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AKA: ゆるキャン△ SEASON 2
Genre: Slice-of-life, outdoors.
Length: Television series, 13 episodes, 24 minutes each
Distributor: Currently available streaming on crunchyroll.
Content Rating: PG (Mature elements.)
Related Series: Season 1, Room-Camp (side OAV)
Also Recommended: Encouragement of Climb, Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou, Aria, Amanchu.
Notes: Based on the manga series by Afro, serialized in Houbunsha's seinen manga magazine Manga Time Kirara Forward.
Rating:

Laid-Back Camp (season 2)

Synopsis

Having been introduced to the wonders of solo camping by Rin, Nadeshiko decides to give it a go herself. Meanwhile, Rin is still doing her thing, as she has since her first somewhat awkward attempt. And while solo camping can be fun, the girls also agree that another group camping trip would be fun, so why not take a trip to Izu?


Review

The first season of Laid-Back Camp was a very special experience for me. I could probably make quite a list of shows like these by now, and you better believe this franchise would be among the top contenders there.

Said season was also a completely fresh one, as I was not the least bit familiar with how it carried itself, nor was I prepared to be taken on such a visually spectacular journey, even when painted in the muted hues of winter days. I was taken by the scenery -- the lovely winter hues that I'm actually quite familiar with *coughhumblebragcough* -- but also the fantastic characterisations of otherwise normal girls who were nevertheless comedy geniuses when interacting with each other through the amazing medium of smartphones. One positive aspect of a good slice-of-life is that "more of the same" is never a bad thing. With travel and discovery, it's the variety of scenery that brings all the boys (and girls; Laid-Back Camp do not discriminate) to the camp, so I guess "more of the same" is a bit of a misnomer when you think of it that way.

And so, we start off our season with Nadeshiko and her desire to try out a solo camping trip. If you've seen the first season -- and why wouldn't you have, reading this right now? -- you might have some concerns. So does some other people, but her big sister does the sensible and installs a parenting app of sorts... that she ends up having no use for, because as it turns out, Nadeshiko is quite able to learn and be all independent and stuff. And fun was had by everyone involved.

As an aside, am I (still) the only one who feels like Nadeshiko's older sister, Sakura, feels more like Rin's older sister? I'm still thinking there was a mixup in the maternity ward at some point around 16-17 years ago. They have the same birthday, right? Right? The fact that Rin and Sakura actually get to socialize in this episode certainly did nothing to allay that suspicion, even if it was mostly over Rin's concern over Nadeshiko's solo outing and Sakura sort of just being in the neighborhood. Then again, now that we get to see more families in their entirety, I can see where the divide goes. I guess you could argue that Nadeshiko's older sister takes more after her mother while Nadeshiko herself takes after her slightly goofy father. (And I mean that in the best of ways.)

Anyway, I digress. My point is that Laid-Back Camp Season 2 continues to be quite respectful towards all its characters. Nadeshiko might be a complete airhead, but that doesn't mean she's entirely unable to learn. Even when the show started out, she had a good head on her shoulders for preparing food, even on camping equipment, and the good sense to do character jokes on top of it all. And as it turns out, she's perfectly capable of having a nice solo camping trip purely from the things she learned spending some time with Rin, picking up hints about things she didn't know beforehand. And rather than outright telling her no, Nadeshiko's sister just installs a parenting app on her phone, which she pretty much ends up not having any use for, seeing as Nadeshiko is more than happy to share the sights from her trip on a regular basis.

On that same note; while Rin has opened up to spending more time on group trips, that doesn't mean she is ready to give up her relaxing solo trips anytime soon. It is perfectly normal to want to have some alone time or to do things in your own way even when you're not, and so is accomodating people who are when you're the kind who is otherwise very sociable. Rin and Nadeshiko are clearly on the road to becoming besties, but that doesn't mean Rin expects Nadeshiko to entertain only her, nor does it mean Nadeshiko expects Rin to automatically become friends with anyone she herself befriends. That being said, aside from Nadeshiko's solo camping trip, the girls in Laid-Back Camp Season 2 simply interact with each other more, which has the mildly unfortunate side effect of taking away a lot of the fun banter from the girls when they goof around by sending each other weird text messages. It's not a huge deal, granted, and it's not going to have any influence on my rating, but it was one thing I missed once I had made my way through the entire show. Of course, the camping tips are still here. There are fewer of them this time around, since the first season covered most of the basics, but you still get some trivia about the places the girls visit, including the shop where they get most of their gear.

As an added bonus, we get to meet even more family members this time around. The first season introduced us to Nadeshiko's parents and older sister, as well as Rin's grandfather and mother. Going from there, season 2 includes Rin's father, and also shedding some light on how the entire family used to be motorbike enthusiasts. Her mother is a bit embarrassed about this now, true, but I'm pretty sure Rin wouldn't have minded if she continued keeping up with that passion. In addition, we get to meet Nadeshiko's grandmother and one of her friends from elementary school. (Nadeshiko's friend, that is. Not the grandmother's.) Lending to the warm familiarity between family members in Laid-Back Camp, we often see how they support each other in small ways throughout. The first episode spends a lot of the episode showing us Rin's first camping trip, and you can see she's just about as helpless as any newbie, but with said support, she still manages to come out of her journey with a positive impression. The standout moment, however, has got to be the girls' trip to Izu. It gathers the entire Shima family, with Rin's grandfather being more than happy to spoil her granddaughter with scooter parnaphelia to help her with the long trip, but also seeing her off at the crack of dawn. He doesn't come out and say it, but you can easily tell that he had wanted to ride with her granddaughter, so to get the chance to do this had to be one of the biggest highlights of his life.

And as always, the show looks fantastic. Laid-Back Camp still has the same animation house doing the work, which means that character animation is still fun and expressionate, while the background work -- easily one of the main stars of the show -- still manages to look absolutely amazing at times. Seriously, I cannot express just how scenery porn-y this show is. The girls do visit a lot of what I can only assume are real-life locations, and I suspect a lot of the art have been very thoroughly researched by all parties involved. Granted, the CG -- which is usually moving vehicles -- still have that weird slidiness to it sometimes, but that's a pretty minor flaw that can be considered the show's charm point at this point. (Much like how one of the running gags -- no pun intended -- is one of the characters running towards something in the background, and they almost look like a game sprite.) What really sells the show is how easily it portrays not only the season of choice, but also how it influences stuff like lighting and shadows. As one who lives fairly far up north on the northern hemisphere, I can't stress enough how much I appreciate this, and how familiar this all feels to me.

The music is also still top notch. Which was a given, and much like Aria's delightful repertoire, is a good balance between tracks from the first season and fresh stuff. That extends to the new opening and ending theme, the former being a nice, lively funky piece and the ending offering another acousting session of complete relaxation.


Whether having already read the events going on in the anime could be considered a downside or not, I am still happy to report that Laid-Back Camp season 2 is still going strong. Everything that made the first season such an absolutely delight to watch is still present and accounted for. The show knows exactly why you're here, and Laid-Back Camp's way of paying that forward is by broading the horizon. The only twists and turns you'll be seeing here are the one the girls are travelling on, by car or by scooter, and that's just how it should be.

Still an absolute masterpiece of a relaxed zen winter camping endorsement.Stig Høgset

Recommended Audience: No fanservice sans some pretty inconsequential bathing scenes. Also, no violence. Just a little bit of mild, sub-zero based peril. The camping club's advisor is still a bit of a lush, though, so there is that.



Version(s) Viewed: Digital stream on Crunchyroll.
Review Status: Full (13/13)
Laid-Back Camp (season 2) © 2021 C-Station.
 
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