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Top Gun: Maverick – A Reflection and Review, Flying into the Danger Zone With A New Generation

“Fight’s on. Let’s turn and burn.” – Pete “Maverick” Mitchell

Three decades after the events of Top Gun, Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell has become a test pilot, and after a test flight ends with the destruction of the Darkstar hypersonic aircraft, Admiral Tom “Iceman” Kazansky sends Maverick over to train TOPGUN graduates for an upcoming assignment to destroy an illegal uranium enrichment facility in an unnamed country. After meeting his students and defeating them in dogfighting exercises, including Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw, Maverick reunites with Penny Benjamin and reveals that Rooster’s mother had asked him to keep an eye on him and guide him away from being a pilot. Torn between allowing Rooster to fly and respecting his mother’s wishes, Maverick decides to speak with Iceman, who’s afflicted with terminal throat cancer. Iceman suggests that Maverick must let go of the past. When Iceman dies from his illness, and after a training accident, Vice Admiral Beau “Cyclone” Simpson relieves Maverick of his role and resets the mission parameters, making the initial flight to the target longer. However, Maverick seizes an F/A-18 and demonstrates the flight is possible against orders. Cyclone determines that the assignment must be completed, and with the time constraints, decides to entrust Maverick with flying a part of the mission. Although the strike is successful, Maverick is shot down, forcing Rooster to save him, and in the process, Rooster himself is shot down, as well. The pair end up stealing an F-14 and destroy the pair of Su-57s intercepting them, but run out of ammunition and flares. At the last moment, pilot Jake “Hangman” Seresin saves the pair, and they return safely to their carrier. Later, Rooster helps Maverick work on his P-51 and, while looking at a photo of their mission’s success, watches as Penny and Maverick take a sunset flight in the latter’s P-51. Releasing over three decades after 1986’s Top Gun, Top Gun: Maverick (Maverick from here on out for brevity) is a phenomenal sequel that has earned its praises and accolades in full – in a rare occurrence, Maverick is an instance where the sequel surpasses the original. Maverick is a superior emotional and visual experience over its predecessor, fully capturing Maverick’s character growth as he learns to promote teamwork and entrust the future to youth. This sentiment is shared by professional critics and movie-goers alike; besides a tepid romance between Maverick and Penny, the remainder of the film hits consistent home runs, with a gripping story, solid thematic elements and authentic aviation sequences making the movie a masterpiece to behold.

Over the course of its runtime, Maverick is a film about the dynamic between older and younger generations. On one end, Maverick speaks to putting one’s faith in the next generation, and allowing younger minds to step into roles of responsibility. At the same time, Maverick also indicates that youth should not be so hasty in dismissing experience – it is to general surprise when Maverick schools the TOPGUN graduates in exercises, surprising even the cocky Hangman and defeating him in a dogfight. Even Natasha “Phoenix” Trace makes the remark, wondering who’s going to be teaching the best of the best. While youth often believe that they’re ready to handle anything and are eager to jump straight in, an experienced professional will hang back, assess a problem and then draw upon their prior knowledge to decide how to best approach a problem. Although the TOPGUN pilots have more vigour and faster reflexes than Maverick, Maverick makes up for this in being able to anticipate his student’s actions and plan accordingly. By impressing the TOPGUN graduates, Maverick shows them that learning is an ongoing process, and learning never really stops. On the flipside, because of his promise to Rooster’s mother, Maverick is afraid to let Rooster fly to his full potential, and even interfered in his application process. It is only upon hearing Iceman’s advice, “let go”, that Maverick is able to see Rooster as a full-fledged pilot and select him for the mission. In reality, veterans often can have a tough time entrusting tasks to youth: it’s natural to feel protective of the people one is asked to look after, but there comes a point where it’s important to let youth test their own strength, and have faith in their ability to get things done. Maverick demonstrates this best when Rooster, on an unexpectedly impulsive act, flies back and saves Maverick from being blasted by a Mi-28 Havoc. After he’s shot down, when Maverick demands to know why Rooster flew back, Rooster retorts that Maverick had taught him to “don’t think, just do”. In this moment, Maverick is completely taken aback, but recovers – evidently, Rooster is competent and capable. Maverick thus suggests that young and old minds, contrary to what internet articles suggest, can get along – young people should be open to learning something from old minds, and old minds should have more faith in young people, trusting them to get things done in a mix of old and new ways.

Maverick is also a visceral show of what leadership looks like. While Maverick himself has had a history of insubordination, which had prevented him from advancing to flag rank, viewers are shown that this insubordination occurs because, since Goose’s death, Maverick has become more mindful of the people around him. This is made clear to viewers right out of the gates during the Darkstar test: when Maverick learns the Darkstar program is about to be scrubbed, he decides to go on a test flight anyways and comments on how, if he doesn’t defy orders to stand down, the program will go under and take the team with it. Maverick is willing to put himself on the line to ensure everyone else is safe. A good leader is someone who puts others ahead of themselves, and while from a command perspective, Maverick is appropriately-named, those who work with him are willing to do so precisely because Maverick is not a glory-seeker; he just wants to make sure everyone succeeds. This is seen again when he designs the mission parameters for the canyon attack – Maverick’s insistent on the fact that the flight be short so that the attacking aircraft have the most opportunity to evade the enemy defenses and return home. Maverick’s experiences with Goose ended up shaping him into a leader, and while this makes him appear very unreasonable, to the point where Cyclone is all too happy to dismiss Maverick after an incident during training, Maverick has one other trait that makes him a valuable leader: he is able to walk the walk, on top of talking the talk. Maverick’s test run impresses all of the TOPGUN graduates, and even Cyclone begrudgingly admits that the mission, as Maverick defined it, is technically possible. A good leader always leads by example, and can do the things they expect of their subordinates, and by showing the TOPGUN graduates that this mission is achievable, the mood suddenly changes, as a formerly impossible mission suddenly becomes a challenge that the candidates are curious to see if they can overcome. Throughout Maverick, Maverick shows that Iceman was right; the other admirals and leadership may not see Maverick as an asset, but Maverick’s traits actually make him invaluable, and it is these leadership qualities that ultimately make the mission successful. In this way, Maverick is a highly inspiring film, demonstrating in no uncertain terms that leaders are people who can do the things they expect of their subordinates, put their subordinates first, and are able to inspire subordinates to better themselves.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • In the 2000s, the top film experiences were the Lord of the Rings and Dark Knight trilogies. Avengers: Infinity War and EndgameFirst Man, Dunkirk and Interstellar were my top picks for the 2010s. Here in the 2020s, things start off strong with Top Gun: Maverick, and ahead of the film’s release, I watched the original Top Gun so I’d be familiar with things. The original film is a fair experience, but things do feel a little less cohesive. In spite of this, the film was still enjoyable, and the music was especially good. Maverick, on the other hand, is on a whole different level.

