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Yuru Camp△ Movie (Eiga Yuru Camp△): An Anime Film Review, Reflection and Full Recommendation, Remarks on Reconciling Agency and Responsibility in Adulthood

“The day you graduate from childhood to adulthood is the day you take full responsibility for your life.” –Darren Hardy

While watching the fireworks together during a summer camping trip, Nadeshiko, Rin, Chiaki, Aoi and Ena discuss the future and how they look forwards to finishing school; working will allow them to continue enjoying camping with fancier equipment and with more freedom than they had as students. Nadeshiko, however, still wishes to be able to camp with everyone again in the future. A decade later, everyone’s settled into their careers. Rin’s now an editor for a publication in Nagoya, while Nadeshiko works at an outdoor goods store in Tokyo. Aoi’s become an elementary school instructor, and Ena’s a pet groomer. After work one evening, while she’s browsing around for places to visit on a weekend, Rin receives a message from Chiaki, who’s visiting Nagoya. The pair end up catching up: Rin comments on how she’s been so busy with work that she hasn’t been camping much, and Chiaki reveals that she ended up resigning from the event company she was working at and is now with the Yamanashi Tourism Promotion Organisation, assigned to a project to redevelop an unused space in Takaori. After off-handedly suggesting such a space could be a campsite, Chiaki ends up hauling Rin over to Takaori to show her the site. Although Rin is initially reluctant to help out, Chiaki explains she’s more than willing to talk to Rin’s supervisor, and the project had appealed to her because it sounded meaningful to bring an open space back to life and see people enjoying it as they once had while camping. Recalling her own experiences in camping, Rin ends up changing her mind and agrees to help Chiaki out. Nadeshiko arrives shortly after, having also received an invitation from Chiaki. The three drive over to the Kagamihara residence, where they enjoy crab nabe and unveil Chiaki’s project to Aoi. After Rin’s motorcycle receives maintenance and she assures her supervisor that all of her usual duties will be completed on schedule, she heads over to Kofu, meeting up with Nadeshiko, Aoi, Chiaki and Ena at the Yamanashi Prefectural Government Office. The five are given a small storage room to work out of, reminiscent of their time as students, when the Outdoor Activities Club also operated out of a small storage room. The five immediately get to work and brainstorm ideas for the campsite, before heading back out to Takaori so they can begin maintaining the grounds. They find that it’s back-breaking work, but thanks to help from Okazaki, a local farmer, the five end up making progress and gradually clear the overgrowth away. While Rin promises to incorporate any ideas she has on an assignment to travel Yamanashi campgrounds as a part of her work, Chiaki receives approval to proceed with the campsite concept. After the New Year begins, the five begin landscaping the site further. One day, Aoi learns that an animal has gotten into their food and refuse. Although they are worried that wild boars might be in the area, making it unsafe as a campsite, it turns out that their intruder is a tanuki. As the site becomes ready, Chiaki and the others decide to camp here together, marking the first time everyone’s gathered for a camping trip together in some time. As everyone relaxes after their evening meal, Chikuwa ends up digging up a pottery fragment, piquing everyone’s interest. Chiaki decides to get the fragment sent in for analysis, learning that it dates back to the Jōmon Period.

Because the excavation has unearthed a large amount of pottery, it turns out that the camping project is to be suspended for an indefinite period of time. Rin, Nadeshiko, Aoi and Ena are disheartened by this news, but everyone chooses to push forward in their lives. After a particularly gruelling workday, Rin receives a package from her mother, with a hand-written note asking her to eat well, as well as an invitation from Nadeshiko to check out an onsen. The hike and onsen invigorate the pair, who reflect on how their lives have changed as adults. The conversation spurs Rin and Nadeshiko to arrange for a meeting with Chiaki and the others. They meet up at the Yamanashi Prefectural Government Office in Kofu, but are terrified out of their wits when Ena uses a remote control to start up the tourism robot in the storeroom. Once the shock wears off, the five set about updating their proposal to incorporate the archeological dig into their campground revival project. To this end, a part of the project proposal includes working alongside the archeologists to accelerate the process: the archeological process is short on staff, so with Rin and the others lending a hand, excavation progresses much more quickly. Rin and Nadeshiko also develop an interest in Jōmon Period pottery and ask some of the researchers to learn more. When Rin explains her situation to the chief editor, he allows her to continue participating so long as her usual work doesn’t suffer. Meanwhile, Chiaki pitches her updated proposal to the Yamanashi tourism committee members, and in the presentation, shows the video Ena had made. Impressed, the committee members agree to approve the project, and by summer, the excavation work concludes, allowing Chiaki and the others to continue on with their own project, integrating the archeological sites into the grounds along the originally-planned playgrounds and dog park. By autumn, the newly-christened Fujikawa Matsubokkuri Camp Base is complete. Although they’d forgotten to put up the signs pointing visitors to the campground, causing visitors to lose their way on opening day, Rin heads out to help guide the visitors in. Rin and Nadeshiko’s families have shown up to check things out; Rin greets her grandfather, who’s impressed with the work Rin and her friends have done. As the campers settle in for the night, Rin, Nadeshiko, Chiaki, Aoi and Ena are pleased that their visitors are happy. They promise to camp together here again for their New Year’s Eve trip. When Nadeshiko asks if Rin will be joining them, Rin replies that she’ll give it some thought, surprising her friends.

Major Themes

In a series that has placed considerable emphasis on appreciation and gratitude, it seemed quite unnecessary for Yuru Camp△ to explore any other avenues because the series had already done a phenomenal job of selling the importance of preparedness, expressing thanks, exploring all of one’s options and being open-minded towards new experiences. In the context of camping, applying all of these lessons result in memories that last a lifetime. However, in the Yuru Camp△ Movie, it is shown that the lessons learnt from camping have relevance when one becomes a full-fledged member of society, as well. In this film, with the project of creating a new campsite at former Fuji River Youth Nature Centre, an opportunity to showcase what it means to be an adult is utilised to convey the idea that adulthood is a double-edged sword. Being an adult means fulfilling one’s responsibilities and obligations to the best of one’s ability, while simultaneously having a much greater set of experiences and skills to realise one’s visions. During its run, the Yuru Camp△ Movie suggests that as adults, there will always be constraints, limitations and unexpected challenges that crop up in life. This is seen with each of the characters individually, as well as when the share a common goal. As a writer, Rin’s articles are occasionally rejected by the head editor, requiring she go back to make revisions or explore new avenues. Aoi enjoys the time she spends with her students, but she must prepare to transfer schools when her current school is preparing to close down owing to a low number of new enrolments. Ena’s work as a dog groomer allows her to fulfil a dream of working with animals, but is also a reminder of the fact that Chikuwa is aging and that he will inevitably pass away in the future. Despite having an extensive knowhow of camping gear, Nadeshiko sometimes finds that the store she’s working at doesn’t stock precisely what customers are looking for, and Chiaki similarly decides to change jobs after her previous position proved to be unfulfilling. In spite of these setbacks, each of Rin, Nadeshiko, Chiako, Aoi and Ena demonstrate remarkable resilience and an ability to see the pluses in what they do. These attitudes carry over with them to the larger project at the Fuji River Youth Nature Centre. Although the project starts off smoothly, after Chikuwa uncovers Jōmon-era pottery, there is an interest to examine and excavate the site, putting the restoration plans on hold. The cast are understandably discouraged by this, but the Yuru Camp△ Movie also shows how adults respond to adversity. Together, Chiaki, Nadeshiko, Aoi, Rin and Ena work out a proposal to incorporate the archeological dig into their camping concept after helping out with the excavation and spotting that there is an educational aspect that could make their campsite especially unique. In this way, the Yuru Camp△ Movie shows that adulthood allows people to be at their best – many anime are set during the high school years because the timeframe is when one has no major responsibilities and can live in a carefree manner, but in the Yuru Camp△ Movie, it is shown that the best is yet to come, and that there is a sense of fulfilment in taking advantage of all of the tools and options available to one as a result of their experiences to do things ever better.

While setbacks occur in the Yuru Camp△ Movie, the portrayal of conflict here is a remarkably mature one. In place of drama and tension, problems are solved in a pragmatic, stepwise fashion. At her workplace, Rin is no stranger to having her work turned down and returned to revisions stage. Despite finding things frustrating at times, Rin simply responds by putting in additional hours and effort to ensure that what she sends in next is of a superior standard. Nadeshiko treats all of her customers fairly; those who can’t find what they’re looking for will be given a nudge in the right direction, and those who wonder about the efficacy of their products are treated to a demonstration to give them a better understanding of things. Aoi is unable to do anything about being transferred to another school, but she sees this as a opportunity to meet other students and work in a new environment, one that may broaden her horizons as a teacher. Chiaki is broad-minded, accepting failures as a part of the process, but also spotting when to capitalise on opportunity, as well. Because the cast are able to handle adversity with a calm resolve, the Yuru Camp△ Movie indicates that, strictly speaking, drama isn’t necessary to create a compelling and moving story. Watching people deal with things with a measured assuredness and a methodical approach acts as a fantastic instructor: the Yuru Camp△ Movie presents viewers with a vivid example of what professionalism looks like – all too often, people are often told to be more polite, calmer, more professional, et cetera, only to never be shown what this would look like. Leaders don’t just tell people what to do, but they show people how to get things done, and in this way, the Yuru Camp△ Movie exemplifies how instruction appears. When adversity finds Chiaki, Aoi, Ena, Rin and Nadeshiko, the five regroup by focusing on their tasks and where appropriate, talk it out with the people around them. In one instance, while struggling with a tough assignment at work, Rin ends up accepting an invitation from Nadeshiko to go on a hike, allowing her to clear her head, and later, when Rin’s motorcycle develops a problem, she listens to her father’s advice about getting it looked at. Similarly, the Yuru Camp△ Movie also shows what taking a step back and regrouping looks like. While their restoration project is suspended, Rin and the others end up helping Chiaki on the archeological project. In getting their hands dirty and seeing how important the Jōmon pottery is towards understanding Japanese history, the group suddenly has an epiphany: if they could be intrigued by Jōmon-era pottery, then there is merit in using the grounds as a chance to increase public awareness of things, too. Again, this revelation is reached not through drama and disagreement, but by exploration and an open mind. The Yuru Camp△ Movie may not have the drama and conflict in other works, but it achieves something of far greater value – this movie is a powerful reminder that in reality, problems are often solved calmly and professionally, as well as by accepting inspiration from even the most unlikely source and knowing when it might be good to take a step back.

One of the Yuru Camp△ Movie‘s most significant conversations is set during Rin and Nadeshiko’s hike to an onsen high in the mountains. Here, in the rejuvenating waters of a hot springs, Nadeshiko reflects on how as adults, they’re working as fully-functioning members of society and have more resources available to them. With this comes additional freedom – Nadeshiko enjoys being able to save up for and buy camping gear that was out of her reach when she’d been a student, while Rin’s earned her full operator’s license and can travel anywhere in Japan. However, even with this newfound freedom, there are still limitations. Rin puts it best: as an adult, freedom comes with an attendant responsibility. In order to have the funds to realise one’s dreams, one must fulfil their obligations to society through their work, and also look after those around them. Similarly, the more one wishes for in their life, the greater responsibility they must undertake. While this does sound overwhelming, Rin acknowledges that the reason why things aren’t overwhelming is precisely because there are people around oneself. At her workplace, Rin has coworkers who support her. With the campground revitalisation project, Rin is working with Nadeshiko, Chiaki, Aoi and Ena. She’s never really alone, and this gives her strength. Nadeshiko’s response is that the reward for taking this responsibility is that one is able to bring more joy to others because they now have the resources and know-how to do so. This is why Nadeshiko has no problem in putting in the extra effort, if it can make others smile, and looking back at my own thoughts, this is what gets me up in the mornings, too. I’m an iOS developer by trade, with some experience in Android now, and for me, the joy about mobile development is the fact that I’ve got the knowledge to deliver value to someone, in turn making their day smoother. In my spare time, I tinker with computers, and over the years, I’ve accrued a general set of skills on troubleshooting everything from printer drivers to wireless networks. In the process, I have turned my interests and passions into something that brings home the bacon, while at the same time, generating value for others. It is rare to see an anime movie speak so strongly to my own worldviews, and here in the Yuru Camp△ Movie, it was quite moving to see that the approach I’ve taken in life, a product of both my parents and mentors’ instruction, is the same one that Yuru Camp△ presents as having merit. For me, being an adult is simply the state of being in a position to find fulfilment in delivering value to others and possessing the skillset needed to fulfil one’s obligations and responsibilities to those around them.

Personal Thoughts

In its execution and pacing, the Yuru Camp△ Movie resembles a documentary, not unlike a NOVA special or a Discovery Channel series. Because the Yuru Camp△ Movie lacks any drama, the rising action, climax and deneoument is less pronounced, and as a result, the story feels a lot more relaxed. While perhaps unlike a conventional film, the Yuru Camp△ Movie‘s approach actually ends up being a clever one. In documentaries, filmmakers observe and record with the aim of informing. Because documentaries feature real people, rather than actors, things that are shown are true-to-life. NOVA, for instance, combines interviews with domain experts with archival footage, re-enactments and computer-generated imagery to visualise a concept. In this way, NOVA documentaries are incredibly gripping, walking viewers through complex, intricate disciplines in a highly accessible manner. Oftentimes, NOVA ties in a concept with a narrative. In Lightning!, a NOVA documentary dating back to 1995, lightning research is motivated by a desire to better understand its properties, and a team conducting research on how lightning affects the power grid is shown. Mighty Ships portrays life on commercial vessels, and in some episodes, the focus is on a particular segment of their work. North Star, for instance, was shown on a journey to Anchorage from Portland, and while the journey is fraught with challenge, most severe of which is an engine shutdown resulting from an oil leak, the crews remain professional and composed even when their schedule is threatened. Documentaries are immensely relaxing and educational, making entire worlds accessible to viewers, and for this, NOVA has won awards for their writing and pacing. The Yuru Camp△ Movie‘s portrayal of Chiaki, Nadeshiko, Rin, Aoi and Ena’s journey of reviving a campsite and incorporating a major archeological discovery into their project is strikingly similar, and while the Yuru Camp△ Movie elects to remove the explanatory piece in favour of showing the characters’ daily lives, the film nonetheless ends up evoking the same feeling as a documentary would. It is not difficult to imagine the Yuru Camp△ Movie as a documentary: if the slice-of-life scenes were replaced by interviews with Chiaki and the others, and a few educational vignettes were shown, the film would easily be an engaging piece on Japanese archeology. In this regard, the Yuru Camp△ Movie can be regarded as a quasi-documentary, capitalising on its slower pacing to give insight into details that faster-paced films often skate over and again, speaking to Yuru Camp△‘s overall message that there is merit in taking things slowly, and methodically.

Presenting a larger project that utilises everyone’s interests and skillset is ultimately how director Yoshiaki Kyogoku answers the question of scale within the Yuru Camp△ Movie. The silver screen format represents both opportunity and challenge for anime; a given work is able to explore concepts that benefit from a single, continuous runtime. In the absence of interruptions, momentum can be built up towards a pay-off for viewers. At the same time, having more space to work with also can result in a movie feeling underwhelming if the story doesn’t capitalise on this chance to tell a larger story. Naoko Yamada had expressed that for K-On! The Movie, she wanted to do something of a much larger scale than anything K-On! had previously done, resulting in Yui and the others flying over to London for a graduation trip as she, Ritsu, Mio and Tsumugi worked out a song for Azusa. Here in the Yuru Camp△ Movie, depicting Rin and her friends as adults originally came about as a desire to explore the concept further: in Yuru Camp△‘s first season, Nadeshiko had briefly imagined what things might be like, and Kyogoku ended up feeling that this idea could be utilised to produce the scale he’d been looking for. By presenting the characters as adults, the Yuru Camp△ Movie is able to do something with its story that is suited for the silver screen: everyone now has the skill set and autonomy to participate in a project to create a campsite in a plausible manner, and in turn, this allows the Yuru Camp△ Movie to emphasise how, despite the characters now bearing the hallmarks of working professionals, there is still time for the same heartwarming and joyful experiences that everyone had shared together while they’d been students. The end result is a film that works extremely well for existing viewers: the Yuru Camp△ Movie is an immensely enjoyable ride from start to finish, respectfully incorporating elements that had made Yuru Camp△ so successful, and at the same time, making the most of the movie format to tell a much larger story that is simultaneously encouraging and motivating, definitively showing how after their time as secondary students, each of Nadeshiko, Rin, Ena, Chiaki and Aoi have all done well for themselves and found their own place in the world.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • It’s been a while since I last wrote about Yuru Camp△: after the second season concluded, it was announced that there would be a film, but beyond this, very little information was given. Sharp-eyed viewers guessed that, based on the promotional art, the film would be set in the future. By the start of this year, the official Yuru Camp△ Twitter account revealed the movie would come out by summer, and, in an unprecedented move, the Yuru Camp△ Movie remained in theatres only for four months before being available on Amazon Prime Japan. For folks who are curious to watch this movie for themselves, the Yuru Camp△ Movie will become available on Crunchyroll in ten days, on the 24th of November.

