Laid-Back Camp – Mid Season 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)
Mid Season (6 Episodes) Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: Six episodes and halfway into its run, Laid-Back Camp is really embracing its title. The first few episodes may have given viewers the thought that the show would be about solo camper Rin coming to bond with Nadeshiko and learning to enjoy group camping. However, six episodes later and Rin and Nadeshiko are only just about starting their first proper camping trip together. All the other episodes so far have focused on the girls going on their own separate camping trips, Nadeshiko with the members of their school’s outdoor activities club and Rin continuing her solo trips. The show thankfully makes the slow pace a part of its charm and also cements that this show is something you can watch in a relaxed manner without ever having to worrying about missing pivotal plot moments.
Tom: Laid-Back Camp is perhaps even more laid-back than I first realized. If you’re expecting any kind of significant plot progression or character development, know that Laid-Back Camp contains even less than the Quintessential Slice of Life Non Non Biyori. As Linny said, we’re six episodes in and there’s barely been any real development. Each episode largely consists of a different camping trip each week, showcasing beautiful visuals and tidbits of camping knowledge. Laid-Back Camp takes the lazy atmosphere of the Slice of Life genre and turns it up to the extreme. Even the comedy is sparse, or severely reserved, all in favor of this tranquil, nature art focused atmosphere.
Linny: The first episode of Laid-Back Camp had employed a male narrator voice which made it slightly comedic and made the premiere episode feel like a proper instructional video as he described and doled out all sorts of camping related trivia while Rin set up her little solo camp. That narrator has quickly been done away with and now the show dispenses knowledge through the four main girls and their daily camping related conversations and activities. As Tom mentioned, the girls seem to exist mainly to help showcase the joys and wonders of camping and nature as their own plot or personality developments are pretty limited. Laid-Back Camp is all about seeing these girls go camping and getting to enjoy the beautifully illustrated food and locations rather than following any real character journey.
Tom: I’d almost criticize Laid-Back Camp as pure Moe if not for the fact that our primary lead, Shima Rin, is an exceedingly quiet girl, rarely depicted in an overly cutesy, bubbly way compared to this season’s Slow Start. Nadeshiko, the more lively of the series’ main duo, is closer to what I might consider a moe-bait character, but the series’ greater focus on camping information, landscape art, and a generally calm atmosphere makes me feel like the show is so much more about selling you on the qualities of this pastime than the girls themselves. There’s technically three other main girls, Inuyama Aoi, perhaps the most moe of the characters based upon her design and cutesy voice acting, Oogaki Chiaki a somewhat feisty girl and Saitou Ena, Rin’s primary high school friend. Aoi and Chiaki generally get less attention though than either Rin or Nadeshiko, feeling more like side characters. Not that it matters, because as I’ve said, characterization takes a huge backseat to selling the atmosphere.
Linny: Laid-Back Camp does such an amazing job of selling the calm and soothing feeling of being out in nature and experiencing the joys of camping that it’s bound to make most viewers discover a camping bug or love for nature. It’s one of the, if not the most, relaxing shows this season, perfect for unwinding and zoning out to while taking in the sights of (animated) nature, the girls enjoying all their camping activities, and of course plenty of delectable anime food scenes. However, there’s no denying that the show will feel very slow and shallow to anyone seeking meatier stories and characters, ultimately limiting its fandom as it seems completely devoted to being all about visuals and vibe rather than actual deep content of any manner.
Tom: While the landscape art remains top tier, I have trouble feeling like I can honestly recommend this series. It serves one singular purpose alone, and that’s to produce an overtly calm, laid-back, atmosphere for viewers who want little more than modest, decent characters gradually lifting the veil on the ins and outs of camping. It’s perfect for someone who isn’t looking for characters to latch onto, drama to unfold, or comedy to tickle. What Laid-Back Camp sets out to do it does well, but I feel that achievement is too narrow to make it something I feel all that strongly about.
Laid-Back Camp is available for streaming via Crunchyroll