  • The film actually opens similarly to 2018’s First Man, which had Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) piloting an X-15 and struggling to get it back into the atmosphere during a test flight. From there, the remainder of the film was a powerful portrayal of Armstrong’s journey to being the first man on the moon. Maverick starts with Maverick (Tom Cruise) testing the experimental “Darkstar”, a hypersonic ramjet aircraft intended to reach speeds of up to Mach 10. Although Lockheed Martin representatives vehemently deny Darkstar is based on any real aircraft, it does resemble the SR-72 prototype.

  • Maverick features numerous callbacks to the original Top Gun: as Maverick reaches the stipulated speed of Mach 10, he whispers to himself, “Talk to me, Goose”: in Top Gun, Nick “Goose” Bradshaw (Anthony Edwards) had been Maverick’s WSO, but died during an accident when their F-14 suffered a flameout. Both Maverick and Goose had ejected, but Goose broke his neck on the canopy, and since then, Maverick regretted not being able to save his friend. Despite being cleared of wrongdoing by a military court, Maverick continues to be haunted by this failure.

  • As Darkstar reaches Mach 10, Admiral Cain arrives with the aim of shutting the programme down, disappointed by its failure and anticipating that unmanned drones would soon replace human pilots. This concept is not explored in greater depth in Maverick, but Ace Combat 7 delves into the topic in great detail and suggests that drones or no, human pilots continue to be relevant since they can make decisions automaton cannot. On the topic of Ace Combat 7, the Top Gun: Maverick DLC set was released to accompany the film, and I’ve been eying it precisely because it lets me to fly the Darkstar aircraft, along with Maverick’s custom F/A-18.

  • When Maverick pushes Darkstar past its operational boundaries, its airframe disintegrates. Viewers have been very critical of this scene: ejecting conventionally at Mach 10 would liquify the human body, and Tango-Victor-Tango’s John “Fighteer” Aldrich claims that, because this one scene isn’t survivable, the entire movie was undeserving of its praises. In the story, the Darkstar aircraft was likely equipped with an ejection capsule, similarly to the F-111 Aardvark; it’s always amusing to see people like Fighteer taking themselves so seriously, when they lack the ability to reason through things and properly walk others through their thoughts.

  • For someone who still moderates Tango-Victor-Tango to this day, while I appreciate Fighteer’s devotion to a meaningless pursuit (conversation at Tango-Victor-Tango has intellectual value the same way Spontaneous Generation is a valid scientific theory), it is a little surprising to see someone with a complete lack of literary knowledge take such an interest in fiction. I have previously argued that works of fiction like Maverick don’t need to be realistic, but rather, internally consistent: so long as the rules of the fictional world are not broken, and so long as a work can convey its message, it will be successful.

  • The only aspect of Maverick that didn’t work quite as well was the romance between Maverick and Penny: in the original film, Maverick’s attempts to impress instructor Charlotte Blackwood was a part of the story’s way of fleshing out Maverick’s character, but here in Maverick, Penny feels like she came out of the blue. Had the film omitted this piece, I feel that its themes and messages would not have been diminished in any way.

  • On the other hand, the rocky relationship Maverick has with Goose’s son, Rooster, is a central part of the film. On their first day, tensions already run high – Rooster holds Maverick accountable for Goose’s death, and Maverick wishes that Rooster would’ve chosen any other profession besides following his father’s footsteps, a wish his mother had made. The other pilots are shocked to see Maverick as their instructor, having watched him get thrown out of Penny’s bar the previous evening after he made a gaffe and wasn’t able to pay the tab, per house rules.

  • Owing to these initial impressions, the TOPGUN graduates are pretty confident that they can hold their own against Maverick, and during the first day of exercises, Payback suggests upping the stakes after hearing Maverick’s exercise conditions: the graduates must work together to shoot him down before he decides to shoot back. Two hundred pushups is a lot, and the young aviators are confident that they’ll have no trouble besting Maverick.

  • This scene was set the The Who’s iconic song, “Won’t Get Fooled Again”. Like its predecessor, Maverick has excellent music, but unlike Top Gun, the film uses existing music – Top Gun had several pieces written specifically for the film, including Kenny Loggins’ iconic “Danger Zone” and “Playing With the Boys” and the Oscar-winning “Take My Breath Away”. My favourite piece on the original soundtrack, however, is Cheap Trick’s “Mighty Wings” because its iconic opening riff inspired the theme to Ken’s stage in Street Fighter II.

  • Were I in the TOPGUN graduate’s shoes, I’d be nervous to hear Maverick casually accept the terms of the wager: he quickly disappears off the radars and flies between the two F/A-18s from underneath, timed perfectly to “Won’t Get Fooled Again”‘s iconic YEAH moment. Maverick is all business, but the movie has moments of levity to remind viewers that while the TOPGUN graduates are all skilled aviators, and their assignment is deadly serious, they’re still human at the end of the day. It’s a clever way to lighten the film up in the early stages.

  • Maverick uses the F/A-18E Super Hornet, a twin-engine multi-role fighter that entered service in 1999, replacing the F-14 Tomcat, which featured in Top Gun. The Super Hornet was chosen in the film, over the F-35 Lightning, on the grounds that the newer aircraft and their high-tech suite of electronics wouldn’t be suited for the mission, but in reality, the F-35 is a single-seater, and this wouldn’t allow the film to have been filmed with real pilots. Further to this, the F-35 was designed to launch its ordnance from high altitudes at a distance, so using them would’ve simply meant hanging back and launching missiles, rather than going in for a high-octane low-altitude run.

