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[Laid-Back Camp: the Movie]
AKA: 映画 ゆるキャン△
Genre: Slice-of-life.
Length: Movie, 120 minutes
Distributor: Currently available streaming on crunchyroll.
Content Rating: PG (Alcohol usage.)
Related Series: Laid-Back Camp TV season 1-3.
Also Recommended: Encouragement of Climb, Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou, Aria, Amanchu.
Notes: Based on the manga series by Afro, serialized in Houbunsha's seinen manga magazine Manga Time Kirara Forward. The movie is an original story not featured in the manga (as of yet, at least.)

Laid-Back Camp: the Movie


It's a few years later, and all our resident camping enthusiasts are all grown up and have entered the working world. Rin is now an editor for a small publisher unit, while Nadeshiko is working for a camping store. Aoi has become an elementary school teacher and Ena is working as a pet groomer.

And Chiaki? She has been tasked by her tourism promotion organisation to rebuild a site that has been inactive for several years into something that will attract tourists. And what better way to do that, and to get help from her old friends, than to turn it into a camp ground?


Stig: I am honestly relieved to see that Crunchyroll are more willing to feature movies in their lineup, at least ones that are based on TV series, because when this movie was announced, I thought an actual licensed disc release would be my only chance to watch it. But here we are, and when it really comes down to it, I'm just happy to see these girls again.

Or maybe "women" would be a more fair term, as they're all bona fide adults now, with adult responsibilites and private lives. As adulthood goes, they don't have as much time to see each other as they used to, which is to be expected, I guess. To be perfectly honest, I wasn't entirely sure how to take the fact of this being a time skip, but I needn't have worried at all. As I would quickly realise, even if they have entered the life of adulthood and their personal interactions are going to be more sparse, that doesn't mean they won't appreciate the chances they get to meet up again. And that, as much than anything else, is what makes this movie such an absolute joy to watch.

Nicoletta: I’d really looked forward to seeing this movie. Part of the reason, of course, is that I enjoyed the first two seasons, so it’s not a huge surprise that I’d seek this out. But I have to admit that I was excited to see the characters as grown women, at least this once. Anime featuring adult working women are few and far between, meaning I don’t have a lot of chances to relate (at least in that way). So I was cautiously optimistic that Laid-Back Camp would do this well, without being gimmicky; it ended up actually exceeding my expectations.

Stig: There is a certain sense of flow to Laid-Back Camp as a movie that does lend itself better to its runtime, and avoids the TV series' occasional need to break story arcs up into several episodes to cover everything it needs to. Among the group of girls, Rin seems to be the one who still camps the most enthusiastically despite having less time to do so. In a weirdly endearing twist, she really shows herself as a real grandpa's girl by owning a proper motorbike compared to the scooter she used in her teenage years, which gives her more options for travel. Which, if you remember a certain scene from the second season, becomes even more endearing. (And not to worry; though the girls are now adults, the movie still didn't leave out the family members we met in the two seasons preceeding this movie.) And while Japanese work culture is still portrayed with some of its less admirable aspects even in Laid-Back Camp, the movie still takes some of the sharper edges off by showing a more idealised -- as in how things should be -- by giving Rin supportive coworkers and even a boss who, while not approving every subject she comes up with, still allows her some leeway to see where her passions will take the company.

Nicoletta: Those who know me know that I’m (at least somewhat) outdoorsy but also rather introverted. It might not be a huge surprise to anybody that Rin was always the Laid Back Camp character I related to most. That’s totally the case here as well, perhaps even more so than the series. The movie poignantly captures Rin dealing with the frustrations of “adulating”: struggling to keep in touch with friends, turned-down projects and proposals at work, crowded commutes etc. Though perhaps most noticeable with her, all of the girls experience it to some degree, even Nadeshiko, who is deftly balancing passion and work with a job at a camping store.

Stig: It might also have looked like the earlier seasons of Laid-Back Camp took a bit too much of a pleasure in dunking on Nadeshiko's abilities by strongly discouraging her from getting a scooter, in this movie, she not only have a driver's license (and a car, a big 4WD one at that), but also apparently a license for using construction vehicles like a digger, even if it's just a mini one in this movie. She may not have lost that slightly airheadedness and seemingly limitless ability to remain cheerful, but maturity has turned that into an almost terrifying weapon for good.