  • The fact that overseas viewers had a wait of only five months is nearly unheard of, and in fact, the last time an anime movie came out this quickly was 2010’s Gundam 00: Awakening of the Trailblazer. There doesn’t appear to be any patterns to reliably draw upon when estimating how long it takes for an anime movie to become available on BDs or a streaming service, but with the Yuru Camp△ Movie coming out in just a shade under ten days, I am glad that overseas viewers will have a chance to check things out for themselves now without a brutally long waiting period. Here, the girls camp together during the summer, and Nadeshiko’s beloved gas lamp is visible, being put to good use.

  • Once the Yuru Camp△ Movie sets the stage, things fast forward several years: Rin’s become an editor at a magazine based out of Nagoya, and I would imagine that Rin’s earned a degree in communications or equivalent. A quick look around finds that the average editor makes about 4.9 million yen per year, and given Rin’s practically-minded, I would imagine that she’s doing well for herself. She certainly seems at home with her job, even if there are occasions where work becomes a little trickier. Here, Rin shares a conversation with Kirigaya, a fellow editor who’s a little more experienced than Rin.

  • Nadeshiko is stated to be working in a Tokyo outdoor goods store by official sources, and lives close enough to her workplace so that she can bike there. On a morning with good weather, she can see Mount Fuji from her balcony. Despite working in different parts of Japan now, Rin and Nadeshiko are still close, sharing messages over instant messaging on their smart phones. An indeterminate amount of time has passed, and it’s actually a little tricky to estimate this amount because the Yuru Camp△ Movie gives few indicators of things. For one, the smartphones and tablets are about as sophisticated as they are in the present day.

  • Nadeshiko’s exact position at the Tokyo outdoor goods store isn’t stated, but I imagine that she is an assistant manager, given her conversation with her manager, Komaki. Here, she finishes setting up a floor model for a tent, and when Komaki asks about her upcoming weekend, Nadeshiko states she’ll be visiting family, since Sakura’s back in town. During the events of Yuru Camp△, Sakura had been a post-secondary student, and while somewhat strict towards Nadeshiko, she’d also been quite doting, being willing to drive her to various campsites. Nadeshiko’s conversation with Komaki suggests that she’s still kept up with camping, showing how for some people, their careers and hobbies line up very nicely.

  • Back in the Yuru Camp△ movie, when a young family appears, and the father asks about portable fire pits, Nadeshiko introduces them to some of the models they’ve got in stock. While he’s impressed, the price is a little on the steep side, and the mother asks if it’ll be alright to go camping during the winter with their daughter, when it’s so cold. Nadeshiko suggests that, if they intend to bring their daughter with them on a winter outing, a simpler fire bowl may suffice, and while they don’t have more the inexpensive models in stock, a Coleman store across the way will have what they seek.

  • In Yuru Camp△, Nadeshiko had been presented as being fun-loving, but also a bit air-headed and absent-minded. To see her expertly handle some customers and point them in the right direction shows how much she’s grown in the past few years, and while their store won’t be making a sale today, I imagine that the young couple will remember Nadeshiko’s helpfulness and return later if anything does catch their eye. Moments like these are fleeting, but they do much to inform viewers of someone’s character. Coupled with the fact that Nadeshiko’s likely an assistant manager, she is able to look after the necessities, save for the future, and have enough left over to camp with some frequency.

  • By setting up everyone so that the basics are taken care of, the Yuru Camp△ Movie ensures that audiences are able to keep their entire focus on the film’s events, versus worrying about other aspects of the characters’ lives. In a gentle callback to how things started for Nadeshiko, when three secondary school-aged girls walk into the store and begin browsing, one of them takes an interest in a similar gas lamp the same way Nadeshiko had. For their benefit, Nadeshiko gives the three a quick demo, creating a bit of a magic moment that lights their interest in camping gear and the outdoors.

  • After a long day at the office, Rin finally arrives home. With a weekend to herself, Rin’s immediate inclination is to pull out her tablet and begin looking for a potential campsite to check out. I relate to this; whenever I’ve got upcoming time off, I break out Google Maps and begin setting up an itinerary for that day. However, Rin’s plans are interrupted when she receives a notification on her tablet: it’s from Chiaki, and she’s in town. Rin is surprised but ends up heading out to meet her. Here, I note that use of a UIAlertController for delivering a message notification is poor UX: since UIAlertControllers block user interaction, it becomes very disruptive. Apple and Android both use dismissible banners so notifications are seen, but easily dismissed.

  • As it turns out, Chiaki has settled into her new role as a member of the Yamanashi Tourism Promotion Organisation, leaving her previous job as an event planner. The reasons for this aren’t specified, but Chiaki was probably unhappy with where her career was going, and so, desired a change of scenery. After working as a Yuru-chara (ゆるキャラ, literally “loose character”, referring to mascots that promote a region in alight-hearted and approachable fashion), Chiaki is assigned her first full-scale project, Chiaki shows up in Nagoya to brainstorm with Rin and gauge her thoughts on what could be done with a site that has large grounds.

  • Rin suggests a campsite, and this fires Chiaki up immediately. Despite being an adult now, Chiaki is still boisterous and energetic: this part of her personality had been quite off-putting to Rin, and during this meet-up, Rin does show mild signs of irritation at how forward Chiaki is, such as when Chiaki gets closer to Rin so she can take a selfie. When interacting with Chiaki during the first season, Rin had found her unfavourable, but came around after Chiaki walked her out of a trouble spot, Rin’s come around. However, Chaiki’s spontaneity still takes some getting used to, and Rin is surprised that Chiaki has just hailed a taxi bound for Takaori, a small district in Yamanashi located immediately north of Minobu.

  • The drive from Nagoya to Takaori is about three hours, covering a distance of 250 kilometres if one were to take the Kakegawa PA Expressway. Chiaki ends up dropping 92930 Yen for the drive, which corresponds to 860 CAD at the time of writing. By the end of the drive, Rin is left exhausted, although Chiaki is still quite chipper and is quite eager to show Rin around, at least until she falls asleep from exhaustion. Prior to dozing off, Chiaki notes that the area had been a former campsite, but closed five years earlier because its location made it difficult to visit. While Rin warms up with a drink, a quick look at the satellite imagery finds no such campsite here in Takaori: in reality, the site is home to a farmer’s field, and the location seen in the film was tailor-made for the Yuru Camp△ Movie, giving the writers the freedom to push the story in any direction of their choosing without being impacted by real-world constraints.

  • After warming up, Rin takes a look around the site and determines that with a good fixer-upper, the grounds could be rendered suitable as a campsite. She stops to admire the sunrise, and when Chiaki wakes up, she remarks to Rin that she had also thought the could be restored to its former glory as a campsite. Explaining that a job in Yamanashi to promote her home prefecture’s joys seemed more fun, although this did require that she leave Tokyo before she could fully explore the city and its amenities. When Chiaki formally asks Rin to help her out, since the project was going to be given limited resources, Rin says she’ll give it some thought. Longtime viewers of Yuru Camp△ will know that coming from Rin, this means “yes”. Moments later, Nadeshiko appears: it turns out that Chiaki had sent her selfie with Rin to her, along with Ena and Aoi.

  • Awaiting Nadeshiko’s first visit home in a while is a gorgeous crab nabe: this appears to be snow crab sourced from Hokkaido, which is counted as a local delicacy. In contrast to Dungeness crab, snow crab is significantly meatier and has a distinct, briny flavour, whereas Dungeness crab is a bit sweeter. I am a fan of crab and shellfish; a decade earlier, I frequented the Chinook Dining Room’s Sunday Brunch at the Banff Park Lodge Resort Hotel. This was an annual tradition, and besides the usual suspects, the Chinook Dining Room also had all-you-can-eat snow crab, which was remarkably delicious with clarified butter and a dash of lemon juice.

  • Unfortunately, the Chinook Dining Room is now permanently closed: I will need to look up an alternative if I wish to treat my parents to a Sunday brunch with snow crab. Back in the Yuru Camp△ Movie, Nadeshiko and her friends catch up with Sakura and Nadeshiko’s parents for the first time in a while. By the Yuru Camp△ Movie, Sakura’s resemblance to her mother is apparent, although it’s clear that even now, she’s still fond of her sweaters. We recall that Sakura had not particularly liked the cooler winters in Yamanashi and had gone through hand-warmers very quickly, at least until Nadeshiko bought her a reusable hand-warmer.

  • Because of how much time has passed, one can surmise that the Kagamiharas are now fully settled into life in Yamanashi. Here, I will mention that the Yuru Camp△ Movie‘s soundtrack is befitting of a film: composed by Akiyuki Tateyama, the incidental music still has the same aesthetic as the soundtracks for Yuru Camp△‘s two seasons, but there are moments where the music appears to convey, in the mind’s eye, a feeling of scale that is larger than that of the TV series. Until now, I’ve avoided looking at the tracklist, since soundtracks can give away critical story elements in a film.

  • Watching everyone eating something home-cooked, and the ensuing joy it brings all of them, was a reminder of why Yuru Camp△ had been so enjoyable. Food’s long been an integral part of the series, and I’ve found that numerous viewers have similarly found such scenes to be an iconic part of Yuru Camp△: there is something indescribably pleasant and comforting about sharing the food one’s made with the people around them. I am of the mind that food speaks to a people and their values, so seeing the portrayal of food in Yuru Camp△ was a reminder that food is more than just sustenance; it’s an expression of togetherness.

  • Granted, crab is delicious, but separating the meat from the shells is a time-consuming process. Doing it by hand is quite tricky, and over the years, I’ve found that using a nut-cracker and butter knife can make things much easier. In fact, I consider de-shelling them to be a part of the enjoyment. While Chiaki and Nadeshiko’s parents have no trouble using tools to get the meat out of their crab, Nadeshiko struggles with doing things the old fashioned way. It’s a humourous moment that also evokes a feeling of pathos: Nadeshiko loves food, but until now, has only been shown eating things that don’t involve de-shelling, and the process did look like it was giving her some trouble initially.

  • It would appear that Rin’s colourful description of food, on par with Adam Richman of Man v. Food and Noah Cappe of Carnival Eats, has not left her over the years. From her first bite on, Rin savours every moment of this nabe. It’s always fun to watch Rin eat, since her eyes become rendered as fuzzy lines, and her world melts away as she gives herself over to the bliss that pure flavour conveys. As far as food goes, my response is a cross between Nadeshiko’s and Rin’s – I’m not as expressive as Nadeshiko is, but I do give voice to my enjoyment in the same way Rin does.

  • Aoi had been absent from the proceedings, but shows up in time to also partake in the snow crab and nabe. Once lunch is cleared away, they head into Nadeshiko’s old room to discuss Chiaki’s project. Nadeshiko’s belongings have been moved to her new home, but the old furniture is still present. A sight like this speaks volumes to the amount of time that’s passed, but attesting to the Yuru Camp△ Movie‘s focus on the present, the meeting begins immediately, with Chiaki assigning roles to everyone. Nadeshiko becomes the site supervisor, and Aoi takes on the role of scheduling. Ena will take on PR, while Chiaki plans to do the behind-the-scenes work (project management, speaking with committee members and paperwork). Thanks to her knowledge of camping, Rin becomes the project leader.

  • In the time that’s passed, Ayano’s become a motorcycle mechanic, and she works at the same workshop that Rin now takes her bike to for maintenance. Ayano had been an avid motorcyclist, and it appears that her interests have endured; she ends up making a career of her love for motorbikes. Speaking from personal experience, this actually isn’t too far-fetched: when I was in middle school, I was fascinated by all things computer-related, and by university, I ended up choosing a programme that allowed me to study both computer science and biology. This allowed me to eventually pursue a career in mobile development.

  • Computer science is an infinitely fascinating field, and while I am an iOS developer, I do occasionally dabble in other areas. Through things like computer vision, I was able to quickly work out that Chiaki is working out of the Yamanashi Prefectural Government Office in Kofu. Location hunting for the Yuru Camp△ Movie has not been on my mind: the film’s primarily set in Takaori, and Chiaki ends up walking Nadeshiko through how things came to be. During her explanation, a map of the area was shown, and this made it easy to find the campground Chiaki and the others intend to work on. For other locations, using computer vision allowed me to find similar images, and since the Yuru Camp△ Movie follows its predecessors in faithfully depicting real-world landmarks, it was straightforward to find the government office in Kofu.

“Easy, Chiaki. Let’s try not to get fired on the first day.”

–Maverick during the first dogfighting exercise

  • The room Chiaki secures ends up being similar to the Outdoor Activities Club’s old room at Motosu High School, being a narrow space reminiscent of The Matrix Reloaded‘s Industrial Hallway. Perhaps speaking to the fact that everyone’s more mature now, the room is a ways wider, and has a larger window, too. After running into Ginger, a robot designed to play scissors-stone-cloth with people, the brainstorming session begins. Rin’s broken the project into three stages, and to start things off, the kind of visitor best suited for such a campsite must be identified. To make things more efficient, Rin suggests that while they’re researching their target demographic, they can proceed with preparing the site for use. Rin also believes that a registration system for campers would be helpful. Although this lends itself to the work I’m most familiar with (setting up a database and then creating a client for users to interact with), this aspect is not shown in the Yuru Camp△ Movie.

  • When the time comes to get out into the grounds and begin removing the old overgrowth, viewers quickly find that despite being adults, everyone’s still more or less how they had been back in secondary school. Such a moment was done in the story to remind viewers that everyone’s still their old lively selves despite being older, and this firmly establishes that the Yuru Camp△ Movie is stil Yuru Camp△. With this being said, people do retain much of their personality traits from when they were younger. My friends from the health sciences programme and in graduate school, for instance, are still the same people now as they had been when I’d first met them.

  • Initially, Nadeshiko and the others find that it’s back-breaking work to remove the vegetation from the fields, and Rin similarly struggles to remove old branches off the trees. However, as a result of working in the area, Chiaki’s befriended some farmers, including Okazaki. Once he shows Chiaki and her team how to properly operate their scythes and saws, work goes a lot more smoothly. Although brief, the moment shows the importance of being open to knowledge and wisdom from folks who’ve been around the block.

  • When I wrote about the Yuru Camp△ Movie and my expectations for the film back in July, one of my readers commented on the fact that Rin and the others were wearing matching work overalls. Back then, I didn’t have any context as to what was going on, and merely replied that I was glad that spoilers for the Yuru Camp△ Movie were, thankfully, making themselves scarce. In this way, I was able to watch the entire movie at my own pace and appreciate what was going on. As it turns out, the moment mentioned in the aforementioned comment comes after the team’s first day together.

  • To help her with determining how to best layout the campsite at Takaori, Rin decides to kill two birds with one stone; one of her assignments for work is to go and interview some of the staff at various campgrounds for an article she’s working on, and this gives Rin a chance to better understand how each campground is set up to capitalise on its location to appeal to campers. The others are shocked and wish Rin would’ve mentioned this sooner, but grow excited at the prospect of being able to check out Rin’s work. Although Rin notes that her magazine is local to Nagoya, she promises to share the article with everyone once it’s published.

  • Thanks to this assignment, Rin is able to visit the campsites that were seen in Yuru Camp△: besides Koan Campground (where Rin learns the campground manager prefers to take a hands-off approach and keep the site as pristine as possible), Rin also swings by Pine Wood (which Nadeshiko visited with Chiaki and Aoi) and Suimeiso Camping Ground on the shores of Lake Shibire. These moments are a clever callback to Yuru Camp△, the same way that Top Gun: Maverick featured references to the original Top Gun, such as bringing back Danger Zone in the opening, and Tom Cruise’s signature aviator bomber jacket. After her assignment comes to a close, Rin feels that it might be a good idea to repurpose existing facilities and structures in creative ways, as they’re already a part of the area. When reading Rin’s messages, Aoi wonders if they might be able to incorporate a play area and jungle gym so the site is also children-friendly, feeling that recycling elements would be budget friendly, too.

