A recent anime trend in the cute girl, slice-of-life, school club department has been to branch out to outdoor activities, showing the fun of a wide variety of outdoor recreational activities ranging from camping to diving to bike riding. These shows tend to focus on someone new to the activity as they learn the ropes, allowing the viewer to learn along with them. There is not usually much of an overarching plot, although the main character tends to overcome fears or obstacles related to the activity and become more confident in their abilities by the end. Rather than plot, the shows tend to be carried by the calming feeling they provide, heartwarming moments, and usually a healthy dose of comedy. They’re great for helping you to unwind after a stressful day. Here I’ll talk about seven of these to help you find another great show to watch.
1. Yuru CampΔ (Laid-Back Camp)
Activity – Camping
- Studio: C-Station
- Aired: Winter 2018
- MyAnimeList Score: 8.27
- Popularity: #483
- Genres: Slice-of-Life, Comedy
- Episodes: 12 (Season 2 coming soon)
Rin Shima is a quiet girl who likes to spend her time camping alone. On one camping trip, she finds a girl named Nadeshiko Kagamihara passed out by the public bathroom and they end up sharing a meal together before getting a nice view of Mount Fuji. Nadeshiko is the complete opposite of Rin, bubbly and outgoing. This experience introduces Nadeshiko to camping, and she eagerly joins the Outdoor Activities Club at her new school, where it turns out Rin is also a student. The two end up going on various camping trips both separately and together, and Nadeshiko helps Rin to realize the joys of camping with friends.
Yuru CampΔ is a very relaxing anime, perfect for watching while cuddled up in blankets during a snowstorm. The friends often camp during the winter, so they’re usually bundling up when they’re not going to a hot spring. Although I personally would not want to camp outside in the cold, it’s heartwarming to watch them do it. It’s hard not to smile while you watch this show. It’s got a pleasant, laid-back feel (as the name implies). It is a little slow sometimes, though, and I preferred the moments when they camped together over when they camped separately. There are a lot of food-eating moments, so if you like to watch anime girls squeal over food, you’ll enjoy that. The animation quality and music are both very good, and the anime is good at helping you to relax. It’s an easy show to enjoy.
2. Yama no Susume (Encouragement of Climb)
Activity – Mountain Climbing
- Studio: 8bit
- Aired: Winter 2013; Summer 2014; Summer 2018
- MyAnimeList Score: 6.83; 7.55; 7.56
- Popularity: #1946; #3193; #3940
- Genres: Adventure, Slice-of-Life, Comedy
- Episodes: 12; 24; 13
Aoi Yukimura is a shy first-year high school student with no friends. When she encounters her old friend Hinata Kuraue, who she barely remembers, her life is changed forever. Hinata is a lively girl who loves mountain climbing, and she helps Aoi come out of her shell, make new friends, and gain the confidence to challenge Mount Fuji. Though she struggles along the way and their friendship is tested, they come through stronger than ever and more determined to conquer the most challenging mountain summits.
Yama no Susume consists of three seasons plus a couple OVAs. The episodes in the first season are very short (3 minutes), but the episodes in seasons 2 and 3 are 13 minutes a piece. The show has quite a bit of rapid fire comedy in the first season, but with the longer episodes, this becomes less frequent. I personally did not enjoy the later episodes quite as much because they get weighed down with high school drama, but overall, the show is pleasant to watch. Aoi has significant character growth and fights through more challenges than you might expect in a comedy. Mountain climbing is not an easy activity, and this show truly brings you that experience, both the highs and the lows. When the characters finally reach the mountain peak, you will feel just as accomplished as they do.
3. Houkago Teibou Nisshi (Diary of Our Days at the Breakwater)
Activity – Fishing
- Studio: Doga Kobo
- Aired: Spring 2020
- MyAnimeList Score: 7.38
- Popularity: #2685
- Genres: Slice-of-Life, Comedy, School, Seinen
- Episodes: 12
Hina Tsurugi is a timid girl who likes handcrafts and is scared of bugs and large sea creatures. When her family moves to the seaside town where she used to spend her summers, Hina is tricked into joining the Breakwater Club, which is dedicated to catching and eating all manner of sea life. There she meets her old friend and learns how to fish, slowly getting over her fears and developing a passion for fishing.
Houkago Teibou Nisshi is a pleasant, relaxing, and informative anime. The character interactions are generally fun to watch, although the boozehound of a club advisor did annoy me from time to time. Hina has good character growth, and we learn a lot along with her. As someone who has only ever fished as a child with a toy rod and hot dog bait, I had no idea how complex fishing can be, with different rods, rigs, hooks, and bait for different fish. I also thought it was quite interesting when they showed how to kill, gut, and cook various sea creatures, including an octopus, squid, and different fish. It’s an easy show to watch, and even though there’s no real drama or plot, the informative nature of the show and the characters’ passion keep it engaging.
