Laid Back Camp, Goodbye, Don Glees! and The Quintessential Quintuplets Movie Reviews

Published in
12 min readDec 11, 2022


The Time Of The Pink-Haired Anime Girls is upon us — run for the hills!

So normally I’d write full reviews of each recent anime movie I’ve been fortunate enough to see. Unfortunately with the terminal (worse than usual) winter decline of the UK’s National Health Service, the past few weeks of my life have been a rollercoaster of unending horror, filled with an unreasonable, almost apocalyptic tsunami of patient demand, and multiple doctor illnesses/absences. I’m so tired.

I’m meant to be on holiday this week. Instead, I’m firefighting at work to keep my practice functioning and my surviving colleagues from breaking down into little shivering sobbing pieces. Those anime films I’ve recently experienced have functioned as tiny islands of calm in my over-stressed life, and the idea of using my precious resting time trying to organise my exhausted thoughts into detailed analyses of those pretty ephemeral pictures has been too much to bear.

However, I do want to make a record of the films I’ve watched, so here’s a compromise. Instead of the usual overblown 2000-word excavations, here’s a quick-and-dirty breakdown of three new anime movies I’ve watched over the past couple of weeks. They deserve some kind of recognition.

Laid-Back Camp Movie

All hail Secret Society Blanket!

For the exhausted anime-loving professional, little is more welcome than a steaming cup of coffee/tea/cocoa and a slice of Iyashikei (healing) anime. As undisputed king of this genre, Laid-Back Camp returns to reclaim its crown with the two-hour-long movie version, set around a decade after the conclusion of 2021’s second season. I don’t even like camping all that much, but I love Laid-Back Camp. One doesn’t normally associate the “roughing it” aesthetic of camping with comfort, but something about this show is just so damn comfy that two hours in one go is almost dangerous. Dear readers, for the first time, a movie almost put me to sleep not out of boredom, but sheer overpowering comfiness.

What minimal plot there is functions as an excuse for the now adult quintet of main camping-obsessed characters to reunite to pursue a common goal, and for us to see what they’ve done with their lives. It mostly focuses on central duo Rin Shima (she’s cut off her iconic hair bun! The very subdued, quiet, vague horror!) and the perpetually peppy and upbeat cinnamon bun Nadeshiko Kagamihara (who has hardly changed at all. Never change, Nadeshiko, I love you!) Rin now works in a relatively high-stress magazine publishing/journalism job four hours drive from her hometown, while Nadeshiko sunnily smiles through her (perfect for her) job in an outdoor pursuits equipment store.

*Sniff*. Our girls are all growed up…

I can never remember the other characters’ names anyway, only their simple character quirks. Ena Saito owns the tiny long-haired chihuahua Chikuwa, who is now a very elderly and slightly less energetic furball. Aoi Inuyama has a flesh fang. Chiaki Ogaki since entering the dark world of adulthood seems to have inherited her teacher’s drinking problem, and it’s her drunken text messages to the former members of the Outdoors Activities Club that kicks off the (eventual) plan to resurrect a defunct campsite. I don’t find alcoholism funny — merely sad, so her new “character quirk” left me cold, but that’s about the only negative thing I can find to say about this.

Much like with the TV show, Laid Back Camp Movie (there’s deliberately no definitive article before “Movie” at the director’s insistence…) has a story built without any overt conflict. Everyone gets on fine with one another despite sometimes aggravating character habits. Even non-character based obstacles and stresses are resolved relatively easily, though sometimes involving hard physical effort. There’s no villain of course, except perhaps time — or the lack of it. There’s a kind of elegiac beauty to the scene of Nadeshiko and Rin in the hot springs discussing how they thought that when they became adults they could do anything they wanted, but now they recognise their (relatively greatly increased) power and time is limited. I feel that keenly as someone with many interests and a well paying-job, but little time and energy with which to enjoy them.

Pulse-pounding hot springs introspection aplenty

Laid-Back Camp is special to me because it’s something that my now-adult eldest son and I share together. He’s a university student with a demanding part-time job, and we’d watch each episode of the TV show after he’d been working all day long on his feet. I’d always find it satisfying how the tension and stress of the day would visibly drain from him while he watched the low-stakes adventures of five cute anime girls doing cute anime things. The two-hour-long movie is almost too much of a good thing, as I did almost drop off to sleep in the middle, but I love that it exists, and eagerly (or at least calmly and quietly) await the upcoming third season.

Laid Back Camp Movie
Director: Yoshiaki Kyogoku
Screenplay: Jin Tanaka and Mutsumi Ito
Music: Akiyuki Tateyama
Based on: Laid-Back Camp (manga) by Afro
Production Studio: C-Station
Japanese cinema premiere: June 19th, 2022
International streaming release: Crunchyroll, November 24th 2022
Runtime: 120 minutes
Language: Japanese audio with English subtitles

Goodbye, Don Glees!

