Synopsis: The second season of Yuru Camp sees the Outdoor Club grow a little larger and experience a little bit more of that outdoor living as they grow closer and closer to one another.
Some of the better sequels out there build on what the original property did well. The second season of Yuru Camp does this in only the most incremental of ways, with a plot so paper-thin as to almost be non-existent in what is the epitome of the Cute Girls Doing Cute Things anime sub-genre. And yet, somehow – and I say this with confidence – Yuru Camp Second Season is among my favourite shows in this already-packed season.
There’s a lot less to build up to and to set down in the second season of Yuru Camp. The first season does a fantastic job introducing us to the main cast and establishing their roles in their little camping group and the relationships they have with one another. Chiaki is the comedic relief; Aoi, the calm, collected, rather conniving one while Ena, the most normal person in the group, plays the straight-man normal with her plain, untinted observations. Protagonist Rin is the loner camping expert through whom we see the story unfold and the cast grow together, while Nadeshiko, always positive, is the driving force that propels the story forward as she falls in love with the great outdoors and the precious friends she keeps around her. These dynamics haven’t changed at all, coming into the second season. We see more of characters like club advisor Minami and Aoi’s little sister Akari, but at the end of the day, this show is about the five girls of the outdoor club and the fun they have together.
As far as storytelling is concerned, Yuru Camp Second Season is a meandering stream, a camping expedition with random side-trips and locations posted along the way. The season is fairly episodic just like the first, though episode are lumped into, shall we say, “arcs” as the girls embark on camping trips that carry their own fun moments, learning experiences and moments for them to grow closer to one another. We’re treated to a little more backstory to our main cast and the motivations that drive them but other than that, it’s the same, familiar anime as it was back in 2018, with the same relaxing vibe and the same comforting acoustic guitar soundtrack. While the animation is largely the same, there’s the occasional moment of beautifully subtle sakuga, where the camera pans out to reveal some truly breathtaking sights. A shot from the OP that pulls out from Rin’s moped and through Toba-sensei’s car before panning above the Izu Peninsula encapsulates the heights that this seasons’ animation arrives at.
What’s really powerful, though, about Yuru Camp Second Season is the little character moments it treats us to amid the listless wanderings across rural Japan. During Nadeshiko’s very first solo camping trip, for example, we see a restless Rin as she worries for her friends’ safety after she fails to reply to any of her texts, going so far as to shadow her on her trip. Nadeshiko returns this in the final episode, meeting Rin along a dark mountain road after she opts to travel separately back from the Izu Peninsula. In the first few episodes we see our main girls race to catch the first sunrise of the new year, Rin alone on a distant beach while the others watch from a mountaintop near Mount Fuji; towards the end of the season they’re watching the sunrise together. We see Nadeshiko, alone at a campsite in Fujinomiya, reflecting on the value of loneliness as she watches the night lights of the city down below; later she’s back in her hometown, telling an old friend about the experiences she’s had and the friends she’s made and this newfound love for camping she now has. In these soft moments, Yuru Camp drops the antics. There is no fanfare or swelling music, no mistimed over-the-top comedy to ruin an otherwise beautiful moment – rather, the show lets us be together with the characters, sharing these moments as we see how far they’ve come inside – and how much closer they are to one another, too.
I really do think this is the peak of what the Cute Girls Doing Cute Things subgenre has to offer. It’s popcorn-flick, sure, and it doesn’t challenge us or pick at our brains or invigorate us with blood-pumping energy. It’s what you watch at the end of the day to unwind and relax – and that’s okay, we need that. But more than that, in letting us spend tender moments with the girls of the Outdoor Camp, this show lets us pause as well – catch our breath, enjoy these very beautifully-animated vistas – and sink into this journey we’ve taken with them.
I may have a slight bias to shows like this. I’m an outdoorsy person myself, and I totally get the value of just being outside with people you love, because it’s something I myself have experienced before. I can’t say what effect this show will have on those who live more indoor lifestyles, but I can say this – give Yuru Camp a shot. Watch right on through to the second season. Pace it, slowly, one episode a day maybe, when you’re tired from work and you need something to sink quietly into. I promise you’ll have a good time.
(+) The same soft, beautiful anime as the first season, with a little flair thrown in where it matters
(+) Back stories and lovingly-made character moments pull you in even further
(-) If you’re really not the type to like slow, cutesy anime, this isn’t for you