“The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” –Alexander McCandless
Although Steam’s page indicates that one requires at least an i5-4590 and a GTX 1060 in conjunction with a HTC Vive or Valve Index to comfortably run Yuru Camp△ Virtual‘s two instalments, Lake Motosu and Fumoto Campsite, one can actually do so without a high-end desktop; despite the game being classified as a part of Oculus Labs, Yuru Camp△ Virtual runs flawlessly on the original Oculus Quest, which has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835. Both titles together are quite pricy, costing a total of 50 CAD on Oculus Quest, but in exchange, one is able to fully immerse themselves in a virtual Yuru Camp△ environment. Gemdrops have fully recreated the first two campsites in Yuru Camp△ in this VR project: Lake Motosu has players see the experience from a more experienced Nadeshiko’s perspective, while Fumoto Campsite puts players in Rin’s shoes after she’s become more receptive towards group camping. Both experiences are quite short and possess the same technical sophistication as the UX in prototype for my Unity visualisation of microtubule dynamics (while the model itself was quite complex, being an agent-based simulation of tubule assembly and disassembly, one could only move around and interact with a limited set of items in a scripted manner). However, what Yuru Camp△ Virtual excels in is recreating the atmospherics of the anime: Nao Tōyama and Yumiri Hanamori return to voice Rin Shima and Nadeshiko Kagamihama, respectively. Moreover, in the SMS segments, Chiaki Ōgaki, Aoi Inuyama and Ena Saitō’s voice actresses all reprise their roles. Together with an art style that is consistent with the anime, and Akio Ōtsuka providing narration, Yuru Camp△ Virtual provides a chance for players to fully immerse themselves in now-iconic camping experiences with Rin at Lake Motosu, and Nadeshiko at Fumoto Campsite. Both experiences take place over the course of a day, and after sharing conversations (and occasionally, hot drinks), Nadeshiko will prepare a scrumptious dinner. Rin and Nadeshiko will continue enjoying the night together under the stars before retiring for the evening, and the next morning, prepare to head back home. Although lacking the interactivity of more sophisticated titles and possessing a very steep price point, Yuru Camp△ Virtual represents one more way for fans of the series to enjoy things. In fact, one could say it is the perfect way for us overseas fans to experience things before Yuru Camp△ Movie‘s theatrical première in Japan today – unlike the film, which will likely have a seven to eleven month delay before the home release becomes available, Yuru Camp△ Virtual is available for immediate purchase: Lake Motosu was published in March 2021, and Fumoto Campsite released a month later, in April 2021.
At present, only a handful of details have been published regarding the Yuru Camp△ Movie: some time has passed since everyone had met in high school. Rin works at a publishing company as an editor, and one day, she’s surprised to receive a message from Chiaki, who ended up joining Yamanashi’s tourism board. Chiaki is in charge of a new project to reopen a site that had closed some years previously, and Rin’s mind immediately flits towards camping. At this time, Nadeshiko’s taken up a job with a camping goods store in Tokyo, while Aoi’s become an elementary school instructor, and Ena is a pet groomer who works out of Yokohama. When they receive news of Chiaki’s project, together with Rin, they embark on an ambitious project to see Yamanashi’s latest project succeed. From organising meetings and planning out the logistics, to getting their hands dirty and working on preparing the site, the girls are reminded of their camping experiences together back when they were high school students. From this premise, the Yuru Camp△ Movie gives every indicator that it is going to be a moving, and touching story of both progress and reminiscence; the decision to do a large-scale project that allows everyone to bring their own unique skills, and their shared enthusiasm to the table in a way that had hitherto been unseen, represents a very large step forwards for Yuru Camp△. Until now, the story had focused purely on seeing the girls plan out and enjoy their travels, all the way adapting to things and making most of whatever unexpected event occurs on their trips. However, to now see everyone reunite, and moreover, apply their skill set towards a task that will help their home out in a meaningful way allows Yuru Camp△ to tread new grounds. Naoko Yamada had previously spoken about the challenges associated with bringing anime series to the silver screen – through Yui, Yamada felt that what a movie must accomplish is using its runtime to convey a greater sense of scale. K-On! The Movie had succeeded by framing the London trip as a chance to make everyone’s appreciation for everything Azusa had done for the light music club tangible. The Yuru Camp△ Movie appears to suggest that no matter what adversity one might face, facing it together, through a combination of passion and of experience, is what allows one to rise above their problems, and in doing so, one will gain both new memories worth treasuring, as well as further experience for whatever may lie ahead.
