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Laid-Back Camp Season 3
Episode 10

by Steve Jones,

How would you rate episode 10 of
Laid-Back Camp (TV 3) ?
Community score: 4.1


I'm a little disappointed. When an episode title mentions Chikuwa by name, that is, to me, a promise of at least twenty full minutes of Chikuwa content. Give me a day in the life of Chikuwa. Whenever Chikuwa is not on screen, all the other characters should be asking, “Where's Chikuwa?” Alas, that is not what Laid-Back Camp delivers this week. What we do get is another anthology of our cast of campers as they each enjoy the cherry blossoms. While it's not as chihuahua-forward as I would have preferred, it's still a solid episode.

Rin's and Nadeshiko's sections continue their stories from last week. Of all the character developments from this season, I think Nadeshiko's obsession with retro trains is the most unexpected yet most welcome. The projection of her smug aura upon sending Rin a train selfie is as genuine as it gets. It's also a hobby that should mesh well with the series' usual M.O., as foreshadowed by the reference to a train museum Nadeshiko might check out during her next solo camping trip. It's something that gets you out of the house—and considering Japan's prolific rail system, there should be no shortage of rail-related recreation for future Nadeshiko to partake in.

I also like the touch of wistfulness in both of their sections this week. Nadeshiko, who will soon be a high school senior, asks her older sister what she wants to do after college. Sakura, however, can't answer her. It's a big question, and it's the kind of place your mind might wander to while meditating on natural vistas around you. This is a subtle character beat—and that's all it needs to be. Like a dash of salt, it gives these characters enough interiority to bring out the flavor of the rest of the show. Rin's flashback serves a similar purpose, as it reminds us how strongly memories can be tied to a place. One glance across that overlook teleports Rin back in time to the backseat of her parent's car. In other words, traveling is, paradoxically, another way to reconnect to your home.

But that's enough sentimentality. Chikuwa is the true star of this episode. He's fluffy, he wears a hoodie, and he fits snugly into Ena's duffel bag. 10/10. A triumph. Despite the other visual foibles of the new season, studio 8-Bit certainly got Chikuwa right. I could watch that dog waddle for days. His handsome visage also catches the attention of a young twin-tailed artist. Once she and her ribboned friend start mulling about which clubs to join when they enter high school, we all know where this is going. Even if you were to ignore their cameos in the OP, they're two directionless soon-to-be freshmen with a penchant for snacks. In other words, they're a natural fit for the OutClub's cast of misfits. I doubt we'll see much of their matriculation because the season is nearly over, but it's good to peek over the horizon and see the series continue to branch out in natural ways. If I had to guess, I'd wager that Ema is destined to become a landscape artist—and I can't imagine a more perfect addition to the cast than a tiny Bob Ross.

Aki closes the episode with her inaugural solo camping adventure and her choice of activities reflects her personality quite well. I can't picture Rin or Nadeshiko making mocktails unprompted but it definitely fits Aki to a T—as does her overzealous application of habanero powder. She's a spicy one. If you watched the movie, it should have come as no surprise that, out of the club members, she grew up to resemble Toba-sensei the most. It's also fitting that she spends all that effort on her drink, yet goes with a simple potato and sausage saute for her meal. Laid-Back Camp's food productions have been especially baroque this season, so this is a nice reminder that you don't have to go hog wild to eat well in the outdoors. Don't forget that this all started with a Cup Noodle.

Aoi's sudden interjection caps the episode with a funny cliffhanger. I mean, Laid-Back Camp having a cliffhanger is just very funny in itself. The laid-back ethos should preclude its existence, yet here we are. And overall, this is a strong episode—a scattershot one but one where all of those shots landed. I had a chill time. Honestly, I'm occasionally tempted to turn in an episode review that simply says, “I had a chill time.” That wouldn't be professional of me but that is how I walk away from this show on certain weeks. Sometimes, words aren't the vibe; the vibe is the vibe. And Laid-Back Camp is the vibe.


Laid-Back Camp Season 3 is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Steve is on Twitter while it lasts. Reviewing this show is going to guilt him into going on more hikes. You can also catch him chatting about trash and treasure alike on This Week in Anime.

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