Even after some of the more playful episodes, the show never lets go of this eerie sense of dread and loss. The themes about how precious and fragile life is permeates throughout.
“Hey, you think a tank tastes good?“
I can’t believe my post-apocalypse is this cute! Sorry, had to say it. Girls’ Last Tour or “Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou” is a surprisingly refreshing and relaxing slice-of-life show. It’s based on a Japanese manga series by Tsukumizu, serialized in Shinchosha’s Kurage Bunch online magazine. It’s sole main duo Chito (Minase Inori) and Yuuri (Kubo Yurika) have fantastic chemistry together. The adorable pair must set out to explore a vast unfamiliar world that they never got to know. While the events that led to the post-nuclear winter that destroyed almost all of human civilization are never really explained it’s also nor the real point. Girls’ Last Tour is interested in how humans survive or even simply exist in this kind of environment.
Armed with just their survival instincts and stories of the civilized world passed down for who knows how long, the two must explore a vast city in search of any remnants of civilization. On the other hand, this strange alternate version of Earth is lousy with bizarre architecture and mysterious technology that even we as the audience are unfamiliar with.
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Oct 6, 2017 to Dec 22, 2017
- Genres: Adventure, Mystery, Sci-fi, Slice of Life
- Studio: White Fox
First things first let’s get the art style out of the way as it’s fairly unique but perhaps the moe character design can be a bit contentious. Even if you’re not a fan of moe characters (round head, big eyes, soft features) you have the background art to greatly contrast it. The background art has this incredibly rustic look. Oppressive industrial structures with highly detailed texture work. The low saturation in the show’s color palette (mostly browns, greys, and blues) reminds you that this isn’t quite the cheery show with cute moe girls that you might think. The stark contrast of high fidelity art with cutesy moe-blob characters really underpins Chito and Yuuri’s vulnerability. They really feel out of place and unfit for the empty world before them. Contrast is key in visualizing a character’s emotional or physical struggle and it works great here.
In the episode to episode adventures, Chito and Yuuri explore a war-torn city in search of simple means to survive; discovering sources of food, water, and shelter. But they also find ways to simply live. To simply be. To find meaning in this world. They ponder how humans used to live, what they used to eat, what they did to pass the time. It’s very simplistic, sure, but the slow pacing and lack of real conflict grant a space for their contemplative conversations to grow. The sense of calm atmosphere is palpable. Thanks to some great sound design, cinematography and editing you feel very much part of the two’s intimate little world.
Also, Chito and Yuuri’s chemistry is always charming and funny. Chito being the straight-man (woman) steers the ship, while Yuuri, a complete dope, is more a look-out and morale booster. One is studious and quietly inquisitive, the other is lackadaisical and bluntly curious. The mischief they get into breaks up the slower mundane moments of the show
Anyway, let me just get back to how surprisingly surreal this world is. The city that they’re exploring has dark empty interiors of spiraling ramps. Chasms in between rows of samey door-less buildings. There is a whole second layer of the city on stills of giant concrete columns. These are not the results of war or devastation. Instead, this is the fascinating result of a world based on our own yet went through drastically different advances and societal shifts. Strange cone-like eyed pillars litter the city as if they were erected by some sort of cult. That last one will come back up in the end but it’s surprising by that point how realized the world feels. Such extreme visual gives this city of greys and browns so much personality and history.
The first and last episode are cleverly bookended with the show’s only two moments of conflict. They end up turning out to be false alarms but it’s difficult to tell in the first episode before a sense of tone and what these characters’ relationship is established. Even after some of the more playful episodes, the show never lets go of this eerie sense of dread and loss. The themes about how precious and fragile life is permeates throughout. The nature of this world is such that all of humanity was seemingly cruelly destroyed. This is a reminder that no matter how peaceful this show feels sometimes, anything could go wrong at a moments notice.
The only other human characters in the show appear for one episode each. Both searching for or clinging to a sense of purpose. For Kanazawa it’s his maps and for Ishii it’s her plain that both of them hope to use to escape the city. They both fail. Even a robot that the two meet, who is trying to keep alive a single fish of what remains of a farming facility, finds difficulty in upholding its mission when another robot comes by to dismantle the aquarium for parts. Even Yuuri, who is normally a glutton for anything that moves feels the desire to selflessly preserve life and convinces the robot to help them save it. All this prepares perfectly to the final episode’s conflict and temporary dark tonal shift. I don’t want to spoil much but all I can say is this: all of the bizarre robots, creatures, and architectural details foreshadow the final episode very well. It’s equal parts beautiful, mysterious, and thrilling.
I came away really digging this show’s unique style and structure. The OP and ED are infectious and visually entertaining. Even if you only know it for the memes, you will be surprised how much stuff this show offers. Tons of philosophical stuff to unpack here and ponder there. However, in the end, if all you want is a relaxing cute girls show exploring the apocalypse, they got your back too. It finds a way to strike that balance pretty well. If you’re open-minded enough to look past the moeblob, slow pace and lack of conflict you will find a truly great show!
Final Score 8/10
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