, and after returning to the Air BnB I was staying at, my shoes dried out in no time at all. Luckily, I did happen to have a spare pair of shoes.
- After reaching Sanshirō Island itself, Akari is surprised to find that there are no food vendors here whatsoever. Aoi remarks that being able to tell jokes apart is a part of growing up, stating it was akin to being able to differentiate between cabbage and lettuce. I found this to be a bit of a non sequitur, and Akari remains quite unconvinced. Aoi pulling pranks on Akari was adorable, and having Akari accompany the Outdoor Activities Club on this trip proved to be a great decision, providing another character to bounce off the others. Slice-of-life anime typically excel in this area, and a part of the joy is watching what happens when different characters interact with one another.
- I’m including this screenshot here purely because I imagine that C-Station likely added a moment of everyone in their swimsuits after feeling that Aoi in particular had been shafted: during the Survival Camp OVA, Aoi wears a t-shirt over her bikini, and I vividly remember hearing the disapproval from fellow viewers at this decision. This scene should rectify that feeling of disappointment in full: as Nadeshiko imagines what it must be like here in the summer, Chiaki calls everyone back. Admittedly, such a scene is pleasant, reminding me of the warmest months of the year that stand in stark contrast with the weather back home: despite it being spring now, a pair of fresh snowfalls has doused my area with a few centimetres of snow, and today’s high is only supposed to be -1°C, which certainly isn’t very spring-like.
- Sanshirō Island is probably the most iconic part of the Izu Peninsula tour, featuring in the key visual art for Yuru Camp△ 2, and I’m very glad that C-Station was able to incorporate this moment into the anime itself. Minami’s chosen to remain behind, and when the girls return as tide returns, she takes a photo of everyone. This was a pleasant moment that captures the aesthetic characterising the whole of Yuru Camp△ 2: this second season has featured the ocean in abundance, and with the ocean’s vastness symbolising stability and eternity, I imagine that Yuru Camp△ 2‘s themes deal with the durability and strengths of friendship. I’ll deal with overarching themes come the post for the finale.
- Later, Minami takes everyone to go shopping for dinner ingredients, and with their supplies acquired, it’s time to hit up one more geospot before calling it a day: because dinner is special, Ena, Chiaki and Rin will require some time to prepare everything. Of note was that Aoi can be seen buying grilled meat skewers for Akari: Akari had been so excited about eating pork jowl that her disappointment was tangible, and there are some pranks that even Aoi feels bad about pulling. It was a small scene, but a very touching and heartwarming one to show that despite her love of pranking people, Aoi loves Akari very much and is willing to go the extra mile to ensure she’s happy.
- After the highlight that is Sanshirō Island, the girls drive along Nishiizu Skyline towards the Mount Daruma Highland. The Nishiizu Skyline is a stretch of roadway with unparalleled scenery, and Minami reminds Rin to be careful with her driving. After they make their way up several switchbacks and admire the sights, they reach the highlands. Here, Mount Fuji is visible, and sight of Japan’s most iconic mountain reminds everyone of home. There certainly is something romantic about being able to see a part of one’s home from afar, and hints at the idea that travel is fun precisely because it helps one to also appreciate what their home has.
- Despite it being a few hours before dark, Ena, Chiaki and Rin begin preparing dinner. In order to facilitate things, they end up confiscating Minami’s alcohol and ask her to drive Nadeshiko, Aoi and Akari to an onsen so that the others can relax while they focus on the task of getting everything ready. It would appear that Minami’s glasses go opaque when she’s in a drinking mindset, rather than when she’s drunk: Chiaki seizes her before she has a chance to drink here. Even more so than the first season, Yuru Camp△ 2 excels with funny faces, and I’m especially fond of moments whenever Rin takes on a rounded appearance.
