Since it “only” took 3 years to see another season of Yuru Camp, i feel a bit compelled to cover the first season, as it is one of the my favorite slice of life series of all time.
I frigging love Yuru Camp, so i’m here to spead the gospel and critique the series, complete with the 3 OVAs. Yeah, since there are only three, i feel there’s no point tackling them in another post.
I will cover the Heya Camp spin-off as its own thing, though! But also, i will confess i’m not in the mood nor i have the time to cover the live-action series (with a second one coming) as well, sorry.
But first things first. So, what is Yuru Camp (localized as Laid-Back Camp)?
It’s a slice-of-life series bases on the manga of the same name by afro (had to import the american edition by Yen Press for this one), about a group of five young girls that enjoy camping in the mountain Yamanashi Prefecture, taking in the scenery and cooking on site while taking in the nature. One of them, Rin Shima, is a dedicated solo camper, but one day she stumbles upon a weird girl that got “lost” at the site, Nadeshiko Kagamihara, who happens to be in the same school and is soon taken in by the Outdoor Activities Circle/Club, in search of the fourth member to properly exist as a club.
Or, putting it another way, is “anime girls camping”, and it’s a thing of majestic “comfy”.
It’s pointless to further discuss the plot any further, because it’s really just these five girls travelling to various campsites around the country and uber-chillax, learning about the hows and whys of camping in the process, from choosing the right place and season to avoid crowds and enjoy regional delicacies, what tools to get and use for the tent, how to tend to the fire, firewood usage, etc.
As you would expect, the girls are cute, there are plenty of cute moments, some fun scenes, and while the characters all are very cute and likeable, with very typical and distinct personalities that don’t come off as stock because the writing is actually more “realistic”. As in, Rin and Nadeshiko don’t immediately become friends, Rin often goes camping by herself because she’s just like that, the others don’t just go camping whenever, especially when it hits them how much it’s gonna cost them to actually proper go and camp, so one gets a part-time job to make some cash for the tent, or sometimes their schedules just don’t conveniently cross every time, so they message each other and send photos, joke around, and so on.
There’s no fanservice, as it takes place in winter and so you get plenty of very cute winter outfits with scarfs, beanies and such, and it wouldn’t make sense anyway, Yuru Camp isn’t about that, it’s about the experience of camping as a relaxing activity, so it takes its time to immerse you, even more thanks to the beautiful sceneries and mountain backdrops of autumn and winter, the animation (curated by C-Station) is good and the design are great, but i think what steals the show is the nature backgrounds, with lakes, cabins, tents, with great use of color and enhanced by the relaxing soundtrack.
It doesn’t matter if “nothing” really happens, because it’s a good type of nothing, and slice of life anime like Yuru Camp perfectly encapsulate the appreciation you can find for the “banal” and the moments of life where you just kick back, make yourself some hot cocoa, take a blanket and cocoon yourself into warm bliss by reading a book, sitting around with friends under the stars or just taking in the moments of peace and quiet.
The first season streams on Crunchyroll, but regardless of where you can watch it, i can’t recommend it enough to everyone, especially to fans of slice of life anime, this one is a must, and it’s even that long, it’s a pretty standard season of 12 episodes running 24 minutes each, but i would recommend really taking your time with it, instead of just rushing through the episodes.
I would end my review here, but there are 3 OVAs, and – like i said in the intro – since there’s no point in reviewing them on their own or all together, being few and short in lenght, i will give each one a quick rundown here.
The first one, Heya Camp (aka Room Camp) episode 0, in retrospective is basically a test-run for the spin-off series it would launch later, and basically has Aoi and Chiaki lament the cramped nature of their “club room”, as they should tidy up the place but instead check out gear in camping magazines and wonder if they could camp on a very thin budget by improvising the stuff left by the previous club as camping tools. It turns out they would look like hobos, so they give up.
In the second one, Hora Camp (Ruse Camp), Aoi, Chiaki and Nadeshiko sit around in the narrow club room, discussing the various styles of camping around the world, only to be interrupted by Aoi’s little sister, cracking jokes and ultimately assaulting Nadeshiko with multiple “Rins”, as everyone now dons Rin’s hair bun. Cute.
The last one, Survival Camp, it’s the longer of the OVA, running at 12 minutes, and it takes a bit more advantage of this being an OVA, so it has the girls “accidentally” parashooting into a deserted island, much to the dismay of the befuddled “english” speaking pilot. But they basically “forget” to survive and just basically camp overtime, even managing to squeeze in a bit of “beach episode” shots, but not that way, just them goofing off at sea and stuff. Until they remember they’re not on vacation or anything, that is. Not that they ever left Japan, that is.
It’s like a more light-hearted take on this kinda scenario, and a year later we had an anime about high school girls surviving in an unhabitated island, called “Are You Lost?”, who apparently was a bit more exploitationy and serious. I guess.
I haven’t properly watched it yet.
Next, we’ll be talking about the spin-off series, Room Camp!