When I was young, my parents often took us camping. In the early years we would go and rent out a spot with a tent, and then be there for a while. Later we switched to those holiday homes. The cheap ones, obviously. That was a step up for me, but I still hated it. Now part of that had to do with my brain being hardwired to hate change and not having control over where I am and what my schedule is, but another part of it is that I appreciate my comfort a lot. I don’t like going on vacation and having to make do with less functionality than at home. I want to relax. I want to have my own schedule and not spend 3 hours walking around a forest I don’t care about. I don’t want to sit in a wonky chair outside a cramped tent. And yet when I read or watch Yuru Camp, I do think to myself “man, camping looks kind of fun.”
I love slice of life as a genre. It’s right up there with sports, romance and drama. When I get home from a long day, turn on my computer and I can watch something that requires absolutely no brain power then that is the best I can ask for. Yuru Camp, or Laid-back camp, is the perfect example of this. And the reason it is that good is quite simple. It somehow manages to sell you on something you don’t want to be sold on. It’s the same with Non Non Biyori, which also has a season airing as of writing this. Do I want to live out in a tiny village with four houses? Absolutely not. Do I watch Non Non Biyori and think to myself that it might not be such a bad idea? For sure.
A good slice of life lets us walk alongside someone else as they live their life. It seems like a silly concept, but once you start getting a feel for it, it really is quite amazing. You learn the ins and outs of someone else’s interests and do so through watching a group of fun characters experience it. There is no drama, there are no big problems to resolve, everything goes alright and life is good. There is nothing better after a stressful day. Nadeshiko and Rin are two fantastic characters who each have their own philosophy when it comes to camping. Rin loves camping alone, and although she ends up camping with the Outdoors club, and thoroughly enjoying it, she also goes back to solo camping. Nadeshiko is a people person from the very first panel she appears in. Well, not the very first, she’s asleep on a bench in the first panel, so not that sociable at that point, but you get what I mean. She loves being with people, eating good food and having fun. But she also tries out solo camping, because Rin loves it so much that it has to be good. And then she happily goes back to camping with friends. The beauty here is that you can enjoy experiencing different things from time to time, but you do not have to sacrifice the fun experiences you were already having. Good friends give each other space but are also there when you want to hang out.
What ties this show together as an anime (as opposed to the manga) is the music. I have often used the description “Japanese Jackson Five” to refer to the opening theme of season one. I wish I came up with that, but like all the best things, it’s obviously stolen from someone else. Besides that it has great sound effects, fantastic voice actors that really bring the characters to life, and just all around a good quality show. I cracked up when the pinecone said “cone-ichiwa” even though I knew it would happen. And yes, that is hilarious, I will fight you if you disagree. Everything about this show, both in manga and anime, feels polished. Afro has these little blurbs at the end of each volume as well, talking about what happened, and it just feels like a real passion project. It brings me more joy than I can put into writing, and that is very important in these dark and depressing times.
If all of that wasn’t enough to sell this show to you, it also has cute dogs. I think I’ll rest my case.
On a slightly more serious note, Yuru Camp is the most relaxing manga/anime I have ever consumed and I highly recommend that everyone check it out.
I know Wednesdays are anime focused, but I decided to talk about both the anime and manga. I can only humbly apologize.