The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: Manga Time Kirara

Let’s Take a Coffee Break: Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka, Thanksgiving and Thoughts on Continuations Through Life

“What I love about Thanksgiving is that it’s purely about getting together with friends or family and enjoying food. It’s really for everybody, and it doesn’t matter where you’re from.” –Daniel Humm

It’s a gorgeous autumn afternoon outside right now: the golden foliage clings to a handful of trees, and the sky is of a deep shade of blue. This time of year is characterised by still-warm days, pumpkin pie and previously, the arrival of a new GochiUsa season. In 2015, GochiUsa‘s second season began airing, and just last year, BLOOM began on the Saturday of the Thanksgiving Long Weekend, giving me one more thing to be thankful for. This year, while no new GochiUsa is available, the current season does have a very large number of sequels – Yakunara Mug Cup Mo: Niban Kama, 86 EIGHTY-SIX and Yūki Yūna is a Hero: Great Mankai Chapter are all running. Each series takes its own approach towards continuing with their respective universe’s story: Niban Kama has Himeno learn more about her mother’s love for pottery, 86 EIGHTY-SIX drops viewers into things some time after the first season had ended, with Vladilena now leading a new squadron, and Shinei being found by the Federacy of Giad, and Great Mankai Chapter gives the Hero Club some much-needed downtime as they go around town and have fun, before Mimori unexpectedly gets a request that will see her group pressed back into service against an unknown foe. If one’s memory is a little rusty as to what happened earlier in each of Yūki Yūna is a Hero, Yakunara Mug Cup Mo and 86 EIGHTY-SIX, these first episodes will probably jolt the viewer’s memories somewhat, reminding one of what had previously happened and then beaconing viewers to continue on with the journey. Story-driven anime like Yūki Yūna is a Hero and 86 EIGHTY-SIX will have little trouble picking things up. However, with slower-paced, slice-of-life anime, it can often feel that a bit more effort is needed to resume where things had left off. However, this is something that GochiUsa has never struggled with; the series expertly picks things up, and despite the oftentimes long duration between seasons, when a continuation does air, it feels as though there had never been a gap between seasons at all.

The reason why GochiUsa is especially apt at this is because while there is an overarching story throughout the series, episodes are largely self-contained, dealing with an experience or journey that is resolved within the course of that episode. Characters also possess very distinct identifying traits, and as such, seeing everyone together again immediately reminds viewers of what the previous season had done, before setting viewers about with the promise of all-new adventures. In GochiUsa, the first season had ended on a cold winter’s day, with Cocoa and Chino falling ill and subsequently looking after one another. The second season begins as spring begins returning, and Cocoa is seized with a desire to take photographs of her friends to send back home, but struggles to photograph a smiling Chino. The second season ended with a ciste hunt during the late spring, during which Maya, Megu and Chino decide to put on a hunt for Cocoa, too. By BLOOM, summer has arrived, and it’d become a little too hot to work at Rabbit House, prompting Cocoa, Chino and Rize to create new uniforms, before selling off some unused items at a local flea market. These events are completely unrelated, but share the commonality of showcasing each of Cocoa, Chino, Rize, Chiya and Sharo at their best. Moreover, while the characters do mature of the course of GochiUsa, they remain true to themselves, as well. This unifying element means that regardless of how much time has passed since the last season, starting a new season means viewers immediately feel at home, creating a sense of warmth and comforting familiarity.

Additional Thoughts and Commentary

  • It’s now been six years since GochiUsa‘s second season began airing: I was starting my final year of graduate school back then, and the Star Wars Battlefront beta was going. I’d deliberately taken a half-day off so I could get some screenshots for discussions on Friday: back then, I was making enough progress with my thesis work so that my supervisor had no objections to this whatsoever. I thus spent the morning organising the citations I needed, evaluated the submissions for the iOS class I was TA’ing, and by the afternoon, I delved into the beta.

  • On Saturday morning, GochiUsa‘s second season began airing. Like BLOOM, episodes came out at 0830 MDT (or 0730 MST), so I was able to watch the episode almost immediately after waking up and starting my day. That had been a particularly peaceful morning, with blue skies and brisk autumn air. However, whereas we were just coming out of the summer and entering autumn, GochiUsa‘s second season was exiting winter and headed into the summer.

  • By 2015, I’d more or less found the style that I write with for this blog: on average, an episodic post takes around two hours to write if I’m coming fresh from the episode. I believe that GochiUsa‘s second season would’ve been the first time that I did a full episodic review. Originally, I’d been intending on writing the series after three episodes, and then again once the whole season had concluded. However, as I continued watching, it became clear that there was plenty of material to consider. Because the episodes are largely self-contained, they each cover a distinct topic.

  • All of these topics are then related to the overall message the entire season is going for. Along the way, GochiUsa does a fantastic job of ensuring that the world Cocoa, Chino and the others reside in is a world that is plausible. There is an incredible amount of attention paid to details, whether it be the apparatus that Chino uses to grind coffee beans and brew coffee, the fung-shui charts Cocoa and Chiya’s class use to optimise their layout for the culture festival, or the fact that the animators have even hidden in neat Easter eggs into things like license plates and QR codes.

  • Because of these factors, GochiUsa is an exceptional series that draws in viewers; the world feels real, the learnings are relevant, and the characters are loveable. Even tougher anime critics note that GochiUsa has only improved since it began airing: the first season had been a little lighter on themes because it was focused on introducing the characters and their setting, but once everything was established, GochiUsa could really begin exploring things that were more thoughtful and mature. This aspect really allowed GochiUsa to excel: the gentle slice-of-life atmosphere could soften up difficult topics like being separated from friends as everyone pursues a different future, or dealing with death and honouring those who are no longer among the living.

  • Here, Aoyama Blue Mountain holds up a copy of the magazine that she writes for, and looking more closely, one can spot Rize modelling for the magazine known in-universe as Walker. After GochiUsa finished airing, I purchased a copy of the second season’s artbook, Miracle Blend: it proved to be an incredible resource that includes behind-the-scenes interviews, concept and setting art, and high-resolution artwork. In this artbook, every page from Walker is shown in high resolution, and using image recognition technology, I’ve been able to translate the magazine’s contents.

  • In the end, I also picked up the artbook Memorial Blend for GochiUsa‘s first season, which similarly provided a wealth of information about the series, right down to what phones each of Cocoa, Chino, Rize, Chiya and Sharo were using, spots in Colmar that formed inspiration for the town, and my personal favourite, sketches of Rabbit House’s floor plans to ensure that the interior remained consistent throughout all three seasons. I had plans to pick up the artbook for BLOOM, but at the time of writing, I’ve not heard any indicators that such an artbook will be released.

  • Such an artbook would doubtlessly be an asset to have, especially if it also covers off Dear My Sister and Sing For You: Yuru Camp△‘s second artbook was a bit heftier than the first because it also shows the events of Heya Camp△. There is a lot of content inside these artbooks, and I do draw upon them from time to time if revisiting a series. However, I’ve never really had the chance to sit down, sift through everything, translate everything to English and share this with readers.

  • Such an exercise is something that the most die-hard GochiUsa fans might consider, but for me, while I am a pretty devoted fan of this series, I’m also a bit of a generalist in that with the time I have, I would prefer to experience a wider variety of stuff. There are some folks who end up specialising in one series and can offer some solid insights or tidbits of trivia I miss, but for me, the tradeoff about becoming specialised is that I might end up missing out on other stuff. I’m similar in this regard with respect to games; rather than become insanely good at any one game (e.g. Halo), I’m happier trying out a variety of games and becoming just good enough in each to hold my own.

  • Once GochiUsa‘s second season picked up, I found myself returning weekly, every Saturday afternoon, to write about the series. In this way, my autumn academic term disappeared in the blink of an eye, and every week, I looked forwards to seeing what each episode would bring to the table. Here, in one of Chino’s flashbacks, Saki can plainly be seen: even as early as the second season, it was hinted that GochiUsa was headed towards a more introspective direction by implying that Cocoa’s actions reminded Chino of her late mother.

  • BLOOM began airing a full five years after GochiUsa‘s second season, but the in-betweens were punctuated by Dear My Sister (2018) and Sing For You (2019), so the wait didn’t feel too terribly long. At this point last year, BLOOM was kicking off, and unlike the second season, I knew from the start that I was going to do episodic reviews for it, making the first time that I did a pair of episodic reviews simultaneously in a season.

  • GochiUsa has changed studios three times during its run, but thanks to consistent character designers and voice actresses, one wouldn’t be able to tell the difference for the most part, and in fact, the only noticeable changes is that the artwork and animation have improved with time. The wood-framed town does not change much in terms of aesthetics, but subtle things like lighting and water effects make the world come alive.

  • A quick glance at the official GochiUsa website finds that they’re celebrating ten years of success: the comics originally began serialisation in Manga Time Kirara back in March 2011, and there have been a bunch of events commemorating this milestone. With this going on, one wonders if there will be announcement of any continuations: it has been, after all, a year since BLOOM finished airing, and at the time of writing, there are a total of nine manga volumes. The series’ positive reception (and corresponding sales figures) means that a continuation is going to be a matter of when, rather than if.

  • Like season two’s first episode, BLOOM opens at Rabbit House on a hot summer’s day, and eases viewers back into the swing of things. Five years had passed, and in that time, I’ve transitioned fully over into industry from academia (during season two, I was about ten months from finishing graduate school): looking back, it’s been quite a bumpy journey, what with the turbulent nature of start-ups. However, the experience imparted here was invaluable, and allowed me a chance to really learn all of the technical and problem-solving skills needed to be effective in my role.

  • Watching the everyone go shopping for materials to create summer uniforms typified the experience that GochiUsa‘s successfully conveyed in its anime adaptation; compared to the manga, where there is a greater emphasis on humour (typical of the 4-koma format), the anime is able to begin exploring topics that are only touched upon in the manga. K-On! was very similar in this regard: while both anime and manga alike were about Azusa coming to cherish her time with Houkago Tea Time despite lamenting how lax Yui is towards music, the anime made this point especially clear (whereas in the manga, this was covered over the space of a few pages).

  • The success GochiUsa‘s animated adaptation experienced is a parallel to K-On!: in both cases, the anime took events occurring over the space of two or three pages and spaced them out over a longer time period, giving viewers time to consider things beyond the punchline. Furthermore, the addition of motion, colour and audio means that a given moment in the anime can evoke emotions that are otherwise more implicit in the manga. For instance, after Cocoa reunites with the others during the Halloween festival, a moment that spans eight panels in the manga was brought to live with dialogue and music that further accentuated what it meant to Chino, now that Cocoa could pull off her magic trick.

  • In this way, I’ve found that GochiUsa is providing viewers with an alternate experience of the series compared to the manga to present a different perspective on things. With this being said, the manga remains the source for the anime, and it is not unreasonable to read ahead in the manga to gain insight as to what might be upcoming. Unfortunately, at least at the time of writing, GochiUsa remains unlicensed over in North America, and without a publisher like Yen Press or Seven Seas, it means that for the time being, I won’t be able to hop on over to my favourite bookstore and pick up a copy of the manga, as I have for something like Harukana Receive or The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan.

  • GochiUsa is definitely a series I would have no qualms picking up the manga for, and given that two compilation volumes have been released, I would hope that, if an English-language version of GochiUsa ever becomes available, they’d be in the omnibus format, as well. With this in mind, it’s almost time to wrap this post up. The morning had been overcast and gusty, but the clouds gave way to sunshine and unexpectedly warm weather, so I took the afternoon to walk around outside while it’s still nice; I ended up walking over to a viewpoint overlooking the west end of town, where the mountains are visible. While the trees are starting to lose their colour now, the park nearby remained radiant; their leaves are still brilliantly yellow. Our Thanksgiving dinner is set for tomorrow evening, and this year, we’re opting to keep things simple on account of how busy it’s been.

  • This is because my house hunting endeavours turned into a process of buying the house, and throughout September, I was busy with getting all my documentation prepared, and all of my forms signed ahead of possession date. Thus, it seemed appropriate to make a smaller, simpler Thanksgiving dinner: this year, there is much to be thankful for. I give thanks for the support I’ve had, especially in these times, and also for the opportunity that I’ve been given to pick myself up and continue moving forwards. I am especially thankful about my family, friends, and also you, the readers; this blog has allowed me to write out my challenges and experiences, and being able to share thoughts with readers has also been a mode of support for me.

  • With this post reminiscing about GochiUsa in the books, I’ll wrap up with a moment of Chino smiling, remark that Cocoa would have an easier time of photographing a smiling Chino by the events of BLOOM than she did in the second season, and wrap things up. The Battlefield 2042 open beta has been live for a day now for me (I’m not in the EA Access group, and I didn’t preorder), and while I’ve had the chance to put in three hours so far, the beta ends later this evening, so I’d like to get as much out of things as I can.

Because of the atmosphere and aesthetics in GochiUsa, whenever a fourth season begins airing, viewers can be reasonably confident that it will be as though they’d never left. GochiUsa has proven to be unexpectedly popular amongst viewers; while prima facie appearing to be little more than a fluffy slice-of-life about appreciating the more down-to-earth and subtle aspects of everyday life, the series captivated viewers with its detailed and unexpectedly immersive world. As the series wore on, GochiUsa began to explore more personal and challenging topics, of accepting death and finding happiness with those around one self: by BLOOM, thoughts of graduation and choosing one’s future with conviction becomes the main theme, and Chino closes the third season by remarking that she’s now curious to see what’s out there, signifying her own desire to grow and become aware of how vast the world really is. When the day the fourth season airs, I imagine that GochiUsa will have no trouble welcoming its fans back to what has been an uncommonly engaging and immersive series. I’ve heard that the manga is still ongoing, and BLOOM ended with volume seven. Because the anime adaptation does things quite differently compared to the manga, the anime actually ended up with a more cohesive and focused story. Since BLOOM ended with the desire to travel, it is possible that we could get a full-fledged movie of the group travelling together over to the city that combines landmarks from Prague, Milan, Paris, Brussels, Helsinki and Stockholm, before returning back to town for the new school year. What lies ahead is exciting beyond words, and it should be no surprise that GochiUsa is a special to me – I picked the anime up before graduate school began, saw the second season as graduate school drew to a close, became a competent iOS developer by the time of BLOOM, and this year, I’m now getting ready to sign off on the mortgage for the new place I’d bought. I’m not sure where in my life I’ll be by the time GochiUsa‘s next work, whether it be a new season or a film, comes out, but I am very confident that I will enjoy whatever lies ahead at least as much as I’ve enjoyed the existing three seasons and two OVAs (if not even more so).

