***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Yuru Camp. Reader discretion is advised.***
Rin Shima (voiced by Nao Toyama) has always loved the quiet solitude of nature. Whenever she has a free weekend, she will pack up her bike and head out to a nearby campground for the night. Whenever she is sitting next to the warmth of her campfire, Rin can’t be any more relaxed.
Although nothing will ever change that calming sensation, Rin’s solo camping time is about to get a bit more energetic. Through a chance encounter, Rin meets Nadeshiko Kagamihara (voiced by Yumiri Hanamori).
Nadeshiko knows very little about the outdoors, but after one look at its captivating beauty, she becomes determined to learn as much as she can. Soon, Nadeshiko turns into a full-blown camping fanatic. Luckily for Nadeshiko, her new friend Rin has enough experience to share, even if Rin finds Nadeshiko’s personality a touch tiring.
Despite their different temperaments, Nadeshiko and Rin grow incredibly close over their love of camping. With the entire outside world as their playground, there is no limit to where these two will go next.
I don’t believe I’ve ever had the opportunity to express how much I love camping. Sadly, time, budget, and lack of proper equipment haven’t allowed me the chance to go out in the wilderness for a night in recent years. However, for nearly ten years of my life, I went on at least one camping trip a month.
As a result of that, I have camped in the rain, the wind, and the snow. I’ve slept in the below freezing temperatures of the mountains and have cooked food in the scorching heat of the desert. I’ve been to the forest, the sea, and everywhere in between. You name it, and I’ve probably pitched a tent in it. And sometimes, I never even bothered to bring a tent.
Camping is something I know. Thus, when I see a camping-based episode in an anime, I always get a bit nostalgic. Therefore, I want you to imagine my excitement, as well as my hesitation when I first heard of Yuru Camp -- an entire series focused on a hobby I care a lot about.
Based on what I just explained, I am sure you can see why this show would have my interest. I was looking forward to this one. However, I was a little worried because, more so than usual, I didn’t want this series to suck.
Why would Yuru Camp flopping have mattered to me at all? In the grand scheme of things, it wouldn’t have. But on a more personal level, before starting this show, I could only think of a single camping-centered anime; and that was going to be Yuru Camp. In my mind, if there were just going to be one example of this type of show, I would have preferred it not to be bad.
Low and behold, this was not bad. As a camper, I could not have asked for a better series. But as an anime reviewer, Yuru Camp was legitimately very good.
For the remainder of this review, I will try to maintain a critical mind when discussing this series. That said, many of the reasons why this show worked are going to be the same reasons why my camping background allowed me to enjoy Yuru Camp more than I would have some other anime.
For example, this show’s artwork was gorgeous. Yuru Camp brought out the beauty of its locations. Whether it was the tranquility of a lakeside campground, a starry night sky, or the Sun breaking over Mt. Fuji, there were a lot of breathtaking visuals. A reason I like to go camping is getting the chance to relax in these kinds of picturesque locations.
So yeah, there may be some overlap with my viewpoints.
And if you allow me a second to speculate, there were aspects of this show that indicated there might be some campers among the people behind Yuru Camp.
It would have been easy to set this series during the peak camping season – the summer. This would make sense since the weather’s warmer, the days are longer, and especially for high schoolers, there’s a lot more free-time to go out and camp. If you want to put this hobby in the best light possible without having to give it much effort, summer is the way to go.
Yuru Camp didn’t do that.
This series really explored why its characters enjoyed camping. When Yuru Camp opened, winter was a stone’s throw away. The draw of Summer Fun Time was not here. Rather than providing a generic, and frankly, boring rationale of “only true campers take on the wilderness when it’s at its harshest,” this show gave its characters legitimate, well-thought-out reasons as to why all-season camping wasn’t some impossible notion to them.
There is no such thing as the ideal time to go camping. Every season has its own benefits and challenges. Sure, summer may have warmth. But it also has bugs, and sweat, and crowds. Winter, while undoubtedly cold, and that is never fun, removes many of summer’s most significant drawbacks. Not only that, a hot meal and a nice campfire are a lot more comforting when there’s a bit of a chill in the air.
Yuru Camp not only made camping look like fun, it made camping look like fun all year round.
