Laid-Back Camp – Ep. 4

This next episode and the next five are going to be where most of my renewed attention goes to. Thing is, I originally grouped these episodes together; Episodes 4 through 6 one post and Episodes 7 and 9 in another. That largely had to do with a lack of time, I was busy finishing up college, though I did partly do it on purpose to experiment on covering a show more periodically and with a couple episodes at a time (I called it “On Occasion”). It wasn’t a bad idea but ultimately, I went back to covering Laid-Back Camp one episode at a time. Now that I’m re-reviewing this season, I’m taking the opportunity to give these six episodes more expansive blog posts.

So now that Chiaki and Aoi have a flow of income, the Outdoor Activities Club can finally go on camping! I don’t know what the deal is Nadeshiko. You don’t see her apply for a job so we’re left to just assume she has an allowance from her parents. Then again, she’s technically been mooching off of Rin’s camping trips (she also had her sister pay for her permit last trip) so maybe I shouldn’t expect her to pull her weight for the club.

I’ve been throwing in comments about the characters’ wallets throughout these episode re-reviews as it really is a recurring gag throughout the show (and my personal favorite gag to boot). That said, no episode better exemplifies how stinking broke the Outclub is than this one. Camping equipment is pricey, that is true, but I still think it says something if these girls are still trying to cheap out on their gear. They have a sleeping bag meant for the summer and try to find use out of it in the winter season by adding materials that’ll insulate. It’s a cute scene, I especially like how Chiaki is the test dummy and Nadeshiko keeps running off and coming back with the materials, but I really have to wonder the exact budget if they’re trying to save even more. The best part is that while the makeshift sleeping bag actually works, you can’t get out so it’s deemed impractical and the girls end up biting the bullet by buying actual sleeping bags.

The financial woes of the Outclub get funnier when you see how well-off Rin is by comparison. Apparently, this girl got her motorcycle license offscreen and acquires a scooter in this episode. Her taking a test and getting license is perplexing enough as it’s not once mentioned prior to this episode (and I checked, this plays out about the same way in the manga) but how did she afford that scooter? Either her parents pitched in, she saved up for a long time, or that bookstore she works at pays really well. Frankly, I’m inclined to believe my last hunch because it’s funnier and there is a scene where Rin takes a lunch break and shrugs off the prices thanks to her most recent paycheck. Maybe she really is making more than Chiaki and Aoi (definitely more than Nadeshiko at least). All I know is that between this and the fact that Rin already has the essential gear for camping, there’s a serious disparity between her and the Outclub (not that I’m complaining…).

Having sat through with Rin and Nadeshiko’s adventures for the past three episode, I look at this episode as a bit of a test. It’s Nadeshiko’s first time traveling with her fellow club members and the first truly solo trip for Rin. In other words, things are playing differently this time around. I will wholeheartedly admit that I am a biased here. I do vastly prefer the times where Rin and Nadeshiko camp together. The two play off of each other so well and there really is something endearing about their bond. Chiaki and Aoi are certainly a fun bunch but the chemistry between them and Nadeshiko simply doesn’t have that same spark. That said, I know that it’d be a detriment if it the show solely revolved around Rin and Nadeshiko’s trips together. You need to make use of the other characters and having Rin constantly hanging out with a buddy would be counterproductive to the arc the show is going for her.

All that aside, I still have a good time. It’s a nice change of pace to finally see Chiaki and Aoi go camping and see Nadeshiko with characters who are more on her wavelength. The club do have their moments. My favorite bit is when they get exhausted trying to keep up with the sprightly Nadeshiko and try hitchhiking just to go up a hill faster. I completely lose it whenever I get to that scene. Meanwhile, Rin has been able to carry her scenes by her lonesome before and this episode is no different. Some fun moments are when she encounters some playful dogs in the backseat of the vehicles in front of her and the aforementioned part where she takes advantage of her bookstore money.

While Rin and Nadeshiko are off on their own trips, they do contact each other throughout the day. They send each other pictures with some accompanying messages (I haven’t mentioned this yet but I love the characters’ chibi portraits on their phones). At the end of the episode, Rin gets a bit clever with her message by waving at a live camera on the street and sending Nadeshiko a link to the stream. There’s also a moment where Rin contemplates on getting a souvenir to Nadeshiko, which goes to show how much she values their friendship. It all gives the sense that these two are still connected in spite of them doing separate things. Keep that in mind as that’s something that will come into play more in the next episode.

I haven’t brought up the “Room Camp” segments since the first episode review. They’re funny but they’re brief and they speak for themselves. I do however want to comment on this episode’s segment as I think it’s the funniest and memorable installment within Season 1. Just the concept of the Outclub “practicing” how to camp and not even with actual objects but with Nadeshiko pretending to be them is sidesplitting. Again, how broke is this club? The lack of expression on the girls’ faces is also priceless. It’s like they know what they’re doing is sad, I love it.

Thanks for reading!

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