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Laid-Back Camp Season 3
Episode 8

by Steve Jones,

How would you rate episode 8 of
Laid-Back Camp (TV 3) ?
Community score: 4.1


Can Nadeshiko survive the food porn? Here's a better question: can YOU survive the food porn? While I wasn't too enthused about the last episode's fusion of absurdist comedy with the typical Laid-Back Camp flavor, I found the second half of this trip to strike a much tastier balance. It features the best recipes I've seen out of season three. My fellow tomato enjoyers have plenty of reasons to rejoice. The humor is more on point too, with more character-based jokes and better fourth-wall gags. And since I explained the translation of 飯テロ in my prior review, you went into this episode knowing what it meant. Everybody wins.

Let's take apart a joke that works. Aki's pizza lamentations lead naturally into Aoi and Ena's surprise pre-packaged pizza crust revelation, which excites Aki and the audience for whatever novel campfire technique they'll employ to cook them. This is, historically, how the show has worked, and Aki also mentions pizza so many times that it conjured up my hunger for a slice. Everything's working as intended here. Midway through the meal, they finally whip these out, fire up the pan…and start making okonomiyaki. The narrator doesn't waver from his usual delivery, even as the recipe drifts further and further away from anything resembling pizza. What sells the scene are the cuts to Aki's face in which we watch the light fade from her eyes. This is exactly the kind of switcheroo Aki would pull on her friends, too, so it's an equally fitting way for Aoi and Ena to troll her back. It's in character for everyone involved, and that, to me, elevates the payoff.

The return of Toba-sensei is a cause for celebration and another source of solid comedy. Her explanation of the supercooled sake fits within Laid-Back Camp's fun food facts. I can picture an “adult” version of the show (perhaps a continuation of the movie) with a bigger emphasis on campfire cocktails. However, this demonstration is decidedly not in character for an inebriated Toba, which makes the wipe from her fake cool persona to her actual slovenly demeanor that much funnier. I also love seeing Nadeshiko weeping into an open bag of potato chips. Again, it fits her character. She's serious about snacks. And more importantly, she's right. Pizza-flavored chips are a poor substitute for the real thing.

I could go on about the little gags that worked (I really cracked up at Aoi chanting “Maillard…Maillard…” like a witch trying to caramelize her onions just right), but the food is the true star of this episode. They start strong with the Guilt-Ridden Tomato Yakisoba, and they don't let up once after that. The pizza okonomiyaki looks savory and filling. Their actual pizza has inspired me to put some asparagus on mine the next time I try my hand at it. I'm super jealous of Toba pairing her beer with that handful of freshly smoked chips and nuts. The minestrone looks like the perfect warm bowl to cap a night of tomato-forward goodness. And finally, I'm glad Aki didn't kill anybody with her sausage this time. If I had to pick one, I'd go with the yakisoba. I trust Nadeshiko's dad, and it's really cute that her whole family is into uploading recipes online.

However, I don't think Laid-Back Camp's food presentation is all that extraordinary. It looks good, and the static shots have plenty of mouthwatering detail, but the overall package doesn't ascend to the heights of the finest culinary anime. It's especially tough when your contemporary competition is Delicious in Dungeon, which infuses so much personality into the way Senshi prepares each meal. Like Delicious in Dungeon, however, I think Laid-Back Camp's true strength is the novelty and ingenuity present in outdoor cooking. The little diagram of the frying pan pizza oven is a perfect example—it's a smidgen of education that helps us appreciate its cleverness. Those details add up, and they help the show's grander goal of goading people into getting out there and pitching their tents (get your mind out of the gutter).

There may be no better propaganda than the cast's reactions to the majesty of the outdoors and the umami of their cooking experiments. Their enthusiasm pierces the fourth wall more directly into the next scene than any joke about a magic window. These characters are infectiously likable—familiar to fans of club anime, but distinct enough to stand on their own. I'm curious, then, what the heavily foreshadowed junior members of the OutClub will bring to the table after spring break. The previous cast expansions have gone well (I've been pretty vocal about how much I like Ayano), so I'm not apprehensive. I'm just curious what snacks they'll be bringing to the campsite.


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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