  • Rooster’s “Not this time, old man!” is one of my favourite lines in the film: having just prevented Maverick from getting behind Payback and Fanboy, Rooster attempts to engage Maverick, but ends up being “shot down” in the exercise. Moments like these are a great way of showing why it isn’t a good idea to underestimate anyone: while Maverick’s reflexes and physicality aren’t what they were thirty years ago, he makes up for this by knowing his aircraft and knowing how other pilots react in certain situations, allowing him to act accordingly.

  • There are a large number of TOPGUN candidates in the beginning, but seeing which characters got more speaking roles hinted at who would be selected to participate in the mission. Among the characters is Phoenix (Monica Barbaro). I was very pleased with how her role was handled in the film – she’s presented as a confident and skilled pilot in the skies, and she’s also got a good sense of humour, even when under stress. Phoenix’s WSO is Bob (Lewis Pullman), a quiet fellow whose call-sign’s meaning is left open to interpretation, and whose name might be a clever callback to the Bob Hoover story.

  • As the story goes, after being shot down behind enemy lines, Hoover was taken as a prisoner of war, escaped during a prison riot and then managed to find a pistol. After reaching a German airfield, he held a mechanic at gunpoint and forced him to start up a Focke-Wulf Fw 190, then proceeded to fly it over to the Netherlands. This actually lines up with how the end of Maverick goes, so a part of me wonders if Bob was named after Bob Hoover. Here, watching the other TOPGUN graduates taking a selfie while Rooster is doing the pushups was an amusing sign of the times; smartphones didn’t exist back in 1986.

  • More amusing was what happened after Maverick bests all of the arrogant and brash airmen, prompting Bernie “Hondo” Coleman to remark that “it was all fun and games in that selfie”. A chief warrant officer who worked with Maverick on Darkstar, Hondo joins Maverick in the TOPGUN programme. The whole point of the dogfighting drills here is to test how pilots and WSOs work together as a team under pressure, and also to prepare them for the sort of flying they might be up against when in the air over hostile territory.

  • When it’s Phoenix and Bob’s turn to go up against Maverick, they’re paired with Hangman (Glen Powell). Hangman is easily the cockiest of the bunch, being the only pilot with a kill to his name, and his first act is to ditch Phoenix and Bob, leaving them to be shot down. Hangman’s remarks to Bob and Phoenix are mildly disrespectful, speaking to his character and reminding viewers of a younger Maverick. Again, speaking to Maverick’s experience, he comments on how “leaving your wingman” is something he’d not seen in some time.

  • While Hangman proves a formidable pilot capable of some skillful manoeuvres, without a wingman to help him spot, Hangman is surprised by Maverick, who ends up shooting him down. The importance of this moment is to show that individual skill only takes one so far – having been around the block for some time, I can speak to this. As a developer, my skills lie in mobile platforms, and while I am capable of doing a few things with backend and web client code, I count on other members of the team to ensure those aspects are working smoothly.

  • Once the initial exercises are done, the story in Maverick steps up when Rooster goes up against Maverick a second time. Maverick’s up to his old tricks, and decides to fly inverted, daring Rooster kick the party off. In the original Top Gun, Maverick and Goose had done this to an enemy combatant, taking their photo with a Polaroid camera before flying off. The scene really serves to show the sort of animosity between Maverick and Rooster: it turns out that Maverick had intervened and delayed Rooster’s application to the naval academy.

  • The resentment in the moment causes the normally-cautious Rooster to begin flying much more recklessly, and the pair are locked in a spiral down to the hard deck. The hard deck refers to a preset altitude in which aircraft during training are not permitted to go below, otherwise, it counts as an impact with the ground. This element had been a point of discussion during Top Gun, when Maverick had dipped below the hard deck to get the kill on Jester – strictly speaking, if Jester was below the hard deck, this would be counted as a ground collision, and the exercise would end. Thus, there was no need for Maverick to continue pursuing.

  • The tense exchange between Rooster and Maverick suggests that both are having trouble dealing with their respective pasts; Rooster is more open about things, whereas Maverick attempts to talk Rooster down from things even as he himself struggles to deal with what had happened to Goose. Conversations like these give a bit of insight into the characters and, when they’re set during a tense moment, such as a dogfight, it allows a film to show, rather than tell: the way Rooster and Maverick fly and move both reflect on their internal turmoil, with the small difference being that at this point, Maverick is experienced enough to identify things are going bad and is willing to pull out before anything can happen: he breaks from the dive moments before Rooster does. In the end, Rooster is unable to outmanoeuvre Maverick and is shot down yet again.

  • Maverick (and Top Gun) remain highly dramatised accounts of what being a naval aviator is like, but as a work of fiction, one must allow for the presence of creative liberties to be taken in order to facilitate the plot. I’ve previously discussed this before; as long as a work is internally consistent, then even if there are overt elements of fantasy one knows to be impossible in reality, they can still accept it because it remains within the bounds of what the writer has defined. However, even when a work is internally consistent, there remain some people who adamantly insist on analysing it for flaws.

  • As it turns out, if a work of fiction fails to engage with an individual at the emotional level, one will instinctively attempt to rationalise why. It takes a degree of emotional intelligence to do this, and where one cannot readily explain why they are unable to relate to a work, they will fall back on picking at the small details. This would explain why Fighteer immediately picks apart the Darkstar scene as “unrealistic”, and why Reckoner of Behind the Nihon Review griped about K-On! The Movie: the respective films simply don’t appeal to them, but because it takes maturity to do introspection, neither Reckoner or Fighteer are able to articulate why a work didn’t click with them personally. Their displeasure thus manifests as gripes about trivial details that have no bearing on the story.

  • I have stated before that it’s perfectly normal not to like something, and this stance hasn’t changed. However, when people use realism as the reason for why, I now know that they’re probably having difficulty in expressing themselves. I concede this isn’t easy to do: for instance, Stella no Mahou didn’t work for me, and it took a few days for me to determine that the payoff at the end of the journey wasn’t consistent with what I’d previously experienced. At a personal level, the anime didn’t succeed, but I simultaneously note that some folks might like it anyways. Back in Maverick, Maverick spends a bit of time with Penny, and while I will hold the story could have worked without the romance piece, Maverick courting Penny does have a nontrivial impact on him by showing him there is a world outside of his career.