Additional Remarks and Commentary
- I still vividly recall writing about anticipation for the Yuru Camp△ Movie a year ago: back then, we’d only known that there would be a movie, but beyond this, details were scarce. In the time that has passed, we now know that the Yuru Camp△ Movie is going to have a two hour runtime, and that it is set after high school. Given that Rin and the others are working now, it’s fair to say that everyone’s probably graduated from post-secondary, as well. The change of timeframe means that the Yuru Camp△ Movie opens things up to hitherto unexplored territory.
- The decision to set the movie a few years after the original manga gives the story nearly unlimited potential, and this is what makes the Yuru Camp△ Movie so exciting: the film could take any number of ways to show viewers how Chiaki will, together with Nadeshiko, Rin, Aoi and Ena, solve the problem of repurposing previously unused land into a campsite for Yamanashi. Because of Yuru Camp△‘s commitment to reality, one cannot help but wonder if there was a real-world inspiration for this story; it is possible that a real-world location might have precisely undergone this route, although such an undertaking would likely involve a committee, on top of city planners, engineers and other members of the community.
- For me, the biggest piece I look forwards to seeing in the Yuru Camp△ Movie is seeing how everyone’s skills come together in order to get things done. From the premise alone, it is plain that we have a multidisciplinary bunch, and one thing that anime is fond of showing is how it takes a combination of skills to overcome great challenges. Series like Koisuru Asteroid, Shirobako, Sakura Quest and The Aquatope on White Sand all had characters with different backgrounds collaborating to achieve goals that were seemingly unattainable. Some fans are not fond of these approaches and are quick to deride the series, but like my undergraduate faculty, writers have spotted the importance of having diversity in skills.
- This is something that I am constantly reminded of; when I began my current position a year ago, I entered with the expectation that there’d be a chance to learn different technologies, and in the present, the one skill I am glad to have begun cultivating is Android development. While I’m, in the words of the internet, an Apple fanboi through and through, working with Android has given me an appreciation of how Google’s paradigms towards mobile developers result in some choices that are more intuitive. Of course, there are many areas where Apple excels, and while Android development is far tougher than any equivalent in iOS, working with Android gives me a better understanding of how apps are built, and more confidence in dealing with things like fragments and activities.
- I jokingly remark that working with Android also gives me legitimacy when I say iOS development is superior in every way. However, the reality is that having familiarity with Android means that I’m better equipped to work on existing apps, whether it’s sorting out bugs or developing new features, allowing my mobile skillset to reach out beyond just iOS. In the Yuru Camp△ Movie, seeing all of the characters as adults means being able to see this sort of growth – I’m not expecting Nadeshiko to be a competent mobile developer at the film’s end, but one of the aspects in the film worth keeping an eye on is seeing how everyone begins to take learnings from their experiences and bring it back into their own careers.
- With this being said, what Yuru Camp△ excels in most is its ability to combine an educational component alongside character growth: the TV series had felt like a hybrid between Les Stroud’s Survivorman, Man v. Food, Rick Steves’ Europe and even Jamie Oliver’s cooking shows, teaching both bushcraft and cooking alongside showcasing some of Japan’s most scenic campsites and attractions. As such, the Yuru Camp△ Movie is also likely to deliver some of this. Because the premise has everyone working on a larger project together, one possibility is that we could see some flashbacks as the characters reminisce on past experiences and draw upon learnings that are applicable to the present.
- Alternatively, in order to draw inspiration for a particularly tough challenge, Rin may have a chance to go camping alongside Nadeshiko, Chikai, Aoi and Ena again – I’ve found that one of the best ways to learn and get out of a rut is to experience something from the end user’s perspective. Seeing things from end-to-end give insight into the bigger picture, and this will, in turn, guide one’s decisions in how they want to fit one piece of a solution into the entire process. As I continue to work in software, I continue to see parallels between my work, and the sorts of methods for troubleshooting in other occupations.
