by Paul Jensen,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Laid-Back Camp ?
Another episode of Laid-Back Camp, another half hour of hanging out in the great outdoors. Rin and Nadeshiko actually have some neighbors at their latest campsite, though Nadeshiko seems more concerned with the monster that supposedly lives in the lake. Rin tries out some new fire-starting techniques, Nadeshiko befriends their fellow campers, and both girls take some time to reflect on how they ended up on this trip together. I'm not quite sure how that ends up being enough content to fill an entire episode, but this series always finds a way.
The folks from the neighboring campsite are an interesting addition to this episode, adding a fresh element to Laid-Back Camp's established formula. We've seen other tents in background shots before, but this is the first time the main characters have really had to interact with someone outside their group for an extended period of time. The effects of this change are easiest to see when we look at Rin; with more experienced campers on hand, she's able to step down from her “resident expert” role and learn something new instead of just teaching other people. As for the neighbors themselves, they have some decent chemistry with one another, and their interactions with Rin and Nadeshiko are generally entertaining. There are some hints that we may see one or both of them again, but for now they work just fine in their limited roles.
This episode also features some new developments for Rin and Nadeshiko, especially in terms of their backstories. By revealing that Rin has some family history with camping, the show places a more personal motivation behind her hobby. Instead of just being a thing she does for fun, camping now serves as a kind of emotional thread connecting Rin to her constantly traveling grandfather. Nadeshiko's backstory is another nice addition, as it allows the girls to reflect on the coincidental nature of their first encounter; if Nadeshiko hadn't fallen asleep during the trip to her new home, she might not have felt the need to visit the lake where Rin happened to be camping. These bits of exposition aren't exactly earth-shaking bombshells, but they do lend the episode a more thoughtful quality.
It's perhaps fitting that as Rin and Nadeshiko spend some time reflecting on how they met, the dynamic between them continues to evolve. Rin no longer seems surprised or baffled by Nadeshiko's quirky personality and has an easier time taking her at face value. This is particularly evident in the way she plays along with Nadeshiko's “country grandma” routine without missing a beat. For her part, Nadeshiko is spending less time relying on Rin to handle all the difficult camping tasks and is spending more time doing those things with her. The two of them have gotten increasingly comfortable around one another, and that slow and subtle shift is capped off by die-hard solo camper Rin promising to invite Nadeshiko along on her next trip. Laid-Back Camp's slow pace has made this “getting to know you” process a long one, but it's also felt surprisingly natural because of that. Instead of tossing everyone together immediately for the sake of narrative convenience, the show has allowed its main characters to move at a pace that matches their personalities.
While it remains firmly rooted in the low-stakes, zero-drama conventions of its genre, Laid-Back Camp definitely knows how to make that approach work. The evolving friendship between Rin and Nadeshiko provides this episode with some substance even in the absence of conflict, and the experience of watching the characters explore the scenery is relaxing as ever. There's something to be said for focusing on doing just one thing, and Laid-Back Camp continues to do its particular thing very well.
Laid-Back Camp is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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