Title: Laid-Back Camp Season 2
Release Date: January 1, 2021
Production Companies: C-Station
Based on manga?: Yes, original manga published May 23, 2015
Watch on: Crunchyroll
Have you ever watched or played something that can be summed up as “comfy”? Something that, when you watch or play it, gives you the feeling comparable to relaxing in a nice chair with a warm drink? The reason being is, I’ve just finished watching the second season of Laid-Back Camp, AKA Yuru Camp roughly translated, and frankly, that’s the exact word that comes to mind.
Another question to ask yourself is: do you need a plot that contains a threat the characters must overcome, or are you simply happy to let the simple plot wash over you like a wave at the beach? I ask because Laid-Back Camp doesn’t contain any demons to slay, or gods to kill, or harems to acquire. No, what this particular show focuses on is the experiences (“slice-of-life” to regular anime watchers) of a group of high-school girls who love to go camping. That might sound overly simplistic to be entertaining, but the real highlight of the show comes from the cast of characters, and the journey you go on with them.
Camping Girls Do Camping Things
Numerous characters are part of the main cast, but the show focuses mainly on two in particular. Rin and Nadeshiko are two girls who both share a love of camping, although their specific tastes couldn’t be more different. Nadeshiko enjoys the companionship of camping with friends, while Rin refers to go it alone. You get to see both perspectives in Season 1 of Laid-Back Camp, and the gradual appreciation that the two girls have for each other’s preference which forms throughout twelve episodes is one of the most heartwarming narratives I’ve watched in an anime. Season 2 focuses mainly on the group side, but that gives you much more screen time with some of the other girls who felt perhaps underused in the first season.
We spend a lot more time with Chiaki, Aoi (the other members along with Nadeshiko that make up the Outdoor Activities Club), and Ena, three girls who aren’t on the same level as Rin or Nadeshiko, but have their own personalities nevertheless. The three even get their own episode, which also contains some of the highest levels of tension in the season as they deal with rogue phone signals and low batteries. The horror!
We culminate in a trip to Izu, and the quest to visit all of the many “geospots”, formations in the land that are popular tourist destinations. The scenes that contain all of the girls are the best to watch, and the last few episodes where all of them go on their Izu trip are packed with some of my favorite scenes in the whole show.
Season 2 also dives deeper into the girls’ backstories, especially Rin’s as you get to see her very first solo camping trip (in the very first scene in Season 2 might I add – what a way to start!). It’s adorable to compare it to present-day Rin, who is an expert in camping knowledge. Seeing those initial struggles as she discovers her love for camping gives a human side to Rin that we never got in the first season, where she was the solo camp guru.
The second season has a lot more of these character-building events littered throughout. It seems like a natural progression from the first season, where you were getting to know about the characters in the present, and now you see moments of their families, pasts, and how they came to love doing what they do. Character interactions are adorable as ever – seeing the unspoken bond that Rin and Nadeshiko share, checking up on each other when they’re on their respective solo trips.
The show creates a wonderful sense of immersion by combining some of the best art and music I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing in a show. As a show where people go camping in lots of scenic locations, you’d hope that the animation studio can capture those great vistas and make you want to go there. Well, judging that people have made videos comparing the real-life locations to their anime counterparts, I’d say it’s succeeded. This season raises the bar in immersive art, with highly detailed vistas and delicious food being constant sources of awe in each of the thirteen episodes.
It’s backed up by a suite of upbeat and relaxing musical tracks that I can’t help but bop along to. The opening and ending songs for each episode are an audiovisual treat, and they have found a home on my Spotify playlists for me to come back to again and again.
Verdict: If anime like Attack on Titan or Jujitsu Kaisen is meant to excite and invigorate you, Laid-Back Camp is meant to do the opposite. In that respect, it achieves a level of soothing and calming quality I haven’t seen yet in my anime travels, and is probably my favorite show I’ve seen. I’m sad to see it go, knowing the wait between anime seasons is not as rapid as an equivalent TV show or even Western animated show, but if Season 3, or whatever comes next, is anything near as good as Laid-Back Camp Season 2, then we’re in for a chill time. Marshmallows anyone?