In a sense, Chiaki could probably be considered the star of this movie, as her main goal is the driving force behind the movie's plot. In a weird twist, she seems to be the one who has inherited the role of the drunkard in the group, even if Toba-sensei also shows up in the movie. As apprehensive as Rin used to be towards her due to her mischievous nature, Rin is still the first to meet up with her and is whisked away by taxi to this old spot in sore need of an upgrade. And so she, and this campground project, becomes the core that gathers the women together again for a new job. Both Aoi -- now a school teacher -- and Ena -- now an animal stylist -- might not have much to do with the show directly in the same sense as the show is neither about dog grooming or schools, but they are Rin's, Nadeshiko's and Chiaki's friends, so it's naturally that they will get caught up in the group's business when something big and significant like this is happening. And even more so, it's nice to see a show/movie centered around reusing already existing stuff rather than just throw it all away and replace it with something new, even if it involves a lot of rebuilding.

And my god, the scenery still looks so good! It's still sorta wintery/early spring-y as in the TV seasons, but despite the muted color scheme that comes with said season, the backgrounds are still painted with a keen eye for natural scenery at its most gorgeous. The movie is as proud of Mt. Fuji as ever, but Laid-Back Camp has always had a keen eye for how to utilize natural beauty even when roads and buildings are concerned. Vehicles still look a little CGishly shiny, but by and large they move naturally enough to not be too disruptive. And topping off that is the wonderful expressionate style of the characters themselves. It's slightly less facial gag-based than the TV series -- don't expect anyone to have their heads turn into anything -- but everyone still basically owns their moods at all times, which lends to the whole thing where the girls may be adults now, but are still surpremely themselves despite being afflicted by emotional maturity. And, of course, it's nice to see the girls still keep up with the social media banter. (Usually through text messages.) Atmosphere has always been the show's strongest point.

Nicoletta: Even with the characters “grown up”, the movie is very much in keeping with the spirit and feel of the series. We get a driving OP and a nice, pastoral ED from the same artists who did the themes for the first two seasons of the TV show; in my opinion, while Eri Sasaki may not normally record acoustic folk, she has an amazing talent for it. Rin still gets a quiet pleasure from time camping, and with the travails of adulthood, there a sense that she needs her time in nature more than ever. We see her and the other characters revisit a number of sites from the TV series, so there’s a sense of nostalgia, but it’s with a step forward, since they’re seeking inspiration for the project they want to make happen. I do think there is something special in their reflection and resilience in the face of setbacks. Even Aoi, generally the cheeriest of them all, has a bittersweet “adulating” moment that feels especially real.

The Laid Back Camp movie takes a step away from the main series, in a sense (Season 3 returns to their high school days), but it strikes a nice balance of being in the spirit of it while being (more than) watchable on its own. I was actually rather touched by the fact that this movie’s plot is about creating a park, since that’s related to my own life’s work. Even setting that aside, the scenery is worth the price of admission alone.

Stig: So did I ever think this movie was gonna be bad?! HAH! No, my main concern was that seeing the characters as adults would take some of that enjoyment away, and isn't that a weird thing to say for someone who has always wanted more main adult characters in anime? It's a slice of life, so the movie spoiling big events isn't really a danger unless you really want to follow these girls to adulthood even careerwise, in which my question would be: Why are you watching a show that puts leisure time activities front and center? But Laid-Back Camp: The Movie does you one better; it reassures you in ways shows don't often do. You don't have to give up the things you love as you grow older. You can mix work and pleasure sometimes. And more importantly, your friends will still be here.

Easily lives up to the TV series. Two hours might feel a little long for some people, but we wouldn't want it any other way.Stig Høgset and Nicoletta Christina Browne

Recommended Audience: This movie has a somewhat liberal view on drinking alcohol, with Chiaki joining Toba-sensei in turning into a loud drunk on camping trips, but this isn't necessarily unusual in anime. Other than that, there is absolutely nothing objectionable in this show.

Version(s) Viewed: Digital stream on Crunchyroll, Japanese with English subs.
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Laid-Back Camp: the Movie © 2022 C-Station, AT-X, DeNa Contents Planning Division.
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