Laid-Back Camp Volume 3
Laid-Back Camp is a wonderfully consistent series. I liked the first volume, and I like this new one, volume 3, for the same reasons. That makes it tricky to talk about, though, since it can be difficult to find something new to say.
This time around, though, I’m impressed by the artist Afro’s dedication to detail, as the camping club visits a huge outdoor equipment retailer. Nadeshiko is puppy-like in her excitement and enthusiasm over everything available for camping, and I was amazed at the drawn images, with shelves of pots and walls of backpacks. While trying a gas lamp, the calm and enjoyment on Nadeshiko’s face as she thinks, it’s “like a baby bonfire” is infectious. That’s the mood that I adore this series for.
The girls struggle with the cost of the cool accessories for their hobby, which provides a realistic underpinning to the lovingly illustrated gear. Then Rin and Nadeshiko plan a trip, but Nadeshiko catches a cold, so Rin heads out by herself. The principle on display, based on her grandpa’s advice, is “The parts you don’t plan make the journey more fun.” That means she takes unexpected delays, like a detour due to a closed road, with equanimity, another inspirational lesson.
Once Nadeshiko starts feeling better, she and Aki text with Rin, giving her suggestions for places to visit, capturing the best of both worlds: Rin is still out alone, but her friends are virtually with her, enjoying her images of the trip. Plus, Aki makes a local soup for her recovering friend. I love cooking manga, and this recipe, although played for humor, added to the heart-warming appeal of this volume. Food is an important part of the experience for these characters, and between that and the gorgeous scenery, those factors are welcome introductions into the camping world.
The book also has a set of two-page gags, about the camping club’s odd personalities, as a wrap up. Afro also does something different, noting on the final page where the material originally appeared (and what is new for the book). That’s common in English graphic novels, but I haven’t seen it before in manga.