- While admiring the scenery from Cape Mihama, Akari is nervous that Nadeshiko and Aoi will learn of the surprise Ena and the others have planned. At her age, Akari places great importance on these sorts of things, bringing to mind the likes of Berenstain Bears and Arthur, where characters similarly worked hard to ensure that surprises stayed secret until the right moment. Older folks tend not to worry about surprises: it’s the sentiment that counts, after all. With Akari playing a much larger role in Yuru Camp△ 2‘s Izu trip, I’m glad that she was able to accompany everyone, and much as how Sakura had a larger part to play in Yuru Camp△ 2, Akari’s presence means that the series is able to present perspectives of camping and exploration that Rin, Nadeshiko, Chiaki, Aoi and Ena alone may not be able to offer.
- While Aoi and Nadeshiko had known about the party plans, this doesn’t stop things from being any less enjoyable: once preparations are complete, Minami drives everyone back, and Aoi and Nadeshiko blow out the candles to their cake. What’s impressive is that the cake was entirely homemade; while baking a full cake at the campground is certainly possible, Chiaki, Rin and Ena have gone with pancakes instead, a suitable alternative that speaks to their creativity in the field. However, the cake and birthday song isn’t the full surprise: it turns out that Chiaki, Rin and Ena have chipped in to gift Aoi and Nadeshiko wooden cookware made of a special resin and fibre mixture that allows it to be used for holding hot drinks.
- I imagine that, at the time of Nadeshiko’s conversation with Ayano shortly before she left Hamamatsu, she would’ve never imagined that she’d find good times and great company in Yamanashi quite like this. Life is full of surprises, and Yuru Camp△ 2 definitely went the extra mile to accentuate moments that are worth remembering, whether they’re with friends or family. Aoi and Nadeshiko’s birthday celebration is very similar to how I celebrate birthdays: while Western media often present birthday parties as large bashes with invitations to half the people in my class and activities like “pin the tail on the donkey”, I’ve never celebrated my birthdays in such a fashion. Consequently, I am more fond of a more quiet event with those closest to me, just as Yuru Camp△ 2 portrays.
- Once the candles are blown out (Nadeshiko and Aoi decline to attempt blowing out the Swedish Candle that Chiaki’s put together) and gifts opened, Minami takes a photo of everyone. At this point, dinner’s on, and Minami is finally allowed to kick back with her drinks of choice. Speaking to the Outdoor Activities Club’s consideration for her, Chiaki, Ena and Rin have whipped up some side dishes that she believes would pair well with the liquor that Minami’s brought.
- The spiny lobster shell from the previous evening’s dinner returns to the spotlight, being used as the base in the broth that Rin, Chiaki and Ena use for their shrimp and tomato risotto, an Italian rice dish cooked with creamy broth. The incredible, sublime flavours come together in a way that blows Aoi, Nadeshiko and Akari’s socks off: their faces here plainly suggest that things are so tasty, they’re beyond words. When risotto is mentioned, I am reminded of my brother’s trip to Nova Scotia for an academic conference; he had risotto for dinner one evening and was caught unaware of how rich and filling it was, resulting in a hilarious Man v. Food moment.
- Mid-dinner, Minami receives a call from Ryōko, who is relieved that things are going well. Minami mentions that being together with Nadeshiko and the others had been pleasant, allowing her to experience things that she otherwise would’ve missed. She is very glad to have accepted the role of advising for the Outdoor Activities Club, and here, Yuru Camp△ 2 reiterates its theme of appreciation. This time around, the series aims to convey the idea that learning is bidirectional, with the teacher also learning from the students. Altogether, Yuru Camp△ 2 clarifies that Minami’s drinking is merely a hobby, one that does not interfere with her professional life. As it stands, Nadeshiko and the Outdoor Activities Club are in good hands.