Our three main characters — Drop, Roma and Toto

An anime-original story, I knew almost nothing about this film going in. I’d heard it received almost unanimous praise in October at Glasgow/Edinburgh’s Scotland Loves Anime 2022 film festival, and that it was more-or-less “Stand By Me, but anime”. That’s a reasonable comparison, but for a non-Japanese, English-speaking person, it lacks the cultural or emotional power of the famous Stephen King novella adaptation.

A Place Further Than The Universe was one of 2018's landmark anime, a highly emotional journey that I enjoyed, even if it was only my 17th favourite anime of the year. Unusually for the male-dominated anime industry, it was directed by a woman — Atsuko Ishizuka, whose previous movie-directing credit was the very different No Game, No Life Zero. Whereas Universe was based on a pre-existing manga and centred on a group of high school girls and their journey to Antarctica, Goodbye, Don Glees! is written by Ishizuka herself and features a trio of fifteen/sixteen-year-old boys and an ultimate destination at the opposite end of the globe — Iceland.

Happy fun lost in the woods time.

The titular “Don Glees” are a trio of social outcast boys who form their own self-titled small club, the odd name of which is explained during the narrative. Part-time farm-worker Roma attends a rural village high school, his childhood friend Toto recently moved to an elite high school in Tokyo, and relative newcomer Drop joined the club after Toto moved away. During Summer vacation, Toto returns to his childhood home and the three boys illegally pilot a remote-controlled drone, at night, to film the festival fireworks from above. After they lose control of the drone they are blamed on social media for a subsequent destructive forest fire.

Determined to clear their names, they embark on an adventure through the dense woods, battling poor cellphone service, bad map-reading skills and other tribulations in search of the fallen drone in the hope its SD card will contain camera footage that will exonerate them from blame. During their journey they learn of the seemingly happy-go-lucky Drop’s obsession with Iceland and his mystical experience there prior to his move to the village. Together they reckon with their own hopes, dreams and weaknesses, learn about themselves and each other, as each comes to the end of their childhood.

Unfortunately I was not moved to tears by the film.

A fairly light-hearted movie, there are plenty of humorous scenes, especially towards the beginning. There is a constant melancholy undertone about mortality, and making the most of our short lives, but I found the tone to be inconsistent and the tragic elements underdeveloped and vague. I’m reluctant to spoil anything, but when something bad happens (and this is signposted from the very first line), director Ishizuka is far too coy with the viewer regarding the details, and this is deeply unsatisfying. This lack of clarity really robs the film of any emotional power. This frustrating coyness also muddles the early storytelling with flashbacks and flashforwards mixed together with little clue as to what is happening when or why — a second viewing would clear this up, but I don’t feel this very slight film warrants a second look.

My biggest complaint is about the excruciating use of terrible English in the Japanese audio version. Yes, every Japanese school child is taught basic English, and I expect their average proficiency to be poor, but there is one godawful scene where one character starts singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in broken English, and the film inexplicably turns this into a big musical moment. I almost clawed out my eyes in secondhand embarrassment. It was horrific. My daughter who attended with me was also similarly mortified. The scene perhaps plays better to Japanese audiences, I’ve no idea how it’s handled in the English dub, but from that point on it was impossible for me to take the film seriously.

I’m sorry Ms. Ishizuka, I really didn’t like your film. Perhaps you’ll do better next time?

Goodbye, Don Glees!
: Atsuko Ishizuka (A Place Further Than the Universe)
Screenplay: Atsuko Ishizuka
Music: Yoshiki Fujisawa
Production Studio: Madhouse/Kadokawa Animation
Japanese cinema premiere: 18th February, 2022
UK cinematic release: 30th November 2022
UK Distributor:
All the Anime (Anime Limited)
Runtime: 98 minutes
Language: Japanese audio with English subtitles

The Quintessential Quintuplets Movie

Oh — you have their undivided attention. It’s up to you if you find that terrifying or not.

Finally, an unexpected pleasure — I was surprised that my local cinema even chose to show this, the two-hours-and-twenty-minute movie conclusion to a two-TV-season romantic comedy/harem anime. Other than myself, there were only seven other guys in the theatre — not exactly a blockbuster audience in a city with over a quarter of a million inhabitants. This was the first time I’d ever attended a cinema alone — normally I’d take my kids, or a friend, but I know of not a single other person in my non-online life that has even heard of The Quintessential Quintuplets, let alone watched every episode.