  • As the group shares messages, the list of ideas begins to grow, and Ena feels it’d be nice to have a space for pets, too. Chiaki ends up compiling them and suggests that talking to locals about scavenging any unused items that could be used would be a good idea. With everyone’s suggestions accounted for, Chiaki’s supervisor approves of her proposal and gives her permission to push on ahead. In this scene, Chiaki’s heartbeat can be heard, showing that how, despite her confidence when speaking with her friends, there’s always that uncertainty and doubt associated with presenting an idea to a superior. A year ago, I experienced the same when pitching an idea to gradually introduce MVVM and current libraries into our mobile offerings. This meeting was with the company’s top brass, and while I was confident that this approach would improve maintainability in the project, a part of me wondered if there’d be resistance.

  • In the end, my proposal was approved, and I was given permission to begin swapping out the old code. In the past year, I’ve been able to replace an ancient networking library with a newer one, and added a wrapper on top of this using the decorator pattern, making it much easier to make network calls now. In addition, the authentication system has been decoupled, making it much easier to add new steps like 2FA once it’s needed. Taking risks like these and stepping up is how one grows in their career, and it’s fantastic to see the everyone in the Yuru Camp△ Movie doing this. Here, Rin is working on this side project while visiting her parents back home as the New Year approaches.

  • With everyone so focused on their project on top of their usual work, time flies, and in the blink of an eye, it’s the new year. I imagine that for this group of friends, visiting the shrine at Mount Minobu has become something of an annual tradition. In Yuru Camp△ 2, Nadeshiko had been absent since she’d been out delivering New Year greeting cards, but here in the Yuru Camp△ Movie, she’s able to join everyone. Just like old times, Akari also joins, and she’s now attending an arts institute in Tokyo. Akari was a primary student back in Yuru Camp△, and a decade later, she’d be 19.

  • Akari’s age is how I estimated the amount of time that’s elapsed between Yuru Camp△ and the Yuru Camp△ Movie: since the characters’ ages are never stated to ensure the story is timeless, one can still work things out with a little bit of reasoning. As a post-secondary student, Akari is more mature, but retains her playfulness, and evidently, still remembers hassling Chiaki for New Year’s money as a bit of a light-hearted joke. For this New Year’s visit, instructor Minami is able to join them, as well. I imagine that Nadeshiko, Chiaki and Aoi had left a favourable impression on Minami, since they’re still in touch. Again, I draw on my own experiences: ever since graduating from secondary school, I’m surprised my old instructors still remember me: in one instance, I still act as a volunteer judge for the in-school science fair for my old biology instructor’s current school.

  • While ascending the stairs, as the others discuss their plans for the campsite, Minami shares a conversation with Aoi about the latter’s school seeing a decrease in enrollment. Although this would mean Aoi’s school may face closure as the student population declines, Aoi appears to be prepared for this and thanks Minami for her support. However, the moment contrasts sharply with Chiaki promising to hang out with Minami for a drink in the future: Minami’s love for alcohol hasn’t changed, and now that Chiaki’s above the age of majority, she’s able to partake, too. Moments like these are what make the Yuru Camp△ Movie fun: they highlight how things may change in our lives, but at the same time, other things remain comfortingly familiar.

  • As the six make their New Year’s prayers, a calm steals over the Yuru Camp△ Movie; Chiaki and the Outdoor Activities Club had been the rowdy, rambunctious side of things back in Yuru Camp△, so seeing everyone during a quieter moment creates a significant contrast with the anime’s original run. Showing a New Year’s shrine visit here in the Yuru Camp△ Movie was also meant to act as a reminder of how quickly time is moving. In a process such as bringing a new campsite to fruition, the passage of time is often blurred. In a documentary, a narrator will often provide an indicator of how much time has passed, but here in the Yuru Camp△ Movie, more subtle cues are used.

  • One of my favourite moments in the Yuru Camp△ Movie was when Nadeshiko operates an excavator, which really drove home the point that as adults, Nadeshiko and her friends have access to more tools than would’ve been possible during their time as students. Here in Alberta, one must have certification in order to use an excavator, but the requirements aren’t terribly steep: one can take a programme and get certified over the space of 90 hours. In Yuru Camp△ 2, Rin had worried about what would happen to Nadeshiko should she ever try for a motorcycle license, but as it turns out, Nadeshiko now has a driver’s license and earned her certification to operate heavy machinery, too.

  • Similarly, Chiaki uses a bladed trimmer to accelerate clearing away the old vegetation. The grass cutters I’m used to using have a string, and although the string breaks easily, such trimmers are lightweight and easily manoeuvred into tight spaces: for small jobs, a string trimmer is more than enough, whereas a bladed trimmer is suited for heavy duty jobs. Showing that even the boisterous Chiaki adhering to best practises in using a bladed trimmer is one more sign that this team is prepared for their tasks, and better equipped to handle things. We recall that back in Yuru Camp△ 2, Chiaki, Aoi and Ena had underestimated the winter temperatures at Lake Yamanaka and found themselves in a bit of a bind until Minami bailed them out.

  • While enjoying afternoon tea alone, Rin catches up on her friends’ progress. With the power tools and heavy equipment at their disposal, Ena, Chiaki and Aoi feel that the landscaping work will finish more quickly than expected. Rin begins to feel a little pressure now that the campsite is getting closer and closer to being ready for the new elements to be installed, but here, she’s still looking as relaxed as can be. Her old habits of enjoying sweets clearly hasn’t changed, and it suddenly hits me that being an editor for a local publication would be a superb occupation, since it would allow one to experience a variety of local attractions and event in order to write about and promote them. With this being said, I’ll stick to my current career path: while I love exploring and trying things out, my writing style is ill-suited for magazines and the like.

  • Slowly, but surely, the formerly derelict grounds begins to transform into a campground. For the viewer’s benefit, Akio Ōtsuka provides the narration to give an additional bit of context as to what everyone’s doing: once the overgrowth is cleared away, both with machines and by hand, Nadeshiko uses the excavator to level the ground and ensure that the camping space is comfortable for visitors. Because the area has steppes, stairs are added in to make it easier to climb the slopes, and work begins on the old building to transform it into a usable space.

  • In Japan, haikyo (ruins) are commonplace because of abandonments resulting from overly-ambitious projects failing to generate profits, and excessive costs associated with demolishing unsuccessful developments. Back during the Price Asset Bubble, developers sunk fortunes into projects, hoping that their investment would yield a hefty return, but when the bubble burst in the 90s, developers were left with constructions that they had no idea what to do with. More often than not, it was easier to abandon their projects and leave them to the elements. However, the Yuru Camp△ Movie shows that old structures can be renovated and refitted for reuse, saving on construction costs. Here at the campground, it’s clear the old facilities are still structurally sound, so reusing them allows Chiaki and her team to save on costs.

  • While work is important, so is taking strategically-placed breaks. This aspect of the Yuru Camp△ Movie was another indicator of how far everyone’s come since their secondary school days: although Nadeshiko and Chiaki, in particular, appeared to be slackers who much preferred having fun to focusing on their studies (Aoi, Ena and Rin are more serious about their studies, and grades were never a problem for them), as adults, both Nadeshiko and Chiaki are shown as competent, hard workers. I have long felt that academics is by no means a gauge of one’s ability, and while some folks may not have a good head for numbers, they will certainly possess other skills and talents.

  • This is why I have a great respect for folks in trades and services: those careers require skills that I lack (for one, I’m terrible with my hands), and society require people to fill those roles. When I watch people working with their hands, there’s always a sense of satisfaction in seeing them succeed; here Rin tests the newly outfitted plumbing and is pleased to see things working, reminding me of Steven Rinella bringing his Alaska cabin back online for a fishing and hunting trip in MeatEater. With his experience, he quickly gets the water flowing, although in his haste, forgot to close one of the valves to the water heater. This moment shows how even deft hands sometimes make mistakes, and moreover, shows that while mistakes are a part of the process, experts know how to swiftly handle things.

  • In the Yuru Camp△ Movie, Chiaki and the others forget to account for the fact that there’s wildlife in the area, and in becoming careless with their food and waste, attract animals into the campsite. This poses a problem for visitors; if wild boars show up, it would make the campground quite unsafe. Unsure of what their culprit is, Aoi, Ena and Chikai decide to rig Ginger up for a reconnaissance mission. In my neck of the woods, campgrounds and parks usually have bear-proof trash cans: all park visitors are required to dispose of their waste in these containers, which are extremely rugged and prevent odours from getting out. However, while it is tempting to suggest these for the campground, buying enough of these containers could become quite expensive, with each container going for anywhere from 1600 to 2600 CAD.

  • In the end, it turns out that their intruders are Nyctereutes viverrinus, or more commonly, the tanuki. While wildlife can be a concern, the tanuki isn’t outright dangerous like wild boars, and proper measures in keeping food and waste secure will be enough to ensure the comfort and safety of campers. By this point in time, the wiring has also been back online, and there’s electricity at the campsite buildings now. Enough of the basic infrastructure is in place for a rudimentary campsite, and everyone decides to give the site a test run.

  • Ena brings Chikuwa out to accompany them on this test run. Back in Yuru Camp△, Chikuwa had been young, but a full decade later, Chikuwa has become an elderly dog. Although he’s still adorable, his age is apparent: he walks more slowly and is no longer quite as easy to excite as he’d been previously. Back in Yuru Camp△ 2, Rin and Ena had shared a conversation about mortality: for Ena, while she knows that Chikuwa’s time is finite, she plans to simply make every day count. Chikuwa is a long-haired chihuahua, and chihuahuas have a life expectancy of anywhere from twelve to twenty years, so it was nice to see Chikuwa still around by the events of the Yuru Camp△ Movie.

  • Halfway into the Yuru Camp△ Movie, viewers are treated to the first bit of camping as everyone prepares to camp together. Recalling the 980 yen tent that Chiaki and Aoi had initially run with, it’s clear that things have come a long way, and Chiaki’s now brought all of the equipment needed to comfortably accommodate five. In secondary school, Chiaki, Aoi and Nadeshiko had become quite envious of the fancier setups some of their fellow campers had, especially when compared to their more basic gear. However, Yuru Camp△ had placed a great deal of emphasis on ingenuity and utilising what one has available to them to the best extent possible.

  • The Yuru Camp△ Movie differs in this regard: as adults, since everyone’s got more resources available to them, equipment and cost are no longer an issue. This opens the floor up, and here, Ena, Rin and Chiaki admire their handiwork after setting up their five-person tent. I still remember a time when the Outdoor Activities Club had rocked two tents when going on their first-ever adventure together, and thanks to Nadeshiko losing a game of scissors-stone-cloth, she wound up sleeping alone. Similarly, when Rin and Nadeshiko had camped at Lake Shibire, Rin initially turned down Nadeshiko’s request to share a tent, only to end up sharing a tent with Nadeshiko after spotting what she believed to be a yōkai.

  • The Nadeshiko of today is likely to have overcome her fear of the darkness, and here, Aoi and Nadeshiko head off to buy ingredients for dinner at the nearest Ogino (Hagino in Yuru Camp△). When it turns out there’s a big discount on salmon, Aoi and Nadeshiko gain a stroke of inspiration and end up picking up several packages. The idea of buying something on discount because it’s close to its best before date is a well-known “life hack” (any action that makes housework, cooking or everyday activities more efficient, popularised by blogger Merlin Mann in 2005), and I do this all the time: if I’m going to eat something that night, or the next morning, saving 30 percent for it is fantastic.

  • If I had to guess, it’s probably February or March by this point in time: the local vegetation is still quite dead-looking, and the characters’ outdoor wear suggest that it’s a little brisk. Winter camping is a mainstay in Yuru Camp△, and in regards to this, I do wonder if the upcoming third season will give the characters a chance to camp together during the warmer months of the year. The Yuru Camp△ Movie had opened with everyone together during the summer, so it’s clear that Rin and the others are willing to camp during the summer; perhaps the third season will portray how Rin and the Outdoor Activities Club warm up to summer camping.

  • I imagine that, ever since the brush with disaster at Lake Yamanaka, Chiaki’s been a lot more mindful of the weather and meticulous about keeping an eye of temperatures so they can prepare accordingly. In the Yuru Camp△ Movie, Chiaki’s purchased a wood stove, similar to the one that the Iidas had. While an inexpensive model can be had for as little as 85 CAD, higher-end wood stoves for tents can cost up to 500 CAD.  Serious camping is a bit of a pricier hobby, but more sophisticated equipment can make it easier to maintain comfort. For this reason, I find that when it comes to one’s career and hobbies, there is merit in investing in better gear if one has the means to do so. This is why I ended up going with an iPhone 14 Pro: the additional capabilities may come in handy somewhere down the line.

  • Since it’d been quite busy as of late (I’ve spent most of my work hours investigating an algorithm for automatically populating stack views), and with the cold weather really settling in, I’ve not had much of a chance to test the iPhone 14 Pro’s Photonic Engine, but over the past weekend, I capitalised on the gorgeous weather to go for a walk in the park I’ve not been to since moving in. The Photonic Engine appears to be making my photographs significantly more vivid: whether it be the mountains, or the old side of town, the skies in my photos are much bluer than I remember seeing. Back in the Yuru Camp△ Movie, after most of the work is done, Rin goes around looking for firestarter and comes upon the adorable talking pine cones that had appeared in both seasons of the anime.

  • Par the course for Aoi and Nadeshiko’s cooking corner, once the salmon soup’s been squared away, Aoi brings out round two: ishikari nabe with yuba noodles. Ishikari nabe, or, Salmon Hot Pot, originates from Hokkaido and is named after the Ishikari River, which is famous for its salmon run. Despite its relatively simple mode of preparation, ishikari nabe is flavourful and perfect for warming people up on brisk days. Over in my neck of the woods, salmon isn’t quite as common on account of us being a land-locked province, but on the other hand, we do have beef as a hearty component of a winter meal. This past weekend, I ended up hanging out with my best friend, and we swung by the farmer’s market. Having enjoyed poutine here on several occasions this year, I decided to try their Korean BBQ place instead and ordered the La Galbi special, which consists of Korean-style BBQ beef short ribs with tempura shrimp and deep-fried vegetable dumplings on a bed of fresh coleslaw and rice.

  • This meal was as delicious as it was colourful, and it took me a while to make my way through the savoury dumplings, fluffy and crispy tempura and the succulent, flavourful galbi, which I enjoyed as much as Rin did her meal. My best friend went with another vendor’s Nashville Fried Chicken Poutine. Over lunch, we shared conversation about local eats and our enjoyment of music from the 80s, which had been playing in the background. Once lunch concluded, the skies cleared up, and we swung by the Devonian Gardens before making our way over to Chinatown; my friend had been looking to pick up a few Gundam model kits from the shops down there. We haven’t done this since our university days, so being back down there and browsing through the kits was quite nostalgic, reminding us both of a time when our obligations were primarily to study and perform well in our courses.

  • As the evening sets in, the campers begin exchanging thoughts on how their campground is handling, and Chiaki notes that one thing they’ll probably have to address is the distance campers must walk to the nearest bathroom, while Ena finds that some of the paths are still a little bumpy, making it easy to trip. Similarly, Nadeshiko believes the stairs could make it difficult for campers on the higher terraces if they have lots of luggage. While this camping trip appears to be for fun, it actually serves an important function and is equivalent to end-to-end testing, ensuring things work as expected. While there aren’t any breaking issues, some valuable points of feedback have been identified.

  • For Rin, however, the lingering question of what to do with the dome-like structure remains on her mind. When the five swing by during the night, they find that underneath the stars, it looks like a planetarium of sorts. Here, Nadeshiko comments on how sometimes, with the right mindset and creativity, one can find joys even in the challenges. The Yuru Camp△ Movie is a ways more direct with its messages than its predecessors: subtlety has been one of Yuru Camp△‘s many strong points, but I imagine that in the context of a film, director Yoshiaki Kyogoku and author Afro wanted to be more forward about why the camping project speaks to the relationship between freedom and responsibility that accompanies adulthood.

  • According to Chiaki, the structure had formerly been used as a bird enclosure, but flaws in its design led to the birds escaping. The suggestion that this enclosure could be a planetarium is an intriguing one and would, in fact, bring to mind the heated Aurora Domes seen in Kiruna, Sweden. These are a form of glamping and provide visitors with a highly luxurious experience. Incorporating such a structure at Takaori would provide a unique experience, but the materials to cover the dome and render it comfortable would be pricy. For now, the group finds that the structure continues to remain an enigma with respect to how it’ll eventually be used.

  • Thanks to her imbibing a little too much alcohol, Chiaki falls asleep shortly after, and things take a turn for the unexpected when Chikuwa manages to find a piece of ceramic at the site. Although Nadeshiko believes it’s an ordinary flower pot, Ena wonders if it’s worth taking a closer look on the off chance it could be something of value. Everyone subsequently turns in for the evening, and again, viewers are given a look at how different things are for this adult group of campers; previously, Chiaki would suggest they watch Netflix late into the night, but by now, everyone’s responsible enough to look after themselves, and they turn in at a reasonable hour.

