Review: Camp Camp “The Forest”

 

Overview (Spoilers Below)

After taking the campers back from the docks, David realizes he left his trail mix in one of the boats. He trips into the boat, however, and knocks himself out — detaching it from the docks and sending him a-sail. He wakes up at the edge of a waterfall, where he falls into the rapids below. He manages to make it out of the water, but a wolf confronts him on his walk. He scares her away with a rock and continues forward.

He climbs to the top of a peak to examine the forest but accidentally disturbs a beehive. He runs from them, getting stung along the way, and shelters himself from the rain in a lean-to. When he wakes, he runs into the wolf again. She is not scared by him this time, and attacks. In an attempt to escape, he leaps a canyon, but the wolf clings to him — causing them both to fall. David breaks his leg, and mentally snaps at the wolf, contemplating smashing her head with a rock. He breaks down sobbing, instead.

He lives in the forest long enough to grow a beard. The wolf — whom he decided to heal and befriend — bids him goodbye as he finally tracks his way home. However, a bear attacks him — but the wolf sacrifices herself to save David.

David returns to camp, giving the kids a tearful speech about how important being kind to strangers is — even if they don’t seem kind.

Our Take

The world of Camp Camp is like ours in many ways. There’s the day, which is meant to be lived in — it’s something that is meant to be shared. It’s for seeing the world as what it is, in a bright setting where everything is familiar. There’s also the night, which is a time meant for contemplation. It’s shrouded in mystery, suspense — perhaps even a little danger. Moreover, it’s all of these qualities which make it beautiful.

Such is the nature of Camp Camp — it is, in its essence, night and day.

The day represents Camp Camp’s cartoon-y side. This is what is shown at face value. For some, it’s just a silly show, jam-packed with sailor-mouthed children, slapstick comedy, meta jokes, memes, and nerdy pop culture references. People seem naturally drawn to the show by its colorful cast and world.

But unlike our own world, the heart of Camp Camp seems to lie within its night: the root of the show’s morals, based in weighty plots, earnest conflicts, and — as depicted in this episode — graphic depictions of emotion and beyond.

Although Camp Camp has gone in grim plot directions before (such as with Jasper’s death) no episode until now has ever been so explicitly rife with grief, anguish, sorrow, and violence. Like a punch to the jaw, Camp Camp has managed to deliver its darkest episode yet — with some of the smoothest animations in the series to help tell its story.

Ample displays of blood were seen in a way that has never been brought to the table before. Usually, in the series, when David gets hurt, it’s a slapstick gag and nothing more. However, the suffering David went through was nothing short of a realistic depiction of someone dealing with high-stress survival situations. Through all of his trials and tribulations, though — even when faced with the option to be violent — David stayed true to his character. This was a much-needed reminder of why David is (objectively) the most important character in the series. He is a symbol for the heart of Camp Camp’s morals on optimism, perseverance, and unconditional kindness.

This is why Miles Luna deserves an award for his performance this episode. He astoundingly depicted an unrelenting optimist as grief-stricken and unhinged, without dialing down the golden-hearted nature that rests in his voice. From the monologue of a wild-eyed David who still had it in him to choose mercy, to the David we saw at the episode’s end, vocally choking up at the notion of wholehearted love toward every creature, it’s probable that those emotions hit just as hard in the recording studio.

All of this, though, paints the continuous violence toward David as excessive — not that it already wasn’t. How long was he even in the woods for? Long enough to grow a full beard, build a wood/cobblestone shelter, and long enough for the wolf to fully heal. It had to have been over a week — where was the search party? This character has been through the mill — hit by buses, attacked by rabid animals, concussed by logs — these are just a few examples of how often David is unnecessarily beaten around. The on-and-off switch (or, rather, the “day-and-night” switch) for whether his injuries actually afflict him or not needs to be fixed. Either make the severity of injuries consistent or keep it cartoon-y. In either decision, though, the slapstick on David has been used so much that it stopped being funny in season one — it just started being sad, and not fun to watch.

No matter what happens from here on out, though, we’re glad that despite everything — he’s still the David we love.

Kayla Gleeson

Kayla Gleeson is an entertainment writer and media player, with work involved in shows such as Anthony Bourdain's "Parts Unknown" and Chicken Soup for the Soul's "Hidden Heroes." In addition to her work on BubbleBlabber, she also has dozens upon dozens of published articles for RockYou Media. Aside from immersing her life in cartoons, she loves to write and read poetry, be outdoors, go to conventions, and indulge in Alan Resnick stylings of comedy.

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