That is why I believe someone behind this series has gone on a few camping trips in their life. This could be Yuru Camp’s creator, Afro. It could be this show’s director, Yoshiaki Kyougoku. It could be a combination of a lot of people; I can only guess.
And if I’m wrong, that doesn’t change the fact Yuru Camp was in the hands of talented storytellers who allowed this series to separate itself from the hundreds of other slice-of-life anime out there. Never once did I think I was watching some other show.
Another series that managed to create such a strong sense of identity for itself was Non Non Biyori.
If you don’t know, Non Non Biyori is one of, if not my favorite slice-of-life anime; for it is a genre-defining series. If you want to know what goes into a great slice-of-life, look no further.
I mention this because Yuru Camp is a perfect companion piece for Non Non Biyori.
But for those of you who have never seen Non Non Biyori, let me assure you, it is fantastic. And me equating Yuru Camp to it is the strongest compliment I can think of.
For the time being, I am going to say Yuru Camp consisted of four principal characters. I will explain why I am doing this later in the review. But even among these four, there are only two I want to focus most of my attention on. For the other two, though, I want to make sure I at least mention them since they gave this series a lot of its charm.
Chiaki and Aoi were the founders of this show’s Outdoor Activities Club which Nadeshiko joined. My favorite thing about these two was how helpful they were towards their green clubmate. Chiaki and Aoi were happy someone had taken an interest in their hobby, and they were more than willing to help their new friend get started.
Along with that, Chiaki and Aoi were always hoping Solo Camper Rin would join their club, but they understood why Rin liked her solitude. Although Chiaki and Aoi enjoyed the comradery that comes from camping with a group of people, they knew their way wasn’t the only way to camp. And that was something I appreciated this show for doing.
Yuru Camp didn’t try to make it seem as if group camping was the superior method to get the most out of your outdoor experience. This series acknowledged that camping with friends or by yourself are equally valid.
That said, Yuru Camp was smart in saying, doing something different every now and then doesn’t hurt. If I can add in my two cents, the occasional break from your usual routine helps prevent things from going stale.
Through Chiaki and Aoi, Yuru Camp drove home the point that people can enjoy the same thing for different reasons.
While that was great and all, Yuru Camp’s primary focus was Nadeshiko and Rin. Without these two, this series would have lost a massive chunk of what made it so good.
Nadeshiko was an excellent example of the difference between a dense character and an inexperienced one. Having never camped before, there were a lot of things that were new to Nadeshiko. However, she had plenty of common sense to pick up the basics as she went along. For instance, setting up a ten dollar tent should never be a quantum mechanics project, and Nadeshiko never treated it as such.
If you think I’m stating the obvious, please keep in mind, I have seen shows as recently as 2017 with characters who didn’t know how to operate a cheap DVD player. Perhaps it’s just me, but more often than not, I prefer to follow characters who are competent and not ones who are inept.
Moreover, Nadeshiko was always willing to try. The thought of sleeping on the ground, in the cold, and away from the comforts of a home never bothered her. It was almost as if she was only going to be out for a single night and wasn’t preparing for the end of the world.
If you’ve never been camping before and think Nadeshiko made the whole process look easy, it’s because that’s the reality.
The level of camping in this series is as simple as Yuru Camp made it look. With some basic equipment, a little bit of general know-how, and a willingness to experiment along the way, camping isn’t some insurmountable barrier; you’re not going into space.
With Nadeshiko never treating camping like the biggest deal in the world, it made her entire character, as well as this show, much more believable and grounded.
And where Nadeshiko was a good representation of a novice camper, Rin was even better as an experienced one.
Rin was my favorite character of Yuru Camp because I saw my younger self in her. It was clear that camping wasn’t some conveniently specific storytelling quirk for her. This was something she loved doing and knew a lot about it.
Rin, as a solo camper, preferred the quietness of nature. It was understandable why she would be hesitant to give that up. But, like Chiaki and Aoi, Rin never wanted to discourage others from giving camping a shot. Rin would even apologize whenever she felt she was too standoffish with Nadeshiko.
But the best thing about Rin had to be how she was still learning. Although she had been camping for years, there were things she didn’t know. This was a perfect demonstration of how things should work.
