Review/discussion about: Yuru Camp△
The girls of Yuru Camp△ are quite adventurous.
In comparison, I wouldn’t deem myself as an outdoorsy person. I prefer listening to my metal music in my comfy room, streaming challenging video games on my consoles, and of course watching my favorite anime at my desk. For the most part, these activities take place indoors, and I relish the solitude they bring.
Yet there’s more to life than just being cooped up inside all the time as I like to do. Indeed, the five laid-back campers of this anime promise a firsthand look-see at the wonder and the happiness that can only be found when taking that first willing step.
That tiny triangle next to the title of Yuru Camp△ isn’t so much a geometric shape as it is a staple of any camping excursion: a tent. Tents are portable homes for such trekking travelers, providing a meager place to curl up into sleeping bags, to dodge some of the nighttime wind, and to keep wandering animals at bay.
And, in this case, it also denotes the key focus of this anime and the ensuing fun therein.
What one sees in the first episode is pretty much what is given for the next eleven. They talk about camping, go out on camping trips, have many a laugh, find the joy in the experience, and think about the next one to begin the cycle anew.
All the while, Yuru Camp△ packs its bags with many a common deed. Taking directions to local spots. Figuring out the activities to do while camping. Appreciating the splendor of nature. Gaining knowledge of the hobby along the way. Fostering those lasting friendships. While straightforward, this simplistic structure allows the slice-of-life antics of Nadeshiko, Rin, and the others to flourish through a consistent motif that it capitalizes on time and again through their laid-back interests, solidifying that cycle with clear aims throughout the season.
The pitfall of repetition lingers, but the anime sidesteps this issue through extra variety in its other parts. Comedic moments feature surprising dogs, “literal” moon walks, and even talking pinecones to increase hilarity. They also tend to get more meta with the camping discussions, going to specific outlets for gear and sharing pictures and conversations through their phones and social media to bridge gaps when apart. Other likeminded individuals, such as an old veteran of the trade, hikers, and fellow campers offer new perspectives, too.
The show also certainly loves its food. Maybe too much. Be it a giant pot filled with ingredients for the whole group or a few s’mores shared with a dear friend, the anime spends an inordinate amount of time on the meals, the snacks, and the treats they munch on.
However, it makes sense in this context. Its iyashikei roots surfaced already through the thoughtful scenes shared between these friends and the underlying message that fun can be had both alone and with others. So, given that food heals the body as it fills the belly, focusing on food to such a high degree fits the iyashikei layer once again. Better yet, like a soothing campfire, food warms the soul as it brings people together. And the presence of good company, alongside some good eats, turns most occasions into happy gatherings.
This healing vibe permeates Yuru Camp△ for nearly the entirety of the season. Moreover, despite the realistic portrayal of camping, the anime achieves a mysticism to its delivery that enraptures the audience with a calm atmosphere that persists through the camp asides, the high comedy, and the food. Its keen ability to emphasize being there in the moment, cherishing that immersive view or that timeless opportunity discovered right nearby leads to this successful achievement.
Yet the small niceties – like the end card and its (unchanging) advice or the infrequent narrator explanations – get at the subtle, deliberate care the anime exudes throughout the whole season. By the end, the “story” hasn’t really said or done much at all, but that’s a-okay. What it lacks in deeper meaning it makes up for in lots of camping, lots of laughs, and lots of classic iyashikei goodness.
ART & ANIMATION
Yuru Camp△ elevates its execution even further with its impressive artistry.
Above anything else, the anime values its setting and its environments. Gorgeous establishing shots create a picturesque view of the parks and the locales they visit. From a towering shot of Mt. Fuji in the distance to a wide shot of a quiet, multicolored forest, the immense detail and the jaw-dropping landscapes paint these spots not only as testaments to the beauty of nature but also entice the audience in wanting to go there to see it for themselves.
“Painting” such incredible places also ties again into the iyashikei presentation. They have a relaxing presence, the grassy hills and the open plains ensuring that the audience feels as comfortable as possible. It ultimately leads to a real sense of atmosphere and the great outdoors, two key facets of the show.