Travelling Shimarin: Yuru Camp△ 2 OVA 2 and The Official Guidebook Yagai Katsudo Kiroku Volume 2 Review and Reflection

“Exceeding expectations is where satisfaction ends and loyalty begins.” –Ron Kaufman

In the near future, a manned Mars lander enters the planet’s atmosphere and prepares for a historical achievement. However, as the lander approaches the surface, its camera array picks up something surprising: the profile of a young girl camped out on the surface, nonchalantly grilling meat. Mission control identifies this as Shimarin, and are shocked beyond words that mankind’s next giant step has been beaten out by the solar system’s greatest camper. At least, this is what Ena imagines Rin’s camping will take her; it turns out that as the night sets in on their latest camping trip, the Outdoor Activities Club and Rin are swapping stories about the sorts of adventures Rin might have once she gets her advance license. Once Hokkaido opens up to Rin, Nadeshiko suggests that Rin will be able to have all sorts of delicious food from Hokkaido, while Chiaki imagines Rin as being an aruki-henro rocking the Shikoku Pilgrimage on her trusty Vino 50. Meanwhile, Aoi supposes Rin would be able to push herself further during the winter to enjoy the warmth of various onsen. However, Rin feels that these adventures are a bit outlandish and unlikely to be within the realm of her usual travels This is the second of the Yuru Camp 2 OVAs accompanying the third and final Blu-Ray volume, being a gentle fireside conversation about camping that was probably set during the second night of Rin and the Outdoor Activities Club to the Izu Peninsula. Unlike the previous OVA, the second Yuru Camp 2 OVA is gentler in nature and lacks the mean-spirited cut of Nadeshiko camping at a work camp; a chat around the campfire about camping is the best way to wrap up what will be the last bit of Yuru Camp△ viewers see prior to 2022’s Yuru Camp: The Movie.

The contents of Yuru Camp 2‘s OVAs both stem from the manga’s Heya Camp△ segments; this time around, elements were drawn from segment 33 in volume five, and segment 65 in volume eight. The adaptation of content from Heya Camp△ for OVAs demonstrates how much material there is within Yuru Camp△: unlike the regular manga’s story, which is grounded in reality, the Heya Camp△ segments are fanciful, imaginative and creative, presenting a more comedic and exaggerated side of camping that otherwise wouldn’t fit into the regular story. The end result is a fantastic means of allowing the series to poke fun at itself and also remind viewers that at the end of the day, Yuru Camp△ is about having fun. Further to this, the second and final OVA to Yuru Camp 2 also hints at what is upcoming for the series; by choosing to portray Rin in a variety of different camping trips quite unlike anything that we’d seen previously, the OVA is hinting at the fact that Yuru Camp: The Movie will be doing something bigger and bolder than before. This isn’t too surprising, as anime films have typically taken concepts from their original run and then expanded it such that the scope matches what one expects from a silver screen feature presentation. Given that Yuru Camp△ has continued to expand the scale of Rin and the Outdoor Activities Club’s adventures, one can reasonably surmise that the camping trip within the movie will be both further away and features more people than anything the series had shown until now. This prospect is most exciting, and while it probably won’t see the girls reach Mars ahead of NASA or CNSA, I am rather curious to see what destinations and experiences await this group of friends.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • As it is right now, the United States and China possess the greatest likelihood, technology and scientific know-how to run a successful manned Mars mission: such an undertaking has been given serious thought since the 1950s, and the subject of no small discussion in academic circles and fictional works alike. The second Yuru Camp 2 OVA parodies this by giving Rin the ultimate advantage: a manned Mars mission is estimated to cost five hundred billion US dollars, so, seeing Yuru Camp△’s most proficient camper can trivially accomplish something that the world’s brightest and best minds were so close to reaching, drives the humour in this first scene.

  • The scientists running the mission are reduced to incoherent puddles, and I imagine that it would be a considerable shock to see five hundred billion dollars and decades of effort be defeated by a girl’s power to desire grilled meat anywhere in the solar system. One detail I liked was how everyone is speaking broken Japanese during these scenes; the Yuru Camp manga has everyone speaking in English. Of course, such a feat is well outside the realm of possibility: Rin is wandering the surface of Mars without a pressure suit, but Mars’ atmosphere is two orders of magnitude thinner than Earth’s, lacks the oxygen content and can drop down to around -70ºC by nightfall, forcing the inevitable conclusion that this is a bit of fantasy.

  • Unsurprisingly, this turns out to have been a what-if scenario from Ena. The manga supposes that this is another one of Rin’s dreams, and it speaks to the strength of both Yuru Camp△’s anime and live-action drama that aspects of the manga are so cleverly written into a different context without breaking immersion. Besides the Yuru Camp OVAs, one moment from the manga’s Heya Camp segments was the idea that keeping everything packed makes it easier to clean up the next day, and the Outdoor Activities Club decide that they can pack up everything, even their tents, before the next morning, leaving them to sleep in the open air. The drama ended up bringing this to life for laughs.

  • Given the jackets that Rin and the Outdoor Activities Club are wearing, coupled with the fact that Minami are accompanying them, I concluded that Yuru Camp 2‘s second OVA was set during the second night of the Izu trip. It doesn’t seem quite so outlandish to have everyone telling campfire stories before turning in for the evening, and par the course for Rin and the Outdoor Activities Club, their stories are all camping-related. This is what lends itself to the second OVA’s title, which had long hinted that the OVA’s contents would be related to Rin in some way.

  • The second Yuru Camp 2 OVA is nowhere near as fleshed-out as Heya Camp△’s Sauna, Meal and A Three-Wheeler OVA, which saw Rin do her weekend camping trip on a loaner Yamaha Tri-City motorbike. When I watched the first of the Yuru Camp 2 OVAs, I was a smidgen disappointed that it was only four minutes long and lacked the same level of content as did the Heya Camp OVA, but I subsequently recalled that the OVAs were largely adaptations of the manga’s omake content. As such, entering the second Yuru CampOVA, I tempered my expectations and anticipated a shorter, but still enjoyable segment.

  • This time around, Yuru Camp 2‘s second OVA exceeds expectations for being enjoyable to watch, and matching the remainder of the series in tone. The first OVA, Mystery Camp, was fun in its own right, but the middle vignette saw Nadeshiko go to a work camp. It was utterly heartbreaking and demoralising, and to the best of my knowledge, was a new story written specifically for the OVA. While funny in a twisted, cruel way, I did remark that doing something like that again would be a tough pill to swallow – I am therefore glad that Yuru Camp 2‘s second OVA is much more in keeping with the tenour as the rest of the series.

  • Nadeshiko’s ideal camping destination for Rin is Hokkaido: the northernmost island would be a fun place to ride, and they do have some of Japan’s best food: from top left going clockwise, Nadeshiko imagines Rin riding off to have kaisendon (a seafood bowl of white rice topped with sashimi, crab, prawn, squid and roe), baked potatoes topped with butter, yūbari melon, Genghis Khan (a grilled mutton dish) and corn off the cob. I certainly would like to go visit Hokkaido purely for their food alone, although the northernmost Japanese island is no slouch in attractions, either: Hakodate is supposed to be beautiful owing to its distinct night-scape, and Sapporo is famous for their ice sculptures.

  • Chikai’s vision of a travelling Shimarin entails Rin travelling to Shikoku for the 88-temple pilgrimage, decked out in the aruki-henro‘s garb. The aesthetic of Chiaki’s suggestion casts Rin as being similar to Kino of Kino’s Journey, wandering to different parts of Japan and gaining spiritual enlightenment as a result. While I’ve not seen the original Kino’s Journey, curiosity led me to give the 2017 anime a go. I was promptly impressed with the thematic aspects, and how much effort was paid into making each nation unique, noteworthy. Kino herself is well-suited for the journey, possessing exceptional sharpshooting skills to keep herself out of trouble, and despite her stoic mannerisms, is polite and open-minded.

  • Earlier today, my copy of the Yuru Campofficial TV guidebook arrived. I had pre-ordered it back in June when the listing was first created, and figured that to save a few bucks, I’d go with unregistered airmail, which was ten dollars less costly than the other options. Airmail takes an estimated five to twelve days, and since my copy of the guidebook came on day eleven, I’m very happy. After opening the package, I was impressed with the book’s heft: it’s a fully twenty-five percent larger than the first season’s guidebook while at the same time, costs only twenty percent more.

  • Most impressive was the fact that the guidebook details every location, both in and around Minobu, as well as the different campsites, restaurants and attractions for both Yuru Camp 2 and Heya Camp△. Besides locations, concept art of every dish is shown, and in conjunction with the cast interviews, the guidebook really demonstrates the level of effort that went into making the series. The guidebook’s extra materials come from the fact that Yuru Camp 2 has one more episode than Yuru Camp did, as well as the fact that it fully covers Heya Camp△, as well: the stamp card Nadeshiko completes is also included.

  • Altogether, the Official Guidebook Yagai Katsudo Kiroku Volume 2 is the ultimate resource for Yuru Camp fans, and I’m immensely glad to have picked it up when I did. I’ve heard rumours that an election is about to take place here in Canada, and with mail-in ballots being one of the primary options on account of the ongoing health crisis, it is suggested that Canada Post could slow down as they need to make additional deliveries, so the guidebook couldn’t have come at a better time.

  • I had been a little worried after the first OVA: the Dystopian Camp, as it is known, is really just a work camp, and puts Nadeshiko in a piteous situation. With this being said, the anime adaptation has nothing on the manga; during one of the omake comics in volume eight, Chikai and Aoi discuss how to keep the campsite clean, but then Nadeshiko interjects and states it’s fine to eat any waste they produce. The panel is horrifying to behold, and as it turns out, Chiaki had been having a nightmare.

  • Conversely, owing to Rin’s not-so-secret love of onsen, Aoi supposes that Rin would want to push her enjoyment of the hot springs to the limit by travelling in increasingly cold weather, only to hit the thermal waters immediately after. This is something I’d like to try, and since my area is blessed with bitterly cold winters, as well as geothermal hot springs an hour over, it would be possible for me to hop over to the Upper Hot Springs in Banff during the winter. I have considered doing an overnight stay during the winter, during which I would hit the hot springs early in the morning, then don a thick woolen sweater and then sip a hot cocoa on a café down Banff Avenue before returning to my lodgings and sit down to a warm, hearty dinner.

  • In Aoi’s mind’s eye, Rin even gets to bathe with the Japanese Macaque (Macaca fuscata), an Old World Monkey (differentiated from New World Monkey by the lack of a prehensile tail and arboreal preferences) found in Nagano. In reality, the Japanese Macaque were first seen bathing in open-air hot springs belonging to a hotel in 1963, so to give the monkeys a place of their own, Jigokudani Monkey Park was constructed. It is only in the imagination where one could bathe with the Japanese Macaque – hygienic factors preclude such an activity in reality, altough one cannot deny that Yuru Camp has a talent for visually portraying comfort through the characters’ fuzzy eyes.

  • While a winter hot springs trip to Banff would be fun, I suddenly realise that it would also be immensely relaxing to spend a few days at a ryōkan, especially one with private baths and an in-house kaiseki dinner. There is a draw about the aesthetic of peace and simplicity at a ryōkan that conventional accommodations do not offer, and being able to soak in my own private onsen while overlooking the mountains as Rin does here would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. While ryōkan are no slouches in terms of price, I have been working for a while and could go on such a trip, so long as I plan for a trip where I’m not busy with work.

  • While I’m not keen on driving a moped though the snow as a part of said vacation on account of that being my everyday life for eight months of the year, I suppose that I should treat myself to a ryōkan experience at some point in the near future – for the past four years, I’ve not travelled out of country except for work (including business trips to Denver, Winnipeg, and attending F8 2019), and I’ve not taken any vacation time off for myself because I’ve been so focused on building stuff for start-ups. Since I was the only iOS developer around, it was always all-hands-on-deck, so it was difficult to get away. However, I am working with a larger company now, and since there are other developers, it would be possible for me to take some proper time off: since I now have five years of experience, I have three weeks of vacation time.

  • I can get by well enough with just the statuary holidays – I live to solve problems. However, I do appreciate that work-life balance is important, and from the other side of the coin, I also solve problems to live. Three weeks of vacation time (15 days off) is quite a lot, and I could go on a one-week trip to Japan for a ryōkan stay, and still have enough left over for a week off at the end of the year, plus five more days of time for things like other appointments. With this sort of timeframe, I’d definitely be able to give the ryōkan experience a go: I’d previously had a similar experience during my travels to Japan, during which I was served sukiyaki nabe and sashimi for dinner, before going for a soak in the hotel’s onsen.

  • Such a trip is something to look forwards to in the future, but for the shorter term, there’s also Yuru Camp: The Movie to look forwards to. With Aoi’s thoughts of winter onsen in the books, the second Yuru Camp 2 OVA draws to a tranquil close, being a warm and light-hearted way of wrapping up the second season. While Yuru Camp△ came with three OVAs, including a particularly enjoyable romp on a deserted tropical island, one cannot fault C-Station, since all of their present efforts are probably directed at the film.

  • With this final OVA and the second season’s official guidebook, I’ve had a very Yuru Camp△-focused year: I also ended up watching the live-action drama and bought both Yuru Camp Virtual experiences for my Oculus Quest. Having had a chance to try things out now, I conclude that the Oculus Quest is the best way to enjoy Yuru Camp Virtual. Unlike the mobile app for iOS and Android, the Oculus Quest is completely immersive, and unlike the HTC Vive, Valve Index or Oculus Rift, the Oculus Quest is unencumbered by wires, offering the most freedom of movement.

  • Now that I think about it, I’m been pretty picky about what I about what I buy for the Oculus Quest, and a full two years after picking up my complementary Oculus Quest from F8 2019, the only apps besides Yuru Camp Virtual I paid for are Wander and SUPERHOT VR. Although VR has improved dramatically since the days I put my virtual cell into the earliest Oculus Rifts, the technology is still quite limited, so I don’t spend too much time in VR. I’ll close off with the OVA’s final moments, which has Rin rocking her moped on the surface of Mars. In the near future, I have plans to write about Action Heroine Cheer Fruits, which I recently finished, along with some thoughts on Far Cry 5 following the free weekend, a special post on Kanata no Astra, and of course, a talk on The Aquatope on White Sands now that we’re six episodes into the series.