- While the media may present technology and software occupations, especially mobile development, data processing and AI, as a Silicon Valley-like occupation, the reality is that the soft skills in these disciplines are actually not too different than those of finance, engineering, trades and the like; at the end of the day, working is about generating value by solving problems. I’m therefore curious to see Yuru Camp△‘s portrayal of this; the TV series had shown how a bit of creative thinking and willingness to reach out to others for help is the key to averting crisis, so seeing an extension of this in the Yuru Camp△ Movie feels logical.
- While I’ve given my thoughts on what I’m hoping the Yuru Camp△ Movie will deal with, the reality is that I’ve got naught more than the premise and a trailer to go off of. Having said this, the Wikipedia article is surprisingly detailed, and the only editor of the article apparently already translated the entire soundtrack’s tracklist into English. I’d ordinarily doubt the authenticity of this, but my own experiences have found that someone with a basic knowledge of Japanese and access to Google Translate can now produce reasonably accurate translations without too much effort.
- The Yuru Camp△ Movie soundtrack released on June 29, along with the opening and ending songs, and this dulls the pain surrounding the wait for this movie somewhat. Having said this, knowing Yuru Camp△‘s thematic elements, I can rest assured knowing that no problem will be insurmountable, and that throughout the film, viewers will be treated to Nadeshiko’s warm smiles. The eagle-eyed reader will have doubtlessly noticed that everyone’s rocking shorter hair now: shorter hair is easier to care for and dries much more quickly, being an essential when one’s life is so busy.
- Now, I change the programme out and switch over to screenshots from Yuru Camp△ Virtual – I picked this up last year to experience Yuru Camp△ on my Oculus Quest headset, and while the interactivity is about as limited as what I’d implemented into my agent-based model of microtubule assembly and disassembly (the model itself had been a term project I finished two weeks into the semester), the game itself fully captures the atmosphere of camping with Rin and Nadeshiko. Gameplay is comprised of looking around at things in the environment, which trigger a dialogue that offers insight into the characters.
- The Oculus Quest captures images in 1440 by 1440, so screenshots are square. However, the sharpness leaves much to be desired, and the built-in mechanism by which screenshots are captured is cumbersome. In something like SUPERHOT VR, it means I’ve found it quite difficult to take good pictures – there’s a bit of a delay, so I can’t just capture a moment. On the other hand, in Yuru Camp△ Virtual, the laid-back pacing means I’m free to push the screenshot button and casually wait for an image to be taken.
- Some events will change out the context and character models: it is possible to make a hot drink for Rin on the shores of Lake Motosu and obtain new dialogue, for instance. Once one has exhausted all of the interactive event in their environment, the next chapter can be reached simply by looking at an object that brings up a clock icon. Yuru Camp△ Virtual will ask players if they want to move ahead. This is about it for the gameplay, but my favourite feature of Yuru Camp△ Virtual is the ability to disable all of the event prompts, which allows one to chill.
- Both Lake Motosu and Fumoto Campsite feature a cooking segment: narrated by Akio Ōtsuka, they give insight as to how that particular evening’s dinner is prepared. With Rin, Nadeshiko whips up a delicious curry that looks absolutely amazing. Unfortunately, the world’s most sophisticated virtual reality technology has not yet figured out the art of simulating taste – there is no way to taste what Rin’s eating. On the flipside, since Yuru Camp△ Virtual does provide one with the recipe, an inquisitive player could simply copy down the recipe and try things out for themselves.
- In the morning, Rin thanks Nadeshiko for having joined her on this camping trip. The events of Yuru Camp△ Virtual are set after the second season’s events; by this point in time, the characters’ interactions convey a sense of closeness, and while everyone’s still rocking winter clothing, there’s a hint that winter is drawing to a close in the environments. I’d be interested in seeing whether or not Yuru Camp△ ventures into the summer for camping – this would represent a dramatic departure from what the series is known for, but the summer also has its advantages. For one, one would get to see Yamanashi and its surroundings with verdant vegetation and deep blue skies.