Besides the breathtaking backdrops, Yuru Camp△ also focuses a lot of its time into the funny side of things. A myriad of reaction faces improves the comedy during its already-hilarious moments. Imaginative sequences allow for extra creativity in the interactions and responses to different events. And the frequent chibi art style softens the designs with malleable exaggeration which boosts the cuteness to even higher heights.
Those designs on their own also align with the greatness in the artistry. The coloring, the accessories, and the outfits supply for each of the cast playful, chill looks that once again match the fun they bring and the laidback motif of the anime at large.
To be as fair as can be, though, an obvious drop in quality occurs in episode eight. Loss of accuracy in facial details. Movements aren’t as punchy. Even the draw distance for their proportions seems off. Perhaps Yuru Camp△ required a reprieve after the powerhouse showing up to this point, but this outlier dip is so noticeable that it cannot be ignored.
Thankfully, the show returns to form for the remainder of the season afterwards. Alongside the nice actual animation and the attempts at different camera techniques – as well as the previous strengths in its establishing shots and its sillier choices and its designs – the anime promises a beautiful visual repertoire.
Like the “narrative” of Yuru Camp△, the characters instill that iyashikei atmosphere while adhering to their camping motif. Sure, they’re all separate personalities, but they form a likeminded group that brings the fun per usual.
Nadeshiko bubbles to the top with her bubbly self. Super-happy nearly always and practically the very definition of genki, her affable personality is as infectious as it is wholesome. Only her huge appetite beats her big smile; “Eating” may as well be her middle name. Most importantly, she knows next to nothing about camping, so her intrigue and her learning become a lens for those in the audience who match her newbie status.
Rin is more or less the exact opposite. Quiet and serious. Rather independent in her actions. An expert camper. Naturally, then, her mega-contrast with Nadeshiko forms a dichotomous relationship that makes for an interesting bond. Similarly, her tiny arc follows a simple yet rewarding path. She overcomes her somewhat aloof ideals thanks to her newfound friendships, opening to the possibilities of sharing her favorite hobby with those she cares about most.
Chiaki, Aoi, and Ena act as the likable supporting cast to the main duo with their own brand of jokes. Chiaki loves her harmless pranks and leads the school club, both characteristics marking her outgoing behavior. Aoi takes up the mature mantle, an airy (but not airheaded) demeanor granting her the chance to fib now and again to elicit slight reactions. As for Ena, she is the outsider insofar as she isn’t as into the whole camping thing as everyone else, but her financial situation, her cool dog, and her “spooky” texts have her fit right in.
Much like Nadeshiko and Rin, Chiaki and Aoi are best friends, and they mostly support Nadeshiko through their activities and general know-how. Ena in turn supports Rin, providing tidbits of wisdom to get her thinking about new thoughts. Altogether, these ladies are a joyful bunch. Over the course of Yuru Camp△, they demonstrate their own approaches and their own comedic styles, be it individually or fragmented into smaller outings between them. But, when they finally do get together as one whole group, they alight just the same, highlighting that their interactions remain as strong as ever.
Admittedly, there isn’t much else to Nadeshiko, Rin, and the rest. And they aren’t the most special or the most unique in almost any regard. Nevertheless, these characters work well within the confines of the show, following the same fun and the same kindness that it exudes throughout its run.
MUSIC & SOUND
Arguably speaking, the audio elements within Yuru Camp△ are the best parts of the entire anime.
“SHINY DAYS” kicks off each episode as the opening track with its uplifting tone and catchy structure. The lead female vocals and the harmonizing from the other singers further bolster the song’s joyous feeling. While the light guitar and the dainty chimes stand out (in a positive way), the smaller details prevail to give the track its foundation and lasting impression.
For instance, constant bongos, guiro, and clapping keep the beat going at its super-fun pace. Even the crashing piano at the start, the distinct bells, and the occasional set of English lyrics to vary up the delivery refine the song further. Not to mention that the burst at the halfway point reaches an unexpected yet welcome height of happiness that it carries through to the end and that perfectly follows the emotions of the show. It’s an excellent, delightful OP without a doubt.
The ending track channels the other side of Yuru Camp△. Titled “Fuyu Biyori”, this song maximizes that iyashikei mood with little else besides whispery vocals and a couple of acoustic guitars. Plus, the flourish at the finale of the track is just a sweet addition.
