Man, finishing this season for the first time left me feeling as empty as the characters’ wallets.
I made a similar comment in my original review of this season finale and obviously, it’s been tweaked here as I can no longer say this is the last we’ll ever see of Laid-Back Camp. There was no announcement of future projects right after this episode aired so I had to assume, like with many anime unfortunately, that this season was a one and done deal. Now, it’s a whole different story. We’ve had Room Camp earlier this year, we’ll have Season 2 next month, and there’s a movie in production. Be that as it may, I still want to mention how finishing Season 1 felt back in Winter 2018. I joke but I really did feel that empty when I first watched this finale. I love this season but because I love it, I felt reluctant to see it end.
About the only part of this episode that baffles me is the cold opening scene. At first, it seems like a seamless transition from the last episode’s ending where Rin makes a quick trip to get gas for the burner but one quick look at the characters and you’ll notice they look much older now. Your next thought would then be that the show flashed forward in time but after Nadeshiko is revealed to be a rich entrepreneur (I’m sorry but that’s hard to believe) and said CEO shows up in the rocket powered tent from the OP, it’s soon revealed that this is a hypothetical situation Nadeshiko discusses with her friends. It’s a pleasant enough scene, I particularly like the “post-timeskip” character designs, but it’s also such a random and odd moment to have and that’s even by the show’s standards.
Considering that almost all the plot development has been sorted out by now, there isn’t a whole lot to talk about with the conclusion of the Christmas trip. It very much is a calming walk to the finish line. That said, I am a bit amazed that there’s still plenty of fun antics to cram in. My favorite moment is when Ena styles everyone’s hair into a bun similar to Rin’s except for Nadeshiko where she deliberately makes her hair goofy (I didn’t mention this before but Ena’s hair styling skills are out of this world). I do love that the night ends with Rin and Nadeshiko talking about whatever before going to bed. It’s fitting given how integral their friendship is to the story. Also appropriate is seeing another vista of Mt. Fuji at sunrise (accompanied once again by the superb soundtrack), putting a real big bow on this trip. That’ll never get old.
It’s the aftermath of the trip that’s actually more noteworthy. The takeaway is that the Outclub is back to square one with three members. Rin not permanently joining I get as she’s a solo camper through and through. What about Ena then? As much as she enjoyed the Christmas trip, she apparently doesn’t want to give up on the Going Home club just yet so she’s effectively a part-timer as well. To be fair, that is so in character of Ena to do. About the only real addition to the Outclub is Toba-sensei though I imagine she’ll largely be passed out drunk in the teacher’s lounge during club meetings. Plus, she’s serving as the advisor so the club is still one member shy from an upgrade. At least at the end of Season 1, the club remains as a group of three eternally trapped in that storage closet. It’s both sad and hilarious. I’d also argue it’s fitting thematically. With how much of this show is about how these characters enjoy camping their own way, it’s better to have them still going their separate ways. Besides, they’re still friends as evidenced by the roll call at the end, “edited” in a way that it looks like all five characters are in the same room despite some of them being in a completely different area from the rest.
Really though, the biggest development is that Nadeshiko finally finds a job, thanks to Rin and Ena’s help. She did it, guys! She can finally afford her own stuff!
I haven’t really compared the anime to the manga. The reason for that is that the anime is extremely faithful to its source material and the most of the changes are rather minor. This final episode does have a noticeable amount of original content from what I can tell. For starters, there’s the cold opener and the aftermath of the trip (though the latter does lead into where the manga resumes). It’s really the post-credit scene where I think liberties are taken. While it’s still set in the winter, it’s implied that some time has passed since the Christmas trip. Nadeshiko now has her own set of equipment (see what I mean?) and is camping solo for the first time, fittingly in Lake Motosuko where the story all began. That is, until she and Rin find out that they picked the same destination.
The ending is definitely something that was created to wrap things up more conclusively in case the show is only one season. Be that as it may, I find this to be the perfect note to end on. With how Laid-Back Camp validates Rin’s preference for solo camping, it’s extremely fitting to then show her best friend giving it a try. It is a little surprising as Nadeshiko strikes out to me as so sociable and would therefore enjoy camping more with friends. Then again, that’s kind of the point. She’s stepping out of her comfort zone and trying something different, just like Rin did this entire season. Maybe the scene cops out a little by having Nadeshiko bump into Rin. I would’ve liked to see Nadeshiko actually camp alone. However, I’d argue them camping together at the first campsite again brings the story to full circle.
If the Laid-Back Camp anime really did end here, I’d accept that and be happy with what we got. In fact, I did for a couple months until Season 2 (plus the TV version of Room Camp and the movie) got greenlit. Obviously though, I’m glad that this isn’t the end of the road. I love Laid-Back Camp and the anime is my preferred version of its story. Unless the show somehow jumps the shark, I’m all having more of it and fortunately, there has and is going to be more.
See you all in Season 2.
Thanks for reading!
Watch Laid-Back Camp on Crunchyroll