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Laid-Back Camp Season 3
Episode 6

by Steve Jones,

How would you rate episode 6 of
Laid-Back Camp (TV 3) ?
Community score: 4.3


Now that was a comfy camping finale. The ending of the girls' Oigawa escapades doesn't bring anything new to the table. We've seen plenty of suspension bridges, local cuisine, and cute restaurants throughout this arc. Nevertheless, this episode plays the hits to satisfaction. Between the campfire canapés, the foot bath cafe, the onsen from Ranma ½, and the bridge from hell, the show's cozy eclecticism wraps a warm blanket around this arc.

While it might go against the series' ethos, I want to talk about that nightmare bridge first because I had to pause the episode to confirm that it was real. It is. True to the narrator's words, the Musou Suspension Bridge is uncrossable nowadays, and some drone footage from last year confirms the extent of its disrepair. Wikipedia tells me it was closed in 2010. However, I found another YouTube video from 2011 that shows the POV of a hiker crossing it, and given that footage, it should have been closed at least a decade sooner. It sucks. The guy has a carabiner attached to one of the cables. He's lifting loose planks. He needs to walk on the wires at one point. No, thank you! I discourage you from even watching that video unless you have a strong physical and mental constitution.

In addition to the horrors of vertigo, that bridge comes with some neat language trivia as well. The onscreen text spells Musou as 夢想, which translates straightforwardly to “dream” (夢 for “dream” plus 想 for “concept/idea”). There's some hefty irony behind that. I'd argue that 悪夢1 would be a far more appropriate moniker. However, while people do use 夢想, the official name for the bridge uses 無想, which is also pronounced Musou and means clear/empty mind (無 is another common kanji meaning “nothingness”). If that sounds Buddhist, that's because it's half of the Buddhist idiom 無念無想, which essentially means to be free of worldly thoughts, desires, and so on. And I'll bet you would have needed to clear your mind to make your way across all 144 meters of that death trap.

The bridges the girls do cross in this episode look far more inviting. I'm sure these places are fairly active even in the off-season, so one of the nice things about Laid-Back Camp is that it gets to pick and choose when it wants to focus on the human element. Usually, the quieter and more nature-forward approach behooves its iyashikei intentions but I like the gag with the rowdy kids running down the bridge. That's a good reality check. It's still worth visiting these places, of course, and they do let you escape most of the bustle of society, but they're not perfect. There are whippersnappers everywhere.

I also like the variety of places featured this week. Foot bath cafes are a new concept to me, but that seems like a smart business venture in those cold winter months. I connect spiritually to the image of Nadeshiko dunking her whole body, coat and all, into that hot water. That mountain stream soba looked great, too. I think I saw a side dish with fried crickets in one shot, and I would have loved to hear more about those. Finally, the footbridge provides a clever spin on the theme of the trip, and it reminds us of Mt. Fuji's omnipresence throughout the series. Despite all the train transferring and motorcycling, the girls didn't go that far. These places were in their proverbial backyard and there's still so much left for them to explore and discover. A little extra effort to go out and find new things goes a long way. That's the message Laid-Back Camp wants us to heed.

I know this won't be the last we see of Ayano, but she gets a healthy dose of closure as this arc wraps up. I'll say it again: she fits into the gang's dynamic ridiculously well. Her story about the hot springs that make you transgender is the kind of tall tale that Aoi might spin but the storyteller affectation she gives her voice makes that bit her own. Tomoyo Kurosawa is the best. She also nails the sentimental moment towards the end, as Ayano happily reflects on the quality friends Nadeshiko made for herself after she moved away. Nadeshiko reciprocates with giddy exuberance upon seeing Ayano and Rin exchange a heartfelt fist bump. These tender character beats are the glue holding the series together. They're secondary to the appeal of the camping propaganda but the series would fall apart if its campers themselves weren't so magnetic and effervescent.


1Translator's note: 悪夢 means “nightmare”

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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