When I hypothesized that the animated adaptation of Tsukumizu’s Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou (Girls’ Last Tour) was going to obliterate my heart into tiny shards and be the new Made In Abyss of the Fall Anime 2017 season, I was surprised that this wasn’t the case.
Animated by studio White Fox and produced by Kadokawa, Girls’ Last Tour destroyed one thing for sure: my initial expectations. In my mind, I had pictured a desolate cruel apocalyptic world with two young girls surviving their terrible ordeal as the last two living people on Earth. I imagined these two upbeat personalities would gradually become more and more anxious, desperate in scavenging for resources and hungry enough to eventually end their companion’s life; if their own survival depended upon it or out of kindness as to not let the other person suffer any longer than they had to.
Those were some pretty dark ideas there, I know.
Girls’ Last Tour may place its two protagonists, Chito and Yuuri, in an extremely shitty situation, but the interesting thing about this bizarrely charming series is the fact that despite how horrible the world is, both are willing to live in their environment and learn all there is to know about it.
I think the first half of the episode captures this idea. It establishes the bleak cold dark world the girls live in by having them travel through an old abandoned factory (I’m guessing) on their Kettenkrad motorbike. With no light in sight and moving on a seemingly endless path with no clear destination, the setting explains to the viewer quite clearly that their situation will never improve.
And yet, the two girls still chose to explore the “cave” and gain a new experience of living in total darkness. They don’t lose hope despite being stuck in its depths for an unidentified amount of time. Instead, they choose to move forward and eventually did find a light out of their tunnel, which I think is the point of their story.
Why dwell on something that you can’t change when you can continue to live as how you see fit? For Chito and Yuuri, their barren world is their playground. Their problems will never go away, but they’ll eventually find a solution to them, short-term as those solutions might be. For instance, Chito was resourceful in finding the exit out of the “factory” by moving toward the source of a breeze passing through the large building.
The story never explicitly explains how the world turned out the way it did. But from Chito’s dream, we can surmise that it was the result from war ravaging across their country. In her flashback, a tank glides across the snow and soldiers equipped with rifles stand towering over Chito and Yuuri as small children. The two were sent away from their hometown by their (presumably) father figure who hands them the keys to their motorbike. The dark grainy sepia toned shots that flicker to a normally coloured version and back, paired with the daunting tinkering, clicking and slamming of metal work and string instruments emphasize how sad and traumatic their past was.
Contrasting the bleak atmosphere of the anime, Chito and Yuuri’s relationship is adorable to watch because their characters compliment the other with their opposing personalities.
Chito is the cautious and clever one of the duo. She can be spiteful whenever Yuuri plays a trick on her (in some shape or form) and immediately retaliates to get even. Chito is not as athletic nor as outgoing as her companion, but resumes the role of a leader between the two. She assumes the bigger responsibilities from making sure they preserve fuel to scavenging for food and driving the motorbike.
Yuuri is a playful character who is more childish in her mannerisms. She communicates her intentions rather bluntly and is impulsive, acting on her ideas without taking the time to reflect on whether they are dangerous or not. Her main concern is feeding herself and thinking about food. She’s pretty proficient at shooting with her rifle and is stronger than Chito by being able to lift her onto a deserted bomber plane.
The second half of the episode is dedicated to the duo’s understanding of war, which leads to a fight over the last piece of chocolate they discovered, which Yuuri happily guzzles down her throat to Chito’s despair. Their innocent curiosity over the weapons and war machines strewn across the area, covered in snow, is refreshing to watch as they observe these objects and wonder why humanity was so keen on creating these tools when they could have developed ways to end hunger. They discuss humanity’s instinct to fight when threatened through the example of sharing food of portions meant for two people between three people.
White Fox did a fantastic job with the scenery and animation in the first episode. Using textures and layers to create depth in an inhospitable environment. The beautiful backgrounds contrast the character designs of the two protagonists who have squishy-looking chibi faces. Their expressions are simplistic when compared to their environment.
The music in its first episode fit the tone of the scene fairly well, especially for establishing the mood of the aforementioned flashback dream sequence.
My concluding thoughts?
I do like watching cutie pies doing cute things, despite knowing that their situation is hella horrible. It would be a good watch during moments where I need a little pick-me-up.