  • When Chiaki returns to the office and has a chance to check their Gantt chart, she finds things are proceeding ahead of schedule. However, her supervisor arrives and informs her that the ceramic fragments that Chikuwa found may potentially be pottery from an earlier period and therefore, of archeological interest. To this end, work on the campground is to be paused for a few weeks while experts examine these fragments to determine their origin. The gloomy skies here signify a bit of a turning point in the Yuru Camp△ Movie: things had been very smooth until now, so this announcement comes as a bit of a curve ball.

  • As a pet groomer, Ena is very busy, and for the first bit of the Yuru Camp△ Movie, she’d been swamped and unable to show up. Ena now lives in Yokohama, and she clearly enjoys her work. A quick look around finds that in Alberta, there are no special qualifications one must have  in order to be a pet groomer, but folks looking to get into this profession benefit from having a fondness of animals and the know-how in handling them, as well as certification. Assuming something similar holds true for Japan, Ena is probably certified and licensed, with some post-secondary education in biology to help her along in her career.

  • For Aoi, another school day draws to a close, and she says goodbye to her students. I’ve heard surprise at the fact that Aoi’s become an primary school instructor: it’s a fulfilling but tricky occupation in that children can be quite unruly. Back when I’d been of a primary school age, I’d given the instructors at my school no shortage of trouble when I was in my first year. When my second year instructor figured out the fastest way to get me focused was to task me with reading a book or exploring a topic at my own pace, they found that I was no longer a trouble student and in fact, had a modicum of talent. To this day, I credit my primary school instructors for having the patience to determine how to bring out my best, so Aoi’s profession is one that definitely has the potential to shape future minds.

  • When the experts return with the results and indicate that the pottery fragments actually date back to the Jōmon period, and moreover, how the entire site is littered with these artefacts, the entire campsite project is put on indefinite suspension as experts come in to excavate them. Chiaki struggles to break the news to Nadeshiko, Rin, Ena and Aoi, feeling that she’d gone and wasted their efforts as a result of how things had turned out. This is the Yuru Camp△ Movie‘s tensest moment, but because the film is quite unlike a conventional story, it comes just a shade over halfway into the film.

  • Ordinarily, in a film of this genre, the rising action segues into the climax closer to the end as the protagonists face an unexpected hurdle as they near their goal, but in the Yuru Camp△ Movie, the film’s documentary-like setup means that the surprise happens much earlier. The pacing in the Yuru Camp△ Movie is actually quite unique in this regard: Rin, Ena, Nadeshiko and Aoi are heartbroken to hear this news, but everyone also realises that they still need to focus on their other commitments, bringing to mind how professionals and experts handle adversity in reality.

  • While the pacing in the Yuru Camp△ Movie comes across as a bit slow because the story doesn’t have rising action in a conventional sense, it is not an issue because the movie is more similar to a documentary. As such, I disagree with Anime News Network’s assertion that the Yuru Camp△ Movie “runs a little too long given the plot’s simplicity” consisting of “two hours of just pure vibes”, suggesting that the only viewer who will enjoy this movie is “who can eagerly watch half a season’s worth of material in one sitting”. The problem with this claim is two-fold: first, the reviewer is being dismissive of the learnings that accompany Rin, Chiaki et al. as they go through the process of bringing a campsite to life as “simple”. The problems the five face aren’t crippling and do not create drama, but they represent a mature, measured portrayal of how adults go about problem-solving.

  • In addition, Anime News Network’s reviewer implies that the Yuru Camp△ Movie is not likely to be enjoyable for most viewers. The tilt towards negativity is off-putting to readers, who may end up skipping the film altogether if they accept Anime News Network’s review at face value. I prefer to let readers know of who would enjoy a given work the most instead, since this leaves readers with the agency to determine if they fall into such a group. Here in the Yuru Camp△ Movie, the film is evidently for anyone who enjoyed Yuru Camp△, as well as folks who like coming-of-age stories like The Aquatope on White Sand. I find that this is the more sincere way of doing a review, since it is respectful to readers, versus preemptively judging them and telling them how they ought to think.

  • Back in the Yuru Camp△ Movie, Aoi bids her old school farewell: since she works out of a rural area, declining attendance means it is more economical to have Aoi transfer over to a school with a larger number of students. Although Aoi is sad to say goodbye to her first post as an instructor, she’s also aware of how moving will provide her with new opportunities. This secondary story was reminiscent of The Raccoons‘ “Making the Grade” episode, which had something similar happen, and like Aoi, Ms. Primrose ends up encouraged to take advantage of the move to learn new things after being spurred on by Bentley. In the Yuru Camp△ Movie, Chiaki is here for Aoi, and despite the melancholy weather, the conversation the pair share lightens up the moment considerably.

  • The largest aspect of the Yuru Camp△ Movie that Anime News Network skates over completely is defining what precisely being an adult means. The Yuru Camp△ Movie is very direct about this, but the reviewer only mentions that “adult responsibilities play a big part in the film”. What exactly constitutes “adult responsibilities” is never mentioned, and as such, I’ll step up to the plate instead. The Yuru Camp△ Movie indicates that as adults, people have full agency to conduct themselves in the manner of their choosing, and in fulfilling their obligations, they are afforded with the freedom of experiencing the world to the fullest extent possible.

  • In the context of the Yuru Camp△ Movie, it means that, even when the characters are dealt a bad hand, they roll with things, drawing upon experience and support from one another to make the best of a situation. Back at work, for instance, Nadeshiko encounters the three secondary students again. While doubtlessly saddened by the campsite project suspended, she still has a responsibility to put in her fullest effort at work: after speaking with the students, who want to go a camping for their graduation trip but don’t have prior experience, Nadeshiko walks them through how they can start small and get a feel for things. Hearing the students thinking of bringing instant noodles brings back memories, bringing a smile to Nadeshiko’s face.

  • Anime News Network suggests that, even if the campsite project hadn’t succeeded, the film would still succeed in conveying its themes. Upon closer inspection, this is untrue: had this happened, the Yuru Camp△ Movie‘s theme would change to be “a part of being an adult is knowing how to handle disappointment”. Some documentaries do have this occur: immensely complex projects may fail to go exactly as planned, but the participants will still have gained something valuable, whether it is new data that creates the basis for a new approach or attempt. However, in the case of the Yuru Camp△ Movie, this wouldn’t work because the film already shows how the characters handle failure; stopping things here would leave the movie feeling empty. The Yuru Camp△ Movie‘s ability to convey its messages is contingent on Nadeshiko and her friends succeeding in completing their campsite project: this ultimately serves to illustrate how important it is to be able to take a step back and regroup before returning to an especially challenging problem.

  • When Rin finds herself exhausted from an especially busy period (which gives her a vivid dream), she finds herself accepting Nadeshiko’s invite to a hike. I can speak to the importance of doing this: back in June, I began working on modernising some networking libraries, but one of the challenges I faced were the fact that some of the endpoints constantly returned errors. I set that project aside since it was an improvement, turned my attention to other work and returned a month later. Since I had some time to give things some thought, I was able to clean my code up and use the right method calls in my own networking wrapper, resulting in something that worked. This is something that mental health guides recommend, and seeing this portrayed in the Yuru Camp△ Movie was an encouraging show of how taking a step back and coming back later with a fresh set of eyes is an effective method for problem solving.

  • While Nadeshiko and Rin are out on their hike, Ena takes Chikuwa out for a walk, and here, Ena encounters another dog-walker taking her puppy for a stroll. While the puppy is energetic and lively, Chikuwa feels laid-back, content to take things at his own pace. However, mid-walk, Chikuwa suddenly breaks into a trot, and while Ena finds this unexpected, her world suddenly becomes warmer. This shows how life can still be full of surprises. The symbolism in the Yuru Camp△ Movie might not be uncommonly poignant or ground-breaking, but it is well-done and speaks well enough to the messages that the film seeks to convey.

  • As it turns out, while Nadeshiko had been taking a break one day, Sakura had messaged her about a hike that may interest her: it’s to Yatsugatake Honzawa Hot Spring in the Yatsugatake mountains of Nagano. Advertised as the highest outdoor onsen in Japan, it’s got an elevation of 2150 metres, this hot spring and is rich in sulfur, calcium and sodium. The journey here is a lengthy one, requiring a two-and-a-half hours to reach from the trailhead. Since the Yuru Camp△ Movie was nice enough to name the location, finding it proved to be a breeze, and here the pair stop to enjoy some instant noodles. While Nadeshiko’s excellent cooking means that Rin’s been able to enjoy wonderful meals with everyone, sometimes, even the more inexpensive, convenient options can be quite tasty, too.

  • As it’s still early in the year, snow covers the higher elevations, requiring that the pair don crampons and make use of trekking poles to continue. Attention to details like these is what makes the Yuru Camp△ Movie a worthwhile watch: I’ve previously mentioned in my Yama no Susume posts that, as a casual hiker, I don’t make use of trekking poles because they’re one additional piece of equipment to carry while out and about, and I primarily hike during the spring and summer, when the trails are relatively free of ice and snow. Having said this, winter hikes can be beautiful, although for safety’s sake, things like crampons and trekking poles would be useful.

  • Here, Rin and Nadeshiko reach the Honzawa Hot Spring Lodge. The accommodations up here are spartan but cozy, the lodge serves meals to visitors, and there’s actually a campsite nearby, as well. This location isn’t Rin and Nadeshiko’s final destination: the outdoor onsen itself is located a little further down the path, and while Rin’s finding that she’s sucking air at this point, Nadeshiko’s still in fine spirits: since she bikes to work, she’s retained her fitness over the years, and even as Rin stops to catch her breath, Nadeshiko is all smiles.

  • For me, Rin and Nadeshiko’s trek up to Yatsugatake Honzawa Hot Spring, and their subsequent conversation as they soak in the waters, was the magical moment in the whole of the Yuru Camp△ Movie: it encapsulates the whole of the film’s messages, with respect to being an adult, and what it entails, in a clean and forward manner. After the pair strip down and bathe in the onsen‘s waters, it does feel as though being enveloped in warmth allow the tensions both have experienced to melt away. Although Rin had loved visiting onsen in her youth, she now appreciates them more than ever.

  • The conversation subsequently turns to what being an adult means, and here, I am reminded of my own experiences over the years. Society tends to view adulthood as the point where one’s established themselves in a career and own their own home, as well as being fiscally responsible, but the definition has shifted. Today, I imagine that, were I to speak to ten different people about their thoughts, I’d invariably end up with eleven different thoughts of what makes someone an adult. For me, being adult simply means being someone who is able to generate value to those around oneself. When Rin and Nadeshiko’s conversation reached a similar conclusion, I found myself a little surprised.

  • Nadeshiko indicates that being an adult means being the one to make someone else smile. I believe I’ve mentioned this previously in The Aquatope on White Sand: a child is someone who receives magic, while an adult is someone who delivers magic. This is a remarkably mature and elegant way of describing things, and one I wholly agree with. The only addendum I’d make here is that being an adult also entails accepting, and embracing the fact that one doesn’t need to be “right” all the time, and moreover, it’s okay to be “wrong”; an adult is someone who understands that, in Mark Manson’s words, growth is “[going] from wrong to slightly less wrong” in an incremental fashion. Uncertainty fuels growth, and in the Yuru Camp△ Movie, Rin and Nadeshiko discuss these aspects of their lives.

  • Accompanying the uncertainty and unexpected challenges everyone faces in their respective day-to-day lives is the fact that they’ve got more agency over their choices. As such, the conversation Rin and Nadeshiko share is significant because it clarifies why the Yuru Camp△ Movie exists at all: anime often stop at graduation, since leaving secondary school and either pursuing post-secondary studies or work means to become a full-fledged member of society. This leaves out the responsibilities and obligations that come with being a member of society, and slice-of-life anime set in high school invariably convey a feeling of nostalgia and a yearning for a simpler time. By showing how Rin, Nadeshiko and the others are as adults, the Yuru Camp△ Movie also demonstrates that as an adult, while one’s duties are larger, so too is the opportunity to explore the world on one’s own terms.

  • The conversation viewers see ends on the note that Nadeshiko still looks up to Rin as someone who’d inspired her, and the pair are completely rejuvenated after this adventure. With a fresh set of eyes on things, Nadeshiko and Rin determine that it’s too early to give up without taking at least one more shot at seeing if they can turn things around. I’ve experienced, time and time again, that after taking such an opportunity to regroup and refocus, the “one more shot” ends up being successful. This is because by allowing the mind and body to rest, our challenges are pushed from conscious thought into the unconscious, and the brain has a wonderful talent for running processes in the background. Once the conscious brain stops worrying about a problem, one may find that there may be unexplored solutions to a given problem that is worth trying.

  • Once they’ve had a chance to refresh themselves, Nadeshiko and Rin head back over to Kofu to meet up with Chiaki, Ena and Aoi. The scene here is reminiscent of the first season, when Nadeshiko had headed over to the Outdoor Activity Club and surprised Chiaki by being there. Throughout the Yuru Camp△ Movie, there are numerous callbacks to the original TV series, but speaking to the quality of writing in the Yuru Camp△ Movie, the original TV series is not a prerequisite to follow the film. Both director Kyogoku and Nao Tōyama, who voices Rin, had stated that the film was meant to be a standalone experience.

  • While the Yuru Camp△ Movie had been intentionally written to be a self-contained story that didn’t require a priori knowledge of the series, I remark that any well-written work should be able to stand on its own in this fashion. I had watched both The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers without having seen the previous films in their respective series, and the stories themselves meant that in both cases, the themes were apparent. Instead, watching earlier films simply provides a more profound and complete experience, as well as call-backs that make for an enhanced experience.

  • To drive a bit of humour, Ena’s taken control of Ginger and gives the impression that the Singularity has arrived, creating pandemonium inside the storage room. The Yuru Camp△ Movie remains consistent with the original series with respect to its humour, and each of Rin, Nadeshiko, Chiaki and Aoi’s reactions mirror their respective personalities. Seeing the resulting reaction from everyone leads Ena to spot that she’s perhaps gone a little too far this time, and she promptly apologises for the trouble caused. Despite her being a soft-spoken individual, Ena’s got a fondness for pranks.

  • Once things settle down, Chiaki reveals that the solution to their problem is a compromise. By taking a step back and giving things some thought, it becomes clear that rather than seeing the archeological work as an obstacle, they should see it as a feature. Historic artefacts are often seen as attractions, and the fact that this campground has Jōmon-era pottery means people would be curious to see it. As such, selling the idea that this campsite could be a fantastic way of promoting an interest in history would kill two birds in one stone. In order to drive this idea, the archeologist’s work must first conclude, and since they’re behind schedule owing to limited manpower, Chiaki suggests that they also help out with the process.

  • The advantage of doing so is two-fold: besides accelerating the excavation work, Chiaki et al. would also gain some hands-on experience with understanding what the archeologists are doing, as well as learn for themselves the significance of these findings. Keeping an open mind is of great importance, and I’ve long felt that the best way to learn is by getting one’s hands dirty (in a positive sense); being able to get hands-on experience means fully appreciating how different parts of a process relate to the system, and the resulting insights only serve to further one’s knowledge, allowing them to become ever better. This is why, even though I’m primarily a mobile developer, I do my best to learn about the backend and server code supporting my own work.

  • With Chiaki et al. helping out, the excavation proceeds much more quickly, and along the way, everyone learns more about the significance of Jōmon pottery: the Jōmon period is regarded as the earliest major period in Japanese history where there is a significant record of an advanced culture, and Jōmon pottery is characterised by a corded pattern. They are significant because they provide tangible evidence of the transition from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle into an agricultural society: pottery is generally bulky and difficult to move around, and the larger the article, the more likely it is that a given people were settled. While the Jōmon people were once considered unremarkable, today, interest in the people and their culture is revitalised.

  • One of the biggest advantage about helping out was that Chiaki also gained some direct knowledge of the excavation’s significance, and she’s able to create an updated project proposal for the tourism committee. Using Ginger to present everyone’s work up until now, Chiaki suggests sharing and celebrating the site’s historical significance in conjunction with retaining the campground idea, with the site’s “special sauce” being the pottery fragments. Although Chiaki is worried this proposal will be denied, she is surprised, but pleased that it’s been accepted.

  • Now that the campsite project back in full swing, it’s a straight shot to the Yuru Camp△ Movie‘s ending: once the excavation work completes, Chiaki and company will have full access to the grounds again. Like a documentary, this part is the final hurdle to clear, and once past, the film is able to fully focus on everyone’s efforts towards realising their original goal. Here, I remark that, since I’ve long been fond of documentaries, the format the Yuru Camp△ Movie took was not detrimental to my enjoyment; I am aware that I tend to be a lot more easygoing regarding what I enjoy and don’t enjoy, but this is a luxury afforded by the fact that I don’t need to answer someone above me: I have the freedom to write in whatever manner I chose.