Besides the second Yuru Camp 2 OVA, I also recently picked up the official TV guidebook for the second season – the first TV guidebook had impressed with its thorough presentation of the behind-the-scenes in Yuru Camp△, featuring character design, concept art, cast interviews, location stills and never-seen-before artwork, as well as a summary of all the episodes and OVAs. The first season’s TV guidebook sold for 2500 Yen, and so, when I learnt that the second season’s TV guidebook would retail for 3000 Yen, the price increase suggested to me that this would feature more content: Yuru Camp 2 is bigger than its predecessor, after all. I therefore hastened to pre-order my copy – these guidebooks always offer phenomenal insight into series that online discussions alone do not provide, and while I made the choice of going with a slightly less expensive shipping option (which resulted in my copy taking a bit longer than usual to arrive), it becomes clear that the wait was well worth it. Yuru Camp 2‘s official TV guidebook is bigger and badder than its predecessor. With 160 pages over its predecessor’s 128, the second season’s guidebook showcases the new locations in hitherto unseen detail (in particular, having information about what went into the Izu Peninsula segment of Yuru Camp 2 was most illuminating). In addition, it also details the new equipment that Rin and the Outdoor Activities Club utilise. To my pleasant surprise, the guidebook’s increased price tag means that Heya Camp△ is also presented, and with it, the locations that Nadeshiko visits with Chiaki and Aoi on her stamp rally, along with Rin’s experiences while she’s rocking the Yamaha Tri-City bike. The guidebook acts as a tangible copy of Yuru Camp 2, allowing me to catch details that I missed during my initial watch of the series, and reading through it, I am thoroughly impressed with the level of effort that went into Yuru Camp 2. There is no doubting that C-Station will continue to put on an impressive showing for Yuru Camp: The Movie – if Yuru Camp 2 was anything to go by, we viewers can reasonably expect to be blown away by the adventures that Rin and the Outdoor Activities Club share.

Yuru Camp△ 2 Live Action Adaptation: Whole-Series Review and Reflections

“There’s no WiFi in the mountains, but you’ll find no better connection.”

Worried about Chiaki and the others, Minami drives over to Misaki Camping Grounds at Lake Yamanaka and is relieved to see everyone’s alright. She reminds the girls about the importance of letting others know of their travel plans, before partaking in food and drink with the Iidas and Outdoor Activities Club. Later, Nadeshiko asks Rin about solo camping, having been inspired by Rin’s remarks at Hamanatsu. Rin offers five critical suggestions, and encouraged, Nadeshiko heads over to Fujikawa’s Nodayama Health Green Space Park. Meanwhile, since Rin has a break of her own, she decides to visit the Hayakawa valley, where she runs into Sakura. While Nadeshiko enjoys shigureyaki, Rin and Sakura share a conversation before parting ways. However, Rin eventually grows worried about Nadeshiko after noticing she’d not received any new messages. She heads over to Nodayama Health Green Space Park and finds Nadeshiko’s been doing well; Nadeshiko had decided to try roasting vegetables over charcoal and befriended two children. Relieved, Rin prepares to head back and runs into Sakura, who had the same idea. They head off for dinner and allow Nadeshiko to enjoy her solo camping. Later, the Outdoor Activities Club prepare for a trip to Izu Peninsula on suggestion from Minami, who’d been itching to go and give the Iidas a visit. Readers familiar with Yuru Camp△ 2 will need no reintroduction to the events from the drama’s second half, which are largely faithful to Rin and the Outdoor Activities Club’s adventures from the original series. While Yuru Camp△ 2‘s live action drama covers familiar stories from a new perspective, the decision to conclude the drama’s second season with the Outdoor Activities Club gearing up for Izu following Nadeshiko’s solo camp adventure dramatically alters the story’s flow, and with it, the central messages. Whereas the Yuru Camp△ 2‘s second season had been about gratitude and appreciation owing to where the ending occurred, Yuru Camp△ 2‘s drama presents a different perspective on things.

By having the series wrap up with Nadeshiko’s solo camping adventure, and the Outdoor Activities Club preparing for their trip to Izu, the live-action drama for Yuru Camp△ 2‘s places an emphasis on the idea that being open to approaching one’s interests from new directions opens one up to the joys of their own preferred modes of enjoying something. In other words, Nadeshiko’s favourite way to camp is with a group of friends. When she enters a campground on her own, however, rather than sharing Rin’s experience with solo camping, she is able to befriend some children and ends up enjoying a meal with them. This is Nadeshiko’s own brand of camping; solo camping ultimately confers a completely different experience for Nadeshiko, who rolls with things with her typical manner. Unsurprisingly, even on her own, Nadeshiko’s camping entails meeting people and having fun with folks of different backgrounds, mirroring her extroverted personality and natural ease in speaking with people around her. Even when she’s on her own, Nadeshiko is so engrossed in her world, so busy having fun that those around her cannot help but desire to get in on the fun, as well. Yuru Camp△ 2 had done a particularly good job of showing this, but in the drama, the decision to have Nadeshiko’s solo camping adventure wrap up the travel means that for viewers, the focus is on the fact that Nadeshiko has come a long way as a camper and is now familiar enough such that she can go on her own adventures if she so wishes. The implications this has on Nadeshiko’s skill as a camper is one of reassurance: as she and the Outdoor Activities Club go on increasingly exciting adventures, viewers can be confident that Nadeshiko knows enough to keep out of trouble and have the best time possible. Changing where the series wraps up changes the emphasis, and while the message in the drama might not be at the same scale as what was seen in the anime, it remains an important theme for Yuru Camp△ as a while; having the drama focus on this thus provides viewers with a slightly different perspective on the same story to appreciate how Rin’s influence on Nadeshiko is a decidedly positive one: much as how Nadeshiko’s fun with the Outdoor Activities Club convinces Rin to try group camping, Rin’s contemplative solo adventures encourages Nadeshiko to see what camping alone is like.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Last I wrote about Yuru Camp△ 2‘s drama, Chiaki, Aoi and Ena found themselves in trouble after being unprepared for the cold at Lake Yamanaka. Continuing on from that point, a serendipitous meeting with the Iidas save the three from trouble. When Minami arrives, she imagines that the three are caught up in some sort of racket upon seeing their tents deserted; like the manga, this vision entails shadowy, cloaked figures surrounding the three and chanting T A B L E C L O T H. While Yuru Camp△ 2‘s drama differs from the anime considerably, some elements from the manga are faithfully reproduced.

  • Par the course for Yuru Camp△ 2, closeups of food are always welcome: the anime already does an exceptional job of rendering food, but there’s nothing quite like the glisten of fat and the sparkle of juice from a given dish’s real world equivalent that only live action works can capture. Nabe is indeed perfect for a cold winter’s night, and for me, it’s a bit of a New Year’s Eve tradition to enjoy homemade nabe (which I know best as 打邊爐). I am reminded of the fact that a Chinese bistro near my place actually does individual-sized hot pot, and while I prefer their sizzling plate meals, I should at least try their hot pot at least once.

  • I’d love to try kiritanpo at one point, as well: it hails from the Akita prefecture, and the rice is pounded into a tube shape for consumption after being roasted over an open fire. I imagine that cooking over an open fire would impart a slightly smoky outdoorsy taste to things, which drives my interest to see what kiritanpo is like. The closest Cantonese equivalents I can think of is 糯米饭 (jyutping no6 mai5 faan6), a delicious sticky rice with shiitake mushroom, 臘腸 (jyutping laap6 coeng2), sometimes chicken and a healthy helping of soy sauce, or zongzi, which is sticky rice and a variety of toppings wrapped in bamboo leaves.

  • As with the anime and manga, Chiaki, Ena, Aoi and Minami spend the night in Minami’s vehicle, and the next morning, Ena awakens to a gorgeous sunrise before whipping up some tempura for breakfast. Whereas Yuru Camp△ 2‘s anime overlaid the end credits over the breakfast scene, the live-action drama chooses to showcase the cooking and enjoyment of fish tempura in all of its glory. This had been a scene I’d been looking forwards to watching animated after reading it in the manga, and I’d been a touch disappointed that the presentation of breakfast in the anime had precluded screenshots. Because there was no equivalent frame in the anime, I’ve chosen to skip over the moment in this post, but readers have my word the tempura looks delicious.

  • After putting so much mileage on her moped, Rin decides to give it a good cleaning to get all of the accumulated dirt and grime off its body. Because the pacing in the live action drama and anime differ so dramatically, the live action is actually able to present moments from the manga that were not shown in the anime: in one of the drama’s post-credits scenes, Rin has a nightmare in which her bike takes on Hermes’ traits from Kino’s Journey and asks to hang with Rin inside her tent, where it’s warmer. The differences in what Yuru Camp△ 2‘s drama presents is why I conclude that the old debate between source material and adaptation is irrelevant.

  • To gain the most complete experience, one simply needs an open mind and check everything out, or at the very least, allow others to enjoy things differently. Back in Yuru Camp△ 2‘s live-action drama, Nadeshiko and Ena pray to Rin, feeling her to have transcended into being a deity of safe travels. The idea that Rin’s portable grill is an offertory box makes a return, a clever reference to the first season, and one surmises that Rin’s particularly fond of this little grill if she’s bringing it to school with her. Eventually, Ena heads off, and Nadeshiko is able to ask her about solo camping. Once Rin shares with Nadeshiko five essential elements (tell someone where one’s going, keep an eye on the forecast, pick a site with cellular reception, research a campsite’s facilities and plan to do an activity of some sort), Nadeshiko is geared up for her first-ever solo camping trip, inspired by Rin’s words back when they were at Hamamatsu.

  • While Nadeshiko travels south for Fujinomiya, Rin heads deep into the mountains for Akasawa, about seventeen kilometres from Motosu. By road, it’d take Rin about twenty-five or so minutes to make the drive here from her place, and upon thinking about this, I grow a little envious because this happens to be how long my commute is. I’ve now been back to the office for two weeks now, having gotten both doses, and while it’s been great to work in a focused environment where I have a dual monitor setup again, the office remains quite quiet.

  • In fact, I’ve been feeling a little down of late: work’s been keeping me busy, but the fact was that the whole of July saw the skies over my province covered with a noxious layer of forest fire smoke. There’s no end in sight for the unnaturally hot weather and lack of rainfall even as we enter August, so it looks like the forest fires all around are going to continue burning: having seen footage of the fires, I ended up making a donation to the fire recovery efforts the province over. The smoke and dry weather is demoralising, but it is nothing compared to the tragedy these wildfires are causing, so I figured any help I could give would hopefully be of use.

  • The weather during this long weekend is looking a great deal like it did last year, except it’ll be a lot smokier and hazier. I vividly recall the decision to explore Blackrock Depths in World of Warcraft on my private server then. The heat of this dungeon was particularly visceral for my decision, and the temperatures this long weekend have proven to be what they’d been last summer. This stands in contrast with the brisk spring morning Rin gets to enjoy: like the anime, Rin comes across the Shimizu-ya Café, asks whether it’s open and then in minutes, finds herself seated at their kotatsu.

  • Rin begins to melt from the warmth of the kotatsu, feeling the cafe to  The anime has Rin’s entire head becoming round whenever she grows comfortable, and more so than Yuru Camp△, the second season really showed Rin’s adorable side. There is an Amanchu and ARIA-like character to these moments; in both series, penned by Kozue Amano, individuals take on a distinct art style when flustered or surprised, unique to their character. Yuru Camp△ appears to have inherited some of these traits, as well: although nowhere near as noticeable as Amano’s style, it is visible enough to denote to viewers how a character is feeling in a given moment.

  • The live action version is able to capture the same feelings without use of the same exaggerated facial expressions, using timing to convey Rin’s feeling of comfort. However, thinking about warmth now is to make things a little uncomfortable; the hot weather back home is a world apart from the cool of Akasawa, and while mamemochi and amazuki would be bliss on a brisk spring day, my thoughts turn towards that of an ice-cool lemonade or freshly-cut watermelon. While such days usually invite hikes or walks, the smoke from forest fires across the country has left the skies a noxious orange-brown.

  • While Rin relaxes at a quite mountain café, Nadeshiko kicks off her Fujinomiya adventure. The sheer amount of gear she’s carrying is even more apparent in the live-action; it is impressive that Nadeshiko is able to move as swiftly as she does despite carrying upwards of what must be forty to fifty pounds of camping gear with her. Here, she stops by Fujisan Hongū Sengen Taisha Shrine to pray for a safe and fun trip. I’ve covered most of the major locations in Yuru Camp△ 2 in an earlier post, so folks looking to learn a little more about Yuru Camp△ 2‘s locations can do so, and this leaves me free to focus more on the moments, as well as the composition of each scene.

  • When Nadeshiko notices the pleasant smell of yakisoba wafting from Fujinomiya Yakisoba Antenna Shop, a place near Fujisan Hongū Sengen Taisha Shrine, she is tempted to stop and have lunch here. There is a great deal of visual clutter in this scene; the anime frames Nadeshiko so she’s quite visible, whereas in the live action drama, the moment is presented so that Nadeshiko blends in with the crowd. The anime always tries to ensure the main characters are distinct from the background, but the drama consciously places the characters as a part of each scene to create a more natural moment.

  • For this discussion, I’ve skipped over the part where Ena invites Chiaki, Nadeshiko, and Aoi over to check out Chikuwa’s doggie-tent and cook up sausages. Rin arrives later and runs into Ena’s father, who seems to be a bit of a trickster: there were no equivalent moments in the anime, and therefore, no corresponding comparison screenshots, but I enjoyed the divergence all the same, since it demonstrated that the Yuru Camp△ drama had enough creativity to fill in the holes resulting from minor changes to the order of events. The observant reader will note that in my original location hunt, I wasn’t able to find this spot owing to a lack of patience, but this time, armed with the Oculus Quest and a bit of determination, I was able to locate the little policeman statue Rin passes by on her way deeper into the mountains.

  • Rin subsequently spots Sakura’s Nissan Rasheen and decides to tail her for a bit before she’s burned by a stray notification from Nadeshiko. The difference in framing between the drama and anime creates a different feeling; the anime indicates Rin’s discomfort with tailing Sakura by means of facial expressions, but since Harka Fukuhara can’t be reasonably expected to change her eyes, her feelings within the live action needed to be conveyed differently. Framing Rin’s smallness in the environment does the trick here.