For me, I have learned a new trick on every camping trip I have ever been on. And to tell you the truth, Yuru Camp gave me some new ideas I would like to try.
Also, the way Rin nerded out when she got new gear to play with was adorable.
One last point, there was something else Yuru Camp did that impressed me.
Nadeshiko and Rin were the main characters of this series. When they were together, camping or otherwise, that was one of the setups that made this show a lot of fun. Another was when Nadeshiko and Rin were separate.
There was a rather long stretch of this show when Nadeshiko and Rin were on their own camping trips – Rin by herself, and Nadeshiko with Chiaki and Aoi. What Yuru Camp did was split its focus, and many shows fall apart when doing this because there’s no understanding of how to properly give attention to two different plotlines at once.
However, since Yuru Camp had solid characters in both Nadeshiko and Rin, this show had two interesting people to jump between. Not only that, this series never spent too much or too little time on a single character.
This made it even more fascinating when Nadeshiko and Rin planned their first camping trip together. Despite the difference in experience, we had two people with a passion for a hobby they cared about.
Having that passion come through when watching this series was what made Yuru Camp so special.
Let’s see, here’s a series that Odyssey liked a lot. Who wants to take bets on whether he will have anything to say in this section?
I will admit there won’t be a lot for me to talk about concerning the negatives of Yuru Camp. After all, there weren’t that many. But there was something.
Before I say what that something was, I want to make a distinction.
Just because I find fault with a show, that doesn’t mean I care that fault exists. Don’t get me wrong; I strive to point out mistakes when and where I see them. If a series happens to be outstanding, that doesn’t permit me to give it a free pass when I notice a stumble. My acknowledging a flaw is a far cry away from me harping on one.
When you’re walking in the rain with an umbrella, how often do you care when your shoulder gets a little damp even though the rest of your body remains bone dry?
With that out of the way, remember when I mentioned how I was only going to focus on Yuru Camp’s four principle characters? To explain myself, the group of Nadeshiko, Rin, Chiaki, and Aoi didn’t make up the entire main cast. My issue is, this show set itself up to have more than four principal characters, but it did almost nothing with that.
The two people that come to mind are Rin’s best friend, Ena Saitou (voiced by Rie Takahashi) and the substitute teacher turned the Outdoor Activities Club advisor, Minami Toba (voiced by Shizuka Itou).
By themselves, I don’t have a problem with Ena or Ms. Toba. In fact, I liked them as characters because they added a fresh dynamic to the main cast when the show finally brought them into the fold.
Too bad Yuru Camp didn’t have Ena or Ms. Toba do anything of significant note until episode eleven, Christmas Camp.
Introducing essential characters so late in the game is something I never like to see. The problem with what Yuru Camp did was that episode eleven wasn’t the introduction for Ena or Ms. Toba. Both had a well-established presence in the series to indicate, “Hey, these two are going to become important eventually.”
However, if you were to remove Ena and Ms. Toba from this series, nothing would have changed.
Now, if you’re thinking this was another example of an anime setting up for a potentially-never-going-to-happen continuation, that wasn’t the case either. Yuru Camp was self-contained. There is still material a second installment can pull from, sure. But should that never come, its whatever. This series ended on a very satisfying note.
And since there was no indication of a second season, that left an even bigger question mark as to why Ena and Ms. Toba were so underutilized.
Nevertheless, this was a problem that required zero effort to look past. It would be silly to get yourself hung up on something so small when the rest of this show knocked everything else out of the park.
I know, sooner or later, someone is going to ask me why I like camping. If my best efforts don’t succeed in getting my point across, I can now turn to this show for help.
When someone eventually asks me, “Why,” I can hand them this series and say, “This is the reason.”
With my love of camping aside, this show was outstanding. From beautiful animation to well-rounded characters, this really was the full package. This is a wonderful series to throw on whenever you have thirty minutes or an entire afternoon to relax. I can easily see myself coming back to this one time and time again.
Hell, I think I know what I need to do for my next campfire entertainment.
Without a doubt, Yuru Camp is a series I highly recommend.
But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this show? What would be your advice concerning Yuru Camp? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
And if you liked what you read, be sure to follow me on my social media sites so that you never miss a post or update. Also, please share this review across the internet to help add to the discussion.
I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.
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