- While Yuru Camp△ had primarily shown Chiaki and Aoi as being close friends, Yuru Camp△ 2 shows that everyone’s completely at home with everyone. Aoi and Nadeshiko got along just fine in the first season, but the two never really appeared to have anything in common beyond camping. That Aoi and Nadeshiko share birthdays helps the two to bond further. I’ve always been fond of Aoi’s character: she acts as the responsible and level-headed friend for the gung-ho and spirited Chiaki, but also has a mischevious streak a kilometre across when it comes to pranks. That she’s voiced by Aki Toyosaki is brilliant: Toyosaki’s ability to deliver Aoi’s line with a soft Kansai-ben is unmatched.
- One of the biggest subtleties that Yuru Camp△ 2 portrayed was the decision to have Chiaki, Rin and Ena make the special dinner together for Nadeshiko and Aoi, with Akari helping to keep the two occupied so the others can focus. Yuru Camp△ had suggested that Rin wasn’t very fond of Chiaki: she originally found Chiaki too noisy for her liking and turned down Chiaki’s invitation to camping, but ever since Chiaki helped Rin out of a difficult spot, Rin came to accept Chiaki, regarding her as a friend like Ena and Nadeshiko. By the events of Yuru Camp△ 2, Rin and Chiaki get along very well.
- Ryōko makes a brief appearance in Yuru Camp△ 2, camping somewhere near Mount Fuji (perhaps Fumotoppara or Asagiri Kōgen, based on the presence of open plains). When Minami mentions that things with the Outdoor Activities Club have been smooth so far, Ryōko jokingly suggests that maybe Minami hadn’t seen any real challenges yet. There’s a bit of dramatic irony to things, since Minami did end up bailing Chiaki, Aoi and Ena out of a difficult situation at Lake Yamanashi.
- When Nadeshiko suggests climbing to the summit of Mount Daruma to watch the sunrise, everyone enthusiastically agrees. Here, the Swedish Candle Chiaki’s made can be seen burning in the foreground: unlike Yuru Camp△, where the candle fell apart to her, Nadeshiko and Aoi’s surprise while they were camping at Eastwood Campground, Chiaki’s become more skillful at making these Swedish Candles, another subtle reminder that everyone’s camping skills have improved with time.
- The next morning, the early start proves to be a bit much for Akari, so Minami suggests to let Akari keep sleeping so she’s fully ready for the highlight of her trip: the capybaras. This ends up being a good call, since the morning walk proves to be a bit more involved than either Chiaki or Aoi had envisioned. When Aoi looks on ahead, she’s impressed that Nadeshiko and Rin are so far ahead, speaking to the pair’s above-average fitness.
- While waiting for the others to arrive, Rin and Nadeshiko begin preparing a bit of soup for the cold morning. Up here, Rin suggests using Vaseline to prevent their faces from chaffing, and shares with Nadeshiko the fact that her mother was also a biker, so with this, it looks like everyone in the Shima family enjoys the great outdoors. This doesn’t come as a surprise to Nadeshiko, who feels that Rin’s inherited her family’s love for travel. It is the case that Vaseline is a solid way to keep moisture in: over this past winter, I’ve switched over to a Vaseline-based lip balm when my usual Bert’s Bees failed to be effective.
- With the extra time they’ve got, Rin and Nadeshiko set about preparing a miso soup for everyone, adding in the spiny lobster shells to provide a unique flavour. Despite being used already for the previous night’s dinner, Rin is surprised the flavour is still very noticeable. Nadeshiko mentions that the shell can actually be reused a few more times, and eventually, be ground down into a powder for use as flavouring. This prompts Rin to comment that Nadeshiko definitely feels like a wife for her unparalleled knowledge of cooking.
- Moments later, Aoi, Ena and Chiaki join Nadeshiko and Rin. I’m certain that Chiaki’s lack of fitness is deliberately portrayed as a joke, since this marks the second time she’s completely gassed from climbing a mountain, and I’m guessing that more than anything, Chiaki simply wasn’t mentally prepared for the walk. When the girls spot a sign indicating that the elevation at Mount Daruma is 981.8 metres, similar to that of Lake Yamanaka’s, they are reminded immediately of that night where the thermometer plummeted and Minami had come out to ensure everyone was fine.