The song may come off as too straightforward, both lyrically and compositionally, but it’s precisely within this simplicity that its power as a moving, emotional piece shines brightest. This ED contrasts extremely well with the OP, it coincides with the simplistic nature of the show itself, and it makes for a fantastic sendoff at the closing of every episode. Meaning, once again, the show creates another stellar offering.
However, the voice actresses refuse to be outdone, for their performances throughout Yuru Camp△ are just as terrific if not better. Yumiri Hanamori as Nadeshiko explodes with jubilation. Nao Touyama as Rin spews gibberish over the phone. Sayuri Hara as Chiaki exaggerates many of her lines as required. Aki Toyosaki as Aoi stays calm and soft in her speech. And Rie Takahashi as Ena maintains a confident cuteness.
Last but certainly not least (and perhaps even saving the best for last), the original soundtrack fights for the top spot among the OP, the ED, and the VA performances by curating a splendid list of tracks. Songs filled with acoustic strings and its brand of quieter mellowness have a home here. Most notably, though, the OST ranges in style and freedom of instrumentation despite the subject matter.
One track may have a medieval, fantastical feel with flutes and bagpipes. The next track may feature “clonk” hits, squeaky toys, kazoos, and the pitter-patter of fingers for a smorgasbord of effects that infuse its melodies with a discernible silliness. Another track still will champion banjo and whistling to get at a countryside atmosphere that nature and camping would surely appreciate. No matter the case, these tracks both please the ears and strengthen Yuru Camp△ to that next level.
In other words, the audio elements within the anime conjure up a single word: magnificent.
It’s always an awesome occasion when I watch an anime that puts a big dumb grin on my face for the entirety of its cour. And I’m more than honored to declare that this show is no different.
I’m a fan of the whole cast. Ena and her shenanigans with her “bunny”. Chiaki trying her hardest no matter what. Aoi’s quirky smile. Rin morphing from excitement over her new camping purchase. But my favorite of the lot is Nadeshiko. Her formidable energy and her adorable attitude keep the season in a constant state of fun and make the smile on my face that much wider.
Nadeshiko’s older sister Sakura and their eventual club advisor Minami are also swell additions to the cast, the former for being a good sibling and the latter for her bizarre stupors. Beyond the characters, I view most everything to be to my liking, too. The comedy has me either chuckling or laughing out loud, and the docile, tranquil scenes soothe me with their gentle healing. Having this striking balance is a feat that I give two thumbs-up.
It doesn’t stop there for me. I like the vibrant and friendly dialogue. I’m also impressed by how, for some of its jokes, it leverages actual animation to induce another layer of funnies. And I myself learned a ton about camping, more so than I had ever known about before starting up the show. I will probably continue to not go camping, for I much prefer my chair and my Internet. But it definitely got me envious of those who invest in it and get to see those majestic sights.
Finally, I must hand it to the anime for following through on a major writing element that I am quite keen on: full-circle narratives. I’m a huge advocate of them, so, even right up to the finale, I had that continued grin on my face, seeing Nadeshiko and Rin happily reunite at the same spot where their original meeting took place. It was a fitting capstone to the season and a final example of why I like this anime so much.
Yuru Camp△ crafts its tent with pure expertise. The story stays on point with its camping, comedy, and care. The artistry resonates. The characters have their place. The music awes. The enjoyment refuses to waver. Whether outside or inside, its strong execution is readily apparent, stepping up as an awesome project through and through.
Story: Good, an iyashikei camping experience that puts smiles on faces and relaxes the soul
Art & Animation: Good, gorgeous establishing shots, tons of different reaction faces, colorful designs, and solid movement relieve the noticeable dip in visual integrity for a single later episode
Characters: Fine, Nadeshiko, Rin, Chiaki, Aoi, and Ena have enough intrigue, growth, and help as characters to make their individual and group contributions impactful
Music & Sound: Great, a superb showcase of audio magnificence
Enjoyment: Great, nonstop fun and entertainment
Final Score: 8/10
Thanks for taking the time to read my review.
If you want, take part in the discussion below!
I dedicate this review to my wonderful Grandma Sylvia who passed away recently. Her soft-spoken nature and her immense love for her family were a font of joy and healing in my own life. Grandma, I love you so much. I promise to always keep your memory in my heart.