  • As summer sets in, Yamanashi’s landscape really comes to life, with verdant vegetation and vivid blue skies signifying the beginning of long days and warm weather, perfectly suited for spending long hours at Takaori ahead of the campsite’s opening to the public. Because Yuru Camp△ had originally been set in the autumn and winter, the landscape in Yamanashi and surroundings are faded. Seeing Yuru Camp△ with such colours was a pleasant surprise and shows just how full of life the prefecture is. The winter colours of Yuru Camp△ had allowed the series to really focus on its characters, and by evening, the world managed to look inviting anyways thanks to the warm, golden-orange glow resulting from lanterns and campfires.

  • Seeing the world a positively aglow with life by summer does have a noticeable impact on the artwork: having grown accustomed to seeing the characters and their food stand out from the background, Yuru Camp△‘s portrayal of summer means that the characters almost get lost behind the greenery and endless summer skies. The sharp contrast between summer and winter means I’m left wondering where season three will go: we had previously seen Yuru Camp△ in the summer, when Rin reminisced about how she first came to begin camping, but these scenes were short-lived, and Rin would only start camping come autumn. However, if a third season leads viewers into spring and summer, the anime could become a lot more colourful.

  • With everyone fired up, it’s time to make the final push ahead of the campground’s opening. Chiaki both organises some of the project staff and helps out with tasks herself. One details I particularly liked was how the implements from the playground at Aoi’s previous primary school were recycled and brought over to Takaori, where they can continue to be used by joyous children alongside the other. The cage-like structure is given a paint job, and Ena’s dream of incorporating a dog park at the campsite becomes a reality, allowing dog owners to let their furry companions run around in a secure area.

  • In this way, summer passes in the blink of an eye, and autumn returns to Yamanashi. With sustained effort from Rin, Nadeshiko, Chiaki, Aoi, Ena and other members of the community, the formerly-derelict grounds has become revitalised and refreshed, ready to see its first visitors. Along the way, everyone ends up creating wonderful memories of the project they’d worked so hard together on. The success here is not too different than having an App Store submission pass Apple’s review, watching one’s drafts accepted for publication, or seeing a customer smile, but it is a ways more tangible, making it a powerful way of driving the Yuru Camp△ Movie‘s messages home.

  • After a full summer’s effort, the last element is added to the campsite, turning it into a fully functional destination. A new glass sign is installed, designating this as the Fujikawa Matsubokkuri Camp Base. By this point in time, the reservation system is also online and ready to roll. News of the campsite travels quickly: the families and friends  of those closest to the project have made reservations for opening day, excited to see the project for themselves. Rin’s parents are excited, and are shown preparing ahead of their visit, but when Rin makes to head out first, she notices that her motorcycle’s “Check Engine” light is on.

  • It speaks volumes to how long I’ve been around the block, since I’ve got a “Check Engine” light story of my own to tell: five years ago, when I was driving from Yoho National Park back to Canmore, the Mazda 5’s “Check Engine” came on. Having never dealt with this before, I immediately pulled over at the nearest roadside turnout and phoned home, and after we returned from our trip, we took the Mazda 5 in for an inspection. It turned out that a faulty thermostat was the culprit, but the moment was still quite surprising. In the Yuru Camp△ Movie, Rin’s father suggests that they’ll need to do the same: lacking a code-reader, the problem could be more severe, so he figures it’ll be safer to take Rin’s bike in, and in the meantime, he brings out Rin’s backup ride.

  • On opening date, excitement runs high as Fujikawa Matsubokkuri Camp Base prepares to receive their first guests. However, when the first of their guests report having difficulty finding them, Ena learns that in their excitement, they’d forgotten to put up signs pointing to the campsite. A call from Akari confirms that without the signs, Fujikawa Matsubokkuri Camp Base is tricky to find. There’s no time to put the signs up, so Rin offers to drive out to the intersection where the signs were originally placed and help the visitors find their way. The time has come for an old friend to make a return:

“It’s been a minute, huh, Rin?”
“Oh my God, this thing is so old!”

–Maverick and Rooster’s responses to the Yamaha Vino

  • This is none other than Rin’s old Yamaha Vino, which her father had kept in storage. In a moment that was evocative of Top Gun: Maverick‘s climactic battle, where Pete “Maverick” Mitchell and Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw steal a vintage F-14 Tomcat and get it into the skies, where they manage to take down the pair of hostile Su-57s, Rin uses her Vino to save the day. The return of these museum-pieces was probably the best bit of fanservice in Maverick and Yuru Camp△, respectively showing how both works utilise callbacks to their predecessors as a respectful acknowledgement of how past lessons apply to the present. While there are some similarities between the two films in terms of story and emotional impact, I have heard that Hinataka of Netobaro considered the Yuru Camp△ Movie to be a superior film to even Top Gun: Maverick.

  • I categorically disagree, but the reasons for why will be left as an exercise for later, since this post is already massive. I will say that, luckily for Rin, there’s no flight of Su-57s to engage – unlike Top Gun: Maverick‘s thrilling canyon fight, Rin has no trouble getting out to where the visitors are, and she’s subsequently able to point them in the right direction. To help things along, Chiaki also steps out to guide everyone to the campsite’s parking lot. Once the visitors begin getting a measure of where things are, the launch of Fujikawa Matsubokkuri Camp Base is quite successful. As guests make their way in, they’re greeted by Ginger, the tourism robot Chiaki had been working with. Here, I remark that Sakura’s operating a vehicle with a left-hand drive; in Japan, such vehicles are rare, usually imported, and as such, are higher end, perhaps speaking to Sakura’s love of the road.

  • Fujikawa Matsubokkuri Camp Base’s attractions prove to be a hit. Some of the guests take an interest in the archeological attractions, while the children immediately have fun on the playgrounds. Ena and her father share a moment at the dog park, watching as Chikuwa enjoys the park with other dogs. Although Ena’s father has no speaking role in the Yuru Camp△ Movie, I imagine that he’s proud of his daughter, too. Aoi runs into Minami here, and as it turns out, Aoi’s already settled in with her new position, getting along with her students well.

  • As evening sets in, Rin has a chance to catch up with her grandfather, who praises the campground. As a veteran camper and a man of few words, Hajime’s words carry a considerable amount of weight behind them. Seeing the once-derelict site being put to use here in the Yuru Camp△ Movie brought to mind the idea of revitalisation, a theme that other anime with adult characters have covered: because Japan is seeing a trend where rural youth move to urban areas, the countryside is slowly depopulating. Whether it be Yoshino’s journey to help Manoyama out in Sakura Quest, or Rin’s contributions to Chiaki’s campsite project here in Yamanashi, stories like these are a reminder that with a bit of creativity, the worth of rural areas won’t be lost to people even as the world continues urbanising.

  • Seeing all of the families camping together would be the greatest reward of all following a tumultuous, but instructive and memorable project. The Yuru Camp△ Movie‘s final moments show everyone camping in their own way: from the Kagamihama’s use of a grill, to the Shimas enjoying a nabe, and Minami drinking (in moderation!) with her sister and Akari. Here, I remark that this is probably one of the largest posts I’ve written in a while (16240 words) – although the Yuru Camp△ Movie may prima facie be simple in terms of its story, the film covers a very broad range of topics in a respectful manner, and I did wish to do things justice by affording each topic with a corresponding amount of respect.

  • The Yuru Camp△ Movie had begun with Rin, Nadeshiko, Chiaki, Aoi and Ena promising to camp together again one day as they’d watched a fireworks display many years earlier. With this major project in the books, the film draws to a close: while stopping to take in the scope of their achievements, the five friends promise to camp together by New Year’s here at Fujikawa Matsubokkuri Camp Base. This time, since everyone’s enthusiasm has been spurred on by this project, it’s evident that these five will have no qualms in planning ahead and fulfilling this promise to one another.

  • Overall, the Yuru Camp△ Movie earns a well-deserved A+ (4.0 of 4.0, and this time around, a perfect 10), having successfully taken the Yuru Camp△ concept and scaled it up for the movie format in a manner that is compelling. Acting as a wonderful show of what responsibility and privileges accompanying being an adult looks like, as well as demonstrating how stepping back and regrouping is so important as a part of the problem-solving process, the Yuru Camp△ Movie is a touching movie that definitively shows that, even after the third season concludes, Ena, Rin, Nadeshiko, Aoi and Chiaki will be doing well. In conjunction with the same level of attention paid to detail as the TV series, the Yuru Camp△ Movie is a worthy experience for fans and newcomers alike. Of course, these are merely my thoughts on the movie, and once the film becomes available to viewers on Crunchyroll, I am hoping to hear from you, the readers, regarding your experiences.

Whole-Movie Reflection and Closing Remarks

For students, the Yuru Camp△ Movie acts as a source of motivation, compelling them into stepping up and doing their best. Throughout Yuru Camp△, it was shown that Chiaki didn’t really have a talent for academics, and Nadeshiko tends to be easily distracted. In spite of this, their passion and energy meant that they found something which works for them, which is an encouraging thought. For folks who are already in the workforce, the Yuru Camp△ Movie is a reminder that they’ve come a long way, and that the responsibility adulthood demands is accompanied by freedom, too. While Rin and Chiaki both occasionally hit roadblocks at their workplaces, being an adult means being able to work out a solution. The film was originally created to be something that both new and veteran viewers could get into; the storyline doesn’t demand any a prior knowledge, and is relatable to a wide range of audiences. However, there are enough callbacks into Yuru Camp△ so that folks familiar with the series will immediately spot them. While the writers indicate that they had wanted to create a film that didn’t require any previous familiarity and deliberately set the series several years after Yuru Camp△ ended, in this regard, the Yuru Camp△ Movie ends up being similar to Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises in this regard – both films are are part of a longer series and require some degree of familiarity, but even in the total absence of any sort of background, one could still watch both and follow them well enough. Rather than anything to do with the setting, both The Dark Knight Rises and the Yuru Camp△ Movie succeed because of excellent writing that compels viewers such that they cannot help but become curious to see how their respective work’s problems are resolved. In the Yuru Camp△ Movie, the combination of lovable and familiar faces, coupled with a story that is respectful of everyone’s abilities while at the same time, still within a realm everyone is comfortable with, artwork and animation that is of an even higher quality than had been seen in Yuru Camp△, and solid music and voice acting, the Yuru Camp△ Movie ends up being a home run. This film was a bit of an unexpected surprise, since it technically is an epilogue set after the series, but on the other hand, it clarifies that, even after the events of the upcoming third season, everyone in Yuru Camp△ will land on their feet, allowing said third season to focus purely on the adventures that follow Rin and the Outdoor Activities Club’s experiences after their trip to the Izu Peninsula without troubling viewers with what happens in post-secondary and beyond. This aspect of the Yuru Camp△ Movie made it especially enjoyable – it felt as though the characters are growing up alongside the viewers, creating a very strong bond to the series and its events.

Norway and Tiburón Island: Survivorman Ten Days, Remarks on Resilience and a Reflection Ten Years After The MCAT

“It would seem that in this survival ordeal, I’ve experienced the highest of highs, and the lowest of lows.” –Les Stroud

Although Les Stroud had wrapped up Survivorman in 2008 owing to the significant physical toll associated with filming survival in extreme environments, in 2012, Stroud would embark on two survival expeditions that were larger than anything he had previously done. This series would become known as Survivorman Ten Days, and true to its title, has Stroud surviving in two new environments for ten days. In Norway, Stroud simulates how one might go about surviving if their car broke down. In the beginning, with intense wind and a wet snowfall, Stroud stays with the vehicle until his provisions are depleted. He siphons gas from the vehicle and lights a fire, then uses the car’s upholstery to fashion snowshoes before heading out into the backcountry. After a cold night in the bush, Stroud manages to find hunters’ cabins, and deer remains. Capitalising on the shelter and food, Stroud enjoys a few days here in the cabins before preparing to head downhill towards the coast. Although Stroud is put into a perilous situation as the sun begins setting, he manages to make it down before nightfall. He later explores the coast and finds a summer cottage, where he rests before preparing a massive signal fire for his recovery team. At Tiburón Island, Stroud plays the role of a sailor on a yacht who is stranded. After reaching shore, Stroud notes that water is his biggest priority and fashions a desalination device from items he found on the beach. With the still making water, Stroud then explores a nearby estuary, where he finds an extensive clam population. While Stroud enjoys a feast of clams and calamari, he determines that in order to survive, he must head inland and find water – he leaves behind the coast and travels inland. After a few days, Stroud ultimately locates a spring that provides him with fresh water, the most critical of necessities in a place as dry as a desert. Continuing on in the same vein as its predecessors, Survivorman Ten Days features Les Stroud creating an entire survival show with no camera crew or production team assisting him. This time, however, instead of the typical seven days, Survivorman Ten Days extends the survival ordeal by three more days, and while three days initially seems minor, this can add another dimension of complexity to survival, especially in the knowledge that one must plan for three more days’ worth of survival. In Survivorman Ten Days, Stroud rises to the occasion, drawing upon his extensive knowledge and experience to survive, as well as utilising every advantage in his environment to make a difficult situation manageable.

Survivorman Ten Days comes to represent a fantastic show of how having a reliable knowledge base means that, even when one is confronted with a problem they’ve never faced before, or if the problem is of a different scale than one is familiar with, applying the same principles will help one to put things in perspective, and break things down so that it is more manageable. At Tiburón Island, surviving ten days in the desert seems daunting: previously in the Kalahari, Stroud had suffered from heat stroke and very nearly had to call off his shoot for safety reasons. Here in Tiburón Island, the absence of fresh water meant survival was already going to be a difficult task. However, with the knowledge that he could obtain water in a creative fashion, Stroud chooses to construct a distilling apparatus and is able to draw potable water from the ocean, prolonging his survival and giving him a chance to take stock before making the decision on what his next steps are. Stroud had previously utilised novel methods of acquiring water in difficult situations, and acknowledges that these methods only provide one with the minimal amount of water. However, even this small amount of water helps survival, and in helping to ward off dehydration, Stroud ultimately is able to find a more substantial supply of fresh water. Similarly, in Norway, Stroud has his most difficult experience when he attempts to make his way down into the valley. Although Stroud had known there were paths leading down, the combination of slippery and damp conditions meant that, had Stroud happened onto a cliff, he would’ve lacked the means of returning back to the cabins before nightfall, and potentially putting him in harm’s way as the wet, cold conditions elevate the risk of hypothermia. Even with all of his experience in the bush, Stroud is in a perilous situation – this situation puts all of this knowhow and decision-making to the test. In the end, Stroud decides to keep going, and to his great relief, finds himself on the edge of the fjord right as night is about to fall. Despite being in a terrifying, gripping situation, Stroud remains calm and collected, doing whatever he can to stave off disaster. However, he’s also honest about it: in a voice-over, Stroud indicates that viewers can audibly hear his heartbeat, a consequence of a genuine, tangible worry about how dangerous a seemingly-simple trek down the mountain had become. When Stroud reaches the bottom of the cliff and sets up camp, viewers breathe a sigh of relief alongside him, and similarly, cannot help but smile when Stroud comes upon summer cabins. Through it all, Stroud continues to call upon everything he’s previously done to persist, endure and ultimately, make it safely down the mountain. With a bit of luck, Stroud succeeds here, and much as how his resilience and experience come together to help him find fresh drinking water in Tiburón Island, the same mindset and skillset is applied to help Stroud reach safety in the snow-covered fjords of Norway.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Survivorman Ten Days aired during July 2012, a time when I’d been fully focused on studying for the MCAT. By that point in the summer, my physics course had ended, and I walked away with an A-. My days were thus spent attending the preparation course, doing revision in my spare time and, to unwind, I divided my time between Team Fortress 2 and MicroVolts. To learn that Survivorman was continuing proved to be a huge psychological boost; I’d already been familiar with the series by then, and always found myself inspired by the teachings Stroud conveyed in his episode.

  • Survivorman Ten Days had come completely out of the blue, but I welcomed the news and watched episodes with enthusiasm. Unlike previous Survivorman episodes, which were set over a week, Survivorman Ten Days has Stroud surviving for three more days, but the additional three days meant that there were two episodes for each location, providing Stroud with extra time to really showcase everything. In Survivorman Director’s Commentary, Stroud had mentioned how one of the challenges in the editing phase was actually paring down footage to fit the episode’s 40-minute length.

