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Laid-Back Camp Season 3
Episode 12

by Steve Jones,

How would you rate episode 12 of
Laid-Back Camp (TV 3) ?
Community score: 4.5


That's a wrap for season three of Laid-Back Camp! Before we throw a tarp over it, though, we have a finale to discuss. Per usual, the anime doesn't put too fine a point on any conclusion; Afro continues to write the manga, and I haven't noticed an appreciable abatement of enthusiasm for the series. I suspect we'll be back. For now, the cherry blossom campout inserts a heartwarming bookmark into the adventures of Rin, Nadeshiko, and the rest of their tent-toting comrades.

The possibility of harmony between nature and technology is one of my favorite ongoing themes in Laid-Back Camp. The series presents a one-sided and idealized view and works as aspirational propaganda. As a species and individuals, we can exist and enjoy in tandem with the environment. If the story does pursue Nadeshiko's new train hyper fixation, I'd like to see the writing touch on this facet of Japan's railway expansion. Were locomotives implemented with the environment in mind, and how did this develop as technology and attitudes changed? It's a topic I know very little about, so it'd be an appropriate place for the series to flex its edutainment muscles.

In a smaller and more immediately relevant sense, though, Laid-Back Camp preaches that smartphones and social media don't necessarily need to be anathema to the appreciation of nature. Camping is something to be enjoyed with friends. The show emphasizes that at every turn. Even the girls' solo outings function like group activities as they inevitably share photos and stories. The group chat interludes are as essential to the whole as the cooking scenes. I've written about this for prior seasons but it's worth restating: This is the stuff we should be using social media for. It doesn't erase the introspective appeal of camping. It doesn't mar the atmosphere when you're alone in a field surrounded by trees and mountains (where you probably don't have cell reception anyway). But when those moments have passed, technology lets us remember and share them with the people we care about.

This week's best exhibition of this power arrives when the girls take turns sharing their cherry blossom photos. Let me summon a strawman who harrumphs at these darn teens whipping out their phones when a gorgeous cherry blossom tree looms just above them. To that strawman, I'd say that you can do both! The girls do. They're awed by the tree's beauty and even arrange their lanterns to capitalize on it. They make a memory and do the same when they share their photos. Nadeshiko's is the most potent, as her timelapse invokes the concreteness of their progression into the next year of high school. There's a touch of wistfulness behind the explosion of life and color. I'm also a sucker for a good set of bookends—and if you rewind to the season premiere, you will indeed see Nadeshiko snapping a picture of that tree.

I like the jokes in this episode, too. Aki's cold open marries the melodramatic poetry of her interior narration with the abject terror of weighing whether you'd rather get eaten by a bear or pee yourself. It's a hell of a quandary. I also love the “relieved and relieved” translation. Major props to the localizers for a perfect punchline. Elsewhere, the (literal) frog bits are funny—and by that I mean both the girls' reactions and the fact the anime censored them. The Inuyamas' gaslighting grandma continues the proud tradition of Aoi's relatives being nothing but trolls. And it's especially amusing that Aki thinks she can make the OutClub into a real club with a real room. I'm not opposed to the idea, but their ridiculously cramped headquarters is a part of their identity. It's a good bit and I'd hate to see them lose it.

Nevertheless, change is on the horizon for Laid-Back Camp. The season wraps up at the start of the new school year, and it again teases the two freshmen who are sure to make Aki's dreams a reality. This season, however, was already one of change. Ultimately, I'd say that the new studio and staff never lived up to the heights of the prior seasons and film but they also didn't mar the quintessence of Laid-Back Camp. I still had a consistently fun and chill experience hanging out with Nadeshiko and the gang. The show didn't lose its magic. I'd compare it to a piece of lamb from this week's group yakiniku meal. The lamb didn't cook as nicely as the pork, it's gamier than the pork, and given the choice, I'm going with the pork. But if we're out of pork, I'm not saying no to some freshly grilled lamb. I'll even go back for seconds if I'm allowed.


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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