Rin has always enjoyed camping alone, until a pink-haired girl called Nadeshiko breezes into her life and asks to share her food. So used to doing her own thing, Rin is genuinely taken aback by the warmth Nadeshiko brings to her camping experience, and the two gradually become friends. Nadeshiko in turn also realises that she loves camping but knows nothing about it, and joins her school’s camping club (which Rin has shunned in favour of doing her own thing).
Yep, that’s right, this anime is that feeling you get when you’re drinking a warm drink on a cold day, in an oversized jumper, sitting by a crackling fire while it’s raining outside. It’s cosy, it’s relaxing, it doesn’t ask too much from you. The visuals are soothing, like a brushstroke painting, but like the music, they’re never there to pop out of the screen but to evoke a lush, soothing nature environment that you can enjoy getting lost in. As you watch the characters enjoying the breeze in their hair or taking in the verdant Japanese countryside you’ll wish you were there yourself.
I really liked that the narrative of Laid-Back Camp doesn’t follow the expected formula of the outgoing character latching on to the introvert to force them out of their shell. Nadeshiko sometimes pops up unexpectedly to hang out with Rin, from their first encounter when she wants to see Mount Fuji, to another surprise appearance when she makes a stew for Rin to thank her for sharing some noodles with her. But from this point on, she accepts Rin’s loner tendencies and preference for camping alone, and doesn’t try to force her to spend time with others. One sweet scene even features the two of them texting from their respective campsites and deciding to send each other pictures of their breathtaking starry night sky views.
There’s a decent helping of humour in this anime, most of it is a wholesome slice of life style humour. Over the course of the series, much of the humour serves to build a picture of the camping experience, and it varies from adorable scenes such as the girls trying to work out the best cheap insulation they can use to stay warm, to Rin sending cute pictures of things she sees while exploring a campsite to her friend. Just like the rest of the anime, the humour is always incredibly fluffy and heartwarming.
Another thing that really makes you feel cosy (and hungry) is the anime’s occasional sharing of recipes, sometimes while the characters are putting together a campfire stew or similar meal. From the character’s own reactions to their culinary creations, to the occasional lingering shot of a bubbling pot or ramen cup, you really get the sense that a hearty meal is an important part of the Japanese camping experience and that it’s a vital part of creating your own ‘home away from home’ while you’re sleeping outside.
If you’re interested in learning more about camping or are already a camping pro, you’ll appreciate the little camping tidbits in this show too. I know next to nothing about camping and really enjoyed picking up little things like the fact that there are different kinds of campsite (lake, forest, vista) and that you’re not allowed to have fires on the ground at some campsites. The show peppers its episodes with this knowledge, without overdoing it or getting too bogged down in technical details, so if you have no interest in learning about camping it’s still really easy to enjoy the show.
If you’re looking for a cosy cute anime to warm the cockles of your heart this winter, look no further than Laid-Back Camp!