Laid-Back Camp (Yuru Camp △) is a relaxing slice-of-life show about several high school girls and their forays into off-season camping. However, they are not all experiencing it together as a single group, but rather are two separate groups doing their own thing. That said, it’s not as if that state of affairs is a friendship obstacle to overcome; it’s something even better.
Day 9 of the 12 Days of Anime 2018
The two main characters of the show—Rin, a blue-haired girl who is a decently-seasoned camping veteran, and Nadeshiko, a pink-haired girl who’s recently moved to town and is totally unfamiliar with camping—meet when the former comes across the latter sleeping on a bench during one of her camping excursions. Rin eventually brings Nadeshiko to her camping area at night, and this serves as Nadeshiko’s first glimpse into a hobby that may end up engrossing her.
This would be the point in the anime where the two of them would likely then engage as mentor and mentee...but that is not quite what happens. Rin, as Nadeshiko finds out, much prefers camping alone to camping in a group. This is where Laid-Back Camp then shows its gentle heart: Instead of doing the Conventional Anime Thing of insisting the loner to pleeeeaase give the whole group a chance, Nadeshiko—even while being the more outgoing, social one—respects her wishes!
The two of them end up camping as a duo another time, but after that, Nadeshiko mostly does camping activities with the two other students of the school’s outdoor club, not barging in on Rin again. Thus, for a good stretch of episodes, the show ends up actually following the adventures of two separate groups; at its best, both groups’ exploits happen simultaneously.
And all of it is on purely friendly terms. Rin gets to continue solo camping comfortably; Nadeshiko still gets to hang with a group by joining the Outdoor Activities Club. No trying to one-up each other, no schemes plotted to get Rin into the fold, not even a hint of judgment from Nadeshiko towards Rin’s sentiments about camping. Everyone does each of their own respective things, they’re all cool with that state of affairs, and Rin and Nadeshiko still bond over the cool things they’re each doing by sharing bits and pieces of their experiences through texts.
Quick sidebar: One of the other bloggers participating in the 12 Days of Anime, SpiritusNoxSA, put up a lovely piece on his blog Musings And Pretensions going more in-depth about how technology enriches everyone’s camping, and it’s absolutely worth checking out.
Theirs is a kind of friendship that just makes me incredibly happy to see depicted—one that endures and even blooms while being mindful about differing people’s differing feelings about social situations—and it lent plenty of warmth to the show as a whole. The camping bits of Laid-Back Camp made it a cute watch, but the way it treated interpersonal matters was what elevated it into a full-on comfy blanket of an experience.
Also, kind of unrelated, but I also adore its soundtrack. The ending theme especially.