  • This is actually similar to the problem I have in blogging: I end up with a large number of screenshots that would result in far more content than I could realistically write, and to ensure my posts are of a manageable size, I cut down the number of screenshots to a multiple of ten for easier writing. The idea of breaking posts up into parts has been suggested to me before, and this is why for some series, I do split things into parts. For discussions on movies, however, I prefer keeping everything together in a single post. In Norway, Stroud initially remains behind with his vehicle to mimic what the average traveller might do if their ride suffered from failure. With the wind gusting outside, Stroud says it’s only natural for people to want to stick with their vehicles and wait out rescue.

  • Moreover, a vehicle represents a ready-made survival shelter, and so long as one has fuel, they can take the chill out of the air readily. However, a vehicle can also become a death-trap in that, in keeping people attached to the vehicle, may create scenarios where people would rather stick with their car than walking out of a difficult situation. Because this is a Survivorman episode, Stroud mentions that it’d be possible for him to walk out of this situation, but then there’d be no episode. For this episode, Stroud’s brought some provisions with him, including a jar of peanut butter, a six pack of beer and a mandarin orange.

  • Rationing food in a survival situation can be tricky because one doesn’t have a definitive idea of how long they’ll be in survival for. For Stroud, the mandarin orange depletes after a few days, and Stroud decides to take on a more proactive approach to survival. Being trapped in a dark vehicle might mean that crews clearing the road will likely ignore it, but a roaring fire burning behind a vehicle would pique some curiosity. While Stroud doesn’t have any obvious fire-starting materials on hand, he’s never out of options.

  • Siphoning fuel from the tank, and then using the vehicle’s battery to ignite the mixture creates a very powerful flame that would certainly attract attention, but even if this doesn’t happen, it gives Stroud a significant source of warmth. Being active with the fire outside also reminds Stroud of how cramped the vehicle interior is, leading him to plan out how to head into the bush in search of more beneficial conditions. The situation Stroud finds himself in during Norway would, in retrospect, parallel my own experiences with the MCAT.

  • Stroud’s desire to stay with the car is not so different than my initial feelings about the MCAT being an unbeatable opponent. I had managed to do well in the physics course despite coming close to throwing in the towel, but after the MCAT preparation course began, the lessons gave the impression that the exam was completely unlike anything I’d faced before. However, the further I got into the course, and the more practise exams I did, the more I realised that I needed to adopt a new strategy towards handling the stress associated with the exam.

  • Stroud’s leaving the car is analogous to me embracing a new method of studying, one which entailed making use of strategically-placed breaks. Every day, after five in the afternoon, I would stop all revisions and play a few rounds of Team Fortress 2 or MicroVolts. The idea was that I would have dedicated time to study and prepare, but then I was always assured of downtime so I wouldn’t become overwhelmed on a given day. Previously, I approached exams with brute force, studying until I was confident with the materials.

  • After leaving the car, Stroud spends the night under a tree and recalls he has a portable survival stove, which he uses to boil some water. It is here that Stroud mentions how he always hits the bathroom before sleeping; any liquid in the bladder forces the body to expend energy heating it, so emptying out said bladder allows one to conserve energy and sleep better. This is a habit that I learnt from my parents as a child: the reasoning they had was that it would help me sleep through the night and not run the risk of nocturnal enuresis, but Survivorman shows that there’s more than one reason to hit the bathroom before sleeping.

  • While my dislike of the winter and snow is no secret, I will concede that there is a beauty in a snow-covered landscape under semi-overcast skies. This appreciation is doubled if I don’t have to travel anywhere, and during the past couple of years, I worked from home during the winter. Snowstorms stopped being an irritant, and there is a sort of coziness associated with waking up to a fresh snowfall. Knowing that my commute is a 15-second walk to my desk increases the charm. Back in Survivorman Ten Days, Stroud’s managed to find hunter’s cabins, complete with a wood stove and bed.

  • The situation improves even further after Stroud spots a deer carcass left over from hunters: while all of the meat one would normally eat is gone, Stroud finds that the hunters have left behind the heart, liver, lungs, and a bunch of fat, plus a bit of meat. Although such moments appear contrived, Stroud has encountered hunter’s remains on many occasions previously, and even in Survivorman, during the Alaska episode, Stroud has found a partially-eaten fish that an eagle dropped and later enjoys a fish dinner after cooking it. On the first night, Stroud prepares a broth for himself: as he states, eating too much at once would overwhelm his digestive system and cause all sorts of problems.

  • Having enjoyed deer broth and a little bit of meat the previous evening, Stroud begins preparing the remainder of the deer remains for consumption and gives viewers a close-up of the deer. Besides the entire deer liver, Stroud’s pleasantly surprised to find the entire heart is also present. The heart of an animal tastes especially rich and beefy because it is the hardest-working muscle. The day had begun with some sunshine, but soon, the clouds roll back in and create an overcast sky. Despite this, Stroud’s in fine spirits, since shelter and food are now taken care of.

  • Because Stroud had been trapped in a car for two days, he ends up cooking his meal outdoors. The cabins come stocked with matches, but to conserve on limited resources, Stroud uses duct-tape as a fire-starter here, and in a few moments, his fire’s hot enough for him to begin cooking the deer. Imagery of cooking the meat over an open fire is par the course for enjoying the great outdoors, but in a survival situation, every bit counts. Stroud previously mentioned in Alaska that boiling the meat would be the best way to get all of the nutrients out, and here in Norway, he applies this approach to the deer meet, boiling things up to create a highly nourishing, if unphotogenic, meal.

  • The psychological boost of being able to eat, and sleep in a warm bed, proves to be a pivotal moment. The renewed energy Stroud gains from food and sleep allows him to plan out the final leg of his journey, but it also results in intense and vivid dreams that can play on the psyche. Survivorman Ten Days uses some very unusual footage here to convey this: a time lapse of the Norwegian Winter is played while Stroud gives a voice-over, creating a very chilling and surreal feeling. I’ve never quite understood how such footage was obtained, and if Stroud were to ever do Norway for Director’s Commentary, I would likely ask how this was filmed.

  • With a chance to re-evaluate his situation, Stroud determines it’s time to head down the cliffs for the coast, reasoning that now’s the time to do so: if he stayed in the cabins, he’d eventually run out of deer. However, what was supposed to be a simple hike down the mountain becomes one of the most challenging things he’d ever done. The combination of slippery rocks, snowfall and the constant threat of running into a cliff, meant that Stroud was more nervous than usual, and at one point during this trek, one can hear his heartbeat from the camera, speaking to how worried he was.

  • To the viewers’ great relief, Stroud does make it down the mountain okay, and he swiftly sets up camp before lighting a fire. As miserable as being soaked during cold, wet weather is, Stroud has, at the very least, reached the bottom without being stuck: his worst fear was that he ended up at a cliff, and as exhausted as he was, he would’ve had no way of heading back up the mountain and reaching the shelter of the cabins before nightfall. Hypothermia was the biggest risk here, and here at the bottom of the cliff, it’s still a very real risk, but Stroud is afforded the reassurance that the cliffs are behind him.

  • The next morning, Stroud continues on with exploring the coast: he stops to take a drink and finds some rosehips. However, the next find is a truly game-changing one – a summer home on the coast. Stroud’s fortunes completely turn around, and after a frigid night on the mountainside, he’s now able to take shelter in a cozy cabin. Stroud mentions that breaking in for shelter is something that should only be done in a survival situation – although breaking and entering remains illegal, the law states such an action would not be counted as an offense in a situation where such an action was necessary to avoid personal death or injury, and provided that one leaves no sign that an offense was committed.

  • This B-roll shot of the sun rising over the fjord is one I’m especially fond of – the B-roll footage in Survivorman has always been fun to watch even though the focus in the series is on survival. Such moments are typically shot before Stroud actually begins survival, and per Stroud’s commentary, is actually the most ordinary part of a Survivorman shoot in that it’s the one part where there’s a camera crew. After looking around the summer cabin, Stroud finds a key that allows him to enter. He immediately sets about seeing what other food might be available to him, and manages to locate some seaweed, blue mussels and potatoes.

  • I did a bit of looking around and found that the summer cabin Stroud comes across towards the end of the Norway trip is called Tingastad, which is located near Sogndal Airport. Looking around at satellite imagery of the area, one can even find the hunter’s cabins located higher up on the mountain, which are located a mere 1.29 kilometres from the airport. Although this shows that Stroud could’ve walked out at any time, the whole point of Survivorman is to show what happens if one were in trouble, and being somewhat close to civilisation is important in case things do go south.

  • In the end, Stroud creates a large signal fire for the purpose of letting the rescue boat know of his location. An effective fire doesn’t need large flames, but rather, smoke, and to do this, one needs to burn oily substances like birch bark. The boat eventually notices him and picks up him, bringing the first of the Survivorman Ten Days episodes to a close. Although Norway represents one of the most difficult of Stroud’s expeditions yet, I was thoroughly impressed with how he continued to draw on existing knowledge and push towards bettering his situation even when things looked grim.

  • This was the sort of mindset that I would carry with me into the MCAT – I found that at the heart of all difficult, seemingly-insurmountable problems, is a collection of smaller problems which, when attended to properly, can be handled individually. The important lesson learnt here is to always be mindful of the basics, and understand how the basics can be applied towards dealing with much bigger challenges. In fact, it is fair to say that failure results if one allows a large problem to overwhelm them to the point where they forget the basics.

  • I’ve now transitioned over to the Tiburón Island episodes, which sees Stroud travel to a desert island in Mexico. Here, the weather is the polar opposite of what it’d been in Norway: snow-covered trees and foggy fjords are replaced with rocky beaches and blue skies as far as the eye can see. Stroud faces a completely different set of problems here, with water being the chiefest of his problems. In Norway, Stroud could ingest snow to replenish his water, so hydration was never a problem, but here at Tiburón Island, there’s no freshwater nearby. Stroud does down a mouthful of ocean water to restore electrolytes, but for this trip, he carries enough water to last a few days.

  • As such, the immediate concern is making his water supply last while he works out where to get more water. One of my favourite Survivorman moments happens here – after finding a large bucket on the beach, Stroud crafts a handmade desalination still. The idea is simple enough: boiling salt water will create steam that evaporates, and this steam, when condensing back into a liquid form, will yield fresh, drinkable water. Although simple in principle, desalination at scale is an incredibly expensive process because of how much energy it takes to boil water.

  • Stroud’s handmade still yields about two cups of water a day; while it’s not enough to stave off dehydration and requires that Stroud continuously tops off the fire to ensure he can boil the water, it does allow him to extend the lifespan of his existing water supply. Stroud names techniques of this as a MacGyverism, of creatively using whatever materials in his environment to fashion tools and equipment that can be helpful in survival. Once the desalination still is fashioned, Stroud turns his attention next to exploring the beach and nearby estuary.

  • Although Stroud was hoping to find a flounder at the estuary, he ends up digging up a fair number of clams. In a survival situation, Stroud notes that having a food source he can easily gather is a huge advantage (in his words, there’s nothing worse than expending energy to travel a mile, only to find enough food for a half-mile walk). The clamming technique Stroud describes here is something I’ve previously commented on in Houkago Teibou Nisshi, and I was impressed the latter echoes Stroud’s sentiments about leaving the smaller clams so their population isn’t decimated.

  • I am particularly fond of the Tiburón Island episodes because they’re set under sunny skies, and while survival out here is no less difficult than in Norway, having blue skies conveys a sense of calm: things don’t feel quite as urgent or deadly as they did in Norway, and these episodes would come to remind me of those days when the MCAT seemed like a manageable exam, when revision was going well and I felt more confident in being ready to handle the exam.

  • The pacing of Tiburón Island meant that Stroud spends his first few days checking out what the nearby area has to offer, and by chance, he encounters a dead squid floating on the beachside. He decides to bring it back with him, and after cutting the grippers off, proceeds to cook it over an open fire. In a voice-over, Stroud admits that he’d never prepared squid before, so here, he ended up cutting away a lot more than he needed to for safety’s sake, but if he’d come in with more background, he could’ve gotten more from the squid. This is a recurring theme in Survivorman – it’s better to err on the side of caution if uncertain, but over time, experience allows one to survive more effectively

  • It was immensely satisfying to see the desalination still do its magic for Stroud: beyond the effort of building the still, fetching the water and topping the firewood off, Stroud now has a reliable means of getting access to water. Watching Stroud get water always instills in me an inclination to get some water of my own. I’ve never understood why people dislike water and would eschew it, and while I prefer to take my water filtered and boiled, I have no qualms with water so long as it quenches my thirst when appropriate.

  • Stroud’s approach of mobile, proactive survival means taking advantage of good times to make things better. With the clams in the estuary as a known, reliable food source, he’s able to explore other options. He fashions a makeshift spear here, along with shinguards, to explore the area for fish and defend against stingrays that may be trapped. Although his fishing expedition is unsuccessful, Stroud finds some oysters that he deems worth eating. This move proves to be a poor choice, since the oysters subsequently knock Stroud out of the game.

  • While stomach problems at any time are difficult, stomach problems during a survival situation would be debilitating. Stroud mentions that during survival, one shouldn’t take any chances, and aim to minimise their problems one by one. This is sound advice, and while Stroud does his best to adhere, speaking to the complexity of survival, even a veteran like Les Stroud can occasionally make a mistake. Far from invalidating Stroud, moments like these serve to remind viewers that even experts aren’t infallible, and it makes Stroud more human.

  • After Stroud recovers, he begins to travel inland in search of water. Tiburón Island represents an interesting conundrum in that the areas with food are close to the shore, where there’s no water, and where there’s fresh water, there’s no access to food. In previous Survivorman episodes, Stroud’s mentioned that travelling great distances during a survival situation is immensely difficult, and we recall earlier that even in Norway, when he’d been about a mile or so from the airport, the lack of food and rest means that travelling even a kilometre can be challenging.

  • Before heading inland, Stroud writes a message in a bottle and hucks the bottle into the ocean. Ocean currents mean that eventually, the bottle will end up on a shore somewhere, although I’ve not heard of anyone who managed to find the specific bottle Stroud threw into the water. This bit of imagery is a stereotype that is at least as old as that of the cartoon depicting a desert island several metres across, with a single palm tree on it. This depiction originates from gag comics published to The New Yorker in the 1930s and became the mid-20th century’s equivalent of a meme, which annoyed readers and editors enough so that they implemented a ban on publication of desert islands. The ideas endured into the newspaper comics of the 1980s and 1990s – The Far Side is especially fond of these gags, although I find The Far Side vapid and uninspired.

  • In general, I’ve found newspaper comics have become increasingly irrelevant and out-of-touch with reality: Blondie, The Meaning of Lila and Between Friends, for instance, present office culture in an antiquated, unrelatable fashion. Back in Survivorman Ten Days, Stroud makes use of his gear to continue boiling water, and he’s also brought clams with him, providing a food source as he treks further inland. Once in the desert itself, Stroud’s back in terrain similar to his survival trips to Arizona, Utah, the Kalahari and even the Australian outback. Each desert in the world represents a different kind of survival challenge, but all deserts share in common the same problem Stroud must address: the need for water. Bringing the desalination still inland is a good idea, allowing Stroud to to continue making water.

  • The last of the Survivorman Ten Days episodes aired on July 21, 2012 – at this point in the summer a decade earlier, K-On! The Movie had just seen its home release, and I had finished writing my review of the film. In those days, my blog wasn’t well-known, and reviews were mainly more for myself rather than readers. By the time July ended and August arrived, and after I wrote the last of the full-length practise exams, I began rolling back on my revision efforts. Previously, I spent most of my days studying, but once two weeks were left to the exam, I only studied for about four hours each day.

  • As I entered the final few days to the exam, I stopped studying outright – besides gaming, this blog’s archives showed that I also spent time blogging. The idea behind this was that an extra day or two wouldn’t likely make any difference and may even increase stress. On the morning of the exam, I remember re-watching Gundam Unicorn‘s fifth episode to psyche myself up for the MCAT itself. After a light lunch, I headed out into the afternoon, and steeled myself for a difficult war of attrition. However, as difficult as the MCAT had appeared, in retrospect, I had prepared adequately. Besides the preparation course, and spending hours doing drills, my friends also had determined it would be helpful to study together.

  • On top of this, I managed my stress by budgeting out time to game and watch various shows – besides Survivorman, I also watched Man v. Food extensively. Seeing Adam Richman taking on food challenges allowed me to approach the MCAT with humour: I likened my own exam experience to Richman and particularly tough moments, even joking that I hoped to avoid the same situation that Richman experienced at Munchies 420 in Saratosa, Florida. There, the mystery challenge proved so diabolical, it gave him the hiccoughs within one bite. I would later learn that this was no laughing matter, as the staff at Munchies 420 had emptied an entire bottle of ghost chilli extract into his wings for kicks.

