Laid-Back Camp – Anime Review
Synopsis: Nadeshiko, a high school student who had moved from Shizuoka to Yamanashi, decides to see the famous, 1000 yen-bill-featured Mount Fuji. Even though she manages to bike all the way to Motosu, she’s forced to turn back because of worsening weather. Unable to set her eyes on her goal, she faints partway to her destination. When she wakes up, it’s night, in a place she’s never been before, with no way of knowing how to get home. Nadeshiko is saved when she encounters Rin, a girl who is out camping by herself. This outdoorsy girls story begins with this first encounter between Nadeshiko and Rin. (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: Laid-Back Camp is all about ambience building. It aims to flaunt the pleasures of winter camping through the form of anime, which has the power to make the mundane and plain look more appealing than one could imagine while completely avoiding any of the harsher realities or downfalls of the topic at hand. Laid-Back Camp boasts of amazing nature scenery and cute girls, both of which work together to entice the viewer into a sense of relaxation and more importantly, bring out a longing for winter camping.
Tom: The blatant purpose of the series is most apparent in where attention to detail and quality has been placed. Animation wise Laid-Back Camp isn’t a visual darling. It’s never an eyesore, but it’s hardly impressive, save for the highly detailed background artwork, crafted with such care that each and every campsite looks incredible, clearly pushing the show’s ‘lets get you interested in camping’ agenda. Things are further solidified as a winter camping advertisement with how the series is devoid of near anything else. There’s no drama, no heartache, no character conflict. Instead we’re treated to a calm, yet endearing atmosphere, that showcases all the upsides of winter camping and none of the downsides. Traditionally this makes Laid-Back Camp a lame duck, offering only minimal usage of anything that might be considered traditional comedy. But when viewed how it’s intended to be, an enticement for camping and a way to ease the viewer with something nice and soothing, Laid-Back Camp largely succeeds. It’s never boring, just relaxing, low energy and perfect for viewers seeking easy-going entertainment that doesn’t require much focus.
Linny: The first episode is actually the most direct and blatant as a sort of camping information anime as there’s even a narrator chattering on about the price of firewood in Japan and other tidbits. His role get significantly reduced after the first episode as it’s whittled down to about two short random segments total. The show gradually tries to be more organic about its information, which also becomes more casual and less specific, as it then proceeds to use the girls’ own preparations to go camping as a sort of demonstration of what is involved in the process. At times, Laid-Back camp seems to be attempting to join the recent flood of shows featuring food and cooking as a side theme. We get treated to the girls eating and cooking habits every time they go camping with just enough time spent on the food preparation process to make you feel like there’s a vague attempt to be a cooking anime on the side.
Tom: Outside of informing viewers on the ins and outs of Winter Camping in an effort (a successful effort as I understand) to get audiences out and onto the camping grounds, the show produces a largely charming, if static atmosphere peppered with your standard moe characters. Nadeshiko and Co. face no obstacles, no defining moments that cause them to reflect on themselves or their situation. Instead the focus is entirely on how wonderful each of these girls finds camping and the joys that come with it. That static nature helps to craft a playful and peaceful atmosphere that one can faithfully expect episode to episode.
Linny: Don’t expect anyone to get any in-depth character development or personality exploration. What character quirks we get are often used for a quick comedic gag, such as Nadeshiko’s random tendency to break into grandmother-like sentences. It’s not a criticism of the show but rather a definition of just what kind of show Laid-Back Camp is. This is a superficial series, one that’s filled with cute girls and cute moments meant to make the world of camping seem like nothing but bliss and paradise. Also, they introduce a teacher character who is extremely fond of alcohol and makes no attempts to hide it from her students at the camping trip. Her alcoholic extravagance only further cements how Laid-Back Camp is meant to be a fluffy, feel good show that you shouldn’t expect any serious content from. Laid-Back Camp does have this somewhat random reveal about Rin having a grandfather who likely is the source of her fondness for solo camping, yet in this modern age of cellphone cameras and super easy communication, she apparently has zero idea of what he looks like.
Tom: Traditionally I wouldn’t recommend Laid-Back Camp. It lacks drama, character development, punchy-comedy and a whole lot else normally expected of quality entertainment. But viewed as a series meant to unwind with, and give a glimpse into the world of Winter Camping, it succeeds on all fronts. It’s a title meant to wrap the viewer up in a hobby that they may not be familiar with, and explore something with adorable and enjoyable characters they may not otherwise be a part of. Titles like this have peppered the anime landscape of the last two years, with other examples from this very season. But Laid-Back Camp succeeds by keeping the characters simple, never too in your face and adding in enough facts and details to make the series feel informative enough. Laid-Back Camp remains the best ‘infomercial’ anime of the Winter season.
Linny: Laid-Back Camp joins a subset of blossoming anime that exist mainly to showcase appreciation for some particular item or activity and overlook plot and character depth for eye-catching visuals, mouth watering food and adorable but shallow (usually) girls. They’re the shows you can put on when you don’t want to think and only want to unwind and smile at the cute moments and appealing imagery. Laid-Back Camp serves this purpose well with its undeniably adorable cast and detailed nature imagery. It’s a show that may not necessarily be the best of anything you’ve seen but it’s definitely one of the most fun ways to experience and casually learn a little about winter camping.
Laid-Back Camp is available for streaming via Crunchyroll