Face it. It has been a miserable year. I feel like I’ve been locked up by COVID and lost a year of my life without ever getting sick. At my age, I have few years to throw away.

We’ve all lost a year…

I’ve had far fewer adventures than I would have wanted. It doesn’t look like it will be ending any time soon. New mutated variants of the virus could cause new waves of infection and we aren’t completely sure how effective the vaccine will be against them. Even when I finally get vaccinated, the doesn’t magically say the restrictions don’t apply to me anymore.

In the meantime, I have been locked in a relentless struggle of pouring concrete and laying a sprinkler system in the back yard, not something I wanted to be doing but the wife wants it, so it is, “Make it so!” time. Our elderly cat, Mr. Cat, suddenly developed cellulitis in a leg and became so ill I had to feed him little bits of cat food by hand. A week later and with lots of antibiotics he is better but still hobbled. The drought continues. We had only one good rain this year and most of the desert SW is experiencing drought from severe to the most extreme levels.

So what better to lift one’s spirits than a story of a group of girls having fun and enjoying the closeness to nature that camping brings?

There could be spoilers ahead.

I’ve written about Yuru Camp before. Yuru Camp follows the adventures of a group of girls who have formed the Outdoor Club to enjoy cool weather camping in Japan. First there’s Nadeshiko, a genki girl who bubbles with enthusiasm for everything.

Our next lead is Rin. Rin is not a shy girl but she is a bit more reserved and not really a group-oriented person. Instead, she likes to ride her moped to distant locations and camp solo. None of the other girls have their license yet or have even thought of going solo. Of all the girls she is the most experienced in the outdoors and probably the most mature.

And there are the other members of the club. They don’t feature quite as prominently but they still have a fair share of development. They end up camping on a lake in the mountains without checking the weather first and it gets much too cold for the gear they brought. They end up being saved by a father and daughter camping nearby in a heated tent and then the club adviser, Minami, drives out so they can sleep in her car.

Chiaki, Ena and Aoi from left to right.

Not a lot changes from last season to this until episodes 7 and 8. Nadeshiko decides she is going to try camping solo. This could be the most important mini-arc of the season. When the story began last year, Rin was a seasoned solo camper but reluctant to join the club or to go on group outings. When she does, it marks a major step in her relationship with Nadeshiko. It also shows she really isn’t just being antisocial and can enjoy camping with another person.

Nadeshiko’s older sister Sakura and her mother Shizuka. Either one could be my waifu.

That plot had me slightly worried. It would not be impossible for her overall development to have her “rehabilitated” from being a loner to a social camper. People who are socials look at others who might prefer to be alone as having a problem. Obviously, everybody wants to belong and spend their time hanging out with other people, right?

When I tell people about my solo hiking they think I am nuts for doing such a thing.

No shortage of pretty animation here.

These episodes take the opposite tack. Having Nadeshiko decide to try going it alone and showing her enjoying the experience indicates that Rin is not such an outlier. Being alone isn’t something to be avoided but rather a blessing of a different sort.

Unlike Rin who drives everywhere on her moped, Nade takes a bus and then backpacks 3.5 km. (IIRC) to her campsite. Backpacking is more challenging and I think this is the first time anyone has camped in the anime this way. I don’t think the pack she used could have possibly carried all the gear and food she had with her, but I’ll let it slide.

Being who she is, she immediately befriended two young girls and their father who happened to be camping there as well. She ends up giving them a lesson on camp cookery. It doesn’t appear that winter camping is very popular in Japan as the campgrounds never look crowded.

However… Nade is not known for her competence. One of her considerations in picking a campsite was one that had cell coverage. The camp she finally picked only had coverage if you walked to the top of a hill. Rin and Sakura independently start to worry that they hadn’t received any messages, so they both head out to check to see if everything was ok and run into each other at the campground.

Rin and Sakura observing Nade from concealment.

Heck of a view from atop the hill

Taking care that Nade doesn’t realize she was being checked up on, they see that everything is ok. Nade gets to the top of the hill and sends them a picture from the only place she could get service.

Nade and her newfound friends.

And my favorite ending song of the year!