by Paul Jensen,
How would you rate episode 6 of
Laid-Back Camp ?
Most shows need to set up a major inciting incident in order to begin a new story arc, but not Laid-Back Camp. Apparently all this series needs to get a multi-episode plotline going is to have Rin buy a new piece of camping equipment. The item in question is a compact grill, though everyone who sees it seems to think it's some kind of miniature offering box. Nadeshiko is suitably impressed by the shiny new gadget, and she and Rin make plans to test it out at a lakeside campground. Of course, with Laid-Back Camp's pacing, it takes them the rest of the episode just to get there.
This episode reminds me a lot of episode four, which also spent most of its screen time on preparation and travel. The show's relaxed pace certainly plays a role in stretching these story arcs across multiple weeks, but Laid-Back Camp also appears to be just as interested in the journey as it is in the destination. Whether the characters are basking in the glory of new equipment or soaking up the ambiance of a road trip, these early steps are given the same care and attention as the later steps of setting up tents and cooking outdoors. It's a pattern that offers some interesting insight into the show's point of view, but it also means that the audience has to sit through a lot of buildup for minimal payoff. That issue is particularly evident this time around, as this episode doesn't reach a strong stopping point. It just cuts off abruptly as Rin and Nadeshiko are walking to their campsite, with little in the way of a temporary resolution or natural lead-in to the next episode. Even in a slice of life series, we need a little more than that.
While much of this episode is an exercise in delayed gratification, there's still a decent amount of entertainment to be found along the way. Rin takes a break from her usual solo act, trading her inner monologues for some amusing conversations with Saitou and Nadeshiko. Saitou's role in the series has been somewhat limited thus far, but the comedic chemistry between her and Rin is remarkably good. Much like their text exchanges in past episodes, this week's fantasy grilling sequence draws out a more playful side of Rin's dry sense of humor. There are also signs that Rin's starting to open up to Nadeshiko in the same way, and I particularly like the way the two of them dramatize their search for meat in the grocery store. This outing seems like it'll be a good step in the process of getting Rin to warm up to the Outclub. At this rate, we might even get everyone camping in the same place before the end of the season.
While Nadeshiko and Rin are the main focus, some of the supporting characters perform well in their own standalone scenes. Chiaki's encounter with an older camper is a definite highlight; her high-strung personality plays well against the old dude's relaxed vibe. It's fun to watch her act like a dork trying to be cool, and it's an encouraging sign that the show's supporting characters have grown enough to be able to carry scenes on their own. Nadeshiko's sister Sakura also gets a moment to herself near the end of the episode, and while it lacks the comedy of Chiaki's scene, the visual direction is good enough to give this little sequence a relaxing atmosphere. Even without much dialogue, it's easy to pick up on the sense of relief after a long drive.
This episode doesn't have the same spark of personal insight that we saw last week, but I don't see that as a reason for concern at the moment. Laid-Back Camp was only able to deliver that nighttime scene in episode five because of the groundwork that had been laid a week earlier, and I suspect the same will be true of this little arc. This episode is setting the stage for the first camping trip Rin and Nadeshiko have planned together, which is a small but significant change from their previous encounters where Nadeshiko showed up in the middle of Rin's solo excursions. As long as the series continues to deliver on that simple “making friends and doing stuff” formula, this story arc should be another satisfying experience.
Laid-Back Camp is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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