  • Watching the chef at Okonomishokudō Itō whip up their legendary gomuku shigureyaki in the live action drama was every bit as enjoyable as the anime, and a side-by-side comparison shows just how faithful the anime is to real life – it is clear that the staff had actually gone to this restaurant in Fujinomiya and watched the chef cook it: this unique dish combines the crispy fried noodles of yakisoba with the savoury bacon, shrimp, mushrooms and fried egg of okonomiyaki. Nadeshiko becomes antsy watching the dish being made.

  • While a tough-looking sort of fellow, Yuru Camp△ shows the chef smiling at Nadeshiko’s expression of pure joy. In the live-action drama, the chef is kindly looking and reassures Nadeshiko her meal will be ready in a few moments. One aspect of the Yuru Camp△ drama I was particularly impressed with was that the secondary characters managing campsites and running restaurants and shops were surprisingly close to their anime appearances. One wonders if Yuru Camp△‘s drama ended up just featuring the actual staff at these restaurants and shops, and similarly, it is possible that the secondary characters in the manga were based on their real-world counterparts (albeit modified slightly to avoid issues surrounding likeness).

  • Sakura and Rin share a somewhat awkward meeting, but the instant Rin recalls that Nadeshiko had mentioned Sakura as a fan of Moped’s Journey, Sakura’s demeanour immediately changes. She becomes a lot livelier, and surprises Rin with her energy. Sakura is portrayed by Yurina Yanagi, and as with the rest of the characters, Yanagi is styled so she closely resembles her anime counterpart. Here, I will note that I was mistaken about Moped’s Journey being an in-universe equivalent of Kino’s Journey – it turns out Sakura is referring to the Gentsuki no Tabi, a Japanese reality show that I would liken as being similar to Rick Steves’ Europe or Great European Railway Journeys, albeit done on a Super Cub rather than by rail or other modes of transport.

  • While Nadeshiko tucks in to the shigureyaki, I’ll share a story; I’ve had okonomiyaki at a local Japanese culture festival some five years earlier while checking things out and while it was tasty, it was in Osaka’s Kansai International Airport where I had authentic Japanese okonomiyaki while awaiting a flight to Hong Kong. This okonomiyaki blew me out of the water and was the dish I’d been longing to have ever since watching Tamayura. In a hilarious turn of events, my brother was resolute on finding a good yakisoba joint, having been inspired by Mugi’s love of yakisoba in K-On!. After lunch was over, we linked up and boarded our flight. To my surprise, Your Name was playing, so I immediately set about watching the movie en route to Hong Kong.

  • It soon becomes clear that besides their enjoyment of solo adventures, Rin and Sakura also care greatly about Nadeshiko. To their pleasure, both Rin and Sakura receive a message from Nadeshiko, indicating she’d arrived at Fujikawa Station and, having done her shopping, is ready to head to her campsite. While Yuru Camp△ mainly had Sakura act as Nadeshiko’s driver, Yuru Camp△ 2 would expand her role more greatly and show that she’s quite similar to Rin, which in turn would explain why Rin would come around with Nadeshiko; from regarding her as a nuisance of sorts in the first season, to being worried about her well being by season two, it becomes clear that Nadeshiko also helped Rin to have new experiences, and for this, Rin is grateful.

  • Onsen scenes in the Yuru Camp△ drama are much more disciplined than their anime counterparts, and for this reason, I would count the drama as being a bit more family-friendly than the anime, where the studio has no qualms about showing how stacked Sakura, Minami and Aoi are. I imagine that because of the optical properties of water in real life, certain considerations (e.g. camera angles) needed to be considered in order to ensure the onsen sequences were appropriate for all viewers; in a given anime, artists can alter the opacity of water at will and side-step the challenges that real life imposes.

  • Back at Fujikawa, Nadeshiko’s begun her ascent to Nodayama Health Green Space Park, and like the anime, Yuru Camp△ 2‘s drama has Nadeshiko enjoying the scenery on her way to the top. The side-by-side comparison emphasises just how much attention was paid to detail within the anime: the through-arch visible here is a part of a pipeline, and a paper mill can be clearly spotted in the city below for both the anime and live-action. Nadeshiko worries that admiring the view here would diminish it, and covers her eyes before proceeding with her hike to the summit.

  • Upon arrival at Nodayama Health Green Space Park, Nadeshiko realises she more or less has the entire place to herself and sets about exploring the facilities, saying hello to the other group (a small family) and prepares her campsite. Like Rin, Nadeshiko makes the mistake of damaging one of her pegs in the anime, but experiences nothing of the sort in the live-action: she’s ready to go in no time at all as a result of her experience with the Outdoor Activities Club.

  • Earlier, Rin had mentioned that unlike group camping, solo camping requires one to find something to occupy her time. While I’m not a camper myself, I do appreciate how to fill my time up when I’m on my own: exploring places is something I’ve always been fond of doing when on my own, and wandering trails or pathways is a fantastic way of losing an entire afternoon. This is not unlike something Rin would do, whereas Nadeshiko sees solo camping time as a chance to experiment with different recipes. She decides to go with a simple foil-roast to see which vegetables would be good to pick, and has brought everything from tomatoes and yams, to carrots and potatoes.

  • Curiosity leads Sakura to wonder what preparing bear paw would be like, but the process is as complex as brewing a batch of felix felicis, and upon hearing the fact that the ingredients need to be stewed for several hours before one can even begin removing the hair off the paw, after which the paw must be stewed again, Sakura decides to go for a simpler deer meat. Compared to beef, deer is leaner and has a gamier taste to it; folks count it as being tastier than beef when properly prepared. On game meats, my personal favourite is probably moose or elk; several years back, I had a cookout with the extended family as thanks for having helped with a project, and on the menu was grilled elk and moose. It’s not often I have the two, so I can’t really say which one I prefer over the other, but I do know that game meats like these are extremely delicious.

  • Finding the tunnel Rin is stopped by proved to be a fun exercise; while I’d initially thought it was a mountain pass and looked on the eastern side of the Haya river, I ended up spotting a few tips in the surroundings and concluded that Rin was still in the river valley, near a bridge of sorts. This lead me to search the bridges on the Haya river: by narrowing the size of the search area, I eventually found the spot. I’ve heard that some folks who specialise in anime location hunts flat-out refuse to share their techniques and addresses/coordinates of the locations in things like Yuru Camp△ 2.

  • I’ve never been one to believe in acting like this towards readers: while keeping some locations undisclosed makes sense if they’re residential areas or in private spots (thereby preventing visitors from disrupting the locals), the places in anime like Yuru Camp△ 2 are attractions or otherwise unremarkable, and there should be no problems in showing people where they are. This is why I always aim to share the location of different scenes from the anime via Google Street View, allowing readers to gain an idea of where everything is. This is helped greatly by the fact I have Wander of Oculus Quest, where having full immersion in the space really helps from a spatial standpoint.

  • For completeness’ sake, I ended up buying Yuru CampΔ: Virtual Camp‘s Fumoto Campsite chapter a few days ago. Like Lake Motosu, Fumoto Campsite impresses from an aesthetic perspective; Gemdrop’s games completely capture the look and feel that defines Yuru CampΔ. This time around, there are several hints to suggest that the VR experiences presented occur some time after the first season, since Rin and Nadeshiko reference their first-ever camping trip together at Fumoto Campsite. Both Yuru CampΔ: Virtual Camp experiences capture an entire day’s worth of camping and feature conversations that give insight into how Rin and Nadeshiko’s friendship grows over time, and at Fumoto, players see things from Rin’s perspective.

  • Having now had a chance to play both Yuru CampΔ: Virtual Camp chapters, there are some minor things I noticed. Firstly, some translations of the Japanese into English aren’t 1:1, but this doesn’t detract from the overall experience. Similarly, there’s no anti-aliasing, and some elements (like shadows) look quite jagged, but overall, both games look very good. At Fumoto Camp, embers from the campfire and steam effects demonstrate good use of particle systems. One aspect I was fond of was the fact that Rin can spot a shooting star; the night skies look quite gentle, and I definitely see myself returning to enjoy the night scenery in the future using the game’s viewer mode.

  • Altogether, Yuru CampΔ: Virtual Camp was worth the cost of admissions. Both together cost around 48 CAD before tax, and while offering much less content compared to something like DOOM Eternal (which I got for 40 CAD, including The Ancient Gods DLC), the offset is that it allows VR headset owners to really immerse themselves in Yuru CampΔ‘s two most iconic campgrounds. While Nadeshiko enjoys a roast tomato here, I’ll share with viewers the Swiss Melt Dogs I made for lunch earlier today. I ended up trying them with both Dijon mustard and BBQ sauce, both of which conferred a great experience. The natural flavours of the Swiss cheese and white mushrooms complement one another nicely, and next time, I’ll give the onions a little bit more flavour by sautéing them with some brown sugar and a sprig of Worcestershire sauce.

  • After Nadeshiko invites the two children to try her cooking, the older sister is impressed that something like roasted vegetables could taste so good and takes on a newfound interest in camping. Even in her solo adventures, Nadeshiko has a knack for meeting new people and sharing her joy with them. This is an integral part of Nadeshiko’s character, and back during Yuru Camp△, Rin notes that Nadeshiko has a talent for making anything look tasty. Ayano echoes this sentiment in season two, attesting to how Nadeshiko’s got Adam Richman’s skill for really selling food. Even more so than heading her own outdoor equipment company, Nadeshiko feels like she’d excel as the host of a travel show about local eats.

  • After making the lengthy drive from Villa Amehata to Nadeshiko’s campsite (62 kilometres, requiring around an hour and a half’s drive), Rin is relieved to see Nadeshiko is well. Earlier, Rin had begun to grow extremely concerned after realising Nadeshiko hadn’t sent a single message since arriving at Fujikawa Station, and worried that the worst had happened, she sets off to check up on Nadeshiko. It turns out her fears were unfounded, but Rin herself suffers a shock when Sakura shows up, as well. The anime is able to utilise exaggerated facial expressions to convey Rin’s panic, but both drama and anime alike has Rin crying out in terror in a squeaky manner that leads the two children wonder if it’s a deer or similar.

  • It turns out that Sakura had been similarly worried about Nadeshiko and drove a similar distance to check up on her. This really accentuates the similarities between Rin and Sakura. This moment was particularly touching; despite rarely spending any time together, Rin and Sakura get along just fine and share a mutual love of quiet time that is balanced out by the energy Nadeshiko brings into both their lives.

  • Since Yuru Camp△ 2‘s live action drama ended its main story with Rin and Sakura checking up on Nadeshiko, the resulting theme in the drama differs from what the anime and manga conveyed: the drama speaks to the joys resulting from enjoying one’s hobby from a different perspective. Yuru Camp△‘s first season had Rin slowly come around to the idea that group camping had its merits, so in Yuru Camp△ 2, it makes sense that Nadeshiko, who started her camping journey with a group, would become curious to see what solo camping was like.

  • Watching Rin and Sakura together was remarkably heart-warming; fans have long seen the similarities between the two, and having now established that both share a mutual respect for one another, as well as the commonality of being worried about the carefree and happy-go-lucky Nadeshiko, it is possible that with the upcoming Yuru Camp△: The Movie, one could see the largest camping trip the Outdoor Activities Club goes on; perhaps Ayano will join them, and the large group means that Sakura might be asked to help drive people around, too.

  • If this were to be the case, it would be most appropriate for Yuru Camp△: The Movie; the series has been steadily expanding the scope and scale of the Outdoor Activities Club’s adventures, so it makes sense that the film would take things to the next level. Here, after Rin and Sakura receive a message from Nadeshiko, who’s found a spot where she’s got a single bar of reception, Sakura decides to treat Rin to dinner. One of the key visuals for Yuru Camp△ 2 had Rin and Sakura eating okonomiyaki together during the evening. I imagine this is Okonomishokudō Itō, the same restaurant Sakura had suggested to Nadeshiko earlier, and while I would’ve loved to have seen this happen, I imagine that the suggestion to eat dinner together alone demonstrates the closeness that’s developed between the two to a sufficient extent.

  • Whereas the live action drama cannot have access to the same array of facial expressions as the anime or manga might, the actresses do a fantastic job of conveying the emotions seen in the anime and manga. Here, Ena smugly points out that she knows of Rin’s excursion to check up on Nadeshiko. Rin is left speechless, confident that she’d never told anyone of this side trip. The anime adaptation of Yuru Camp△ 2 shows how this came to be in a post-credits sequence, and the drama has this as a part of the main storyline: while out at a convenience store, Nadeshiko’s mother runs into Rin and shares the story.

  • Rin looks shocked in the drama at this revelation, whereas in the anime, her head becomes rounded and she pouts. I’d always been fond of this scene; while Rin might be a stoic character, she is quite expressive in her own right, and as Yuru Camp△ 2 wore on, this became increasingly apparent. Haruka Fukuhara’s portrayal of Rin is spot-on throughout the live-action drama: she is faithful to Rin’s characterisation, and the fact that the characters so closely resemble their fictional counterparts serve to remind viewers that the events of Yuru Camp△ could very well happen for real.

  • With the Izu trip now a reality, Minami and the Outdoor Activities Club begin laying down the groundwork for their largest trip yet. Unlike the anime, Rin is absent from the proceedings, a consequence of the changes the drama made, but I imagine that the drama will similarly show that it won’t take much effort to convince Rin to accompany the Outdoor Activities Club on their trip. Yuru Camp△ 2‘s live action drama closes off with the Outdoor Activities Club and Rin heading home together ahead of the Izu trip, signifying that this group of friends is now at a point where they’re ready to travel together.

  • The drama ends at what corresponds roughly to the halfway point in Yuru Camp△ 2‘s ninth episode. I’m not sure if the ongoing global health crisis may have affected principal photography of the Izu segment, but I do hope that viewers will have a chance to see the Izu trip in the live-action format, too: Yuru Camp△ 2 had indicated that the food and destinations were next level, and consequently, I had been especially excited to see the alfonsino burger and shellfish fried rice that the Izu Peninsula saw. Having said this, Yuru Camp△ 2‘s drama nonetheless picks a good place to conclude for the present: I will be returning later this month to write about the second Yuru Camp△ 2 OVA which I imagine will be the last bit of Yuru Camp△ I write for, at least until Yuru Camp△ : The Movie in 2022.

