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Saturday, February 6, 2021

Selah's Manga Mania: Laid-Back Camp Vol. 1

Laid-Back Camp Vol. 1
March 27, 2018
Written by Afro
Genre: Adventure, Iyashikei*, Slice of life, 
Sports Manga, Teen & Young Adult
Publisher: Yen Press
Volumes 11 (List of volumes)
Setting up a tent, starting a fire, and eating noodles with Mt. Fuji in view...Rin and Nadeshiko absolutely love to camp! Enjoy their zest for travel and maybe even pick up a tip or two about roughing it in the great outdoors. You might just want to go camping yourself!

*genre specific to Japanese works, primarily manga and anime. It is a sub-genre of slice of life, portraying characters living out peaceful lives in calming environments, and is intended to have a healing effect on the audience. The word iyashikei means "healing" in Japanese. - Wikipedia

Sometimes you just need something relaxing with low stakes. Sometimes you want to read about characters enjoying themselves, having friendships, and eating good food. Thankfully, for as many manga titles that focus on adventure and drama, there’s also plenty that focuses on really low-stakes situations and relaxing environments.
Beautiful people, you need Laid Back Camp in your life. No, really.
Nadeshiko is a peppy, energetic girl who meets Rin, who is quieter and likes to camp by herself after being given a lot of supplies by her aging grandfather. They develop a friendship, and intrigued by Rin’s hobby, Nadeshiko seeks out the Outdoor Activities Club at her school, widening their friend circle. The girls plot out possible trips, save for camping gear, plan menus, and have quirky adventures while camping. This is balanced by Rin going off on her own and slowly being drawn into the group. Initially an outsider, she slowly relaxes and develops a friendship with Nadeshiko and the others. Conversely, Nadeshiko slowly comes into her own and tries to take more responsibility and do more on her own as she can.

The good: It’s cute. The art is cute, the stories are fun, there’s a lot of detail about locations, food, and Japanese culture in general. It’s a great introductory series because while not episodic per se, there’s no giant arc where you need to know every single detail. The author is pretty good about referring back to past storylines to avoid confusion. The pacing isn’t slow, but it takes its time. Because this is more about relationships, personal growth, and camping, it just feels super relaxing compared to the tensions in everyday life. All the girls have their own personalities. They meet different people during their trips, slowly widening their social circles and drawing them into different experiences on their own. I identify a lot with Rin but also appreciate that they give her a roommate and that she’s not some tragic lonely figure. All of the girls have stable family relationships in what I’ve read so far. Although problems arise, they’re mostly because of poor planning or other outside circumstances. What’s cool is that the plots come from them having to actively think on their feet to solve these dilemmas, and seeing young women do that in real-world situations is really empowering.

Yes, there’s also a lot involving yummy food. Please, this is me; I’m going to find a good food manga even if it’s buried in a snowstorm and I have to fight a Yeti for it.

As I get ever into my dotage, high school titles get harder to read, not necessarily because I can’t remember and empathize (I’m not that decrepit yet), but because they’re often romance based and really over the top plots. I just find it hard to invest a lot of time reading that. This, though, is fun, sweet, and has become a title I curl up with if I’ve got a lot on my mind. I love how the girls are presented. They’re goofy, sure, but not stupid. The challenges are believable, and they rely on and help each other and others. It’s a sweet, positive title. There’s enough comedy to keep you laughing and enough warmth to get you out of a bad mood.
The bad: If you want something with a ton of adventure or drama or romance, this ain’t it. Not a con, but know what you’re getting into here—otherwise, nothing.

The weird: Really, nothing. Some of the situations are a smidge unrealistic but still believable in this world.

If you need a mental holiday, definitely curl up in a sleeping bag, make some ramen, and check out a volume of this.

4 sheep

About the Author:
Selah Janel is a writer who is trying to start doing that again instead of reading manga all the time.

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