I want to say “Long time, no see” to Laid-Back Camp though technically, I did recently rewatch and redid my episode reviews for the first season. We also had Room Camp in the winter season of last year. Even so, it has been almost three years since the first season aired and this season was more or less in production since. Long have I waited for this premiere.
The first season of Laid-Back Camp is a wonderful series, so much so that I consider it to be one of my favorite anime of 2018. Camping is a perfect topic for CGDCT and slice of life. The story, while a bit lightweight, is populated with a cast of incredibly charming characters and it does have an engaging arc to it. Both the art style and the music add to the experience originally created in the manga, to the point that it’s hard to imagine things without them. Simply put, I love Laid-Back Camp to pieces and I’m all for seeing more of it.
Oddly enough, Season 2 doesn’t begin by continuing from where we left off. Instead, we’re treated with a mini-prequel set a few years back, when Rin (Nao Touyama) is in middle school. In line with what she mentioned in Season 1, Rin develops an interest in camping via tinkering with some of the gear her grandfather leaves at her home. Before long, she asks her parents to let her go camping solo for the first time. Fittingly, the campsite she picks is the same one from the very first episode of Laid-Back Camp: Lake Motosuko.
It’s a little weird seeing Rin camp this young and so inexperienced. Not that she doesn’t make mistakes in present day but usually when she does, it’s due to circumstances beyond her control or that she didn’t foresee. Here, you can really tell that she’s new to camping. She’s not as knowledgeable with how to make campfires and ultimately gets help from the man in charge of the campsite (and yes, that actually is the same minor character from the first episode of Season 1). Later, she tries to cook curry rice and not only does she fail at it, she also gets soot on her pot which is a rookie mistake she mentions in Season 1. Also, she’s camping with her grandfather’s hand-me-downs unlike in present day where all her gear is bought with her own money. Rin camping on a budget? I never thought I’d see that.
Despite the hiccups, the trip does work out in the end. A nice touch is how Rin’s parents indirectly help her with the trip. Her dad (Takahiro Sakurai) secretly asks the man in charge of the campsite to stop by and help if asked while her mom (Kaori Mizuhashi) sneaks in a cup ramen in her backpack in case the curry rice goes awry. The trip is far from perfect but that’s to be expected and Rin still appreciates the experience she gains from it. Plus, none of the setbacks prevent her from enjoying the view. Even though Laid-Back Camp has technically used that specific vista before, it remains as stunning as it once was.
My only nitpick with this whole mini-prequel is the Nadeshiko (Yumiri Hanamori) cameo at the end. I know she’s just as important to the story as Rin but in this place in time, when both characters haven’t met and live far apart from each other, it feels a bit random and tacked on. It does however work as a transition back into present day.
From here, the show finally picks up from Season 1 ended. In fact, this is exactly where the manga resumes after the Christmas trip where Nadeshiko is working at a post office alongside Ena (Rie Takahashi). That does create a bit of confusion as the Season 1 finale ended with a scene set farther in the future where Nadeshiko has assembled her own gear, including the lamp she wanted to buy. With this part being set a few days after the Christmas trip, she obviously only just started working so said lamp and anything else she wants is on her wishlist. It’s a bit jarring but to be fair, there isn’t really anything the staff could do about that. That is, unless they want to just skip the stuff that’s canonically in between and I think we can all agree is a bad idea.
The rest of this episode is mostly the show checking up on its cast. Everyone is working part-time right now so that they can save up for some better camping gear. Even Ena is eyeing some stuff as, despite her commitment to the Going Home club, she is now interested in camping after the Christmas trip. A hilarious conversation soon arises when Chiaki (Sayuri Hara) learns in the group chat that all of her friends have more days off for New Year’s than her (of course Rin has the longest break) as well as fancier plans for the holiday, leaving the poor girl depressed. The only way things could get worse is if it’s revealed that she makes the least amount of money out of the gang. That all five main characters appear to be part of the same group chat is interesting, especially with Rin as she was only acquainted with Chiaki and Aoi (Aki Toyosaki) not too long ago. It really goes to show how close everyone has become with one another after one trip. Now, if only Rin and Ena would join the Outdoor Activities Club. I say that but I kind of hope the Outclub is forever stuck in that storage closet.
It’s not before long that the show has someone going camping again. In this case, Rin plans another solo trip, this time to another shrine connected to a spirit dog (Shimarin sure loves dogs). On the ride there, Rin meets with Nadeshiko by chance. I’m glad that the episode ends this way as Rin and Nadeshiko’s friendship is the most integral part of the story. It’d be weird to not re-establish that on the first episode of a new scene. The direction for the same is simply perfect too with how the sun rises just as the two girls reunite. Nadeshiko literally is brightening Rin’s day and as cheesy as that sounds, I do find that rather moving.
Like with Season 1, Season 2 appears to have short post-credit segments as well. This time around, Nadeshiko asks Chiaki and Aoi about the former’s nickname for the latter, Inuko, which naturally leads to Aoi trolling her as usual (where did she get that dog?). Curiously, Season 2 is not using the “Room Camp” name. In this episode’s case, the segment is called “Inuinu Inuko-san”, in reference to Aoi’s nickname. I guess the staff didn’t want to use the previous title as they spun it off into its own show but thing is, this segment still takes place in the storage closet. For all intents and purposes, this is “Room Camp”. Plus, if you really want to argue semantics, TV Room Camp barely takes place in the titular room at all! Goodness, who would’ve thought “Room Camp” would get so confusing.
OP: “Seize the Day” by Asaka
Thanks for reading!