Because this dramatic change in where the series wraps up, Yuru Camp△ 2‘s drama tells the same story over a longer timeframe compared to the anime. In spite of this, however, the drama never seems to drag on, and when spaces are introduced, elements from the manga are utilised to fill in the void. The tablecloth scene from the manga, so noticeably absent in the anime, makes a comeback as Minami imagines that the worst has happened to Chiaki and the others on the shores of Lake Yamanaka, as does a scene where Chiaki becomes excited to pick up inexpensive firewood for the Outdoor Activities Club’s stockpile, only to learn that all supplies are out by the time she arrives. The drama also has an all-new scene where Nadeshiko, Chiaki and Aoi swing by Ena’s place to check out Chikuwa’s doggy-tent and fry up sausages together: this moment is unique to the drama and not seen in either the anime or manga. Despite the changes, however, Yuru Camp△ 2‘s live-action drama continues to successfully capture the look-and-feel of Yuru Camp△ during its runtime. I certainly enjoyed this series and what it adds to Yuru Camp△; a slight change in the execution led me to see the series from a different angle, and for me, this is a reminder that the old debate between source and adaptation materials is a largely irrelevant one. Various perspectives on a work allow one to fully appreciate what the creators thought to be important, and it is by appreciating both source and adaptations that one gains the most complete experience. Similarly, because Yuru Camp△ 2‘s live-action drama ends with the preparations and anticipation for the Izu Peninsula trip, I’m left wondering if there will be an adaptation of the Izu trip: the anime had portrayed Izu with a high degree of precision, and admittedly, I had been hoping to see the delicious alfonsino burger everyone enjoys on their first day. For now, I have no news of whether or not a continuation of the drama is in the works, but if it turns out such a continuation is going to be made, I’d have no objection to picking things up and seeing how the live action drama chooses to adapt one of Yuru Camp△ 2‘s biggest adventures yet.

Masterpiece Anime Showcase: Gakkō Gurashi, Finding the Courage to Graduate and Reflections on an Understated Survival Series

“There are days when nothing goes right. There are days when you stumble and fall. There are days when you just want to cry. To cry a lot. To sleep a lot. Or even eat a lot. It’s alright, as long as you pick yourself up again.” –Yuki Takeya

After a biological weapon is accidentally released, Yokohama’s citizens succumb to an infection that renders them as the living dead. Yuki Takeya, Kurumi Ebisuzawa, Yūri Wakasa and Miki Naoki are a part of the School Living club, where they carry out normal, everyday activities to ensure their survival, whether it be going out to fetch supplies or cleaning the reserve water tank on the school rooftops. When Yuki begins making a scrapbook for graduation, Miki recalls how’d she had first met the School Living club, and the unusual condition Yuki is afflicted with. While securing provisions, Yūri and Miki encounter a manual that their former instructor, Megumi Sakura, had been holding onto; the manual detailed survival measures and protocol for dealing with localised infections. Kurumi later sustains a bite from the remains of Megumi while exploring their school’s basement, and while Miki searches for the vaccine in the school’s basement, she also becomes overrun. A thunderstorm disables their school’s power supplies, as well. Yuki manages to summon up the courage to save her friends, and after eluding hordes of the undead, manages to activate her school’s PA system. She encourages the students to head home, now that the day’s done. In the aftermath, Kurumi is saved, and following a graduation ceremony, Yuki, Kurumi, Yūri and Miki leave their school, headed for a point that Megumi had previously marked as a potential safe zone. During its original run in 2015, Gakkō Gurashi aired to general surprise, combining the undead apocalypse genre with moé aesthetic; I myself came upon the series a few months after its airing and was haunted by the efficacy of the first episode’s ability to betray very little about how extensive the undead infestation had become. In fact, after the unexpected turn of events at the first episode’s conclusions, I became convinced that I was seeing ghosts out of the corner of my eye. Upon finishing Gakkō Gurashi, my immediate impressions were that this anime had done a superb job of conveying how group survival conferred numerous advantages, specifically how despite Yuki believing herself to lack any skills for helping out, what she’d brought to the table had been raising everyone’s morale, and how her phantasmagorical view of the world actually helped to allow Kurumi and Yūri a sense of normalcy, giving them something to focus on in the short term so that they can maintain perspective on a longer term goal.

However, when one of my best friends crossed the finish line for Gakkō Gurashi a few weeks earlier, the series’ emotional impact had evidently been considerable. The anime had left numerous questions which needed answering, and in our discussion, I came to realise that during my first watch-through some six years earlier, I’d missed a key message in Gakkō Gurashi that my friend had spotted immediately. Gakkō Gurashi is about developing the bravery to move on, and graduation was the metaphor for this route. This was hinted at early in Gakkō Gurashi, when Miki and her best friend, Kei Shidō, became trapped at a mall the day the outbreak began. While they were able to evade the undead and barricaded themselves into a small room, Kei eventually became anxious to leave and see if she could get rescue herself, feeling it preferable to waste away in that room forever. Eventually, the School Living Club are forced into a similar scenario, too: supplies begin dwindling, and their school’s power generator fails. Gakkō Gurashi thus indicates that one cannot remain trapped at one location forever, and that for better or worse, one will eventually need to move on. Survival situations and life events are no different in this regard; while moving on will always entail a certain amount of risk, staying put at one location or milestone results in stagnation and death. Through the use of graduation as a metaphor, Gakkō Gurashi suggests that while moving on can be intimidating, it also opens up people to the possibility of new discoveries and better survival. For Yuki’s sake, Gakkō Gurashi puts on a small graduation ceremony for Yuki and her friends, reminding them of the time they’ve spent together but also congratulating them on having made it thus far, which is no trivial milestone. While perhaps a bit more dramatic in presentation, the underlying themes in Gakkō Gurashi are quite forward; undergoing any first steps on a new journey can be troublesome, especially since one won’t know where the path leads, but together, any challenges encountered can be faced down and overcome where everyone contributes their skill set and perspectives. Similarly, it is together when the excitement from each triumph is amplified. While graduation as a metaphor for possessing the resolve to take those next steps is at the heart of Gakkō Gurashi, I’d missed that in my original discussions despite the fact it was out in the open; this is a consequence of how much Gakkō Gurashi does during its twelve episode run.

What made Gakkō Gurashi so captivating was the fact that the premise and world-building had opened the series up to a myriad of directions. Gakkō Gurashi shows how busying oneself and attempting to make life as normal as possible is integral to survival, whether it be camping in the clubroom or hosting a sports festival. Watching Megumi interact with her students prior to the outbreak shows her as being someone who was utterly devoted to her duties and central to Yuki, Kurumi and Yūri’s initial survival. Her final actions help the three to save Miki later, as well, by instilling in them the desire to survive and move on. Yuki’s hullicinations, a product of her mind attempting to cope with extraordinary conditions dull her sense of safety, but also give her friends a constant reminder that there’s still things in life to enjoy, even though the world has completely shifted from what would be considered normal. The entire catastrophe is unknown in origin, but mention of the shadowy Randall Corporation and their preparedness for such an outcome speaks to both the questionable ethics large corporations take, as well as how certain projects can backfire on those who would conduct them. Each of these directions in Gakkō Gurashi opens the floor up for considering humanity’s innate resilience and ability for survival, as well as how immoral intentions can create unintended, but unprecedented destruction. However, despite having so many elements incorporated into its story, Gakkō Gurashi never once falters; the central theme is as clear as day, and instead, the topics touched upon briefly become things for the viewer to consider as they watch each of Yuki, Kurumi, Yūri and Miki survive. There is, in short, something for everyone in Gakkō Gurashi: folks looking for a coherent life lesson will find it as easily as someone who is fond of considering corporate conspiracies, and psychology is just as integral to the story as disaster engineering. While the breadth of topics in Gakkō Gurashi is large, what is impressive is that each topic is given satisfactory depth, as well. Yuki’s hallucinations and mental state is a double-edged sword, while investigation of the school’s facilities shows that thought was given towards designing a plausible, yet low-profile installation for riding out a calamity. As such, it is therefore unsurprising that on my first run, I was swept up by the survival aspects in Gakkō Gurashi, which does a phenomenal job of covering all of its elements in such a short time while simultaneously leaving the door open for exploration.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Gakkō Gurashi‘s anime incarnation was predestined to be endlessly compared with the original manga from the first day that it aired, and those who picked up the anime with a priori knowledge of the manga were oftentimes disappointed by how the former completely altered the pacing and character focus. Since my experience in Gakkō Gurashi was with the anime first, I cannot speak to this experience, but what I can speak to is the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed this series upon watching it for the first time, back when I was still a graduate student.

  • In those days, C# and C++ were my programming languages of choice, being the respective languages for Unity and Unreal Engine. I’m not sure how I came upon Gakkō Gurashi (my original post never covered that particular detail), but what I do remember was that the first episode proved to be much more than I expected. I had started Gakkō Gurashi a ways into December; when Gakkō Gurashi was airing during the summer, I’d focused all of my efforts into my research project and had just enough time to follow Non Non Biyori Repeat, so I’d not even glanced at Gakkō Gurashi.

  • While how I came to pick up Gakkō Gurashi is lost to time, I do vividly remember that the first episode had an impact on me quite unlike anything I’d seen before. Since I’d come in knowing nothing about the series besides the pre-airing synopsis, I was not prepared for the big reveal at the first episode’s conclusions, which sent a chill down my spine. Out my peripheral vision, I saw a filmy figure. I left my desk and headed out into the corridor, where I ran into my supervisor. It turns out he’d been interested in presenting a new inclusion into one of the conference papers I’d been working on, but was waiting for me to finish lunch first.

  • I promptly apologised, shook thoughts of Gakkō Gurashi out of my head, and focused my attention on the suggested additions to my paper, which would go on to win Best Paper at Laval Virtual 2016. However, that day, thoughts of Gakkō Gurashi lingered on my mind, and I immediately knew that this was no ordinary series. My enjoyment of this anime came precisely from having no prior knowledge of what was going to happen, and while episodes would subsequently swing between slice-of-life and survival, they remained very engaging despite progressing at a very slow pace.

  • Upon finishing, I found the survival piece to be the strongest component in Gakkō Gurashi: while having the right gear, fitness level and knowledge is important, per Survivorman‘s Les Stroud, the will to survive is the most vital piece of all. Gakkō Gurashi successfully delivered this message in spades: while Yuki is presented as lacking the physical strength that Kurumi has, or the leadership skills Yūri brings to the table, her upbeat and positive attitude forces Yūri and Kurumi to take a step back and accommodate her, which encompasses doing club activities like outings and sleepovers.

  • By creating this sense of normalcy for Yuki, Kurumi and Yūri also find comfort in doing the sorts of things they’d done prior to the outbreak. Here, Miki accompanies the School Living Club as they prepare for a short excursion to resupply and pick up textbooks from the library. Miki’s being around much earlier than she’d been in the manga threw manga-readers off completely; the original simply had Yūri, Kurumi and Yuki on this excursion, which is presented as a test of courage for Yuki. Having taken a look at the manga up to where the anime wraps up, I conclude that the manga’s story is much more focused and has a quicker pace than the anime.

  • However, the anime itself is successful with its messages, and by drawing out moments that otherwise took a few panels within the manga, Gakkō Gurashi is able to really emphasise the importance of being able to live in the moment. In this way, I count the anime as actually being more effective than the manga at telling a story about moving onwards in life by means of graduation. Of course, this isn’t to say that Gakkō Gurashi‘s anime is outright superior than the manga (or vice versa): both presentations of Gakkō Gurashi have their own merits, and it is only going through both where one can have a complete experience.

  • While the apocalypse is serious business, the charm in Gakkō Gurashi lies squarely with how the School Living Club do their best to live a normal and happy life. The anime especially excels at this: even munching on hardtack is something to be savoured. Thanks to their school’s solar powers and internal generators, plus water purification equipment, the School Living Club are assured of the minimum necessities, allowing their story to focus on the psychological aspect of survival. While Yuki laments that she brings nothing to the table, her naïveté is actually vital to keeping the others focused, and here, after their power supply suffers an interruption, Yuki figures it’s a good idea to pitch a tent and act as though they were camping.

  • The manga’s story is told in a linear fashion, but in the anime, Gakkō Gurashi has Miki already present at the series’ beginning. She originally was out shopping with Kei, her best friend, when the outbreak occurred, and while the two managed to escape the infected, they found themselves barricaded in at the mall. Although their necessities were taken care of, over time, Kei grows restless and desires to leave, believing that proactive survival would be better than being trapped in that small room for the rest of their days.

  • Gakkō Gurashi placed its characters under a great deal of stress, and this was conveyed in virtually every aspect of the characters’ actions. Something as simple as holding hands while falling asleep really drives home the idea that survivors from the outbreak had little more than one another early on. When Kei leaves Miki in search of rescue, Miki very nearly succumbs to despair. This was more apparent in the manga: while she tried to maintain a routine in her day, the combination of loneliness, worry about Miki’s well being and a future that was very much uncertain drove her to despair.

  • Kei’s words to Miki ultimately convinced me that Gakkō Gurashi was indeed a story about moving on; my revisitation of this series actually comes at the behest of my best friend, who similarly was moved by the series and wanted to hear my thoughts on it. Our conversations led me to realise that on my original run, I’d been so focused on the survival piece that I failed to consider the broader themes at play. To this end, I ended up rewatching Gakkō Gurashi front to back, and this time around, was able to gain a different perspective on what the series had aimed to accomplish. Kei is intended to represent the consequences of rushing out to face the future without consideration of the risks involved, as well as the limitations of what one person can do.

  • This was sharply contrasted with the School Living Club’s way of doing things: together, Yuki, Kurumi and Yūri keep one another going. When provisions dwindle, they decide to hit the local mall, and Kurumi figures she can take the wheel. Without any additional traffic on the road, Kurumi is able to arrive at their destination quite handily. During its airing, I’ve heard that Gakkō Gurashi generated quite the bit of speculation owing to the sheer amount of unknowns the series had presented, but unfortunately, in those days, almost all discourse around Manga Time Kirara series was dictated by a handful of individuals, leading discussions to suffer from tunnel vision.

  • One example that stood out was a question from Victor-Tango-Victor’s very own “local Kirara person”, which asserted that the broken windows should be impossible. The resulting speculation was wild, with each theory becoming more implausible than the last, but said “local Kirara person” didn’t even bother adding their thoughts to things. To answer this individual, per Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us, after the power goes out, birds would begin colliding with windows on buildings, forming cracks. Since the buildings aren’t heated, extremities of weather would soon cause the cracks to expand and result in the windows shattering within the space of a few months. The shattered lower floor windows could be explained as a consequence of the infected walking into them, since they’re shown as possessing only limited awareness.

