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6 Anime About The Great Outdoors

by Lynzee Loveridge,

One of my favorite anime airing this season is Laid-Back Camp, a story that looks like another "cute girls doing cute things" anime on the surface but ended up delivering more for me. That's not to say that it doesn't star cute girls who mostly hang out doing one particular thing, but what shakes things up for Laid-Back Camp is that we don't see a ton of series centered around roughing it in the great outdoors, unless the great outdoors is some kind of nefarious alien planet. This week I decided to try and hunt down anime about building a camp site, foraging for food, and otherwise communing with nature. The results of my search led me to conclude that we definitely need more of this kind of anime. Japan has a lot of beautiful natural sites to see, and anime could be a great medium to explore them.

Laid-Back Camp I've never been camping in Japan, but I'd argue that my own neck of the woods has its own set of particularly gorgeous mountain views. Like really, I've got some strong feelings about driving east on Highway 14 toward Mt. Hood. We've also got an area called "The Gorge" here, and Multnomah Falls that were just fantastic until some punk kid set the whole thing on fire last year. Anyway, I was born and raised in an area rich in natural beauty, and Laid-Back Camp is probably the first anime I've watched that both articulates those same feelings and focuses on sharing them. The anime opens with Rin Shima, a solo camper who loves the view of Mt. Fuji across a lake, so she goes camping there in the off-season every year. She's initially a curmudgeon about her peaceful alone time, but she manages to inspire interest in a transplant to the area named Nadeshiko. The dynamic of expert and newcomer allows viewers to learn camping basics through Nadeshiko's perspective and experience a new sense of wonder for natural areas of Japan.

Encouragement of Climb Why just gaze at a mountain's beauty when you can conquer it? Encouragement of Climb is cut from the same cloth as Laid-Back Camp. A group of girls decide to venture into the world of mountain-climbing and overcome their own personal obstacles along the way. Aoi Yukimura becomes reacquainted with her childhood friend Hinata, who's been dabbling in mountain climbing since the two girls lost touch, and she manages to recruit Aoi into the hobby to help her get over her fear of heights. Together the duo grows into a quartet, and they tackle basic trails like Mt. Tenran before moving on to Mount Takao, Mount Mitsutōge, and more summits as they become more experienced.

Uninhabited Planet Survive Hey Lynzee, how does a futuristic sci-fi anime that takes place on an alien planet line up with a list about the great outdoors? Thank you for asking, rhetorical readership voice. Uninhabited Planet Survive is an anime about space colonies, and its premise of stranded schoolchildren might remind you of Astra Lost in Space. Uninhabited Planet Survive doesn't take place on Earth, but the challenges the motley cast faces are still grounded in wilderness survival. Seemingly stranded on an island-like environment, the group must use their wits to search for supplies, make a fire from found resources, use vantage points to map the geography, and fashion weapons to stave off the sometimes aggressive wildlife. Sure, that wildlife is large lizards and weird elephants, but swap it out for a bear or a puma and it's not that strange.

Tsuritama The premise of Tsuritama is particularly odd, never a series I expected to be about the healing powers of sea fishing. Yuki is a socially awkward teen living on the island of Enoshima after having moved for the umpteenth time thanks to his grandmother's job. He meets Haru, who's a different kind of oddball entirely, but he nonetheless ends up living with them. This relationship leads Yuki to make his first real set of friends. Haru drags him out fishing and they convince an experienced fisher named Natsuki to show them the ropes. They're eventually joined by another oddball, Akira, and even get involved with competitive fishing. (And aliens!) The series is also notable for its multi-cultural cast. Yuki is at least a quarter-French and Akira is Indian.

Swiss Family Robinson Nippon Animation's take on the literary classic is mostly intact with the exception of Flone (Becca in the English dub), an anime-original character and daughter of the Robinsons who originally only had sons. Like the original story, the anime is set on a deserted island where the Robinsons find themselves after their ship wrecks on its way from Switzerland to Australia. Together the family must survive in their new environment, first by building shelter in a tree and then creating tools to hunt for food. The anime mostly follows Flone, a headstrong and free-spirited child whose adventures lead to both new discoveries and mishaps.

Ronja the Robber's Daughter Surviving the elements in modern times is tough enough, but early-Medieval Scandinavia is a whole different beast. This is the environment Ronja finds herself in as the chief's daughter of a bandit clan living in the woods. Not satisfied with simply sticking around at home, Ronja often ventures into the forest around their castle, where she meets creatures both helpful, harmful, and more than a little magical. She must be wary of the hostile Grey Dwarves, the seasonal hordes of Harpies, and the ever-changing weather with her family, who are storing resources for the winter.

The new poll: New and improved, which of these felines is the cat's meow?

The old poll:Twenty year anniversaries! These series are turning the big 2-0, so which one of them is your favorite?

  1. Cowboy Bebop (TV)
  2. Cardcaptor Sakura (TV)
  3. Trigun (TV)
  4. Serial Experiments Lain (TV)
  5. Pokemon: The First Movie (movie)
  6. Yu-Gi-Oh! (TV 1/1998)
  7. Outlaw Star (TV)
  8. His and Her Circumstances (TV)
  9. Jin-Roh - The Wolf Brigade (movie)
  10. Initial D (TV)
  11. Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz Special Edition (movie)
  12. Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040 (TV)
  13. Pikachu's Summer Vacation (movie)
  14. Record of Lodoss War: Chronicles of the Heroic Knight (TV)
  15. Blue Submarine No.6
  16. Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou
  17. Master Keaton (TV)
  18. A Hundred Billion Stars, A Hundred Billion Lights (OAV)
  19. All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku
  20. Getter Robo: Armageddon (OAV)

When she isn't compiling lists of tropes, topics, and characters, Lynzee works as the Managing Interest Editor for Anime News Network and posts pictures of her sons on Twitter @ANN_Lynzee.

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