ゆるキャン△ | Yuru Camp

Yuru Camp (or Laid-Back Camp in English) aired this last winter. We finished it soon after it aired, but I had been just so busy that I didn’t start writing a review until the summer. So here it is, half a year later.

Rin Shima likes camping, but minds the people, so she goes camping mainly in the colder months. During one of her trips she meets Nadeshiko Kagamihara, a dummy who just moved to the area and wanted to see Fujisan as it’s portrayed on the back of 1000¥ bills. This encounter spurs Nadeshiko to try camping. Together with the (two) members of the Outdoor Activities Club at school she ventures into the great outdoors.

That’s pretty much it. It’s a slice-of-life anime, my favorite genre. After three episodes I was thinking “It’s a nice slice-of-life, though a little stupid. Definitely not a must-watch.” But after the fourth it suddenly clicked with me and the regular length episodes were too short. And less stupid. (Even when they wrapped one of the girls in aluminium, bubbles and cardboard. See episode 4.) From the fifth episode onward it was amazing.

Before hitting the fourth episode I complained to a friend that the anime doesn’t have much to add to my life and he said:

It made you read the manga, mission accomplished.

He was alluding to the fact that a lot of adaptations are made to make the viewers buy the original manga. So as long as it made them read the manga (from a legal source, preferably), it has accomplished what was expected of it.

Yes, I have read a little of the manga in preparation for the review. Compared to the manga, the anime is more, well… animated. Most of the jokes go over much easier in motion, even though the content is pretty much the same.

Word of warning: As always there are spoilers and a lot of screenshots.

Starting with the opening, I enjoyed the bun variations. Rin has beautiful long hair and her friend, Saito, often does it up for her. Her imagination runs a little wild sometimes. And there are some creations in the OP.

Mount Fuji and Curry Noodles

The two main characters, Rin Shima and Nadeshiko Kagamihara, meet right in the first episode. Rin goes solo camping at Lake Motosu, one of the several lakes around Mount Fuji. At the campsite she sees a peculiar girl sleeping the day away on a bench. They meet again once the dark falls. It turns out Nadeshiko went to see Mount Fuji, got tired, fell asleep and now she is scared to go back in the dark, has an empty stomach and no cellphone.

Things get resolved rather nicely. Rin shares her curry noodles, the clouds obscuring Mount Fuji float away and Nadeshiko remembers her sister’s phone number.

Mount Fuji obscured by clouds behind Lake Motosu.

To get to the campsite, Rin bikes quite a long way, loaded with camping supplies. And she’s damn fast on that bicycle.

When setting up camp, she concentrates on one thing at a time, going in the most effective order, probably perfected by years of practice. This is mindfulness—one thing at a time.

It is 5°C (41°F), so quite chilly and she makes a fire, once again putting one foot in front of the other. She then ponders camp fires—lighting them is work, everything smells of smoke afterwards, your skin dries out, and the sparks can put holes in cloths (clothes and the tent).

Here you can see that there is not much of a difference story- and art style-wise between the anime and the manga.

What I find interesting is how the Japanese always look fashionable, even when camping or sightseeing. (I always dress up very practically. No skirts or dresses for me!) Here the girls are both wearing dresses with a poncho (Rin) and a jacket (Nadeshiko). Do you consider that biking-up-a-mountain-clothes?

Compare the view with the one on the 1000 yen note (above).

Welcome to the Outdoor Activities Club!

The first half of the episode follows Nadeshiko’s introduction to the Outdoors Club. We get to know the two girls, Inuyama-san and Ohgaki-san, who make up the club, build a tent and witness the two main characters’ realizations that they go to the same school

In the second half, Rin visits a yet another campsite with a view of Mount Fuji, Fumoto Campgrounds.

Pine cones have the cutest voices!

On tents: Inuyama gives Nadeshiko the basics of tents—freestanding and nonfreestanding plus the size of them packed up.

As we can see in this episode, Rin-chan is the student library assistant at her school. That fits her nicely. I mean, could you imagine her doing a group sport or something like that? She wants her quiet time and, unless you count the going-home-club, the library fits the best. Also spotted, bear bun!

Moving on to the second half of the episode, look at the size of these campsite grounds.

In a way, these visits to the camping grounds are advertisements, because I’m sure all of them exist. Also, the photo montages are pretty obvious.

Once again, I marvel at Rin’s outfit. A short skirt and tights, this time.

Finally two views of Mount Fuji from the campsite. A view of Mount Fuji upside down and the mountain bathed in the rays of a setting sun.

