I am writing to you now from a place of most hallowed comfort. It's a Friday morning. It's the start of a three-day weekend. I've just finished a warm cup of coffee, staving off the slight chilliness of this early spring morning. I've also just finished the finale of Laid-Back Camp's second season, cocooning myself from any aspiring anxiety or depression that might seek to entwine my heart in this moment. I am ascended. I am a radiant being wreathed in divine light. I am made whole. Thank you, Laid-Back Camp, for healing my soul so hard I've achieved enlightenment.
Honestly, I'm barely exaggerating how I feel right now. This episode is a thoroughly delightful cap on what has been a thoroughly delightful season of camping, cavorting, and capybaras. All good things must come to an end, so appropriately enough, this season finale is all about the bittersweetness of endings. The Izu trip is over, and everyone has to go back to their regular lives now. There's an inescapable sense of sadness and loneliness there, but it's the kind of pain that turns soothing when paired with the memories and affection that will linger well beyond the three days of the trip itself. It hurts to let these moments go precisely because they were such a good time, and that's also true of Laid-Back Camp as a piece of animation. As with the first season, I'm sad to say goodbye to this cute bundle of campers, but I feel healed all the same.
There's little I can praise this episode for that I haven't already praised past episodes for. It's another fun slice of travelogue, this time focusing on the sights and colors of Mt. Omuro, as well as the cacti and capybaras of Izu's most iconic park. I actually don't know if it's the most iconic, but I'm assuming it has to be, based on the horrifying anthropomorphized cactus man statue that greets all visitors. I don't think a park can get away with something like that unless it's beyond reproach.
One neat idea I tried this episode was following the girls' exploits alongside Google Maps' street view. I only thought to do this because I had to see for myself if that horrible man-cactus was real (it is), but now I'm thinking it would have been a neat exercise for some past landmark-heavy episodes as well. Try it yourself! Just start here, make a right at the statue, and follow the road uphill and into the park itself. This also gave me more appreciation for all the homework the show has done when it comes to accurately illustrating its destinations while integrating them into the anime's aesthetic. It's no substitute for going there yourself, of course, but this level of care still enriches the experience, no matter how vicarious it may be.
As adorable as these escapades consistently are, however, the bittersweet emotional locus of this episode is what elevates this finale into a perfect closing statement with just the right pinch of melancholy. It builds this mood out of small details like the car naps, the quiet twilight hour and colors, and the landscape rolling by outside the rolled-up window. These are the sights and feelings that accompany the end of any trip or vacation. You start talking and thinking about all the things you couldn't fit in this time, wishing that these carefree hours could go on indefinitely. Their preciousness is a consequence of their transience, naturally, but that will never stop us from yearning for one more day, or even one more measly hour of fun. While Laid-Back Camp thrives as silly comfort food, its surprisingly attuned heart is what makes it not just a cute series, but an indispensable paragon of the iyashikei genre.
It's fitting, then, for the season to conclude on the bared hearts of its two main heroines. Unknowingly reciprocating the same worry that Rin had showed her on her first solo outing, Nadeshiko's concern about her favorite scooter fiend leads the two of them to a touching reunion under the nighttime gaze of the ever-vigilant Mt. Fuji. It's not much of a reunion, considering that they had only been separated for a few hours, but it's touching nonetheless. During this season, Nadeshiko discovered the attractions of solo camping, while Rin confirmed the joys of spending time with your friends, however much of a handful they may be. Their world is bigger now, and it will only continue to grow. And of course, the writer in me appreciates the way this season closes the circle, with Rin agreeing to tell Nadeshiko about her first camping trip, which was how the first episode began three months ago.
I wholeheartedly loved this entire season. It oozes warmth and attention to detail, and each episode has at least one moment that feels like hugging a big fuzzy capybara. It's a refinement of everything that made the first season such a cozy hit. I'm reluctant to once again say goodbye to these Queens of Comfy, but at least we have a movie to look forward to next year. In the meantime, I'm going to be going on my first hike of the season tomorrow morning. This winter has left me out of shape, and we still don't quite have the ideal amount of spring warmth in this area, so I'm expecting to struggle. A lot. However, three months of Laid-Back Camp has instilled in me an insatiable desire to soak in fresh air and fabulous natural wonders, and I think that's the highest praise I can bestow on it.
And by the way, while using street view, I found this picture, but I have no idea how, and I haven't been able to find it again. Maybe I just happened to stumble on one of Akari's fantasies. Whatever the reason, please enjoy this spooky capybara restaurant before we part ways.
Laid-Back Camp is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Steve is thinking about those eggs. Please direct all egg and egg-related inquiries towards his Twitter