005: Yuru Camp△
AKA: Laid-back Camp
Aired: Winter 2018
Genres: Slice of Life, Iyashikei, Comedy, Outdoors, School, CGDCT
Date watched: Nov 28 2018 – Nov 29 2018
Series watched: Yuru Camp△ (12 ep x 23 min + 2 ep x 6 min + 1 ep x 12 min)
Why I started watching: It was a highly popular Slice of Life anime from this year that had been getting lots of interesting reviews on Reddit. Furthermore, I had started watching K-ON!, and Yui’s VA there was in this show too, as Aoi, 2nd from left.
I am truly glad I tried this show. It acted as a warm, comfy blanket for me while mired up here in Edmonton, Canada in the middle of winter, and has the distinct honour of being the only show thus far that I have rewatched – not just once, but multiple times for some episodes. It brings with it a very feel-good sensation, sort of like when a chill wind nips at your face while most of your body is swathed in warmth, or when you bite down on something delicious after a long, tiring trek.
The show has a lot of things going for it, and there’s so much about it that I want to talk about. The girls visit various campsites in solo, pairs, and groups, allowing the narrator to explain aspects of camping technique, safety and tips in a multitude of different situations. Each campground is framed by breathtaking scenery, whether it be a pristine lake, majestic Fuji-san in the background, or a night view of a city soaked in glimmering lights. Various camp-friendly food recipes are described and demonstrated through the show, and its easy for my imagination to slip into euphoric bliss and enjoy the food alongside the girls as they react to how good it tastes.
The character designs are gorgeous, yet befit the atmosphere of the show. Even Nadeshiko’s pink hair and Aoi’s blonde hair are soft pastel colours rather than bright and loud, adding to the gentle, calm feeling that resonates through the episodes. Their personalities also match that mood – none of the characters have exaggerated personalities, and even Nadeshiko, the genki girl of the group, generally exudes an aura of soft, playful joy rather than the more common excitable and brash girl. This leads to really wholesome interactions with Rin, as they hit it off really well despite Nadeshiko being the most extroverted character, and Rin being the most introverted one. The two of them get a lot of air-time together away from the others, and their voice actresses absolutely nail the budding friendship between the two, as they reach for each other across the gulf between their personalities.
I especially really like how the show uses text messages as a medium for the girls to converse with each other, even when they are often apart and on their own adventures, and how they inject playful humour into a lot of their texts with each other. Even though all the early texts are various pairings of 1 to 1 conversations, the girls make new connections with each other as the show progresses, until they start getting into group chats and phone calls as well. Speaking as an introvert, and also as seen with Hifumi from New Game!, text messaging is a big equalizer for people who are uncomfortable talking or being around strangers, letting them more easily interact with others without getting overwhelmed.
The music in the show is fantastic, from the OP and ED right down to the upbeat whistling tunes that are interspersed through each episode. But the two songs that bookend each episode definitely impress me the most, both from the actual music as well as the symbolism behind the tracks. The OP (SHINY DAYS by Asaka) is an energetic song that starts off each episode singing about starting a journey on a bright, sunny day, optimistically looking for a future full of happiness. This is basically Nadeshiko’s theme song. On the other end, the ED (Fuyu Biyori by Eri Sasaki) contrasts this by having a slow, contemplative melody, as she sings about arriving at a campfire with friends at the end of a sunny winter day, settling down to rest, and finding happiness in the company of those friends. This, then, is Rin’s theme song, and thus each episode in between the two songs represents their journey.
The show is full of imagery like that, with little details that show how the two main characters slowly grow over time to be more like each other, while not pushing each others’ boundaries, and each admiring the positive aspects of the way the other girl does things. While I ended up loving many of the 2018 shows that I watched, this show definitely ended up being my personal pick for Anime of the Year 2018.
Final Score: 10/10