  • A little bit of rational thinking is enough to justify the aesthetics seen within Gakkō Gurashi: it certainly wasn’t the JASDF doing low-level bombing runs (presence of explosives damage is completely absent, and there’s no evidence of fire damage either). This sort of thing is why I’m glad to have watched Gakkō Gurashi at my own pace, and here, the School Living Club take a breather after their outing. Megumi “Megu-nee” Sakura can be seen here, and while she was once a well-liked instructor who did her utmost to look after her students, it turned out that she’d died sometime before the series started, after the School Living Club was created to keep Yuki happy. She lives in on Yuki’s memories and offers strength to her when all other lights go out, but her limited presence (a running joke in the series’ lighter moments) continues to confuse viewers until Miki joins the School Living Club.

  • After hearing Yuki and the others, Miki attempts to hail them but finds herself surrounded by the infected. A team effort allows for Miki to be rescued; this is how she’d come to be a part of the School Living Club. Initially, Miki had a hard time accepting that Yuki’s hallucinations were legitimate, and came to clash with Yūri, who believes that Yuki should be looked after rather than scorned. Miki had been completely taken aback when she finds Yuki chattering away to someone who wasn’t there in the music room, and the scene had been quite haunting for it.

  • A longstanding question that anime viewers and manga readers alike wondered about was why Yuki’s uniform colour was different from the others. One Japanese viewer, going by the Twitter handle @mikko367, claimed that the blue and green were perfect inversions of one another, meant to indicate the different mental states between Yuki and the others. Inverting a triple T(r, g, b) representing the colour produces the results I(255-r, 255-g, 255-b). Yuki’s uniform is originally T(133, 128, 184), whereas the green on the others’ uniform is T(121, 135, 70). Inverting Yuki’s uniform yields a green of I(121,135,70), and inverting the green uniforms give a blue of I(133, 128, 184): even without an algorithm doing the work, it should be plain that the inverted colours don’t match.

  • As such, @mikko367 had completely missed the mark in their theory: the colours may appear “close enough” to the naked eye, but it won’t fool a function that compares RGB values. With this being said, “close enough” means that I could go the route of colour symbolism and note that blue is a colour for peace, calm and depression, while green represents health and service. However, I won’t go this route because that’s not what the creators had intended. In an interview with illustrator Sadoru Chiba, it turns out the colours were simply chosen so Yuki would stand out visually from the others because her personality is not consistent with the chaotic and apocalyptic state of their world. The widespread popularity that @mikko367’s theory enjoyed despite being wrong, however, would not last: in a bit of comeuppance, @mikko367 was suspended from Twitter.

  • Conversely, the interview I refer to is factual because it is retrieved from the Gakkō Gurashi official TV guidebook, which offers unparalleled insight into the design elements and production choices behind the anime. Being able to see the concept art for the characters and setting, as well as cast and producer interviews makes it clear that, while Gakkō Gurashi had been intended to promote the manga, a great deal of effort went into making the series stand on its own merits. This accounts for why so many changes were made to the series: in order to maximise the voice roles that Ai Kayano (GochiUsa‘s Mocha, Saori from Girls und Panzer) and Rie Takahashi (KonoSuba‘s Megumin and Yuru Camp△‘s Ena) had within the series, both were written to have more prominent roles, which is why Gakkō Gurashi proceeds in a non-linear fashion.

  • In spite of the dramatic changes to the progression of events, Gakkō Gurashi nonetheless manages to smoothly tell its story in a manner distinct from the manga’s, and this contributed to my enjoyment of the series. The anime lacks the manga’s sense of urgency and proceeds more slowly, so in order to space things out, a greater emphasis is placed on everyday moments like sharing a meal together. This in turn really shows how a sense of normalcy is vital in surviving trying times, and how simple things like looking forwards to breakfast can provide a major boost in morale. The effect of emphasising everyday moments also provides juxtaposition for when things do hit the fan: when Yuki wonders how on earth they were able to fit everyone into Megumi’s car, which is a four-seater, the illusionary world she crafted begins falling apart. Whenever this happens, Yuki loses her happy-go-lucky demeanor and becomes panicked, requiring some time to regroup.

  • While seemingly frivolous, the act of sending letters serves an important purpose and represents hope: if someone else out there were to find the letters, it would be a sign that other groups of people had survived. While helium-filled latex balloons look fragile, the average party balloon can reach altitudes of around nine kilometres, and moreover, can be blown great distances by high-altitude currents. Assuming they don’t burst from the low air pressure, it is thought that helium balloons can travel upwards of two thousand kilometres from their point of origin, and so, it’s not inconceivable that somewhere else in Japan, survivors might be able to pick up the letters from Yuki and her friends.

  • Of everyone in the School Living Club, Kurumi’s character was the most familiar: she’s a carbon copy of GochiUsa‘s Rize, from hair colour and a preference to wear her hair in twintails, to a boisterous personality, love of physical activity and being in above average condition compared to her peers. Unlike Rize, who was voiced by Risa Taneda, however, Kurumi is voiced by Ari Ozawa, who had played in Hai-Furi as Runa Suruga and YU-NO‘s Yuno. In spite of these differences, Ozawa captures Taneda’s style very well. One wonders if the choice of casting is intentional, since Gakkō Gurashi has an all-star cast: Inori Minase is Yuki, and MAO plays Yūri.

  • Of the girls, Yūri is the most mature and level-headed, acting as a big sister figure for those around her, even when the situation is grim. Despite not getting along with Miki initially, they quickly reconcile after Miki comes to understand what sort of role that Yuki has within the School Living Club. As Gakkō Gurashi continued, hints of a much larger mystery began unfolding after Miki finds a key that doesn’t go to anything Megumi was previously known to have. The thought that their teachers were concealing something from them weighs heavily on Yūri and Miki’s minds, and one evening, unable to sleep, they head off to do a thorough search of the staff office.

  • Yuki ends up joining the party, and while she initially seems to be an impediment rather than an asset, drawing Yūri and Miki’s attention to unrelated materials constantly, she’s ultimately the one who locates a hidden compartment in one of the wall cabinets, which contains a lockbox that holds a special manual detailing the school’s facilities and contingency protocols for the eventuality of an outbreak. This manual ends up being a game-changer in Gakkō Gurashi: had the outbreak remained unexplained, the series’ focus would’ve remained purely on the girls’ everyday adventures.

  • The revelation that the outbreak was the consequence of a freak accident (or carelessness) completely changed the stakes in Gakkō Gurashi, and it was here that, anime or manga, things became much more compelling. It is mentioned that the Randall Corporation was responsible for researching the pathogen that introduces undead-like traits in humans, and moreover, ahead of their research, they’d spent decades and hundreds of millions constructing designated shelters around Yokohama as a contingency against an unintended release of the pathogen. Gakkō Gurashi‘s authors had intended the Randall Corporation to be a reference to Steven King’s Randall Flagg, who appears after a deadly plague eliminates most of the world’s population and plunges the remnants of the world into further chaos.

  • Because Steven King is referenced elsewhere in Gakkō Gurashi, it stands to reason that the Randall Corporation are still very much up and running despite the outbreak; per Randall’s namesake, the Randall Corporation may reappear and cause future havoc at some point in the future. It’s a clever bit of foreshadowing, especially for Steven King fans, although for me, the first thing that came to mind was the RAND Corporation, which was founded in 1948 to drive scientific innovation for the armed forces and said to be a contributor to the rise of the military-industrial complex, which heavily impacts US policy-making in the present.

  • It is not inconceivable that, behind closed doors, there is a fervent desire to manufacture genetic bioweapons designed to only target specific groups of people; Gakkō Gurashi would therefore suggest that under-the-table agreements between governments and corporations may potentially escape and create catastrophe of unprecedented scale. I’ve always been drawn towards the idea that the Randall Corporation’s, dubbed “Omega” in Gakkō Gurashi, was the result of joint Western-Japanese research designed as an ace-in-the-hole for a potential Sino-Pacific war of sorts, but thanks to carelessness or other factors, was released into Japan before it was completed.

  • The serious adverse effects it has in Japan therefore becomes a cautionary tale about how malicious intent will always have consequences and backfire on those who intend. However, this is well outside the scope of what Gakkō Gurashi actually covers; the anime and manga don’t concern themselves with the political or techno-thriller elements of the genre because this isn’t the story’s theme, but the fact that it opens up the floor for discussions of this sort contributes strongly to why I’ve had such a good time with the series. Of course, period discussions were less interested in these elements, and by the time the infamous pool cleaning episode rolled around, all eyes were on how hot Yūri and Kurumi are.

  • The pool episode, for all of the fun times it allows Yuki and the others to share, serves a critical role in Gakkō Gurashi: it provides a distraction for Miki, Yūri and Kurumi. Having found the emergency manual the previous evening, thoughts of their next move occupy their every waking moment, so when Yuki and Taromaru become covered in green shit (algae) from the pond, Yūri figures it’d be a good idea to take a step back and do something else to clear their heads. This is a powerful problem-solving technique in reality, where particularly vexing problems are handled by giving them some time. This is where the expression “sleep on it” comes from; in practise, I’ve found that doing this allows me to return with a fresh set of eyes.

  • Kurumi and Yūri end up having an epic water fight, only to be interrupted by an irate Miki. I suppose now is a good time as any to mention that Gakkō Gurashi‘s soundtrack is an enjoyable one: the opening song is fun, the ending songs are heartfelt, and the incidental music captures both the tenour of everyday life along with the abject terror accompanying encounters with the infected. In particular, the slice-of-life tracks sound like they come out of a fantasy RPG game, and the best songs have a very wistful feel to them. 優しいめぐねえありがとう (Hepburn Yasashī megu nē arigatō, “Thank you for your kindness, Megu-nee”) and 言いたかった言葉 (Hepburn Iitakatta kotoba, “The Words I Want To Say”) are my two favourite songs on the soundtrack, which released as a part of the BDs in the autumn of 2015.

  • The last quarter in Gakkō Gurashi is all business: when Taromaru disappears one rainy day, Kurumi sets off to look for him. Rainy days present the School Living Club with problems, since the infected still retain enough of their neurological functions to evade the rain and take cover inside the school. Moreover, it was during a rainy day where Megumi was lost to the infected: she became infected trying to keep Yuki and the others safe, and after she was lost, Yuki’s mental state deteriorated to the point where she fabricated a reality where Megumi was still alive. This is why Megumi continued to show up early on in Gakkō Gurashi: she’s a part of Yuki’s imagination, although Kurumi and Yūri continue to play along for Yuki’s sake.

  • In the school’s bowels, Kurumi finds Taromaru, who is now infected and much more aggressive than he’d previously been. While she’s able to lock him in one of the storerooms, coming face-to-face with what’s left of Megumi causes Kurumi to hesitate for a second, resulting in her sustaining a bite. Gakkō Gurashi really amps things up, and as the saying goes, when it rains, it pours. With Kurumi infected and locked down, Yūri begins losing her composure, as well. The School Living Club is down to two operational members now, and the infected are making their way to the school in hitherto unseen numbers.

  • From what supplementary materials have suggested, the Omega pathogen is a bloodborne disease and is transmitted by means of infected blood. Once contact is made, the afflicted individual has about twenty four hours before their body undergoes a complete and irreversible change. Knowing this, Miki heads off into the school’s basement to secure a vial of the theriac, which halts infection if administered early enough. Unlike Kurumi, Miki lacks the same combat prowess and instead, uses strategy instead. She’s the brains to Kurumi’s brawn, and of the School Living Club, is the most likely to count on solving problems through reasoning.

  • While Yūri might act as the team leader and keeps everyone in line on a good day, her endurance is tested after Kurumi is infected; Kurumi had asked her to finish her off in the event of an infection, and while Yūri does her best to oblige, her heart wins out over her promise. I hear discussions surrounding Yūri’s final choice to not kill Kurumi were particularly fierce: on one hand, killing Kurumi would’ve been necessary to stop the infection from spreading to the School Living Club and outright eliminating their chances of survival, but on the other, Miki had gone off to secure a counteragent which could still save her yet. In Yūri’s position, seeing Kurumi suffer leads her to prepare for the worst.

  • Folks with more years under their belt would exercise longer-term decision making and act based on the information available: if they were past a certain deadline, then euthanising Kurumi would be appropriate, but until then, one would wait. Of course, Miki runs into trouble of her own in the basement as hordes of infected approach her position. She’s backed into a corner and wonders if this is how her time comes. However, right as all hope appears to fade, a familiar voice comes over the PA system, asking the students to head home now that the day’s over. Miki is shocked to see the infected retreat and wastes no time returning to Yuki and the others.

  • Yuki had managed to overcome her fears to save her friends, and by capitalising on the fact that the infected still retain some of their memories, decides to make an announcement to send everyone home. The hordes thus begin receding, allowing Miki to return to Kurumi and administer the drugs she’d located. Yuki might possess the least practical skillset of the School Living Club’s members, but when the moment calls for it, she can come through in a big way. The idea that everyone in a group brings something unique and valuable to the table is a common theme in survival anime, especially if the anime’s themes are more optimistic. Yuki’s courage here is what gives this discussion its quote: as Yuki says, in the face of adversity, one’s worth is judged not by how often they fail, but by how often one picks themselves back up afterwards.

  • It is to general relief that Kurumi survived, but despite the girls’ efforts, Taromaru succumbs to exhaustion and dies shortly after. While Taromaru may not have directly helped in the girls’ survival, his presence similarly lightens up the atmosphere and provides joy in an otherwise challenging situation. Yuki and Miki look after Taromaru the most, and especially for Yuki, this responsibility helps to keep her mind busy. Thus, when Taromaru dies, Yuki offers to leave her old hat with him, symbolising a willingness to let go of the past and potentially, the illusionary world she’d created following Megumi’s death.

  • There’s a catharsis as the girls give Taromaru a burial and make peace with the fallen; once Kurumi has recovered, Gakkō Gurashi enters its denouement. The peaceful weather mirrors this and also brings to mind the weather we had yesterday. Since my vaccine’s now been given the two weeks it needed, I spent yesterday at a local mall to pick up some stuff ahead of returning to the office, before swinging by an A & W to enjoy their grass-fed beef burgers, Yukon potato fries and sugar-cane root beer. We ended up picking up roast duck and crispy roast pig for dinner, which we enjoyed under clearer skies than had been present for the past while – forest fires in the province over have filled our skies with smoke, and the extent of the devastation was such that I ended up donating to help with recovery efforts there.

