Laid-Back Camp

Laid-Back Camp

img_5643.jpgNadeshiko, a high school student who had moved from Shizuoka to Yamanashi, decides to see the famous, 1000 yen-bill-featured Mount Fuji. Even though she manages to bike all the way to Motosu, she’s forced to turn back because of worsening weather. Unable to set her eyes on her goal, she faints partway to her destination. When she wakes up, it’s night, in a place she’s never been before, with no way of knowing how to get home. Nadeshiko is saved when she encounters Rin, a girl who is out camping by herself. This outdoorsy girls story begins with this first encounter between Nadeshiko and Rin.

img_5655.jpgI first looked at this one and thought “Uh-oh, an anime about camping. What entertainment could this one possible offer me – a person that just simply can’t get along with anything remotely camp-related?”, but I thought I would give the first episode a watch, so at the very least to justify why I wouldn’t be watching it this season. By the end of that first episode I just knew I had to add this one to my queue.

img_5645.jpgRin is a young woman who loves the peace and solitude offered by camping in the winter. The views are clear, there’s no bugs and she doesn’t have to get too hot and sweaty. Then, whilst on a trip to camp at Morosuka Lake, she meets Nadeshiko, on her own, just sleeping on a bench. After taking this energetic girl into her camp and cooking her some ramen, Rin finds that Nadeshiko has become enamoured with her camping set-up: the simplicity, the views of Mt. Fuji and all the delicious foods that can be cooked over a campfire.

As soon as she goes back to school, Nadeshiko heads straight for the Outdoor Activities Club and wants to join. The club only consists of two members so far: club president Chiaki and her friend Aoi, but they can’t turn away Nadeshiko and her enthusiasm (especially since their growing club members might net them a larger club room than the literal cupboard they’re already in). And so a trio of campers is formed.

img_5648.jpgWhen  Nadeshiko realises Rin goes to the same school, she tries to enlist her in the club, but Rin refuses. She still prefers to camp solo (even if she is struggling to pay site rental, travel and all the camp food she wants to cook and enjoy is out of season). Even so, the friendly Nadeshiko still invites herself along to camp with Rin as well as visiting other campsites with the Outdoor Activities Club; and though she prefers to camp along, Rin can’t help but warm towards Nadeshiko and the thought that camping with a friend might not be so bad after all.

img_5655.jpgThere are two things about Laid-Back Camp that endeared it to me at an early stage: the beautiful scenery and the wonderful music. The sweeping scenes of mountains, lakes and forests are breathtaking, with the changing colour palette and the way the sun rises and sets is stunning. And I haven’t even begun to talk about the views of Mt. Fuji, which we see many times from different campsites – and it always looks incredible. Even the scenes of Japanese countryside as the campers travel to their destinations and stop for supplies are wonderfully drawn. And the music complements these scenes extraordinarily well. It’s simplistic and soothing, with soft strings and light melodies of wind instruments making things chilled and relaxing. There’s no danger of peril here in Laid-Back Camp (unless you count the time the club wrapped Chiaki up like a parcel to see what materials were the most insulating), so kick back and enjoy the views, developing friendships and delicious anime food as the group tests out the camping grounds surrounding Mt. Fuji.

img_5647.jpgThere seems to be a social angle to Laid-Back Camp, with the idea of selling camping to a younger audience, much like they promoted cycling with Minami Kamakura High School Bicycle Club. There’s even six short videos with Hanamori Yumiri, the voice actor for Nadeshiko, where she gives beginner tips for solo camping. I’ve said this before, but this is such a great premise and I wish I saw it more on UK animation projects.

img_5654.jpgWatching Rin and Nadeshiko camp out in different places was, dare I say it, great fun. I did think this story would be very similar to A Place Further Than the Universe, but was pleasantly surprised to find it different. I also like that the ‘cute girls doing cute things’ element has been toned down and lets the heart of the story shine through so I can fully enjoy the experience for what it is meant to be. Although the reality is that I will always dislike camping, Laid-Back Camp means that I can enjoy all the benefits of the activity whilst never leaving the comfort of my own home.