In this episode, the five girls have been introduced and Rin-chan is the cutest. Hands down.

Mount Fuji and Relaxed Hot Pot Camp

The second episode closed with Nadeshiko, carrying a bundle of food, finding Rin at the campsite. She makes Rin nabe (I will write that post!) as a return favor for first episode’s curry noodles. Meanwhile the (other) Outdoors Club girls are getting jobs—Ohgaki at a liqueur store and Inuyama at a supermarket.

The CG hurts.

Like I’ve written several times already, I will make a separate blog post on nabe. Nevertheless, I still have a couple of things to say.

For the purposes of this post, just be content with the explanation that nabe is hot pot. Now usually you would cut the vegetables with a knife, right? Here we are making nabe with scissors.

The second screenshot refers to a Japanese fairy tale, Crane’s Return of a Favor, where a crane disguised as a girl weaves beautiful cloth to return a favor as long as the humans don’t peek. Of course they peek in the end. Rin and Nadeshiko don’t peek though and they get wonderful Dandan gyoza nabe with 50 gyoza.

Once again, I will comment on Nadeshiko’s clothing—short jean shorts and tights. In the second screenshot I just thought Rin’s eyes were cute.

Towards the end of the episode Rin names the pros of camping in the cold: no bugs, no heat, fewer people, the quiet. It makes you want to go camping, doesn’t it? But it’s the end of summer now, so wait just a bit, a month or two.

The Outdoor Activities Club and the Solo Camping Girl

While planning for their first camping trip together, the Outdoor Activities Club experiments with cost-effective ways to make their sleeping bags more effective in cold weather before ultimately deciding to buy some sleeping bags online. Meanwhile, Rin gets her scooter license and goes on a solo camping trip in Nagano. As the club members hike through Fuefuki, stopping at a cafe and hot springs resort along the way, they are sent a live security camera feed of Rin on the highway.

—Wikipedia

If I followed the episode structure, I would be jumping between Rin and the Outdoors Club, so I am going to first write about the Outdoors club and then Rin, the solo camper.

The episode opens with the club members heating water over twigs and leaves at school, planning their first outing. Inuyama makes a list of everything they might need. Sleeping bags are high on the list since they already have their 980¥ tent.

Looking through the sleeping bag special edition of an outdoors magazine, Nadeshiko sees the regular square (although they’re rectangular) and mummy sleeping bags. And then there are humanoid sleeping bags. Leave it to Nadeshiko to think of something amazing, like playing Moon Landing in them!

Since winter sleeping bags are expensive, the girls try to think of a different way to keep warm. Layering their 780¥ summer sleeping bag with aluminium foil, bubble wrap and cardboard, they come to the conclusion that they’ll just have to buy normal sleeping bags. But not before sending Rin-chan photos of wrapped Ohgaki-san, complete with all the stickers and ready to send.

Special delivery!

An obligatory screenshot of the girls’ attire:

Daylight view from Fuefuki Park, supposedly known for its night scenic views, but the daylight view is very nice too.

Turns out Rin works at a bookstore to fund her camping trips. And she just got her license, so she is going to Nagano. That is a roughly 4 hour drive by car, probably longer on Rin’s scooter. She sets out early and we get to see her mother.

She stops for borscht and a caramel macchiato for lunch.

Finally doggie tax for making it past episode four, which is where it started getting interesting for me. Like I wrote above, the episodes were suddenly shorter and much more fun.

Two Camps, Two Campers’ Views

The second half of the two trips. The Outdoors Club soaks in the onsen, while Rin finds hers closed. But after 150 km she has reached her destination and the night view is amazing! So is Nadeshiko’s view.

This is the episode where Inuyama’s popularity skyrocketed because…

Meanwhile Rin drove those 150 km on her scooter.

The scooter says, “つかれた!” [tsukareta, I’m beat!]

Since she’s tired of always eating cup noodles when camping, this time she brought spaghetti and precut vegetables. Basically she makes vegetable noodles, only with more work and less preservatives.

Nadeshiko and Rin text when they’re all catterpillared up in their sleeping bags. Then they get up and bare the dark woods (in Nadeshiko’s case) and the cold (Rin) to take pictures of the night view for each other.

Be sure to watch the ending to see various snapshots from the following day.

Meat and Fall Colors and the Mystery Lake

The first half of the episode is set in the library. Rin recalls her trip to Nagano from the previous episode. In the second half, Nadeshiko chooses a campground for Rin and herself to grill meat on Rin’s new compact grill. Meanwhile Ohgaki-san is checking out campgrounds for the Club’s next outing.