  • However, watching Richman prevail over his challenges proved inspirational, and it was pleasant to see him stoically accept defeat. Besides Man v. Food, I also ended up making my way through CLANNAD and CLANNAD ~After Story~Tari TariPapaKiki and Kokoro Connect during the summer. Dealing with the MCAT did leave me with a newfound way of managing stress, and I became more able to make light of my situations. This led me to continue to crack jokes about things like my undergraduate defense, conference presentations, seminars and graduate defense later down the line.

  • After several days of pushing through the desert, Stroud finally finds a pond with a large amount of rainwater. He fills an entire bottle with it and revels in this fact. With water now dealt with, Stroud is now confident he can continue to survive in the area, and the episode draws to a close. For me, I prepared to step out and face down my foe, one I’d spent several months preparing for, at this point in time a decade earlier, and while I did not know it at the time, I would indeed rise to the occasion. Survivorman played a significant role in making this possible, and even now, I attribute my mindset and path to the things I learnt while watching the show.

  • With this, I’ve now done a full recollection of the days leading up to the MCAT, and readers are now assured of the fact that I likely won’t mention these stories again, having written about them to the depth I’d wished to. Once the MCAT was done, I spent my weekend unwinding and watched The Dark Knight Rises – this was a fantastic movie that I do wish to do justice to, and to this end, I will be writing about the film on short order. The movie has aged very well; in fact, it’s aged as gracefully as K-On! The Movie, and even though I’ve rewatched The Dark Knight Rises with the same frequency that I have for K-On! The Movie, I find myself impressed each and every time.

While I have not experienced things to the same level that is seen in Survivorman, much less Survivorman Ten Days, the MCAT that I’d written a decade earlier is an analogous situation. On this day ten years ago, I wrote the exam itself, and although I would love to say the exam was a straightforward and smooth experience, my own exam day was anything but. After a light lunch, I arrived at the exam venue, and was surprised to find the building holding a sweltering 30°C (86°F). Moreover, one of the exam invigilators had stood at the door, saying that they were half an hour behind schedule. As it turns out, the building had suffered from an HVAC malfunction, causing both the power and air circulation to fail. I sat down and meditated until we were called into the exam room. The building’s technicians were still working on getting the fans back up, so it remained blisteringly hot as I sat down to the physical sciences section. Within a few minutes, I developed a cramp in my stomach. However, as the exam began, I had no choice but to weather on: I leafed through the questions, determined that the third problem set was something I could do, and set about writing the exam. When the time for the first section ended, I rushed out the door and immediately hit the facilities. The stomach pains subsided, and I wrote the remaining sections in relative comfort: the temperatures remained high, but at least the cramps were gone, allowing me to focus on the task at hand. All concern and doubt was dampened as I recalled the materials I reviewed, the strategies I was provided with, and days spent studying with friends at the medical campus’ small group rooms. The exam ended four hours later, and I stepped out into the evening, seeing the setting sun cast a warm, golden light on the landscape. After most exams, a part of me worries about the outcome, but with this MCAT, I felt as though I’d put in my best possible effort. I joined my family to a dinner at my favourite Chinese bistro in town, before sleeping the best sleep I’d had all summer. Like Les Stroud and Survivorman Ten Days, beating the MCAT became a matter of psychological resilience, and setting aside the “what-ifs” to deal with whatever was in front of me in that moment. Much as how Stroud focused on getting down the mountain despite the setting sun, I focused on solving each question without any thought to what happened post exam. While I saw numerous concepts on the exam that I certainly didn’t review during practise, they’d been similar enough in principal to materials I’d already seen, and I fell back on existing knowledge to reason through those questions. I didn’t learn of the end result for my MCAT until a month later, but the final score, a 35T (518), speaks volumes to the efficacy of these methods. The numerous parallels between my own experiences, and what Les Stroud presents on Survivorman, thus became a reminder to me that survival techniques had applicability in almost every walk of life: while I’m no outdoorsman like Stroud, everything that is presented in Survivorman is relevant to everyday life, too. It is therefore fair to say that watching Survivorman Ten Days was yet another part of the reason why I survived the MCAT ten summers earlier, and while I’ve never used my score for anything other than an interesting conversation topic since taking the exam, the ancillary learnings, such as prioritising problems, applying existing knowledge to take on new problems, dividing and conquering, and maintaining a mindset of resilience amidst adversity, have fundamentally changed the way I operated, positively impacting everything I do even to this day. Ten years ago to this day, it’s almost time for me to head out and write the MCAT – I had no idea what the outcome would be, but, armed with the will to survive, I set off for my exam, resolute to do my best, too.

Arctic Tundra: Survivorman, Baffin Island and Remarks On The Final Approach to the MCAT

“Cold…wind…lack of wild edibles…it’s a tougher one. The skies and temperatures…grey skies, very little blue, can play on the psyche.” –Les Stroud

In the third season of Survivorman, Les Stroud is dropped off at Pond Inlet in Baffin Island, located in one of the furthest reaches of Canada. Up here during the summer, the sun never sets, and Stroud is faced with the challenges of surviving in an inhospitable land battered by wind and waves. The blustery weather becomes especially wearing, and during the week, the overcast skies and lack of food begins taking an emotional toll on Stroud, on top of a physical toll. However, when Stroud decides to head inland and gather wild edibles and other plants, he realises he’s forgotten something at his campsite. Returning to retrieve it, he notices a school of Arctic Char swimming by, and in the moment, immediately gets a fishing line into the water. Moments later, his demeanor is completely changed – with four large Arctic Char in tow, Stroud is energetic, animated and ecstatic his situation has suddenly changed so dramatically. The resulting fish feast becomes Stroud’s favourite Survivorman moment, and in a Director’s Commentary video, Stroud comments on how this particular food moment even surpassed the feast he had on the Cook Islands. Stroud’s excitement is tangible, and viewers smile right alongside Stroud as he cleans the fish, enjoys fresh roe and fish, and cooks up the fish to enjoy later. In the space of moments, Stroud’s fortunes have completely turned around, showing how quickly circumstances can change, and moreover, how important it is to maintain a positive mindset during difficult times, and how one should not be complacent even when things begin turning around. At one point, Stroud comments on how he can use some of the entrails from the Arctic Char to potentially catch some seagulls and add to his food reserves. While Stroud is rewarded with a delicious meal, viewers are treated to loving closeups of Stroud preparing and cooking the Arctic Char. In the aftermath of this pivotal moment, Stroud continues to explore inland and retrieves a variety of plants that provide nutrition and kindling, taking advantage of a good situation to improve things even further; as a result, when a rainstorm sweeps into the area, Stroud ends up enjoying his Arctic Char as it rains, does stretching exercises to keep the blood flowing, and even makes a qulliq oil lamp with a stone, old sock and the remainder of his whale blubber. Only when the storm worsens, does Stroud call things in and prepare to head back to the settlement. By this point in Survivorman, Les Stroud has found his rhythm, allowing his experience and knowledge to feed into his decision-making process while at the same time, acknowledging to viewers that the variability of survival means that one often has to make the most of the hand they are given.

The Arctic Tundra episode represents Survivorman at its finest – while it is undeniable that Les Stroud is an incredibly skilled outdoorsman with years of survival knowledge under his belt, being placed in the wind-swept, desolate hills of the Pond Inlet area of Baffin Island puts his skillset to the test. Out here, there is no substantial vegetation to craft shelters from, and food is scarce, being difficult to gather and hunt outside of a small window of time in the year. Weather can change at the drop of a hat, and during the episode, Stroud remarks on several occasions that the wind prevents him from travelling to a more favourable spot, keeps him from exploring his surroundings, et cetera. Stroud’s able to capitalise on his skills to make a difficult situation manageable, moving to a better spot on his canoe and whipping up a surprisingly sturdy shelter using old steel drums found on the beach, but has no luck in luring in seagulls for food. As the weather becomes increasingly gray, Stroud comments on the conditions and how they can be incredibly demoralising even when one is armed with a vast collection of skill and experience. Here in the Arctic Tundra, Stroud’s situation speaks to how there are cases where a little luck is required. However, while one might interpret this as being how luck is necessary, the opposite is true: if one has the skill, then they have the means to capitalise when luck shows up. There is no substitute for skill, and this is what makes Stroud’s experience in Baffin Island so inspiring – even when things appear to bottom out, Stroud continues to count on and share his knowledge, with the end result that he is able to net a total of four Arctic Char. In any other show, such a moment would be scripted, but what makes Survivorman especially rewarding is the fact that everything that happens occurs naturally. In some episodes, Stroud is faced with exceedingly challenging scenarios: at Kalahari, Stroud grappled with trying to fend off heat stroke, and in other episodes, he’s unable to secure food. Having seen these previous episodes, it was rewarding to see luck on Stroud’s side and show what can happen in a survival situation when the stars line up, and one possesses the skill to capitalise on the opportunity. Seeing Les Stroud cooking and enjoying the Arctic Char, in his words, “fresh sushi”, was so visceral, it felt as though I’d been the one who had caught that fish, and therein lies the main joy of watching Survivorman. In all episodes, I’m especially fond of moments where Stroud finds food, and whether it’s something like the Witchetty grub or scorpions, to a roast bird and deer remains, Stroud has a talent for making anything look good. Stroud has previously mentioned that in a survival situation, one takes what they can get, and there’s no room for dramatisation: it’s all about getting the nutrients down. This has increased my appreciation for the food, but Survivorman actually had another, even more profound impact on how I conduct myself that influences how I do things even to this day.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • My story with Survivorman is an extensive one: I came upon the series while travelling. In 2010, I was in China on a tour of Beijing and Shanghai, and one evening, we’d stopped over in Hanzghou. A major thunderstorm had rolled into the region after dinner, and so, rather than explore the neighbourhood around the hotel, we decided to retire to our quarters and take it easy. I began channel surfing, and came upon a Chinese dub of Survivorman as he was preparing a turtle in the Georgian Swamps. My curiosity was piqued, and upon returning home, I began following the series as it aired on Discovery Canada.

  • While Survivorman remained little more than a curiosity at that point, and I mainly watched the show to see Les Stroud’s reactions to finding water, enjoying survival food or successfully lighting a fire with unorthodox means, by the time the MCAT rolled around two summers later, Survivorman had become a sort of panacea for the stress I was facing: watching Stroud survive off the land and making do with the hand he was dealt reminded me that my own challenges weren’t quite as demanding, but moreover, a similar mentality for survival would be essential in getting through a difficult time.

  • By that point in time, I’d already caught up with all of the Survivorman episodes and was familiar with Stroud’s approaches for reasoned, methodical survival. Seeing a similar set of skills being adapted for different situations was one of the biggest draws in Survivorman, and the first of these skills is determining what to do first. In the desert, Stroud’s immediate priority is determining how he might find more drinking water. Here on Baffin Island, the bitter cold and relentless wind meant shelter was essential. With old plywood, Stroud is able to construct a shelter that stops some of the wind, and as a break, he sits down to a bite of whale blubber, reminiscing about how he’d done something similar during an earlier episode.

  • Survivorman episodes instruct viewers in three ways. The first is when Stroud walks a viewer through what he’s doing and explains the rationale behind why he’s doing something, and the second comes from voice-overs Stroud later adds in the editing suite, which provide a bit of reflection on his actions. The third is unique to Survivorman: Director’s Commentary, a YouTube series that released back when the pandemic was starting. In Director’s Commentary, Stroud takes viewers on a behind-the-scenes and further presents to viewers his thought process. On some occasions, he may even indicate that what he was doing in a situation was not optimal.

  • Beyond the act of showing survival in a measured and methodical manner, the nature of Survivorman means that viewers are treated to stunning vistas and landscapes. Even somewhere as desolate as Baffin Island in the high Arctic, there is great beauty in the scenery. In episodes, Stroud notes that he captures some of the landscape footage himself, but larger shots and time lapses (the industry term is B-roll) are done by a team, oftentimes before Stroud himself gets out onto the land for survival. These elements then come together to make the episode.

  • Fresh water is always a priority: the body lasts an average of three days without water before dehydration kicks in, and dehydration brings with it a plethora of unpleasant symptoms, including headache and dizziness. In some episodes, water is a major challenge, but at Baffin Island, fresh glacial melt and pristine meadows mean that Stroud isn’t worried about Giardiasis or Cryptosporidium. Even when water-borne parasites may be a real hazard, Stroud notes that where possible, boiling the water will lessen the risk, and in a time of extreme difficulty, it might be okay to risk an infection and then seek treatment once one is back in civilisation.

  • In both the Arctic and Arctic Tundra episodes, Stroud is legally required to bring a rifle with him as a means of protection against polar bears. Luckily, in both episodes, polar bears have not approached Stroud in a way that has required use of this rifle. While a rifle might be a form of defense, it is worth noting that unlike humans, which collapse when shot as a self-preservation reflex, bears do not share this trait and may keep charging, so shooting a polar bear with a single .22 may not be effective unless one’s got extremely good shot placement.

  • To simulate real-world scenarios, Stroud’s episodes often have a narrative, simulating things like getting separated from a team while diving, getting lost while canoeing, being injured in the wilderness after a plane crash or a lapse of judgement resulting in one’s vehicle running out of fuel in a remote area. In the Arctic Tundra episode, Stroud simulates being a part of a research team stuck here, and outfits himself accordingly: among the pieces of equipment he’s brought include a fishing tackle and a CB radio. Here, he attempts some fishing: one of his Inuit guides had mentioned the area would be dense with Arctic Char, and Stroud figured that a fishing tackle would be an essential survival tool.

  • Stroud’s lament about the presence of trash on beaches along every coastline in the world was a sobering one, and is a reminder that whatever one carelessly discards will always end up somewhere. This is why I do my part to ensure all of my garbage is properly dealt with: when my city introduced a compost and recycling programme, I was thrilled: reusing things and repurposing waste means less effort is expended in remaking everything anew, and this mindfulness also extends to other parts of life. I’ve long been a proponent of sustainability, but I also recognise that stopgap measures are needed to reach our ideal level of environmental consciousness. This is why I do not espouse activism, and instead, commit myself to smaller scale things I can do: composting, turning the lights off and conserving water is much more environmentally friendly than organising large rallies.

  • Through Director’s Commentary, I was able to learn much more about the episodes beyond just the survival elements. Arctic Tundra was Stroud’s first Director’s Commentary, and he explains that early episodes were plagued with issues because he was shooting with different camera brands, which use different recording chips and yield different image colours. Later episodes has Stroud switching to one brand, and being mindful of each camera’s capabilities: some cameras have buttons that can instantly disable autofocus, and Stroud mentions how he would use tricks like taping up the button to avoid accidentally depressing it, which would leave an entire scene out of focus.

  • In Secrets of Survival, Stroud mentions that his favourite method of starting a fire is the fire bow, although things like a flint striker come in a close second. For a non-expert like myself, a flint striker would be especially appealing, representing a reliable means of getting a fire going (provided one already has access to tinder and a good supply of wood). However, I can spot why Stroud might not like the flint striker: it would require a good strike from something like a knife, and in a survival situation, having a sharp knife can make the difference between a difficult situation, and something that can be managed.

  • As such, when the moment allows, Stroud will utilise unorthodox methods to get a fire going. In Baffin Island, Stroud uses the battery from his CB radio and some steel wool he’s found nearby. It turns out that touching the steel wool to the battery’s terminals will create a short circuit that ignites the steel wool, and this creates fire. Stroud refers to these as MacGyverisms, the practise of being creative and using whatever is on hand to achieve something. With this in mind, if and when I’m asked, having been a fan of Survivorman for the past decade, my top five survival items would be a hatchet or hand-axe, multitool, lengths of rope, a steel container for carrying water, and a flint striker.

  • Behind the comfort of a screen, it’s easy to appreciate the beauty of the locations Stroud visits in Survivorman, and it suddenly strikes me as to just how vast and barren the northernmost reaches of Canada are. For the Arctic Tundra episode, Survivorman makes use of very distinct incidental music that isn’t heard anywhere else in the series; the soundtrack to Survivorman is composed by Peter Cliche, Dan Colomby and Les Stroud himself, being an eclectic collection that captures the tenour of the locations that Stroud visits, combining modern outdoor sounds with local flaire. There are two albums with songs from all three seasons altogether.

  • Even while out in a survival situation for Survivorman, Stroud still takes the time to describe indigenous cultures and their means of survival. High in the Arctic Tundra, the indigenous peoples would create warm shelters out of whale bones and caribou hides: although people nowadays tend to congregate in population centers located in comparatively temperate environments (past a certain point, it’s too cold to reliably maintain infrastructure for sustaining larger populations), the fact that there are humans in virtually every corner of the globe, and that all of these populations have developed adaptations to not just survive, but thrive in their environments speaks to the level of ingenuity there is in people.

