2-3’s: Sora Yori, Yuru Camp, Slow Start

Somebody suggested that Sora yori mo Tooi Basho was going to be a K-ON for Antarctica, and there were times during episodes 3 and 4 where I began to see their point. Focused, disciplined Shirase turns out to be possibly the biggest idiot of the group with her plan to seduce a male explorer and get him to stow them away, and it led to a scene in Shinjuku where the viewer had no idea what the girls were trying to do. They were trying to act sexy, then two women showed up and everyone starts running around, while we scratch our heads. It’s good that the show grounded itself after that, however, with some reality: yes, there’s a civilian expedition going, but it’s in financial trouble and our girls couldn’t get in anyway.

This didn’t really happen.

The other thing both 2 and 3 do is, of course, gather more characters. Episode 2 brought us Hinata, who quit school for reasons and, like Shirase, feels like she has to prove something to the doubters. She’s also the most practical of the three and thanks to her the show has someone to rein Shirase in when she gets too obsessed (honestly, the whole “My mother is waiting for me” business, is her name Riko?). The second episode presents us with Yuzuki, the girls’ reluctant golden ticket, an idol who’s going on the expedition but doesn’t want to go, so could Shirase take her place? No, says the manager/mother, but there is room for negotiation, since Yuzuki is friendless and lonely. The show does a smart thing by stressing that the girls are not best friends, they’re friendly acquaintances with a shared goal, and since they welcome Yuzuki, it’s more than good enough.

Yuru Camp is shaping up to be a nice slice-of-life, even if Nadeshiko also reminds me of someone from K-ON. The thing is, right now it feels like two different shows. We have Aoi and Chiaki’s club and narrow clubroom, with their little adventures, witn some interaction with Rin, who does not want to join. And then we have the other half, which is Rin camping and reading, and lots of scenery. True, we have Yui, I mean Nadeshiko crashing her private party, but at least she seems to be respecting Rin’s desire for peace. In terms of episode 2’s story, it seems like halfway through the writers said, “the hell with it, let’s go camping,” so we did, and anything resembling plot just stopped. We even get the full text of a nonsense chatmail that has nothing to do with anything.

I guess the show does have a plot: getting all the girls together to camp together. The show is going to take their time about it, too. Three episodes in and we Rin and Nadeshiko have teamed up. I wonder how much longer it will take for Chiaki and Aoi to join them? Not that it matters. Sooner or later they’ll be looking at Fuji-san together, and in the meantime … well, who cares? In episode 4 the most interesting thing that happened is that Rin explained why she likes Winter camping, and they’re good reasons. I also wonder that she doesn’t mind so much about Nadeshiko hanging around. I guess her transition from private camper to social one is going to be as nonchalant and low-key as the rest of the series so far.

I didn’t get this part either, but that’s all right.

Slow Start doesn’t have much a plot, either, and again, it’s all right. Episode 2 is all about the sports testing, and Hana, who hasn’t exercised since middle school, doesn’t do terribly well. In episode 3 all the girls to Hana’s place for some golden week studying, cute things happen, and Hana gets the warm fuzzies from everyone being there. In the meantime, we get a little more of each girls’ personality. I still can’t get over Tama’s constant talking, but it’s nice to know she has some skills. Kamuri is still simply small, cute, shy, and devoted to Eiko. It’s Eiko who’s turning out to be the most interesting. She would say otherwise, and constantly wonders at the harem game references Tama-chan makes, but we see EIko flirting with other girls, and it’s hard to tell if she’s serious about it or unaware of the effect she has on the other girls, and she DOES have an effect.

There IS some plot of course, but it’s kind of ridiculous. Hana still hasn’t let on that she had to miss a year because she was down with the mumps the day of the entrance exam. It’s a credit to the show that while it’s all rather cute, the negative effect this has on Hana’s life comes through enough for me to get angry that there was no other route for her but to miss a year. And in episode 4 she a reference to her birthday makes her suddenly shed tears in front of her worried new friends. A nice little moment that I thought would lead to her confession, but it didn’t. I don’t want to have to wonder, episode by episode, whether she’s going to spill the beans on this innocent issue when we all her friends will not care. Just tell them already.

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