  • The Su-57s in Maverick are referred to as “fifth-generation fighters” exclusively. The ambiguity of the foreign power with the illegal uranium facility in Maverick was a brilliant way of avoiding any political controversy, and shows that writers can indeed keep politics out of their work without impacting its quality. Here, the enemy nation is irrelevant: what matters is the presence of an assignment that drives Maverick and Rooster’s growth. While some people insist that all fiction is political by definition, I disagree. At their core, works of fiction are about individuals within a given system, and depending on the story, politics may or may not be relevant.

  • One of Maverick‘s most moving moments was the return of Val Kilmer as Iceman; now an aging admiral with terminal cancer, Iceman is unable to speak, but still retains a very healthy amount of respect for Maverick. The pair had been rivals in Top Gun, but developed professional and mutual respect for one another following their first combat sortie together. Having seen what Maverick can be like at his best, Iceman had kept Maverick around, knowing he could do the things that needed to be done. Maverick treats Kilmer and Iceman respectfully: Kilmer was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2015 and has found it difficult to speak since then, and this was woven into the film to create a very poignant meeting.

  • The fact that Maverick seeks out Iceman for advice shows how he’s changed: no longer cocky and self-assured, Maverick occasionally acknowledges that he needs help from others, and similarly, when his conversation with Iceman ends, and Iceman asks, “who’s the better pilot” in jest, Maverick simply smiles and embraces his old friend. Maverick is best known for its aviation sequences, but interpersonal moments act simultaneously as callbacks to the original film, as well as giving Maverick a way to acknowledge the older actors and their contributions.

  • Despite knowing the stakes, the training exercises aren’t going well: the mission entails flying through a narrow canyon to evade enemy surface-to-air missiles, popping up and delivering a pair of precision strikes with laser-guided munitions, and then escaping before enemy Su-57s can engage them. During one drill, Payback passes out from g-LOC and nearly crashes, while Phoenix and Bob both are forced to bail following a bird strike. No matter how many times the pilots try, they seem unable to fly the stipulated route in under two minutes and fifteen seconds.

  • The turning point in Maverick comes when Rooster confronts Maverick over the latter’s decision to impede his application into the naval aviation programme. Maverick had done so to honour his word to Rooster’s mother, but now finds himself at a crossroad; if he sidelines Rooster on this assignment, Rooster will resent him for the remainder of his days, but if he chooses to select Rooster as one of the pilots and Rooster is killed, then he’ll have to live with the guilt of having seen both his best friend and his son’s deaths.

  • According to interviews, when Val Kilmer was shown the sections of Maverick he appears in, he was moved by how things were done, and director Kosinski, upon seeing Kilmer’s reaction, felt that they’d gotten right such a critical moment in the film. After Iceman dies from his illness, Cyclone removes Maverick as the instructor and changes mission parameters in light of the incidents during training. If Maverick were to be entirely faithful to reality, this would be the end of Maverick’s time in the film: an instructor dismissed from an assignment won’t be returning.

  • However, assuming that viewers accept Maverick as a work of fiction, they’d be treated to one of the most thrilling moments in cinema this side of the 2020s: after Cyclone explains the updated mission parameters, the TOPGUN graduates suddenly hear a transmission from Maverick, who’s taken a Super Hornet and is now flying the course. When the range controller informs Maverick he’s not scheduled for a run, Maverick’s reply, “I’m going in anyways”, earns him a “nice” from Phoenix. As Maverick pushes his F/A-18E to the limits, the students, along with Cyclone and Warlock, suddenly find themselves cheering Maverick on internally.

  • I’ve heard that Maverick’s breathing during the whole sequence is actually deliberate, a means of forcing air into the lungs and stave off hypoxia. From a cinematography point of view, these moments really emphasise how taxing flying is on the body. To put things in perspective, we feel our heads spin when a commercial aircraft banks more than ten degrees, and in science fiction works, technologies like G-force dampeners are supposed to nullify the extreme forces that occur as a result of the demanding manoeuvres pilots engage in.

  • As Maverick nears the simulated target, the entire room waits with bated breath, hoping that Maverick will successfully hit the target. For this exercise, Maverick is using the laser module on his F/A-18E to designate the target, making a successful bulls-eye strike all the more impressive. For the actual run, the aircraft will fly in pairs: a front aircraft will drop the bombs, and a supporting aircraft will provide the laser. When the training bombs, characterised by their blue colouration, strike their target, the entire candidate group is impressed.

  • Warlock’s silent fist pump says it all, and in the aftermath, Maverick’s demonstration the mission could be done changes the tenour of the film. Of course, Maverick’s actions are not without consequence; his career’s been dotted with reckless acts of insubordination, and this latest stunt earns him yet another reprimand from Cyclone, who comments on how Maverick’s choices have left him in a difficult position. On one hand, following protocol means discharging Maverick dishonourably, but on the other, Maverick’s actions here show that the mission is doable.

  • In the end, because the consequences of allowing a rogue nation to achieve nuclear capabilities far outweighs the need to discipline Maverick, Cyclone’s decision ends up being a relatively simple one. He assigns Maverick to fly the lead aircraft and asks him to pick his pilots. Rooster, Phoenix, Bob, Payback and Fanboy are selected for the mission. With the mission now set, the fun and games in Maverick ends as the film becomes deadly serious. For the viewers’ benefit, the mission outline is given to viewers again: the supporting fleet will launch Tomahawk cruise missiles at the enemy airfield to cripple their aircraft, and Maverick’s team will fly in and destroy the target before the patrolling Su-57s can intercept them.

  • Maverick and Rooster share one more personal conversation before taking off from the carrier: Maverick promises they can chat after everyone comes back in one piece. Throughout Maverick, Maverick had emphasised the importance of coming back alive, and this mindset had stemmed from his own experiences. While this meant making the mission requirements seemingly unreasonably demanding, it’s Maverick’s way of expressing how he values life following Goose’s death. With these personal thoughts set aside, it’s time to get all of the aircraft in the air.

  • Upon seeing the mission for myself, I was immediately reminded of Ace Combat 7‘s Cape Rainy mission, which required players to fly through an extremely narrow canyon to evade enemy radar, while at the same time, avoiding searchlights placed throughout the canyon. Viewers familiar with Ace Combat immediately saw the similarities, and after watching Maverick, immediately went about recreating the film’s most iconic moments in-game. Project Aces saw these similarities and released the Top Gun: Maverick expansion for Ace Combat 7, adding six new aircraft, ten Maverick-themed emblems and twelve call-signs.