  • Until Survivorman and Sora no Woto, I’d never really been a fan of grey, overcast days. As Weathering With You‘s Hodaka says, people do feel most alive on sunny days, and feelings of joy appear to be amplified. Overcast days create a sense of gloominess that diminishes from one’s spirits. However, moodiness represents a chance to look inwards and reflect: Sora no Woto‘s fourth episode had been set under grey skies that later turn to rain to gives Kanata a chance to see Seize on a quieter day, and do some introspection on why her bugling skills seem to have stagnated.

  • During the summer a decade earlier, I recall how May and June had been predominantly overcast, but then by July and August, the days became sunny. As July began turning into August, I’d been more or less ready for the MCAT itself, having spent long days reviewing materials and doing practise exams. Tuesdays and Thursdays, I would wake up early and go to campus to lift weights, while my MCAT preparation courses were on Monday and Wednesday mornings. Throughout most of the week, then, I spent mornings on campus either doing my course, or studying, before returning home for the afternoon for more revisions.

  • However, as July drew to a close, and I wrote the last of the full-length exams that was bundled with my course, I began to roll back the level of intensity; in the last two weeks leading up to the MCAT, I only studied in the mornings and took the afternoons easy. In the last few days before the exam itself, I stopped studying outright. This was so I wouldn’t suddenly come across a concept and then panic. The approach I took towards the MCAT was inspired by Survivorman, where Stroud does things in a methodical and deliberate manner. Here, his camera lens is covered with raindrops, and he remarks in Director’s Commentary that this was so viewers could really feel they were being rained on.

  • About halfway through the Arctic Tundra episode, Stroud packs up his gear and moves to a different site. Here, he fashions a new shelter out of some oil drums and uses his canoe as a roof. Being able to take advantage of stuff in the environment is of a great help: earlier episodes saw Stroud building his own shelters from tree boughs and whatnot, and while this was important, it’s also extremely time consuming to find all of the materials and assemble it into a shelter that can somewhat keep out the elements. Stroud himself would comment on how even a single piece of tarp can make all the difference in a survival situation, saving him an entire afternoon’s worth of work to waterproof a shelter.

  • After putting a sturdier shelter together to keep him out of the wind, Stroud proceeds to build a bird trap using the remaining bits of whale blubber he’s got. The idea behind these traps is that they work even when one isn’t, making them a nice way to potentially get food without expending too much energy besides setting the traps up. While at first glance, these details are far removed from things like studying for the MCAT (or tackling a particularly challenging development problem), but when abstracted out, Stroud’s approach corresponds to doing the low-effort-high-payoff stuff first. This approach is identical to how I would take on the MCAT itself (do the questions that I’m most comfortable doing first, especially if they’re worth more).

  • In Director’s Commentary, Stroud mentions that the Arctic Tundra episode is a personal favourite of his, but his editors also enjoyed editing this episode immensely because the grey clouds of the north created a sort of gloominess that other settings couldn’t. The weather seen in Baffin Island is reminiscent of the weather in Calgary from April through June: these are our rainiest seasons of the year, and while I wasn’t fond of such days previously, Survivorman contributed to my coming around: cloudy and rainy days are perfect for feeling a little sullen, of slowing down and appreciating the warmth of one’s home.

  • Stroud’s low point in this episode comes after another failed effort to fish: between the lack of food and grim weather, Stroud slowly walks away from the camera, and his senior editor, Barry Farrell, enjoyed using this moment to really convey to viewers how defeated Stroud must’ve felt here. He crouches down in front of the camera and remarks that even one day can mean the difference between life and death to accentuate the gravity of this situation. In what I found to be one of the cleverest bits of editing, Stroud does a voice-over on how timing is everything, cutting to him standing at the water’s edge with a fishing line in the water.

  • Armed with a fishing tackle, Stroud’s fortunes change entirely: he catches not one, but four large Arctic Char. It speaks to the brilliance of Survivorman that the elation Stroud feels here is so tangible that viewers cannot help but feel as happy as he does, and right out of the gates, Stroud states the importance of having a fishing tackle as a part of one’s survival kit. One thing that’s always bugged me about this scene was how Stroud says that he seems to have lost his fishing line after catching a particularly large fish, but since Stroud seemed quite unconcerned with things and makes no mention of actually losing the line itself in Director’s Commentary, I’ll assume that it was briefly lost on the beach.

  • In a curious coincidence, the Arctic Char that Stroud catches are caught in order of increasing size. Stroud immediately sets about preparing his prizes for consumption, removing the entrails and separating all of the different parts of the fish out. It is this specific scene in Survivorman that opened my mind to watching anime like Houkago Teibou Nisshi and Slow Loop, both of which feature fishing and preparation of freshly-caught fish prominently. However, they key difference here is that in anime, the characters have home field advantage and therefore can access the gear they need to be successful, whereas Stroud is playing the away game.

  • In spite of this, I was impressed with the finesse Stroud prepares the fish with. He cuts the fish at an angle so the slices fall away from one another, allowing them to air out. Stroud notes, both in the episode itself and in Director’s Commentary, that this is a traditional method of preserving fish. The end result is that the fish ends up looking like strips of watermelon, and Stroud immediately digs in, commenting on how this is the freshest sushi he’s ever eaten. The Director’s Commentary reveals that his crew were camped out a few kilometres away from him, and while Stroud is enjoying fresh fish, the crew was eating canned soup.

  • Different camera placements capture the sense that Stroud is really alone on his adventures; some of the survival shows that came out after Survivorman are actually shot with full crews, and on some occasions, the stars of the show even return back to civilisation as the day draws to a close. Conversely, by continuously reiterating that Stroud has nothing beyond himself, his camera and whatever the land has to offer, Survivorman is a true show of what survival entails. In later years, serious bushmen and outdoorspeople have risen up to the occasion and put on shows that rival Les Stroud’s in terms of quality and helpfulness, but for me, Survivorman remains iconic, a trailblazer.

  • Watching Stroud enjoy freshly-caught Arctic Char raw, and then the safe consumption of raw fish in Houkago Teibou Nishi and even Yuru Camp△ would ultimately convince me to give nigiri a go: I’ve long been apprehensive about raw fish dishes of any sort, and during my vacation in Japan, when a hotel served us sashimi, I clandestinely dunked my fish in the nabe, cooking it instantly and rendering it in a state I was much more comfortable eating. As it turns out, raw fish intended for consumption is frozen, which kills any parasites in the flesh, and when properly prepared, it is reasonably safe to eat.

  • Nowadays, I’m perfectly happy with eating things like raw fish in moderation: when raw, salmon and tuna are surprisingly tasty, although nothing quite beats a piece of fried cod or steamed Tilapia topped with soy sauce, ginger and spring onion. One other side effect of watching Survivorman was that I became open to eating offal: in a survival situation, Stroud utilises every part of an animal, including the liver and the heart. As a result of seeing this, I became open to eating things like turkey liver and blood tofu. Here, Stroud enjoys the fish roe, which is a delicacy and which I know best as a part of sushi and, in Cantonese cuisine, can be added to fried rice or siu mai.

  • Amidst the preparations, Stroud mentions that all of the fish blood smell might attract polar bears. It suddenly strikes me that the rifle he’d been carrying earlier is nowhere to be seen, and I imagine that it’s probably stashed away at the campsite. After finishing preparation of the fish, Stroud notes that with the intestines and other entrails, he might be able to add to his bird trap and see if he can’t get a few seagulls to increase his food stockpiles. In Director’s Commentary, Stroud appends that it’s always important to keep looking forward, and just because things are good now doesn’t mean one can’t take advantage of things to better things further. This is another one of those nuances that applies to real life.

  • I smiled upon hearing Stroud say that a good guide should be able to get a fire going even somewhere that’s seen nonstop rain for the past three days. A determined bushman will be able to find or make dry tinder anywhere and make things work; this is what speaks to being a good guide. I remain skeptical that a master guide could simply summon wine and chocolates as readily, but the comment adds a bit of humour to things and acts as a reminder that the situation has shifted enough for Stroud to be cracking jokes. Something similar happened in the Colorado Rockies; after a fishing trip, Stroud says he didn’t catch a single fish.

  • Instead, he’s caught two; being able to apply humour in a difficult situation helps to lighten the mood up and gives the mind a chance to regroup. After the wood’s prepared, a bit of steel wool and a battery is all that’s needed to light the fire. In other episodes, Stroud has used duct tape as a fire-starter, validating the MythBusters‘ episode where they had shown that duct tape is actually a viable fire starter (on top of being useful in many other functions). In other episodes, Stroud has used corn chips and chapstick to start and hold a flame (which is unsurprising, since corn chips are basically oil and hydrocarbons, and chapstick is basically wax). Having a fire at this location proves to be a massive morale booster, giving warmth in a place of nonstop wind and cold.

  • Stroud ends up cooking his Arctic Char over an open flame, and this moment had gotten me curious about what Arctic Char tastes like. Despite looking a little like salmon, Arctic Char is a bit more oily and has a more intense flavour compared to salmon – it is supposed to be more trout-like in terms of texture and taste. Despite being considered more sustainable than salmon, Arctic Char is not widely farmed, and as a menu item on restaurants, it tends to be pricier, being found at higher-end places.

  • The Baffin Island episodes marks one of the few times where Stroud’s so thoroughly enjoying the moment that he addresses his editor, making a joke about how later, once he’s back home and they’re working on editing all of the cuts into an episode, his editor, Barry Farrell, will doubtlessly begin feeling a little hungry at the sight of watching Stroud enjoying fresh-cooked Arctic Char. Director’s Commentary never clarifies whether or not Stroud and his team shared a laugh at this moment, but I would imagine that Farrell probably smiled at this moment.

  • Towards the end of the episode, a persistent rainfall rolls into the Pond Inlet area, preventing Stroud from doing too much beyond sitting in his shelter and enjoying his fish. The aesthetics of this moment reminds me of when I’d been in Rennes, France, after the Laval Virtual Conference had ended; I’d picked up a bug and was not feeling well, so I spent my day in Rennes at the hotel, trying to rest up. A fierce rainstorm was raging outside, and in moments where I had the strength to do so, I was reading through a novel I’d brought. I was lucky in that my stomach bug had subsided long enough for me to make the flight back home, although it was another few days before I healed up completely.

  • Memories of watching rain for large drops against the hotel window linger in my memory, and even now, whenever it gets rainy, my mind wanders back to the March of several years earlier, as well as Stroud’s Baffin Island experience. June this year was especially rainy, and as I worked from my home office, I occasionally turned to face the window and enjoy the sound of rain pattering against my window. We’re now entering the August long weekend, and like the two previous years, we’ve got a heat warning in place, with the temperatures hovering above 30ºC until Tuesday.

  • When the rain lessens up, Stroud heads out into the fields behind his camp to forage for wild edibles and other plants. With the energy from the Arctic Char, Stroud is able to wander around and explore for different things, including a sort of tuber that is quite nutritious. Throughout this episode, Stroud says that timing is vital, as being in a certain place at a certain time can mean the difference between having a Smörgåsbord of things to eat, and being stuck in a desolate landscape. This timing influences when Stroud chooses to go out onto the land for a survival excursion, and while Stroud is widely respected amidst the community, he does have his share of detractors.

  • Stroud always has a fair and reasoned answer for his detractors, explaining that there are certain constraints and limitations he works within. Director’s Commentary really brings these topics into the open, and in fact, when Stroud began doing Director’s Commentary for his Survivorman: Bigfoot series, he explains his mindset behind how he approaches the pseudoscientific field of cryptozoology – although my own scientific background makes me a skeptic by default, Stroud makes a very valid point about how it’s so important to keep an open mind even for this sort of stuff because some of the people who recount these stories are experts in their own right.

  • To dismiss them as delusional, or lying, is then unfair, and at the minimum, one should hear the story through and try to understand what happened. This mode of thinking opened my mind to the idea of Sasquatch, and since watching the Klemtu episode back in September 2020, I’ve also become more open-minded towards the History Channel’s Ancient AliensSecrets of Skinwalker Ranch and the like. While it’s not hard science like NOVA or Nature, there’s a fun about these shows that make their topics worth considering. If and when I’m asked, I would say that while I am skeptical of things like UFOs or Sasquatch, I do not deny that there is a possibility such things do exist, especially considering how large the universe is.

  • Director’s Commentary opened me up to things that I would’ve otherwise not experienced, and this is why Survivorman is something I respect so deeply – even today, Les Stroud always finds a way to impress with his content, and ever since subscribing to his YouTube channel, I’ve broadened my horizons considerably. The global health crisis changed the way I consume media: before the pandemic, I was subscribed to no YouTube channels and only ever watched music channels. Amidst the pandemic, I ended up following a variety of channels, including MeatEater, Binging With Babbish and Rick Steves’ Europe.

  • As the rain continues, Stroud decides to make a qulliq, a traditional Inuit oil lamp that provides long-lasting light during the darkest months of the year. This bushcraft was a reminder of how once the basics are taken care of, the mind is free to focus on other pursuits. Inclement weather subsequently shuts down the episode, forcing Stroud to end things earlier. With the end of this episode, Survivorman concludes one of the most memorable survival experiences, and for me, my reminiscence on the MCAT very nearly is about to draw to a close: I have one more Survivorman related discussion for covering my own recollections of exam day itself.

  • I’ll save those recollections for that post proper, apologise to readers who were doubtlessly hoping for posts about anime, and note that folks will only have to suffer through one more MCAT-related post for the remainder of this blog’s existence. The reason behind why I embarked on a trip down memory lane was because there were learnings from that period of my life that still impact the way I do things now, and I find that it’s important to do a little introspection and reflection every so often. Understanding old experiences and being mindful of how we did things before allows one to keep doing what works, and avoid doing what doesn’t. In the meantime, I’ve got a surprise post for a movie and Among Trees scheduled for early August. Here, I will also note that I’m hosting Jon’s Creative Showcase, aka #TheJCS, for August. I’m not too sure if anyone was hosting it in July, but I do look forwards to seeing what submissions will be available this time around.

For me, the Arctic Tundra episode became a quick favourite for this reason – Stroud speaks to the importance of proactive survival, keeping an eye out for anything that can be helpful and always looking for ways to better one’s situation, all of which are traits that proved instrumental for the me of a decade earlier: at this point in the summer, less than two weeks had remained between myself and the MCAT. Despite having spent nearly two full months in the MCAT preparation course, and despite having done several full-length practise exams, I remained quite nervous about the actual exam itself – in my final week of the preparation course, I was swinging between wanting the exam to come as soon as possible so I could write it, and wishing I had another month of preparation time. As a part of my preparation course’s offerings, I had one full-length exam left to me at this time, and I decided to write it with two weeks left, just to gauge how I might do. I thus spent a sunny Saturday indoors doing this exam under simulated conditions. Six hours later, I finished the exam, and to my great surprise, I scored a 33 (551 in today’s terms). It suddenly dawned on me that the preparations had been fruitful after all: my practise scores had trended upwards, and I thus left for a family dinner that evening more relaxed than I’d been all summer. In the days leading up to the MCAT, I did practise sections and found that for physical and biological sciences, I was scoring 11-12 (128-129), while the verbal reasoning was giving me 9-11 (126-128). The shift in momentum was brought on by this one moment, and I immediately found myself relating to Les Stroud’s Arctic Tundra experience – entering Baffin Island, Stroud had already possessed a considerable set of survival skills, and with the right bit of luck, a difficult situation turned into a manageable one. For me, the realisation I was probably more ready than I felt provided a similarly significant psychological booster: I had all of the knowledge and skills needed to face down the exam, even if it didn’t feel like it at the time. Having this confidence proved to be the final piece of the puzzle I needed, and as the final two weeks to the MCAT approached, I spent the remainder of my days doing revisions and drills in the morning, before taking the afternoons easy by blogging, or playing Team Fortress 2 and MicroVolts. The end results speak for themselves, and my experiences with the MCAT would later impact how I faced my undergraduate thesis defense, graduate project and the transition from university into industry: falling back on existing knowledge and doing my best even when facing down a problem of unknown scope has allowed me to consistently work out solutions to problems. While Les Stroud’s Survivorman may deal with bushcraft and survival, the mental aspects of survival, such as the will to live and maintaining a positive outlook in the face of adversity.

Yuru Camp△ Virtual: Visiting A Thousand-Dollar View of Mount Fuji with Rin, Camping the Friendly Fields of Fumoto with Nadeshiko and Discussing Expectations on the Eve of The Yuru Camp△ Movie on Canada Day

“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, ShirobakoSakura 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 SurvivormanMan v. FoodRick 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 MotosuFumoto 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.

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.