Laid Back Camp Vol. 1 (Yen Press)

LaidBack

CREDIT: Yen Press

Rating: 5/5 – Grab Your Tent and Get Some Kindling
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Al Sparrow

I’ve written reviews before that advise skipping the manga and heading straight to the anime. I’ve also written reviews urging you to experience the manga and not bother with its animated counterpart. I’m not sure I’ve ever written one with an eye toward doing both. Until now, that is.

Laid Back Camp chronicles the exploits of the Outdoor Exploration Club: Four girls (well, three and one lone wolf who occasionally pairs up with them) who share an enthusiasm for camping. Rin enjoys hopping on her bike (later Minibike) and exploring the various campsites around Mt. Fuji by herself. Emphasis on the “by herself” part. Through a chance encounter with overly-enthusiastic (but not quite as studied) Nadeshiko, she slowly finds herself drawn into developing friendships.

I cannot recommend the anime of Laid Back Camp highly enough. It’s herbal tea for the anime lover. Watch it before you go to bed and you’ll sleep soundly through the night. The blend of beautiful artwork, characters you’ll immediately love, and a soundtrack you’ll seek out from the first few chords make it an absolute must, even if you’re not a camping enthusiast (Fair warning, you might become one before you’re done with it). And at only 12 episodes to the first season it’s a minimal investment.

Still, this is a comic book website, so why blather on about the anime? Why should I pick up the manga after watching it? As mentioned, the anime currently clocks in at a scant 12 episodes, and if it clicks with you, you’re going to be hungry for more. Even if the book is most a re-tread of the anime, manga-ka Afro throws in enough extras to help embellish what you just watched to make the manga more of a “director’s cut” than anything else.

Laid Back Camp has managed to engender a devoted following. How devoted? Fans are now seeking out the sites shown in the anime and book in real life.  The Japanese tourism industry recently noted an increase in the number of “winter campers” (the main focus of the book) and that’s being traced back to enthusiasm for the series. It’s a fandom well-deserved. One of the beautiful things about manga is that it can – almost fearlessly – be about any topic. I’m not a huge camper, but this series gave me pause to wonder what I might be missing out on.

Reviewed by: Al Sparrow (al@comicspectrum.com)
http://comicspectrum.com/ By Fans who Love Comics for Fans who Love Comics

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