  • The DLC ordinarily retails for 26 CAD, but past sales have seen prices drop as low as 13 CAD. At this price point, I feel that it would be worthwhile, and I am now waiting for the Steam Winter Sale before I add the Maverick set to my library; during the Winter Sale, purchases also give players event cards, and since I do enjoy jazzing up my Steam profile, I feel that I can wait a few more weeks before I fly Darkstar or Maverick’s custom F/A-18E for myself. Having said this, I am quite excited to do so: Darkstar equips pulse lasers and can reach a maximum speed of 5000 kilometres per hour.

  • Mach 4 is only 40 percent of what Darkstar in Maverick is capable of reaching, but even this renders the aircraft brazenly overpowered: the AIM-9 Sidewinder has a maximum speed of Mach 2.5, so in theory, if an enemy aircraft fires on Ace Combact 7‘s Darkstar, evading the missile would simply be a matter of opening the throttle and accelerating. In fact, this is how SR-71 Blackbird pilots were taught to deal with missiles: after surface batteries detected the aircraft, it’d be too far away to hit by the time the missiles were ready.

  • Back in Maverick, the Tomahawk missiles impact the airfield, and this causes the patrolling fifth-generation fighters to immediately divert and head back to defend the uranium site. Although Maverick and Phoenix are on track, Rooster begins falling behind after spotting the surface-to-air batteries. The unnamed enemies in Maverick use S-125 Neva/Pechora missiles, which are Soviet-era weapons that were designed to hit smaller, more mobile targets. I imagine that the missiles seen in Maverick are the V600 variant, which have a fifteen kilometre range and carries a sixty kilogram warhead. V600s have a maximum speed of Mach 3.5, so F/A-18E/Fs are not outrunning them.

  • Maverick’s experience allows him to reassure his fellow pilots: when the fifth-generation fighters begin diverting, Maverick remarks they’re headed to defend the uranium plant, and the S-125 batteries remain on guard. After taking a moment to gather his thoughts, Rooster opens his aircraft’s throttle, allowing him to make up lost time. According to the air speed indicator, Rooster begins reaching 800 knots. This corresponds to roughly 1400 kilometres per hour, an impressive speed considering how narrow the valley is.

  • The computer imagery used to brief the pilots had made the canyon seem narrower, and the mountains look steeper, than they did in reality. This doesn’t mean that the flight was a walk in the park, but for me, seeing the actual terrain itself helped to put things in perspective. While Rooster, Payback and Fanboy follow from the rear, Maverick, Phoenix and Bob prepare for the first strike. They pop up over the ridge, invert their aircraft and bring their planes into a dive. Having dug around, there’s more to this manoeuvre than the cool factor; it’s done to maintain positive loading and prevent the airframe from failing, as well as allowing the pilot to maintain consciousness.

  • Here, the GBU-24 Paveway IIIs can be seen on Maverick’s pylons: these laser-guided munitions carry a two ton warhead and require a beam from a designator to lock onto their target. In reality, the Paveway III is indeed accurate enough to be guided down a ventilation shaft so long as the laser is not lost. Military tacticians comment on how a single B2 Spirit carrying the BLU-109/B bunker buster would’ve completed the mission more readily, and while this is true (I would’ve probably recommended a Tomahawk strike), it is akin to wondering why the Eagles didn’t just carry Frodo and Sam to Mordor.

  • Common sense causes fiction to break down, and while this is important in reality (I favour simple solutions over complex ones), it also takes the fun out of a story and diminishes its ability to convey a specific message. Taking a more convoluted route allows for characters to grow, and this is one area where Maverick did unexpectedly impress in. Being the most soft-spoken and low-key of the TOPGUN graduates means that Bob has my respect: although he’s a skilled WSO, he lacks the same bravado and swagger as the other pilots, preferring to do his work in the background. By having Maverick select him as a part of the strike team, Maverick acknowledges that the quiet folks can walk the walk even if they choose not to talk the talk.

  • The more subtle lessons about teamwork, trust and humility are present in Maverick, even if they can occasionally be buried by the more bombastic, thrilling moments, and having now taken the time to give thought to both Maverick and the Yuru Camp△ Movie, I can see why there might be a case where the two films might be compared against one another, especially since both were quite successful. Both movies deal with people coming together to achieve something against the odds, persevering and overcoming both external and internal challenges.

  • Such themes are hardly unique to either Maverick or the Yuru Camp△ Movie, but the films do share quite a bit in common despite being in totally different genres. This has led Hinataka, a writer for the blog Netorabo, to claim that when compared side-by-side, the latter is a movie that “surpasses” the former as being the best film of 2022 without any additional explanation or context. Since Hirakata never elaborates, I conclude that this remark was probably an off-hand comment; Hirakata is free to enjoy movies however he wishes.

  • Film opinions can and will vary from individual to individual, but things become trickier when Centcom08 repeated this statement at Wikipedia. To the casual reader, it would set the expectation that the Yuru Camp△ Movie is a technically superior film or possesses a message that’s more cohesive and meaningful than what Maverick presents. In reality, neither film is better than the other; the Yuru Camp△ Movie excels in presenting an incremental tale of perseverance and making the most of the hand one is dealt, while Maverick is a story of trust, teamwork and learning to let go of the past.

  • Between this and the radically different premises (Maverick never goes camping with Rooster, Phoenix, Bob, Payback and Fanboy, and Rin, Nadeshiko, Chiaki, Aoi and Ena aren’t about to take on fifth generation fighters), I don’t feel that such a statement should be taken as anything more than a personal opinion. While a valid opinion, it should be common sense that this is by no means the end-all. While I am tempted to sign up for a Wikipedia account and strike that particular line from their Yuru Camp△ Movie article with due haste, I am aware that users like Centcom08 spend every waking moment monitoring the page – any changes I make will be reverted within minutes. I have better things to do than drop to Centcom08’s level, but I will remark that the Wikipedia article on the Yuru Camp△ Movie is unreliable and filled with factual errors.

  • Back in Maverick, after Bob provides the laser that allows Maverick to hit his target, Rooster follows up so he can drop his Paveway IIIs down the hatch. When Fanboy reports that his laser is malfunctioning, Rooster decides to drop the bombs blind. As luck would have it, both bombs find their mark, and seconds later, the entire uranium enrichment facility collapses. The moment this happens, the enemy forces are now aware of their presence, and all of the S-125 sites come to life, filling the air with missiles. In the chaos, it’s all the pilots can do to evade the missiles, dropping flares in a bid to throw them off.