Nadeshiko’s sister drives them to the campgrounds. She loves driving and obviously Nadeshiko as well, because she is spending so much time driving her to and fro. Rin recalls her scooter trips and enjoys riding in a warm car.

いらっしゃいませ!The girls go shopping for meat at a supermarket on the way and Inuyama is their cashier. Smiling and polite as always. It’s like she was made for the job.

Meanwhile Ohgaki meets a cool grandpa on her quest for the next campground. He speaks to her in the wonderfully deep voice of the narrator. The voice actor, Akio Ōtsuka, is a seasoned voice you might know from all sorts of anime, including One Piece and Ghost in the Shell.

The girls arrive at Lake Shibire and wonder at the beautiful autumn colors of the surrounding forest.

A Night on the Lake Shore and Campers

Continuing from the previous episode, Rin and Nadeshiko camp at Lake Shibire. There is just one pair of campers at the site aside from them. One of the campers helps them with lighting the coals in Rin’s mini-grill. The girls later give the pair some meat as thanks and receive jambalaya in return.

The grandpa that Ohgaki-san ran into in the previous episode, turns out to be Rin’s maternal grandfather. Later in the episode, Rin-chan talks about her initiation into camping. She was given hand-me-down camping gear by her grandpa in her first year of junior high school. (That would correspond to roughly 13 years of age.)

Once again let me bring your attention to the girls’ attire.

Rin-chan has a tent that is attached to a rod skeleton by hooks, while Nadeshiko’s tent has rod sleeves. As always there is a basic explanation of the differences (there are not many) between the two in grandpa’s voice.

Some more scenery.

While admiring the scenery, Nadeshiko greets the other pair of campers and admires their set up. The one on the left later helps them out with the fire. The woman, who’s drinking beer in this screenshot, basically drinks the night away. There is some blatant foreshadowing that she’ll be the girls’ teacher in the near future.

I myself don’t appreciate drunks portrayed in anime. Somehow they rarely feel believable and mostly come off as bad stereotypes.

Yuru Camp is a cute anime. I especially cherish the cute sentient pine cones. Or chestnuts.

Finally, the girls cook their dinner and exchange food with the other pair of campers.

Exams, Caribou, Steamed Buns, Yum!

There’s no camping in this episode, just plans and preparation. Ohgaki-san gets a wooden bowl and a skillet, everyone passes their exams (although some just scrape by) and afterwards Ohgaki-san and Inuyama-san take Nadeshiko to an outdoor sporting goods store in Minobu, Yamanashi. Nadeshiko falls in love with a gas lantern and decides to get a job so she can buy it. (It costs a hefty 4 960 yen.)

Since there was no camping, I have next to no notes. There is just the cute gas lamp Nadeshiko likes and a screenshot of Toba-sensei, their new History teacher.

It’s quite obvious Toba-sensei is the drunk camper from the previous episode, but Nadeshiko hasn’t noticed. The employees at Ohgaki’s workplace call her Miss Chug, because she buys copious amount of alcohol every evening.

A Night of Navigator Nadeshiko and Hot Spring Steam

Nadeshiko plans to go camping with Rin, but catches a cold. Rin decides to go camping by herself, but at a faraway campsite (~120 km). Unfortunately the mountain road is closed to the public, so she has to take a longer route or change her plans. The road ends at a trail head, so Rin meets some hikers going to Mt. Hōō. Meanwhile Ohgaki visits Nadeshiko at home and cooks hōtō for her and her family. Together they advise Rin on where to go next.

Rin: Oh, unusual to see you up this early.
Ena: Actually I’m about to go to sleep.

It is before seven and Rin is already on her way, while Saito-san is just going to sleep. I know several people capable of that… and I’m not one of them.

Just like McDonald’s, Google often makes an appearance in anime, albeit in disguise.

I took this screenshot just to bring your attention to Sakura’s teeny-tiny waist. This is taken when Nadeshiko realizes she is over her cold and that she can still meet Rin and go on a camping trip with her. She doesn’t know Rin is already on her way to Nagano (again). This time the campsite is in Kamiina district.

This is the road closure. Rin gets a warm drink from the vending machine. Sitting down at the trail head, she is greeted by a young hiker, who gives her some Hōjicha.

Hōjicha is a Japanese roasted tea. It has a distinct favor, because of the roasting, and also a lower caffeine content, so it’s okay to drink at night.