  • Back in Gakkō Gurashi, after studying a map Megumi had left behind, Yūri decides that St. Isidore University is their next best bet for survival: during the storm, a lightning strike had damaged their school’s generators, and while the backup batteries are still online, their power won’t last forever. The manga presented this as a helicopter crash, but the outcomes are identical – the School Living Club’s runway is running out, and it’s time to move on to improve their survival. However, beyond this, Yuki had also wanted to see themselves off in style via a graduation ceremony. It was this act that led my best friend to request that I revisit Gakkō Gurashi – after finishing the series off, said friend noted that the series’ themes of graduation and resilience were particularly moving.

  • After learning that I’d previously seen this anime, our conversations indicated that there were numerous small details that would make it worthwhile to revisit. I also ended up picking up the Gakkō Gurashi TV Anime Official Guidebook: our conversations led me to realise that this anime had done a great deal more than people give it credit for. Upon finishing my revisit and looking through the guidebook, the amount of effort that went into making the anime a compelling experience became apparent. The reason why I count Gakkō Gurashi a masterpiece is because of how the series is because of how the series was able to tell a clear story while at the same time, open the floor to so much potential discussion. Further to this, the anime did succeed in giving viewers to root for the characters and their survival – my best friend and I ended up spending a few weeks exchanging thoughts on the series and its depths.

  • Coupled with the world-building, Gakkō Gurashi demonstrates that the moé genre can continue to be full of surprises. However, it was a little surprising to learn that Gakkō Gurashi‘s anime was designed to be a standalone experience from the start – the series had been intended to promote the manga and as such, the ending where a girl picks up the letters Yuki and the others had written was meant to be a hint to check out the manga, which continues the story. As of 2019, the manga is complete, so folks interested in seeing what happens next have an avenue to do so. It was disappointing to learn that there won’t be a continuation of Gakkō Gurashi in anime form, but in retrospect, given how the anime presented its themes, the ending was more than satisfactory; Gakkō Gurashi told a very coherent, meaningful story despite deviating so dramatically from the manga, allowing the adaptation to define its own identity and distinguish itself from the manga.

In addition to the breadth and depth of topics covered, Gakkō Gurashi ultimately became an anime of note because of its portrayal of the emotional components of survival; dealing with secondary school aged young women, Gakkō Gurashi portrays each of the characters faithfully. The characters have moments where fear and doubt set in completely; this is most noticeable when Kurumi is forced to kill her crush with a shovel, the psychological scarring this has on Yuki, and later, Yūri’s becoming backed into a corner when weighing whether or not to mercy-kill an infected Kurumi. However, these moments of abject terror and despair are offset by the fact that there remains something worth protecting, and at their best, the dynamics among the School Living Club’s members allow them to not only survive, but thrive in such a hostile environment. The act of collecting helium for balloons (or Kurumi’s successful attempt at capturing a pigeon) and cleaning the aquaponics tank in their swimsuits does much to lift the girls’ morale, keeping them from ruminating on their losses or becoming overwhelmed by the prospect of a difficult journey forwards. The sharp contrast between the happiness that everyone experiences together on good days, and the horrors they face at their lowest was very tangible, to the point where several moments had me thinking that, had I been present with a good rifle, I might’ve been able to help the School Living Club sort things out. For this, Gakkō Gurashi captures the full spectrum of emotions one might reasonably expect to see in such an apocalypse, bringing each of Yuki, Kurumi, Yūri and Miki to life. This in turn creates a powerful connection to the characters, and viewers thus become invested in their survival, hoping that everyone remains safe regardless of what their next steps are. As such, Gakkō Gurashi is a powerful milestone in the realm of moé anime, demonstrating that the genre is robust enough to cover stories beyond the usual CGDCT genre if the producers so desired. For breaking out of a mold that characterises the genre, Gakkō Gurashi was full of surprises, and while the series remains quite unknown today, it would be unfair to consign it to the set of forgotten anime: anime such as these really demonstrate what is possible within moé, and to dismiss anime on virtue that their aesthetics are not to one’s liking entails the risk of missing out on series that are much more than they outwardly appear to be. Gakkō Gurashi thus earns its place as a masterpiece in my books, being a significant (and oft-overlooked) anime by showing what is possible within a genre largely defined by comedy.

1337 Posts, and Yuru Camp△ 2 Live Action Adaptation: Review and Reflections At The Halfway Point

“Plan for what it is difficult while it is easy, do what is great while it is small.” –Sun Tzu

Rin spends time with Nadeshiko and Ayano in Hamamatsu before heading back home with her grandfather. Nadeshiko ends up taking a part time job to pick up the gas lamp she’d longed for, and Chiaki spends some time seasoning her new cast iron skillet, as well as removing the lacquer from a wooden bowl. She later plans out a camping trip at Lake Yamanaka with Ena and Aoi (Nadeshiko and Rin are busy with work). After picking up some gear from Mont Bell and swinging by an onsen, the group head towards their campground at the eastern edge of Lake Yamanaka. They meet a young woman and her corgi, but after settling down for some drinks, they realise the temperature’s plummeting quickly, and moreover, they’ve not prepared at all for the cold night ahead. This is where Yuru Camp△ 2‘s drama after six episodes, coinciding roughly with where Chiaki, Aoi and Ena end up at Yuru Camp△ 2‘s halfway point. By now, it is apparent that Yuru Camp△ 2‘s live action has taken several liberties with the order of events and progression: Chiaki preparing a cast iron skillet and wooden bowl originally during the first season prior to exams. However, speaking to the finesse of the writing, the Yuru Camp△ 2 drama never skips a beat, and changes in the events are smoothly integrated with the original timeline to create a very smooth story that stands of its own accord. In its execution, the Yuru Camp△ 2 live action shows how even with substantial modifications to the storyline, by virtue of omission or altering when it occurs, some stories can still flow elegantly. The end result is that I half expect there to be a few more surprises in store for the Yuru Camp△ 2 drama’s second half; seeing these differences (sometimes subtle, and othertimes obvious) has made the live-action adaptation engaging in its own right. While we might be retreading a familiar stories, minor variations keep the experience quite fresh.

In retrospect, Yuru Camp△ 2‘s first half is initially quite similar to the first season in that it covers the experience surrounding local camping, of visiting spots reachable by mass transit or moped. However, the combination of new locations explored and new lessons learnt add depth to the adventures; Nadeshiko is now close enough to get an honest answer from Rin about why solo camping has its own joys, and while the first season’s winter camping had been all fun and games, Chiaki, Aoi and Ena’s lack of research into the nighttime lows at Lake Yamanaka remind viewers of the importance of being properly prepared. The second season’s first half thus speaks to the idea that while the Outdoor Activities Club had become familiar with camping, there were a few things they needed to be made aware of before they could go on larger-scale outings. Having Chiaki, Aoi and Ena learn the importance of research and letting people know of their plans is vital for safety’s sake, and once this lesson is applied, viewers can rest assured that the characters are aware of the procedure to keep safe on their adventures. The messages are consistent across both the live action adaptation and the anime; this is, after all, a central part of the series, and disparities between the two notwithstanding, both the anime and drama do an outstanding job of conveying their messages across. One of the things I did notice about the live-action drama was that, while the episodes seem to space things out more, things never seemed to drag on. This is the mark of an engaging series – camping is a fun activity many partake in, but Yuru Camp△‘s uncommonly powerful presentation has encouraged people to take it up for themselves.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Last I wrote about the Yuru Camp△ live action drama was about a month and a half ago; attesting to how busy things’ve been, I’ve only been able to catch up on the live action recently, having spent almost all of my time finishing up Cold WarSuper CubYakunara Mug Cup Mo and Gundam SEED. Fortunately, shows don’t go anywhere, and so, I was able to pick up with the drama right where’d I had left off last.

  • Having the drama around meant my Yuru Camp△ withdrawal isn’t quite as severe as I initially imagined: I’ve long been impressed with how faithful the live-action adaptation was to events in the anime. Filming this second season can’t have been easy, especially since many of the events were related to phenomenon around the New Year’s timeframe, and in order to keep things authentic, the producers would’ve had to do most of their principal photography in winter. The end results, however, speak for themselves.

  • One of these days, I’d love to watch or read about a behind-the-scenes of how Yuru Camp△‘s drama was filmed: besides showing things like set design, I’m very fond of outtake reels and the like. A well-done movie or TV show is totally immersive, and with strong acting, it becomes easy to forget that we’re watching women and men completely embracing their roles to bring a certain world and its story to life. Being able to watch moments where actors and actresses flub a line or burst out laughing reminds us of the effort that goes into making these show come to life.

  • I did not cover this in my original post, nor did I feature this moment in any location hunt: Hamanakoo Bridge is located immediately north of Nagisaen Camping Ground at the western edge of Hamamatsu, and in both the anime and drama, the observation tower from Hamanako Garden Park can be seen. The lighting in the drama suggests a warmer day than the anime, but being Canadian, I’ve been around the block long enough to know that one cannot reliably ascertain ambient temperatures visually.

  • While waiting for Shizuhana to open, Rin is shocked that there are so many people here to buy strawberry daifuku so early in the day. Like the anime, Rin finds herself hoping that there’ll be enough to go around, since she’s only looking to grab a few for Nadeshiko, and all of the other customers are interested in buying large numbers at a time. The uptick in recent reviews for this confectionary store suggests that more locals are beginning to go out and about; traffic back home certainly has increased of late, and my provincial government have opened things up for people in my cohort to take their second vaccination.

  • I ended up getting my second shot yesterday, and once the vaccine does its thing within two weeks, it means I’ll have an acceptable level of protection against the virus. This doesn’t mean I’m in the clear yet (I’ll probably still carry a mask and hand sanitiser around for a ways after), but having the peace of mind that the most severe symptoms will be prevented is most welcome. At some point in the near future, once case numbers are consistently low, I do look forwards to returning to my favourite poutine joint this side of the world.

  • This moment is why Haruka Fukuhara is paid the big bucks to play Rin: Fukuhara’s portrayal of Rin’s reaction to the insane price of unagi is priceless, being even more amusing than her “eyes fall to the ground in shock” in the anime. Moments like these accentuate the greatest difference between anime and real life; whereas actresses and actors have the advantage of facial cues and body language, anime need to work twice as hard in order to convey the same feelings. Yuru Camp△ has no trouble with this in its anime incarnation, so it was especially fun to see how certain moments were conveyed in real life.

  • Yuno Ōhara herself is no slouch in bringing Nadeshiko’s mannerisms to life, either: Nadeshiko covers her eyes whenever something frightens or surprises her, and this is adorable. Ōhara even nails the facial expressions. The act of watching unagi being prepared is a little much for Nadeshiko, and while I’ve never had a problem with seeing the guts and whatnot from preparing fresh meat, I do appreciate that some people can become uncomfortable with it (Les Stroud mentions this in the opening disclaimer for Survivorman episodes and occasionally cuts away some scenes where he’s preparing something he’d caught).

  • Whereas the anime had Nadeshiko’s grandmother and Rin tugging on her cheeks, the drama has Ayano do so instead. Like Rin’s place, Nadeshiko’s grandmother’s home is not precisely placed; in real life, an empty lot occupies the spot where Nadeshiko’s grandmother’s house is supposed to be located. Instead, the drama uses a building located a hundred and thirty-three metres to the east as the location for exterior shots, and I imagine that interior shots are filmed either on a sound stage or at an undisclosed location.

  • Prior to Nadeshiko’s departure, Ayano had encouraged her to pick up something new, and in the half-year or so since Nadeshiko moved to Yamanashi, she’d picked up camping, to Ayano’s joy. Here, she and Nadeshiko both learn the reason behind Rin’s preferences for solo camping. It was here that Yuru Camp△ really struck a resonant chord with viewers; most anime would opt to emphasise that there’s joy to be had in groups, but Yuru Camp△ ended up saying that people can enjoy solo activities as well, which comes with its own set of merits. Rather than attempt to leave viewers with only one message, Yuru Camp△ therefore suggests that there is no right or wrong way to approach a hobby so long as one is doing so safely.

  • Back home in Yamanashi, Chiaki relives Rin, Nadeshiko and Aoi’s travels in food form, but since the curry requires preparation to enjoy, she stows it away for later use. We’re now back in Motosu, and it’s a welcome return to the school grounds, which had sat empty until Yuru Camp△ popularised the site anew. When I first heard about the drama via social media, I’d only been tangentially interested, but after trailers began appearing, and I noticed that the Outdoor Activities Club’s clubroom at Motosu High School was actually based off the real-world location, I immediately wished to check the drama out for myself.

  • Classic scenes like Nadeshiko acting as a makeshift pole make a return in Yuru Camp△ 2‘s live action, right down to the facial expressions. It initially feels a little mean-spirited to suddenly spring a game of scissors-stone-cloth to determine who should be the pole, especially in the knowledge that Chiaki and Aoi have known one another for a long time and roughly know what to expect. Nadeshiko eventually swaps herself out for an easel, and remarks that if Chiaki needs her as a pole again, she’ll have to charge her an hourly rate for such a service.

  • With the money she’d earned from work, Ena ends up buying a dog-sized tent for Chikuwa that costs as much as any tent for people. The price is consistent with what I’ve found for North American equivalents, and camping with dogs does require an extra bit of research to ensure good times – some campgrounds are more dog friendly than others, and it’s probably worth ensuring one’s dog is up to speed on their vaccinations. For now, however, the winter cold means that it’s probably not the best idea to bring Chikuwa out to camp, and Rin is left to wish that she could see Chikuwa and his little tent in person.

  • After her contract with the post office comes to a close, Nadeshiko laments that all of the part time jobs suitable for secondary schools are located in Kofu a ways to the north. I absolutely sympathise with how Nadeshiko feels about things: in my corner of the world, most technology-related jobs are for oil and gas companies, and a majority of the mobile development jobs are either out west or east. However, changing circumstances means that more companies are okay with hiring remote workers, and there may come a future where I’ll have to grow accustomed to working remotely. I joke that so long as I have a computer, power supply and internet connection, I could work anywhere in the world, although in Nadeshiko’s case, practical constraints mean that she’s limited to whatever is available in the Minobu/Nambu area.

  • Sakura comes through one day – she invites Nadeshiko out to dinner at a local soba restaurant that serves a delicious ebi tempura and remarks that they’re hiring, but because they’d only just opened the position, there were no ads in the local classified. For the first time, Nadeshiko is even more excited about the job than she is about the meal she’s about to enjoy, and Sakura asks her to at least have dinner before getting psyched about being able to work hard and earn some coin.

