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Laid-Back Camp Season 3
Episode 7

by Steve Jones,

How would you rate episode 7 of
Laid-Back Camp (TV 3) ?
Community score: 4.0


Well, that's certainly one of the oddest editions of Laid-Back Camp I've ever seen. The OutClub's recollection of their trip lies somewhere between a fever dream, a variety show, and Rashomon. I suppose, however, that's to be expected when Chiaki wrests control of the narrative's steering wheel. The resulting ride is much bumpier than Nadeshiko's bridge tour but retains its charms nonetheless.

While the added zaniness is cute, I don't think it taps into the series' strengths as gracefully as the usual modus operandi. The gags work better as a garnish. I'm not looking for the camping girls to tap on the fourth wall with such fervor. That being said, there's nothing wrong with a little experimentation, and the tone of this episode certainly adheres to Chiaki's and Aoi's more chaotic personalities. I also like the image of Nadeshiko popping into the corner like a guest on one of those insufferably obnoxious variety shows. Her color commentary plays off the other girls well, per usual.

As for the activities themselves, once you look past the talking dogs, this is familiar fare for Laid-Back Camp fans. The added emphasis on bus travel is nice since that's the mode of transport I used most often to get to the more remote areas of my own trip to Japan. Robust public transportation is pretty sweet! Additionally, Akeno, alongside the wider Hokuto area, slots perfectly into the kind of destinations I want to see featured on this show. It has a rustic charm that the city plays up, given all the wooden architecture we see. However, the interior of the restaurant where they get curry has a more modern, yet still dated, ensemble of interior design, like a school cafeteria. I like that clash of aesthetics. It's uniquely rural and decidedly non-idyllic, which to me, feels more authentic.

The other highlights from this flashback do what Laid-Back Camp does best. That vegetable curry looks delicious. The anecdote about being hornswoggled by deceptive hiking maps is extremely relatable. The five-minute onsen visit has good comedic timing and framing, and the girls' post-hike sleepiness induces the same soporific effect on the audience. I almost always want to take a nap after watching this show, and that's almost always a compliment.

In addition to the visual gags, this episode contains an abnormally high amount of word-based playfulness, so that's what I'm going to spend the rest of this review focusing on. To be clear, the translation handles them well, but as an amateur student of Japanese, I like digging into this stuff. And whether you like it or not, you're stuck with me. The Kobe/Gōdo bit derives from both cities using the same kanji spelling 神戸. All kanji have multiple pronunciations, so you'll always see the new transfer student write out and pronounce their name. You might also ask how people should distinguish between Kobe and Gōdo in writing. Well, this episode shows us one way: they write the pronunciation under the word. Alternatively, Kobe will be written as Kobe-shi (神戸市), whereas Gōdo is Gōdo-chō (神戸町). The difference in those suffixes is kind of like the difference between a city and a town, so it's a subtle distinction, but in this case, it's enough to tell a native speaker which is which. And, like much of Japanese, context is king. Each city is in a different prefecture, and Kobe is about 100 times larger. You probably won't be getting them mixed up.

The soy sauce bit is entirely typographical. Soy sauce in Japanese is shōyu, which in hiragana is しょうゆ. Note the little ょ in there, which modifies the pronunciation of the first character. The label, however, uses the normal-sized character and drops the う syllable, leading to what Aki sees, しよゆ. This would be pronounced shiyoyu. That's a nonsense word, but it's close enough to shoyu to recognize the mistake, so the translation localizes it as syoy. Pretty clever!

Finally, I'm sure many of you are curious why our pink-haired cinnamon bun Nadeshiko says "food porn." It's even in the title of the next episode! While that may appear out of character for her, it's actually a spot-on localization of the Japanese term 飯テロ. The first character in that is "meshi," and if you've been following the adventures of Laios and Marcille, you probably already know that means food or meal. The last two characters are "tero," which is a shortening of the katakana loanword for terrorism. Put them together to get "food terrorism," and that's a piece of modern slang for the practice of uploading tantalizing photos and videos of food to social media, much to the chagrin of users who can't taste a jpeg. That's exactly what Nadeshiko is complaining about, and if you ask me, the English equivalent of "food porn" beautifully captures the hilarious hyperbole present in 飯テロ. It's not a literal translation, but it communicates the same intent, and that's what good localization is all about. In short, Nadeshiko is allowed to say porn.

It appears that I wrote more about the wordplay than I did about the actual content of the narrative and production. I'd apologize, but I guess a weird episode deserves a weird review.


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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