A Christmas two-parter on Christmas. How appropriate; more so than watching it in March which was when this two-parter aired back in 2018. And yes, I deliberately set it that way. When I found out Season 2 will premiere in January, I knew I had to schedule these re-reviews so that I get to the last two episodes on Christmas Eve and Day.
At long last, the gang’s all here, complete with a drunk teacher and an adorable dog! It can’t get any more ideal than that. Could this have happened a lot sooner? Getting the gang together is a staple in slice of life anime but even then, I can’t deny that Laid-Back Camp took its sweet time in doing so (and bear in mind that two of the characters tagging along is currently arrangement for this trip only). It’s kind of a shame that this is the only time in Season 1 where all five main characters are camping together. At the same time however, I think the show is better off this way. Rin being a lone wolf is a pivotal part of Laid-Back Camp‘s arc and her newfound flexibility feels so natural thanks to the show’s pacing. That and this trip is what Season 1 has been building up to, slowly but subtly and gradually, and it does pay off when you finally get here.
While Rin’s friendship with Nadeshiko remains as charming and endearing as ever (I find it fitting that Nadeshiko is the first person she meets up with), it’s also nice to see her interact more with Chiaki and Aoi. She’s still acquaintances with them at best but the fact that she is chatting with them is a far cry from how guarded she acted around them earlier in the series. A fun moment involving these three is when Rin helps Chiaki and Aoi carry the firewood. In true Shimarin fashion, the former bluntly tells the latter two that her moped can’t carry all of the supply and drives away, leaving Chiaki to reluctantly (and hilariously) carry the last bundle herself. I can only assume that’s payback for the Shimarin nickname.
Having Ena along for the ride certainly adds to the table. The show has teased a bit with her text messages with Rin, showing how playful she can be. That part of her personality very much shows through in person when she sends Chikuwa over to Rin and Nadeshiko as her so-called “assassin” (it’s what she calls him in her latest text message to Rin) and when she tricks Nadeshiko into getting chased by Chikuwa with her dog’s favorite food in hand. Ena is such a fun character that it’s kind of a shame she shows up sparingly in Season 1 and she’s only camping with the gang now (even though both of those make sense in the context of the story). I’m all for her having a larger role down the road.
As one would hope, the five main characters of the show are a fun bunch together. You have Nadeshiko recruiting everyone into Secret Society BLANKET. I love that this joke actually came back (and that the gang deems Chikuwa the leader of this organization). Ena hands over matching Santa uniforms for everyone to wear which the gang initially gest into until Chiaki comments on them looking like mall Santas meeting up after work. A depressing idea but also accurate. The gang enjoys Aoi’s cooking for dinner and there’s an amusing divide between Nadeshiko and Chiaki who react great enthusiasm and Rin and Ena who quietly enjoy the food. All things considered, it may have taken a long while to see everyone camp together but the show does make it up for with what scenes we do get to see.
Of course, this isn’t Laid-Back Camp without everyone being reminded of their wallets. Nadeshiko passes on getting sweets with Chiaki and Aoi because she has no money to spend. This girl seriously needs to get a job. Rin offers to cover the cost of the firewood as thanks for making dinner. That must be music to Chiaki’s ears. The best monetary joke comes when everyone checks out each other’s gear. While Rin does gets jealous over Ena’s fancy sleeping bag, all the envy naturally shifts over to her when everyone checks out the overall set up she has. It only further fuels my assumption that Rin has the most money in the bank compared to the rest of the main cast.
I love that the sole purposes of Toba-sensei and Chikuwa is to just be drunk and cute respectively. They don’t really add depth to the story but they’re still a delight to have on screen. Toba-sensei wastes no time breaking out the booze and it cracks me up that she’s either drunk, passed out, or hung over throughout the episode. Perhaps she’s showing awful etiquette as an educator, she is technically on the job as the club’s advisor, but considering that makes the bit even funnier. Meanwhile, Chikuwa is just so adorable to watch. Need I say more? I admittedly like dogs but come on, look at him!
At the end of the episode, the gang runs out of gas to use for cooking so Rin heads out to a convenient store to get some more. Not only is this another moment where she’s a team player, this is also a good way for her to begin reflecting on the Christmas trip. Suffice to say, she can’t help but smile over the good times she’s had so far. Rin’s whole arc is easily my favorite part about Laid-Back Camp Season 1. Not once has this anime argued that her preference to camp alone is unacceptable. In fact, it’s gone to great lengths showing how that kind of activity can be fun for someone. And yet, Rin has nevertheless come a long way, starting off as unwilling to join a club to now being willing to tag along for a special occasion. She’s grown more flexible about her hobby, recognizing that that camping with a group isn’t preferable but rather, as Ena once put it, just a different kind of fun.
Thanks for reading!
Watch Laid-Back Camp on Crunchyroll