- Fumoto Campsite is Yuru Camp△ Virtual from Rin’s perspective, and plays identically to Lake Motosu. The scenery here is similar to that of Morley Flats, about 20 minutes east of Canmore. On Canada Day most years, the family tradition has been to go over to Banff and enjoy a day in the mountains, since National Park fees are waived on Canada Day. However, this also results in congestion of a level that one doesn’t see, so this year, the plan is to head over to Drumheller and do a walking tour of the Atlas Coal Mine.
- The weather today looks solid, so I’m hoping that things hold out for the remainder of the day. However, there is such a thing as “too much of a good thing”; last year, temperatures on Canada Day topped out at 36ºC, and having taken my second dose, I was feeling a little under the weather, so I spent the whole of the day resting in the cool of home. At the time, I thought that my lethargy was caused by the high temperatures, but back in February, after picking up the third vaccine and becoming so bushed I slept a full half-day, I conclude that the exhaustion I experienced last year was probably a consequence of the vaccine.
- We’re actually set to start the drive in an hour, so my goal now is to finish off this post and then hit the open road. Back in Yuru Camp△ Virtual, Nadeshiko enjoys cabbage rolls with Rin – like Lake Motosu, Fumoto Campsite has Nadeshiko cooking for Rin, and the resulting dinner is so delicious that Rin makes room for seconds, as well as promising to one day make something for Nadeshiko as thanks. Once dinner is done, Nadeshiko and Rin enjoy the beautiful evening weather before turning in.
- Motosu Campsite is set in a more traditional camping location, and I found myself getting immersed with watching the night skies. By morning, it’s time to take off, and for both instalments, Rin and Nadeshiko are standing up. I played through Yuru Camp△ Virtual sitting down, so to keep consistent with things, I stood up for both games’ final act. It was a little surprising to see how small the character models for Rin and Nadeshiko are – I’m of average height, but I tower over Rin and Nadeshiko anyways.
- In this post, I’ve briefly discussed my expectations for the Yuru Camp△ Movie and finally share some screenshots from Yuru Camp△ Virtual. I do hope to have the chance to write about the former at some point in the future once it comes out, and in the meantime, it’s time for me to enjoy the fantastic summer weather on this Canada Day, as well. I’ll return tomorrow to write about Tari Tari and my thoughts of the first episode since it aired ten years ago, as well as share some photos of my travels; regular programming resumes on Monday as I delve into the first of the summer anime. Luminous Witches has my eye at present, and I am rather looking forwards to writing about this one.
In this way, the Yuru Camp△ Movie may represent unexplored ground for the series, but the series’ impressive execution (a consequence of being able to successfully present meaningful lessons, accentuate the beauty in the outdoors, showcase Japan’s travel spots and generally create a sense of catharsis) has resulted in Yuru Camp△ being immensely successful, both in Japan and internationally. Very few slice-of-life series gain such universal acclaim, and as a TV series, it did feel as though Yuru Camp△ had already succeeded so wholly that there isn’t much in the way of new direction to explore. However, the second season of Yuru Camp△ ends with volume nine, and the manga is still ongoing. At first glance, it would be logical for a movie to continue covering the manga’s events, which follows Rin and the others on new camping adventures as winter turns to spring. A summer camping trip with everyone, including Ayano, would have been the logical, showing how Rin’s experiences with everyone opens her to experience camping during a time she previously avoided. However, such a story is more befitting of a third season. In choosing to go with all-new material, the Yuru Camp△ Movie is truly stepping up its game to, in Naoko Yamada’s words, fill the scale and expectation that accompanies the silver screen. Yuru Camp△‘s reputation means that expectations for this film are going to be high, but with two seasons of anime, a short anime series, two seasons worth of live-action dramas, a visual novel and a pair of virtual reality games setting the precedence for what’s possible, it is reasonable to suppose that viewers’ expectations for the Yuru Camp△ Movie will be exceeded: it goes without saying that viewers in Japan and abroad alike will greatly be looking forwards to this film, although for those of us internationally, the wait to see the Yuru Camp△ Movie will likely correspond with when the BDs become released. To ease the agony of this wait, I’ll likely spend more time admiring the sunset on the shores of Lake Motosu, or sharing another conversation with Nadeshiko in the middle of Fumoto’s seemingly-endless grass plains.