  • When Rooster runs out of flares, Maverick sacrifices himself to keep Rooster alive. In the process, one of the V-600 missiles hits him. The moment brought to mind the likes of the 2001 film Behind Enemy Lines (starring Owen Wilson) as Chris Burnett, although flares and missiles behave a little more plausibly here in Maverick: the missiles in Behind Enemy Lines switch between heat-seekers and radar guided modes at times, allowing them to turn around and ignore flares, and they appear to fire buckshot, whereas real missiles carry an explosive warhead.

  • However, viewers generally agree that despite the lack of realism in Behind Enemy Lines, the scene where Burnett and his pilot, Jeremy Stackhouse, evade the surface-to-air missile does capture the intensity and terror that accompanies air combat. Since Behind Enemy Lines captured this well, it can be said to be authentic, even if it isn’t realistic. I have found that a lot of folks who demand realism in their fiction oftentimes are conflating lack of realism with a story they can’t relate to or connect with at an emotional level.

  • Despite being a solid story from a narrative perspective, Maverick cannot be said to be realistic by any stretch. After Maverick is shot down, he survives and finds himself face to face with a Mi-28 Havoc. He manages to somehow evade 30 mm rounds from its Shipunov 2A42 autocannon and survives long enough for Rooster to show up and shoot it down. In the process, Rooster himself is shot down, and he manages to eject. In another situation, the odds of survival would be quite slim, but viewers must set this aside and accept that, if Maverick were realistic, the film would’ve probably ended an hour earlier.

  • It is necessary that some aspects of a story be contrived such that one can be granted a satisfyingly experience. Here, Maverick manages to catch up to Rooster, and after their initial shock wears off, Maverick devises a plan for getting them back home. The lighting and tone surrounding the moment is evocative of how Behind Enemy Lines had felt after Burnett and Stackhouse were shot down, but in that film, the story had been about how Burnett evades capture in the Balkans, and here, both Rooster and Maverick are only shot down late in the game. Maverick’s plan is as bold as it is daring: see if there’s any airworthy planes left at the airfield their forces just took out and use one of them to get back into the skies.

  • At this point in the film, the reasonable viewer accepts that this is the only route Maverick and Rooster have for getting back home, and spots that, given how an earlier briefing had mentioned that F-14s might be present, opens the floor up to an exciting possibility: seeing Maverick and Rooster fly an F-14 as a clever, well-written homage to the original Top Gun. Indeed, this is exactly what Maverick has in mind, and after sneaking up to a hangar unseen, he and Rooster get one of the F-14s online. For Maverick, it’s the return of an old friend, but for Rooster, who’s accustomed to the F/A-18 and its glass cockpit, the F-14 feels ancient.

  • This scene in Maverick was reminiscent of the Yuru Camp△ Movie‘s finale, which had similarly seen the return of an old piece of hardware from the originals; when Rin’s motorcycle develops a fault, her father suggests that she fall back on her original ride, the Yamaha Vino, and it ends up playing a big role in the film’s climax. Having seen Maverick first, it was nice to see echoes of Top Gun in Yuru Camp△ Movie, although here, I note that an appreciation of the similarities between the two movies despite their drastically different premises is about the extent of my wish to compare the two films.

  • In typical Maverick fashion, both aviators are airborne after a harrowing takeoff: Maverick has used the F-14’s variable sweep wings to generate more lift and accommodate for a very short takeoff, surprising Rooster. To emphasise this, the F-14’s front landing gear is knocked off, but for the present, Maverick and Rooster are aloft, to the surprise of the command staff back on the carrier. Of course, it just wouldn’t be a Top Gun movie without dogfighting in a live environment, and now that they’re in the skies, the patrolling fifth-generation fighters intercept the pair.

  • Any experts or fans of military aviation will immediately recognise the Su-57, a Russian multi-role fighter that began development back in 2010 and entered service in 2020. Although widely considered to be inferior to the American fifth-generation fighter, the F-22 Raptor, the Su-57 is still leaps and bounds ahead of the F-14 owing to superior avionics. In an engagement, what would likely happen would be that the Su-57 would simply fire a missile from outside visual range and score a kill before the F-14 could even flinch. Moreover, even though the Su-57 lacks the same the same thrust vectoring that the F-22 possesses, it still has an impressive turn rate and would easily overcome the F-14 in a dogfight.

  • The idea of an F-14 going toe-to-toe against an Su-57 is the sort of exercise that military fans love thinking about (experts are more concerned about how their hardware stacks up against hardware that’s presently in service, versus against older hardware), and in fact, reminds me of the thought experiments I did regarding hypothetical matchups like pitting a single M1A2 against twenty Tiger Is, or a head-to-head battle against the Panzer VIII Maus. For the most part, comparing technology from different periods is akin to comparing video cards more than two generations apart: the newer technology comes out on top every time.

  • When the Su-57s show up, Maverick reasons that at least for the moment, the pilots don’t really know what’s going on and attempt to hand signal to them. While pilots do know hand signals so that they can continue to communicate in the event of a radio loss, or during an exercise, it is possible that the Su-57 pilots operate on a different set of standards, ones that Maverick and Goose are unfamiliar with. Some folks with a background in aviation translate the pilots’ signals as requesting them to “divert to heading 3-3-0”, suggesting that they’re to defend the facility from further attack.

  • Thus, when Maverick signals he’s not understanding the message, the other Su-57 prepares to engage the F-14, which they now interpret as being under hostile control. The setup here is a bit of writing that allows Maverick to shoot down one of the Su-57s and take it out of the fight: in a prolonged dogfight, the F-14’s odds are extremely slim, even with a good pilot at the stick, but since the F-14’s M61 Vulcan is simply an older version of the M61A2 that newer generation aircraft carry, it’s not inconvincible for an F-14 to disable an Su-57 with a well-placed shot, the same way a Tiger I could score a mobility kill against an M1A2 that was standing still.

