If you told me this episode was produced in conjunction with Izu’s official board of tourism, I wouldn’t question it in the slightest. Laid-Back Camp shifts into travelogue mode this week, highlighting the sights, sounds, and tastes of the OutClub’s weekend vacation around this scenic peninsula. It’s a maximalist departure for a season that has so far focused on smaller outings and a handful of locales in a given episode. Instead, we have the entire ensemble of camp girls driving from one landmark to the next with little chance to rest in between (unless you sleep through everything like Nadeshiko). It resembles a buffet more so than a meticulously prepared full course meal, but Laid-Back Camp‘s signature charms can still be found under every rock and tree in Izu.
Typical of this season, I found this episode bittersweetly vicarious in its portrayal of mundane pleasures I took for granted in the Before Times. It’s been a good several years since I’ve hopped into a minivan with a bunch of friends and/or family for some destination-based respite. Although I certainly remember all the friction that comes with shoving even the most amicable people together in a cramped space for hours on end, I also can’t forget the sense of camaraderie and adventure that comes with an excursion outside of our usual bubble. Laid-Back Camp, to its credit, doesn’t airbrush the trip. The woes of traffic and unforeseen roadblocks (both literal and figurative) accost our heroes, yet nevertheless they push onwards.
And it sure is easy to look past the hiccups when the scenery is this good! The girls comment that the off-season probably isn’t doing the ocean-side vistas any favors, but even the tail-end drabness of winter has a certain lustre to it within Laid-Back Camp‘s painterly landscapes. I’d be eager to compare screenshots of this episode to actual photos of Izu (or better yet, just go there myself), but I imagine it also helps that their trip focuses on majestic natural formations that dot the coasts and mountains of the peninsula. They call them “geospots,” which is a term I haven’t heard used before (and which I’m desperately trying not to make the obvious jokes about), but as a former resident of Boulder, Colorado, I am very familiar with the simple joy of looking at a very large rock with an interesting shape. Their journey also highlights various manmade and cultivated wonders, like wasabi ice cream, shrimp statues, cherry blossom viewing, and large hamburgers.
This episode takes advantage of its large ensemble cast as well, wasting no opportunity for a good joke or goof. Their funny face game is particularly on point this week—Rin’s little moment with the school of koi needs no words to make an impact. I also like the quick comedic beat of the freezing winter ocean wind accosting the girls as soon as they wax poetic on the beauty of the lighthouse view. The sea is a cruel mistress indeed. However, no mistresses can possibly be as cruel as the combined chaotic vortex of not one but two Inuyama sisters. They don’t raise a single one of their powerful eyebrows at their gleeful torment of a still sleep-dazed Nadeshiko, despite her growing incredulity and despair. What a monstrous scene. They’re laughing. They made the birthday girl think she missed out on a whole weekend of outdoor fun, and they’re laughing.
Then again, it’s Aoi’s birthday weekend too, so I guess she’s allowed.
It looks like the upcoming dinner plans involve a fancy jumbo shrimp dinner, so I’m expecting some more mouthwatering drawings next week. And because Aki isn’t going to let Aoi and her little sister hog all of the evil mastermind energy, she reveals the Machiavellian truth behind her manipulations of Tobe-sensei. This horrible little gremlin ripped a hard-working woman away from her beloved booze just to squeeze her for extra crustacean cash. I don’t say this lightly, but I’m glad Aki is dead now. Even Wikipedia (as of the time of writing on March 12, 2021) confirms it.
It might not have the unexpected emotional beats of last week’s episode, but this installment of Laid-Back Camp is a fun cornucopia of Izu landmarks and goofy skits carried by the full OutClub ensemble. While it might induce lethal concentrations of FOMO in those of us still stuck indoors, I find the healing qualities of these gentle animated excursions to be as consistent as the quality of the anime itself. In a sense, that is both Laid-Back Camp‘s weakness and strength—it’s the same show it’s always been. But I happen to appreciate that show a lot, and therefore, I’m always happy to greet it every Thursday this season. After all, like our dearly departed Aki, it won’t be around forever.
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