  • With her first paycheque from the soba restaurant, Nadeshiko finally has enough money to pick up the gas lamp she’d long adored. The anime had Nadeshiko trip on a shoebox and nearly drop her new purchase, but the live-action sees her toss the box into the air out of excitement. This minor change did feel a little disingenuous to Nadeshiko’s character – she’d grown quite a bit since the series began, and however excited Nadeshiko might be about the new gas lamp, she’d also realise the effort it took to get here. Fortunately, one of the store’s clerks are on hand to help out. He makes a stunning catch worthy of the Calgary Stampeders and cheers alongside the others.

  • Back home, Nadeshiko lights the gas lamp for her parents. While Nadeshiko had taken a liking to the lamp owing to its appearance, Yuru Camp△ also has it become a tangible representation of Nadeshiko’s maturity. From getting lost on a bike shortly after moving to Yamanashi, to taking up camping and learning the ins and outs, as well as picking up a job so she can pursue camping more throughly, the milestone of earning enough to buy said gas lamp was the surest sign that for us viewers, we needn’t worry about Nadeshiko, since she has the resolve and drive to make discoveries on her own and ask for help when needed.

  • Having this confidence in Nadeshiko thus opens Yuru Camp△ up for new adventures of a much larger scale, and further driving this point home, Nadeshiko’s decision to gift Sakura a reusable hand-warmer shows that, while she may be ditzy and a glutton who lives in the present, she’s also kind and very aware of those around her. The anime and English-language materials don’t say anything about how old Sakura is, but having picked up the Yuru Camp△ official guidebook back in 2019, I ended up learning that Sakura is a university student.

  • The biggest surprise for me about Yuru Camp△ 2‘s drama was that, after Nadeshiko buys her gas lamp, the story switches over to Chiaki and Aoi discussing fancy camping implements; over the weekend, Chiaki had managed to pick up a cast iron skillet and wooden bowl, plus a small table cloth and rack that can be used as a makeshift table. This particular story was a part of Yuru Camp△‘s first season, where Chikai totally procrastinates for her exams by taking some time to season the skillet and remove the lacquer from the bowl. While jarring, the drama ends up fitting things seamlessly into the second season, portraying Chiaki’s exercise as preparations for their next camping trip and also foreshadowing the group that will go camping next.

  • The Yuru Camp△ live action adaptation’s first season had omitted this altogether so everything could be fit into the season, but I’m glad that Yuru Camp△ 2 found a way to incorporate it back in – the segments where Chiaki, Aoi and Ena go through how to properly season cast iron cookware and prepare wooden bowls for holding hot food are reminiscent of the step-by-step processes seen in something like MythBusters, turning a prima facie boring process into an instructive and engaging one. Of course, not shown in the live-action is Aki Toyosaki’s adorable scream of pain when she accidentally comes into contact with the hot skillet: Yumena Yanai’s portrayal of Aoi, while still faithful, lacks the same good-natured antics that Toyosaki brings to the table.

  • With the weekend here, Chiaki, Aoi and Ena set off for their first-ever camping adventure without Nadeshiko: she and Rin were scheduled for work this weekend. Their trip opens at Mount Fuji Station in Fujiyoshida, reachable from Minobu by taking a train into Kofu and then switching over to the bus that takes them to the station. While the drama frames the shot from a different angle, the same energy and excitement from the anime is conveyed – I imagine that the choice to frame the shot this way was also to show how large the world is, foreshadowing what would happen on Chiaki, Aoi and Ena’s Lake Yamanaka trip.

  • The scene of Chiaki slipping and falling on ice at Mount Fuji Station was omitted in the drama: instead of creating a situation that leads Ena to snap a photo of Aoi trying to keep Chiaki from falling, she simply feels the need to sneeze and has the sneeze fail. For some inexplicable reason, sneezes feel very satisfying, so when a sneeze “dies”, it can be accompanied with a strange feeling of frustration.

  • While Chiaki is quite pleased with herself for having secured an inexpensive transit option, the sparse schedule means that the trio must sprint off to catch their bus, lest they’re stuck waiting for another hour for the next ride. Public transit in Japan remains more accessible than anything I’m familiar with back home; the sprawl of Canadian urban design means that infrastructure costs more per capita, and simply put, it costs more to run bus lines when there are fewer riders, causing the price of tickets to rise. In Hong Kong, for instance, the price to ride the tram from North Point to Central is 2.60 HKD, or 42 cents. However, back home, an adult transit ticket costs 3.50 CAD and is only valid for 90 minutes.

  • I’ve long been a proponent of higher-density developments that make things more accessible in the absence of a car; this stands in stark contrast with home developers’ insistence that the 2400-square-foot home is good enough for everyone, and indeed, their resistance to building differently is astounding. A few years ago, my city’s mayor was involved in a lawsuit after suggesting that he would push to increase density and increase the costs for home developers to construct single-family subdivisions. The case was settled out of court, and while the city has plans for sustainable growth, the reality is that I’ll probably continue to see McMansions pop up at the edge of town in the years to come, and will probably need to resign myself to the fact that my city isn’t going to be walkable for a while yet.

  • Chiaki gloats about how nice it feels to go relax while others are working, a clever callback to the idea that she’s still a little salty about having spent the whole of her winter break working. Rather than mean-spirited, however, this moment feels hilarious and speaks to Chiaki’s love for hanging out. The group’s first destination is Montbell, an outdoors store even larger than Kofu’s Elk. Whereas the anime had presented Montbell as a larger Caribou branch, the live-action adaptation shows Montbell in its original glory, right down to the giant stuffed bear at the front of the store.

  • These stuffed bears are exactly what I was referring to while writing about Yuru Camp△ 2‘s fifth episode a few months earlier; the anime had substituted a giant caribou for the bear, and in the manga (as well as one of the Heya Camp△ segments), Aoi is seen to have developed a great fondness for Caribou-kun: after buying the entire plushie, she takes him on camping trips. These giant stuffed animals are a common sight in Banff, and today, being Canada Day, is a time where I spend time with family hanging out in the mountains.

  • This year, we’ve chosen to have a quieter day at home to deal with some household stuff: the temperatures today are expected to top out at 36°C, and it’s been this hot all week on account of the persistent heat dome that’s settled over our area. It’s certainly a far cry from Yuru Camp△ and its wintery conditions; at Mont Bell, where Chiaki attempts to determine what the best option she has for a lightweight hammock with a frame is. After performing a dance of sorts for the clerk, the clerk has just the thing. The anime kept this a surprise for viewers, while the drama simply shows the solution for Chiaki: two low chairs.

  • After their purchases are completed, Ena receives a set of pictures of Chikuwa enjoying his new doggy-tent immensely. This immediately leads Aoi and Chiaki to melt, and then wonder how on earth Chikiwa could be sending the photos himself. It is shown Ena’s father is taking and sending the photos, which was a very clever way of showing the cordial relationship Ena has with her family. In the anime, Ena is never shown as receiving the photos and therefore can be surmised to have taken them before they’d set out for Lake Yamanaka.

  • With an ambient temperature of 1.4°C, Aoi, Ena and Chiaki struggle to leave the onsen. It had been Ena who’d suggested to Rin that she try the Nordic Cycle out during Heya Camp△‘s OVA, suggesting that it’s good for circulation; presumably, after feeling particularly invigourated after leaving the waters and stepping into the brisk winter air, Ena felt it might be something Rin would probably like. This is what led me to surmise that Rin’s weekend trip was probably set after the events at Lake Yamanaka, but before their trip to Izu.

  • Whether it is the drama or anime, Yuru Camp△ has always excelled with its portrayal of enjoying the small moments in life. After unwinding in the onsen, Chiaki, Ena and Aoi enjoy ice creams prior to their next destination. I’ve always had a fondness for Japanese soft-serve: the ice cream out here tends to be very hard and is much cooler, whereas in Japan, their ice cream is creamier and smoother. Moreover, soft-serve ice cream has a lower fat content and is served at a slightly higher temperature, reducing instances of brain-freeze.

  • Chiaki melts into the floor from comfort, prompting Aoi to try and wake her up before she falls asleep, which would set them back on their schedule (this had happened on the Outdoor Activities Club’s first trip to Fuefuki), and with the bus routes as infrequent as they are, this could prove challenging. However, Aoi’s problems are doubled when Ena does the same. The humour of Yuru Camp△ translates well into reality, and Aoi’s frustration is apparent as she tries to get her friends going.

  • Nadeshiko’s expertise with nabe is what allows the Outdoor Activities Club to experience great-tasting hot pot while camping. A bit of ingenuity and substituting out ingredients that are easier to transport and prepare means that the original recipe’s flavours are largely retained, without demanding additional preparation or storage constraints while out on the campgrounds.

  • After one more bus ride, Ena, Aoi and Chiaki finally arrive at Misaki Camping Ground on the eastern edge of Lake Yamanaka. The drama takes the time to show how beautiful the area is, and again, it is apparent that the producers used drone footage to shoot scenes over the lake itself. Drones have definitely allowed producers, both with high and low budgets, to shoot some fantastic footage; Les Stroud began using drones in his later seasons, and with the technology become increasingly inexpensive, he even encouraged his drone operators to go for style, since if a drone was wrecked, he’d simply buy another one.

  • I found that the manager at Misaki Camping Ground resembles Hong Kong’s Jimmy Lai, and the itself moment quite hilarious; while it might be disappointing to Chiaki, Aoi and Ena, there are practical reasons for disallowing campers to set up their tents on the cape itself. While Yuru Camp△ had presented camp ground managers as being quite friendly and polite, here at Misaki Camping Ground, there did seem to be a bit of tension here which again, foreshadows the fact that Lake Yamanaka offers a sort of challenge that previous camping grounds did not.

  • I also ended up purchasing Yuru CampΔ: Virtual Camp for the Oculus Quest today; developed by Gemdrop, I’ve been eying the games since they launched earlier this year. There’s one set at Lake Motosu and one at Fumoto Campsite, retailing for 25 CAD each, so I figured I’d start by playing as Nadeshiko on the shores of Lake Motosu and then return at a later time to give Fumoto a shot, if Lake Motosu impressed. As it turns out, the VR experience is quite compelling; while it isn’t physically demanding as something like SUPERHOT VR, the scenery and character models are well rendered. One thing that became very apparent is that Rin’s character model is absolutely tiny; her height is given as being 144 cm (even smaller than K-On!‘s Azu-nyan, who’s 150 cm).

  • Yuru CampΔ: Virtual Camp shows that a part of the anime experience can indeed be faithfully reproduced in the VR environment, and I wouldn’t mind giving the Fumoto Campsite version a go, as well. Players can navigate between the different scenarios quite easily, but also choose to just lose themselves at a given time of day and admire the scenery. One thing I particularly liked is the fact that Nadeshiko can call out to Rin with her signature Rin-chan~! as the sun is setting, and while the story itself is quite short, I do see myself returning to chill on the shores of Lake Motosu in the future. Having said this, capturing footage from the Oculus Quest is a bit tricky, so it’ll be an experience I can’t readily write about here.

  • While pitching one’s tent may be prohibited on the cape, there’s nothing that says one can’t set up their chairs here and kick back. Chiaki thus goes about setting up a fancy drink, a hot buttered rum, for everyone. The girls’ phones don’t appear to be a problem at this point in the drama; the anime and manga had the phones run out of juice from the cold, which complicates things. Fortunately, Chiaki, Aoi and Ena have a guardian angel in the form of Rin: unlike the others, she knows that Lake Yamanaka can get cold from its elevation, so she eventually becomes worried about the three.

  • Choko and her owner show up after the hot buttered rums are prepared in the drama; here, Chiaki wonders if the Corgi is Nadeshiko manifesting in spirit form. This was originally present in the manga, but was never mentioned in the anime, so seeing it return in the drama was a pleasant touch. After giving Choko pats, they turn back to their drinks, only to find that in the short time Choko was occupying their attention, everything’s frozen solid. As the temperatures cool, Chiaki realises they’re in trouble unless they do something immediately to turn their situation around.

  • While the anime really drove up the stakes by having the group only realise their situation after the sun had set, there’s still a little light in the drama when Chaiki runs off to the nearest convenience store for some heavy-duty warmers while Aoi and Ena attempt to get firewood, only to spot the manager leaving for the day. Such a moment would be quite suspenseful, but since most viewers would undoubtedly be watching the drama after seeing the anime and/or having read the manga, what happens next isn’t too much of a concern. This post has been a fun one to write for, and I’ll be returning at some point in the future to wrap up Yuru Camp△ 2‘s drama. In the meantime, it’s time to catch up on Higurashi SOTSU‘s first two episodes, then spend the next little bit wrapping up talks for Gundam SEED86 EIGHTY-SIX and Higehiro before delving into the summer season’s shows: I only have plans to write about The Aquatope on White Sand and Magia Record at present, with the idea being that a lighter blogging schedule hopefully translates to being able to play more DOOM Eternal.

I’ll briefly stop here to note that with this talk on where I stand with Yuru Camp△ 2‘s live action drama with six of twelve episodes in the books, I’ve reached yet another milestone with this blog: thirteen hundred and thirty seven posts. This number is significant and is a callback to the earlier days of the internet – originally, 1337 was a numerical spelling of the term “elite” and had been associated with the hacker subculture, denoting formidable skill and knowledge in the area. The substitution of numbers in some spellings spilled over to the world of gaming, and eventually, 1337 became an adjective for “awesome”. That I’ve written 1337 posts over the past nine-and-a-half years has spoken to two things: the first is that having an awesome reader base, one that provides honest feedback, shares recollections and sets me straight if should I step out of line, has been most encouraging. Without you, the readers, I’m certain this blog and the various misadventures I’ve been on over the years, would’ve never endured for as long as it did. The second is that in the journey of life, there’s always something worth sharing: Yuru Camp△ 2‘s live action adaptation is one of them, and I’m certainly having fun writing for these posts and whipping up the images comparing and contrasting a given moment in the drama with its counterpart in the anime. At the end of the day, this is what blogging boils down to – it’s a matter of having fun writing what we write about, and knowing that even if a post has helped one individual’s day in some way, whether it’s answer any questions the reader had about something or giving them something to smile about, the post has accomplished its goal. Similarly, Yuru Camp△ 2‘s live action drama consistently puts a smile on my face, and while the series has finished airing, I am a little behind on things, so I’ll aim to continue watching this one and write about my final impressions once that’s in the books.