- This prompts Ena, Chiaki and Aoi to thank Rin anew, a very touching moment. It was around this point that I realised Yuru Camp△ 2‘s twelfth episode was unlikely to be the finale: Minami has plans to visit the Iidas, and everyone is looking forwards to meeting up with Choco again. With only minutes left to the episode, it hit me that Yuru Camp△ 2 couldn’t end here, not when two outstanding promises had yet to be fulfilled. Yuru Camp△ 2 is about keeping one’s word, and this theme is critical enough to warrant an entire episode, which extends the second season’s runtime by an episode.
- When the episode ended, I checked for the presence of another episode in the preview to be certain of things. While this came as a complete surprise for me, I welcome this news wholeheartedly: having the extra runtime means being able to flesh out and explore to a satisfactory extent. I have heard that Yuru Camp△: The Movie is also in production; assuming this to be the case, I imagine that this would probably act as a finale to the series, scaling up the girls’ camping adventures for the silver screen as an opus magnum for Yuru Camp△. Once the manga finishes, I am tempted to pick up all of the English-translated volumes from my local bookstore. At this point in time, it’s something I am only considering because picking up all twelve volumes will be a feat that will require a total of 214.20 CAD including tax.
- On this note, I do intend to buy the Official TV Guidebooks for Yuru Camp△ 2 and Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka? BLOOM as soon as they become available: both series have been very kind to me, and it would be very pleasant to see the behind-the-scenes and concept art for both. I speculate that both would individually cost a much more reasonable 2500 Yen each, meaning it would be 5000 Yen (about 57.80 CAD at the time of writing) to pick them up. Back in Yuru Camp△ 2, a swift sunrise welcomes Chiaki, Aoi, Nadeshiko, Rin and Ena to their final day on the Izu Peninsula. I look forwards to returning next Friday to write about Yuru Camp△ 2‘s finale, and until then, I’ve got a few more posts for readers: besides a pair of talks on Gundam 00‘s first and second seasons, I also crossed the finish line for Shirobako: The Movie a few days ago, so I am looking forwards to sharing my thoughts on this film with readers.
With the revelation that Yuru Camp△ 2 will have one more episode to wrap things up, I am immensely grateful that C-Station has made the decision to space things out and properly portray Rin and the Outdoor Activities Club’s biggest and grandest camping trip yet. An extra twenty minutes will allow for the remainder of the girls’ itinerary to be visited (it would be completely unfair to shaft Akari and not visit the capybaras when she’d been so excited to check them out all this time), and also wrap up all of the themes that Yuru Camp△ 2 strove to cover during its second season. I have never been left disappointed by a studio’s decision to extend a series: Sunrise had previously extended Gundam Unicorn and Gundam Origin to fully tell their stories, and the wait was well worth it. With this as the precedence, I have no doubt in my mind that Yuru Camp△ 2‘s finale will be an immensely satisfying conclusion to what has become one of the most widely-acclaimed slice-of-life anime around. With this in mind, however, next week, I will not be returning on Thursday to wrap things up. Two weeks ago, my search for a new iOS developer position drew to a close after five weeks of searching, and I was most fortunate to be extended an offer with a local software firm. This represents a new start for me; I am very excited to onboard and begin contributing to things. I officially start this new position on April 1, which is when Yuru Camp△ 2‘s finale is airing. In order to ensure a smooth transition and onboarding, I will be coming to the office next Thursday to meet the team and get set up. Consequently, I am moving my Yuru Camp△ 2 finale review to Friday, which is also Good Friday. Readers have my word that I will be wrapping up this series; my decision is made based on my intention to ensure I start my new position strong, as well as write the best possible Yuru Camp△ 2 finale talk that I can to wrap up yet another brilliant slice-of-life series.