The first part of this episode has Chiaki showing off a bowl and skillet set to Aoi. From there, she learns of the bowl’s lacquer finish and takes the time in a school lab to remove it so that she can use it for hot foods. And yes, the plan reeks of saving money just as much as the bowl reeks itself after the finish is removed. This part always stood out to me as it’s arguably the longest the spotlight is squarely on Chiaki and Aoi. I fully admit that these two are not my favorite characters though in their defense, Laid-Back Camp isn’t really about them and the scenes they have to themselves are rare in Season 1. Honestly, it’s a good thing we have the “Room Camp” segments as it gives the two some much needed attention, especially in episodes where they barely appear in the main story.
What’s nice about focusing on Chiaki and Aoi for a change is that we get to see more of the chemistry between just these two, something which gets a little lost when Nadeshiko is tagging along. Aoi is a little quirky, “Room Camp” reveals that she has a penchant for lying, but when standing next to Chiaki, she can come across as more of the straight man. Case in point, Chiaki impulsively decides to remove the finish on the bowl so that her monetary sacrifice is not in vain while Aoi is quick to point out that they have exams to study for. Another moment, and also my favorite joke in the episode, is when Aoi says she’ll be busy going on a date during Christmas. She quickly reveals she’s actually spending time with her family and yet, Chiaki still gives the same overdramatic reaction, as though her friend having a personal life of any kind baffles her.
Once finals are over, Chiaki and Aoi takes Nadeshiko to a sporting goods store and browse the items up for sale. This of course includes them trying stuff out for free at the risk of getting kicked out. While certainly a valuable experience for Nadeshiko, there is the natural result of the poor girl being reminded once more of how broke she is. Case in point, there’s a gas lantern she’s eyeing and the price is unfortunately above her budget (I love how quickly she goes from excited to depressed as soon as she looks at the tag). Now sounds like a good time to get a job and Nadeshiko seems to think so as well.
Some other things to bring up. First, the Outclub is planning a trip around Christmas and they invite Ena to come along as well. The possibility of Ena joining is certainly an intriguing move when you consider her friendship with Rin. Ena has practically acted as an intermediary between Rin and the Outclub before and she is the best person besides Nadeshiko who could convince Rin to join a group trip. Second, the characters periodically discuss their new substitute teacher, Toba-sensei. Considering the rumor of her love for alcohol and the shot where she brings a six pack of beer home, I think you can take a good guess who this person really is. The fact that she is a teacher who like goes camping is also a telling sign. A general takeaway to take from both of these developments is that Laid-Back Camp is clearly building towards something.
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