  • Much as Top Gun had previously done, the hostile pilots wear helmets with tinted visors. Protagonists wear clear visors simply so we can see their expressions: in reality, all helmets have tinted visors, but this is another instance of how being realistic would diminish the film’s impact, similarly to how portraying the combat performance differences between an F-14 and an Su-57 would prevent the film from telling its story. Once Maverick and Rooster realise their ruse isn’t going to work, Rooster persuades Maverick to give this fight everything he’s got.

  • Spurred on, Maverick uses the element of surprise to disable one of the Su-57’s engines, and immediately breaks off. In a moment of pure savagery, Maverick manoeuvres his F-14 so that the damaged Su-57 shields him from the other fighter’s missiles, and this results in the first of the Su-57s being taken out of the fight. With the second pilot dead-set on taking the rogue F-14 out, it’s an all-out fight. The entire scene is set to some of the tensest music I’ve heard throughout the whole of Maverick: with Hans Zimmer listed as a composer, there is no surprise that the incidental cues in the film are well-suited for the moments they accompany.

  • While motion blur means that it’s difficult for me to get good screenshots in a live-action movie, some of the stills for this post turned out quite well. This is the biggest challenge I face whenever writing about live-action; in anime, this isn’t a problem since everything is smooth. I don’t mind admitting I had a bit of difficulty in writing this post; cutting down the screenshots to a manageable number was probably the biggest challenge, and originally, while I have had the pool of screenshots and an idea of the post’s contest ready since late October, it’s taken some effort to distill everything into a post that isn’t the size of a graduate thesis.

  • One of the most thrilling moments during this dogfight happens when the Su-57 suddenly executes what appears to be a flat corkscrew. Immediately, viewers are reminded that Maverick and Rooster are dealing with a highly skilled pilot who isn’t just depending on his aircraft’s technology to get by. Maverick spots this and decides that it’s time to go for a lower altitude, claiming that the terrain will confuse their adversary’s targetting system. Assuming that the Su-57s in Maverick is carrying the R-77, this holds some truth: the R-77 is a radar-guided missile, but some versions are outfitted with infrared seekers that use radar to acquire an initial lock. By flying closer to the ground, the Su-57’s radar system is prevented from quickly acquiring its target.

  • Maverick ends up getting behind the Su-57 and uses his guns to damage its engine, causing it to crash. Only in a film could such an old aircraft stand any chance against a current-generation fighter, but it is a thrilling show of skill. In fact, the mindset of going up against a fifth generation fighter with an F-14 is equivalent to watching Graham Aker fighting the Exia to a standstill with a Flag, or seeing Char Aznable giving Amuro Ray’s RX-78 II trouble. The idea of skill being able to overcome technological disparity is a staple in fiction, offering a satisfying experience.

  • Rooster cheers after seeing the second Su-57 crash into the canyon’s ledges. Moments later, he’s able to get the radio on. Having Rooster act as Maverick’s WSO is a direct callback to the original Top Gun and shows how Maverick and Rooster have both overcome their pasts to be able to work together as a team, much as how Maverick and Goose originally had. For Maverick, Rooster has become a full-fledged pilot in his own right, while Rooster now sees why his father was able to work well with Maverick. However, even after getting in touch with the carrier, the fight’s not over yet.

  • A third Su-57 appears on their nose, and with their F-14 out of missiles, guns and countermeasures, it’s all Maverick can do to keep the fighter off them. During the dogfight, the F-14 takes a few hits. The portrayal of aircraft guns in Maverick is one of the few gripes I do have about the portrayal of things: the M61 Vulcan fires with a distinct buzzing noise rather than the rat-tat-tat of a machine gun, while the Su-57 is armed with the 30 mm GSh-30-1, which is a slower-firing autocannon that can destroy enemy aircraft in as few as three shots. The fifth generation fighters appear to fire the same guns as the F-14, and moreover, despite taking three hits, the F-14 continues to fly.

  • This is yet another moment created to maximise dramatic effect, and it is actually quite rare for movies to correctly depict aircraft guns, so I will clarify that the guns have no bearing on my overall enjoyment of the movie. Realising that there’s no other way, Maverick orders Rooster to eject, but the ejection handles are damaged and fail to fire. Having come so far, Maverick is filled with regret at not being able to protect Rooster. However, moments after the Su-57 fires one of its missiles, it’s blown out of the sky. Hangman has come to the rescue, and while he was chosen to be a reserve pilot, he ends up being given permission to sortie and cover Maverick and Rooster.

  • Although Hangman is portrayed as being arrogant and self-assured, at the end of the day, all of the TOPGUN graduates are on the same side and work towards the same goal. The rivalries between the candidates is secondary to the fact that everyone is fighting on the same team, and this is a piece of Top Gun I’ve always loved seeing: a healthy rivalry encourages growth, but when the chips are down, everyone has one another’s backs. On the topic of Hangman, Glen Powell had previously appeared as a trader in Dark Knight, and he will be starring in Devotion, which portrays naval aviators in the Korean War.

  • I’m suddenly finding myself excited to watch Devotion: the Korean War isn’t portrayed all that often in film, but it’s also a critical part of the Cold War. The film opened a week ago in North America, and I might just go catch a screening if time allows (I do have a fair amount of vacation time banked up). Failing this, I imagine that Devotion will be available for streaming in the new year. Back in Maverick, after ensuring Maverick and Rooster are okay, Hangman breaks off and heads back to the carrier for a landing. Since Maverick had broken the nose landing gear while taking off earlier, his landing will be a little trickier.

  • As a bit of a clever callback to Maverick’s tendency to buzz the tower after a successful flight, he ends up doing exactly this, causing Cyclone and Warlock to duck for cover. Previously, doing this has landed Maverick in hot water, but here in Maverick, the successful operation means that this is probably the last thing on Cyclone’s mind: all that matters is that their hit was successful, and everyone’s come back in one piece. I’ve heard that carrier landings are one of the hardest parts of being a naval aviator, and things only become more tricky if the carrier is bobbing up and down in rough waters.

  • Tom Clancy’s Threat Vector captures the details that are involved in touching down on a carrier, and through reading the novel, I became aware of the fact that aviators will prefer to increase power when touching down. This is because if the aircraft misses any of the arresting wires on deck (I think this is called a “bolter”), it has enough power to climb back into the air and try again. Of course, this beats coming in too low. Since Maverick’s experienced, and since the oceans seem quite calm, the technical aspects of a carrier landing aren’t shown; Maverick and Rooster’s return to the carrier has the same feel as returning home after a difficult drive.