Here is where Rin asks Nadeshiko to look up some attractions for her. With Ohgaki’s help, Nadeshiko finds Kozen-ji and an onsen.

While Rin is walking around the shrine, Ohgaki is making hōtō for Nadeshiko and her family. The problem is that she has never cooked it before and she’s a pretty unskilled cook. It turns out fine though.

Family of big eaters.

Rin relaxes at the onsen, warming her frozen body through and through. Afterwards she has an onsen meal and… falls asleep. Just like the Outdoor Club girls in one of the past episodes. When she finally wakes up it’s already past five and it’s still 1.5 hours to the campsite.

つづく! [tsudzuku, to be continued]

Clumsy Travelers and Camp Meetings

Rin oversleeps and is rushing to her campsite when she encounters a roadblock. Upon being told by Chiaki that it may have been left there and never moved, she proceeds and reaches the site, where she struggles to set up due to the windy conditions. Nadeshiko, Chiaki, and Aoi plan their Christmas camping trip and invite Rin, who initially refuses before being convinced by Ena to accept. Toba, the new teacher, is unintentionally lured into becoming the Outdoor Activities Club advisor and is invited to the Christmas camp. Upon hearing Toba mention bringing beer along, Nadeshiko realizes she was the drunk sister from the Lake Shibire trip.

—Wikipedia

When Rin reaches the campsite, it’s windy and she has trouble setting up camp. Then she climbs even higher, to a lookout point, and suddenly there’s no wind and she makes tea without a problem. Slight inconsistency? Nevertheless, the view is amazing and the pork bun and tea (Hōjicha from the hiker) are also great.

And then the girls prepare for their Christmas camping trip. Inuyama will cook dinner, Nadeshiko breakfast, Saito will bring entertainment, Ohgaki will think of some games and Rin-chan found them a nice campsite.

Christmas Camp!

It’s December 24th and everyone gets to the Asagiri Plateau campsite early. Ohgaki-san and Inuyama-san arrive in Toba-sensei’s car. The two check the group in, while Toba-sensei sets up her grill and starts drinking. Rin rides in on her scooter and Nadeshiko’s sister, Sakura, drives her. Saito-san and her dog, Chikuwa are last to arrive. They spend the afternoon playing frisbee with random children after buying firewood. For dinner there’s sukiyaki. The episode ends with Rin driving to the nearest store to buy more gas to cook on.

Before meeting up with Ohgaki, Inuyama and Toba-sensei, Rin and Nadeshiko make s’mores. I love fire-roasted marshmallows, but I can eat just about three before suffering from sugar overload. Nadeshiko can eat ad infinitum.

The campsite is 広い [ひろい, hiroi, spacious]!

When it starts getting cold and the kids leave, the girls make hot cocoa to warm up. Toba-sensei wakes up from her drunken slumber and spikes her cocoa with rum. I am curious as to how that would taste, but given that I hate rum… probably not so good.

Mount Fuji in the setting sun:

Inuyama-san is in charge of dinner. Following her grandma’s advice, she makes sukiyaki—food for special occasions with special people. Sukiyaki is a Japanese hot pot dish where you simmer thinly sliced meat with vegetables (here vegetables, mushrooms and tofu) and eat the simmered ingredients dipped in raw, beaten egg. People deal with the leftover broth in different ways; here, Inuyama uses it to make some more sukiyaki of a different type. Very Italian tomato sukiyaki.

Finally, here are two cute screenshots of the group:

Mount Fuji and the Laid-Back Camp Girls

The episode opens with Nadeshiko telling the group what she imagines they all will be like in ten years. After parting with cold-sensitive Chikuwa, the girls take baths at the campsite bathhouse.

Saito-san turns everyone into Shimarins. (Rin’s name read the Japanese way, but condensed, makes her sound like a mascot.) Inuyama thinks up Shimarin Dango. And the cactus is also Saito’s work.

In the morning, Rin helps Nadeshiko cook breakfast while the Sun rises behind Mt. Fuji. It’s a full Japanese breakfast with miso soup, salmon over rice and nattō.

Everyone returns to the same old—Rin-chan to the bookstore and Ohgaki and Inuyama to their respective jobs as well. Nadeshiko gets a job as well, thanks to Saito-san.

After the final ED make sure to watch the epilogue. Rin and Nadeshiko…

Final thoughts: I have written above that there’s little difference between the anime and the manga when it comes to the story and art style. I think I’ll still read the manga though. Now, this review is already miles long as it is, so let me just say that it was amazing even when rewatching. Rated 9/10.

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