If you want to feel relaxed and comfy, then this is the anime for you.
Laid-Back Camp (or “Yuru Camp” to give it its Japanese title) is, on the face of it, an anime about a bunch of high-school girls who enjoy camping. But it is the way this series goes about expanding on this seemingly simple concept that makes it so enjoyable to watch. (And you definitely don’t need to enjoy camping in order to enjoy this series.)
Laid-Back Camp sits squarely within the “slice-of-life” genre, and in particular the “slice-of-highschool-life” that is so prevalent in anime. However, in this case it works really well – being in school gives the characters a believable amount of free time for their camping hobbies, while also being old enough to have jobs where they work to earn the money to support their hobbies (in a mostly realistic way – camping ain’t cheap!).
The series focuses primarily on 2 characters – Rin and Nadeshko – along with their friends and classmates as they spend time camping (and getting ready to camp).
The cast of characters in this show is relatively small – but they are all unique and interesting characters, with their own quirks, bound together with their enjoyment of camping.
This is another series with a really gorgeous art style – the characters are all vibrant and colorful, while the backgrounds and environments are detailed and in some cases practically animated photographs. (Though there is a bit of slightly awkward CG in places – most notably the cars.)
The pacing is slow and deliberate, with frequent long, lingering shots on some of those beautiful backgrounds. But the pacing fits the narrative well – a sort of “take your time and enjoy the scenery” vibe that is mirrored by the characters themselves.
There’s no real story or overarching plot here – in true “slice of life” style, this is just a story of ordinary life. Things happen, people do stuff, but there’s no central conflict or grand resolution that our characters are working towards – they’re just having a fun time camping after school and on weekends.
In my mind, this series has some similarities to another series I’ve reviewed recently – Non Non Biyori – but where that series captures the feeling of being a pre-teen kid playing and exploring after school or during summer break, Laid-Back Camp captures more the feeling of being a teenager, perhaps just after you’ve gotten your driver’s license and are able to start exploring the wider world. In both cases, there’s a nostalgia for a time when most of us were more innocent and care-free, and both series capture that feeling wonderfully.
Overall, Laid-Back Camp lives up to the “laid-back” part of its name, and if you enjoy slower-paced series and want something that will make you smile and that is enjoyable to watch just for the visuals alone, then I’d highly recommend giving this one a try.