  • Overall, I found myself immensely satisfied with Top Gun: Maverick, as it tells a solid, self-contained story, is respectful to its predecessor and is accessible to both old and new viewers alike. The story isn’t something that demands familiarity with the original Top Gun, but folks who’ve seen the original film will immediately appreciate all of the references made to the original movie. Moreover, despite being a film about the navy, Maverick manages to elegantly handle the matter of politics: for this movie, the biggest enemy is actually within oneself (fear and doubt), with the hostile nation and pilots acting merely as the driving force for Maverick and Rooster to overcome their inner dæmons.

  • While Maverick has been criticised for glorifying the American armed forces and acting as propaganda promoting the military’s actions, I’ve always felt that war films are simply just a highly visceral way of portraying a given theme, the same way that first person shooters are simply a game of resourcefulness and being observant. The healthy mind is able to make a distinction between fiction and reality, and here, I would argue that the themes of Maverick are actually not too different than the themes from 2015’s Creed, which saw Adonis Creed enter the ring and fight to create his own legacy with help from Rocky, who had similarly been reluctant to train Creed initially.

  • The ending of Maverick does prompt the question of whether or not Top Gun will continue in any way: Miles Teller has expressed interest in a follow-up film, and given the quality of Maverick, I am curious to see what such a film would entail. On the flipside, Maverick is successful mainly because it tells a self-contained story that respectfully wraps up elements from the original Top Gun, and a continuation is not strictly necessary simply because Maverick closes things off on such a decisive note.

  • Observant readers may have noticed that in my screenshots, letterboxes appear in some stills, but are absent in others. This is because the action scenes were filmed in IMAX, which allow more to be shown. For dialogue scenes, the aspect ratio is a standard 21:9. The hybrid approach allows a film’s most critical moments to completely immerse viewers, and admittedly, this can make for some inconsistencies in a screen-shot heavy review: when I wrote about Dark Knight Rises back during the summer, I elected to go purely with the IMAX stills.

  • However, this had also been because that particular post was an unconventional discussion. For Top Gun: Maverick, a more ordinary review, I utilise a mixture of stills so I have a chance to cover all of the thoughts on my mind. I admit that my talks can be on the long side, but this is primarily a consequence of a given work providing a lot to consider. For readers in a rush, reading the paragraphs will give a complete insight into what I make of something; the figure captions are meant to provide various thoughts, trivia and asides.

  • With this in mind, I’m not about to change the way I blog: I believe that celebrating fiction and what one enjoys is best achieved by being thorough. While lengthier posts can be discouraging to readers, I contend that this is a matter of UX. This is why my posts are structured the way they are. Everything important, I provide up top, and then I use the screenshots and figure captions to talk about details that are not relevant to the more important topics. The conclusion at the end then sums up my personal thoughts and allows me to speculate on what future directions look like, or otherwise address elements that aren’t quite as important to readers.

  • It goes without saying that Maverick was a superbly enjoyable film for me, and having now written about the film in full, I am filled with an inclination to go back and revisit both Project Wingman and Ace Combat 7. I am glad to have taken the time to lay down what made the movie so entertaining for me, and while Maverick does seem far removed from my typical predisposition for slice-of-life anime, it is always fun to branch out and explore different forms of media every so often.

  • Since Maverick opened with Maverick working on his vintage P-51, I’ll conclude this post with a screenshot of him taking it out for a flight with Penny. This just about brings this talk on Top Gun: Maverick to a close. This is going to be my last post of November; I was originally planning on writing about Itsuka Ano Umi de, but production issues shook things up somewhat. Entering December, readers can expect more posts on Yama no Susume: Next Summit, a few special topics posts, and my thoughts on Itsuka Ano Umi de once the fourth episode airs. Before any of that, however, I do have a talk on Battlefield 2042‘s third season lined up. The game’s come a very long way since last year, and the latest additions make the game feel like a proper Battlefield title.

There is a reason why Top Gun: Maverick is 2022’s top movie – the themes are inspiring, the flight sequences are phenomenal, and elements from the original Top Gun make a return. Unsurprisingly, it is 2022’s highest grossing film, and the film is nearly universally acclaimed. However, when Netorabo’s Hinataka suggests that the Yuru Camp△ Movie surpasses even Maverick in terms of enjoyment in their review of the former, eyebrows are raised – Hinataka doesn’t explain what specifically about the Yuru Camp△ Movie makes it the superior film. Both films, despite their radically different premises, actually share quite a bit in common. The Yuru Camp△ Movie and Top Gun: Maverick both are set some time after their original, deal with an ongoing assignment that requires Maverick, Chiaki and their respective teams to pull through and get things done in creative ways, and similarly see the return of an iconic piece from their original works (in the Yuru Camp△ Movie, Rin’s Yamaha Vino makes a comeback, and in Top Gun: Maverick, Maverick and Rooster steal an F-14). However, whereas the Yuru Camp△ Movie is a highly cathartic experience which gently reminds viewers of what it means to be an adult, Top Gun: Maverick is meant to be a thrilling and inspiring adventure that shows viewers what leadership and trust look like. The two films are quite different in this regard, and where the Yuru Camp△ Movie is meant to portray its story in a relatable context, Top Gun: Maverick uses a much more dramatic story to convey its themes in order to fire up viewers. As a result, Top Gun: Maverick is endlessly quotable, and scenes from the film are endlessly rewatchable. The Yuru Camp△ Movie reminds me of the fact that I’m probably conducting myself in a reasonable manner, but Top Gun: Maverick shows me one vivid example of what leadership looks like. In conjunction with the fact that I’m rewatching moments like Maverick flying the course in the two minutes and fifteen seconds, or managing to take on a pair of Su-57s in an F-14, on a daily basis, and making bad jokes about real life situations with lines from Top Gun: Maverick, it is clear that the two movies cannot be compared side-by-side as Hinataka does. Consequently, in response to Hinataka’s comment, I would counter that Top Gun: Maverick isn’t “surpassed” by the Yuru Camp△ Movie in any way, and in fact, I would suggest to readers that both movies are worth watching on the basis of their own distinct merits.

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 stands, 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 stand 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.

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.

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

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

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

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

Screenshots and Commentary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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