The basic premise is that studious, serious high-school student Futaro Uesugi is hired by the wealthy stepfather of the identical female Nakano quintuplets, who are Futaro’s classmates. The Nakano siblings prove to be challenging pupils with little interest in studying, or in Futaro himself — at least to begin with. Throughout the TV show Futaro’s relationship with the girls becomes closer and he learns each of their specific interests, strengths, weaknesses and foibles. Futaro’s diligence and interest in them as individuals leads each one to gradually fall in love with him, and the narrative plainly foreshadows that he will marry one of the quintuplets, but not which.

If you can’t tell them apart, then you don’t deserve to marry any of them.

Obviously it’s a contrived premise that succeeds only because this is an anime about five pretty pink-haired girls who all exemplify one or more harem cliches each. Eldest sibling, the short-haired Ichika is an aspiring actress who tries to act responsibly, though is also a slob and can be sneaky, disguising herself as her siblings more than once. Butterfly hairpiece-wearing Nino is combative and standoffish, a seemingly stereotypical tsundere, but she’s also the one who confesses her love most readily and aggressively pursues a relationship with Futaro. Passive and shy Miku hides her face behind her long hair and perpetually wears headphones, though she gradually grows in confidence with time. Perpetually cheerful and sporty Yotsuba, who wears a large green head ribbon, is a people-pleaser to a fault, always supportive of her sisters and of Futaro even to the detriment of her own desires. Youngest sibling Itsuki (who wears stars in her hair) also has a tsundere nature, polite and friendly to strangers but sharp-tongued and short-tempered around Futaro. She softens over time.

The movie takes pains to showcase each of the five female characters by primarily structuring the main story non-chronologically, repeating the 3-day school festival timeframe but viewing the events from each subsequent girl’s perspective. At the end of these three days, Futaro promises to make a choice of which of the siblings he truly loves, and each girl tries to sway him in their direction. I felt the structure worked well, and avoided too much repetition while giving each sibling a chance to shine.

For those desperate for at least a glimpse of teenage quintuplet cleavage, there’s a brief blink-and-you’ll-miss-it swimsuit scene at the very beginning of the movie. Otherwise this is a cheesecake and perviness-free movie.

Following the end of the school festival, it’s not a spoiler to say that Futaro does make a choice, and with the extra context the movie gives to his choice’s actions and motivations, I have no reservations in announcing that The Best Girl Won. It does seem a little weird to me that this is a movie about five sisters competing for the “prize” of a teenage boy’s love, but… it’s anime. Sometimes it’s better to just sort of shrug and move on. For a genre (harem anime) that I generally view as full of disposable crap, The Quintessential Quintuplets bucks the trend to tell a story filled with well-realised characters with sympathetic motivations. There’s an almost total absence of fanservice or creepiness, the girls are treated with respect, as human beings. My fellow AniTAY writer TheMamaLuigi wrote about this a while ago in far more detail than I am willing to, and I’m in complete agreement with his conclusions in his article.

As a movie, it’s emotional, entertaining, and about twenty minutes too long. Certainly the narrative drive sputters almost to a halt towards the end in order to provide time for each character to react to the new status quo. This is probably fine in a weekly manga, but does not work well in a movie. A braver editor would have streamlined this section, fidelity to the source material be damned. This is supposed to be an adaptation, not an animated facsimile. The animation itself is merely rudementary, really no more impressive than the TV series’ average production values. This does rob a couple of the more emotional scenes of the impact they could have had in a more lavish production.

Regardless of these quibbles, I’m glad the movie exists and that I got an opportunity to watch it on the big screen. Some romantic anime shows do get to have an ending, it seems, and this one got a pretty damned satisfying one at that. I’m sure it’ll be winging its way to Crunchyroll streaming soon for everyone else to weep over their pink-haired quintuplet anime waifus. I’ll say it again — The Best Girl Won. The rest of you are all wrong.

The Quintessential Quintuplets Movie
Director: Masato Jinbo
Screenplay: Keiichiro Ochi
Music: Hanae Nakamura, Miki Sakurai
Based on: The Quintessential Quintuplets (manga) by Negi Haruba
Production Studio: Bibury Animation Studios/Pony Canyon
Japanese cinema premiere: May 20, 2022
UK cinematic release: 7th December, 2022
UK Distributor:
All the Anime (Anime Limited)
Runtime: 136 minutes
Language: Japanese audio with English subtitles

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have an opportunity to see these movies for yourself sometime soon. Hopefully once my work starts to calm down I’ll be able to get back to writing more often!

You’re reading AniTAY, a reader-run blog whose writers love everything anime related. To join in on the fun, check out our website, visit our official subreddit, follow us on Twitter, or give us a like on our Facebook page.




Physician. Obsessed with anime, manga, comic-books. Husband and father. Christian. Fascinated by tensions between modern culture and traditional faith. Bit odd.