Activity – Diving
- Studio: J.C.Staff
- Aired: Summer 2016; Spring 2018
- MyAnimeList Score: 7.28; 7.14
- Popularity: #1606; #3098
- Genres: Slice-of-Life, Comedy, School, Shounen
- Episodes: 12; 12
Futaba Ooki is a quiet girl (seeing a pattern yet?) who recently moved to a seaside town from a big city. There she meets the energetic diving enthusiast Hikari Kohinata, who ends up being in Futaba’s class. The two become close friends as Hikari helps teach Futaba the joys of diving as members of their school’s Diving Club.
Amanchu! is a show about diving, but more so, it’s about relationships. Futaba and Hikari develop a deep, even clingy relationship, and you wonder if it will become even more. This is the one anime on the list with a male character in the club, but he is never involved in any romantic way with the other characters. Instead, he and his sister serve as comedic relief. Truthfully, there is more romantic potential between the two main girls. This show has a lot of drama, especially in the second season, which becomes a bit fantastical and, frankly, weird. I enjoyed it less than the first. My other complaint would be that the abrupt changes in animation to wacky faces can be jarring in otherwise serious moments. My favorite part of this show was when Futaba’s friend Akane Mizunashi makes a cameo. She is basically Akari Mizunashi from Aria (my favorite anime) and is voiced by the same voice actress.
5. Minami Kamakura Koukou Joshi Jitenshabu (Minami Kamakura High School Girls Cycling Club)
Activity – Bicycling
- Studio: J.C.Staff, A.C.G.T.
- Aired: Winter 2017
- MyAnimeList Score: 6.25
- Popularity: #3893
- Genres: Sports, School, Shounen
- Episodes: 12
Hiromi Maiharu rides a bicycle to school every day. One day she meets Tomoe Akizuki, who also likes bicycling. Because they have to join a club for school, they decide to form a bicycling club. However, to establish a new club, they first need more members and to show that they are participating in activities. They meet these challenges head-on to start their new bicycling club.
Minami Kamakura Koukou Joshi Jitenshabu is a pretty average cute girl, slice-of-life, school club anime. Although it’s labeled a “sports” anime, there’s really not much competition in it aside from a couple episodes. Most of the show is pretty laid-back. The characters are very clichéd, including a ridiculous caricature of an American girl who came to Japan because she likes anime. Overall, it is watchable.
6. Long Riders!
Activity – Bicycling
- Studio: Actas
- Aired: Fall 2016
- MyAnimeList Score: 6.64
- Popularity: #3382
- Genres: Slice-of-Life, Comedy, Sports, Shounen
- Episodes: 12
Ami Kurata falls in love with a collapsible bicycle and therefore starts taking weekend cycling trips with her childhood friend and other more experienced cyclists at her university as she learns about road bikes.
To be honest, Long Riders! bored me. Although its score on MyAnimeList is slightly higher than the score for Minami Kamakura Koukou Joshi Jitenshabu, I did not enjoy it as much. The episodes were very slow, and the CGI was often terrible and distracting. However, it did have some good comedy at times. It would have been better if it focused more on character interactions and less on technical information about bicycles. If you like shows about bicycling, feel free to watch it, but there are better shows out there with a similar focus.
Activity – Motorcycling
- Studio: TMS Entertainment
- Aired: Spring 2016
- MyAnimeList Score: 6.49
- Popularity: #2167
- Genres: Comedy, Seinen, Slice-of-Life
- Episodes: 12
Hane Sakura always bikes to school, but one day she meets a motorcycle enthusiast who introduces her to a new world. She decides to join her school’s Motorcycle Club and get her motorcycle license, and then she joins the club on various motorcycling adventures, from late night ramen to more lengthy treks.
Bakuon!! is a show that I truly enjoyed. It’s sort of like a motorcycle: it has a lot of energy, and it’s often crude. There are a ton of jokes that actually made me laugh out loud (I had to choose from 37 screenshots for the slideshow above), and I rarely found it boring. You should know that there is a lot of fanservice and jokes with more mature material, but it’s mostly used for comedy so I didn’t find it too abrasive. Jesus also randomly shows up. Overall, I had a lot of fun watching the show, even if it’s not the classiest show out there.
As I mentioned at the beginning, cute girl, outdoor, school club anime seems be a rising trend, and these shows tend to have a lot of similarities aside from the outdoor activity they involve (other than the two about bicycling). The seven that I discussed here were just the ones that I could think of from off the top of my head, but there are probably others I’m forgetting. Feel free to let me know of any I missed in the comments. Out of the ones I mentioned, my personal favorites are Yuru CampΔ, Houkago Teibou Nisshi, the early seasons of Yama no Susume, and Bakuon!! Which ones do you like the best?