Chito and Yuuri are maybe the only two people left in the world and they are travelling around without much of a destination looking for supplies. Along the way, they reflect on a number of fairly big questions about the world and life.
There’s something very special about Girls’ Last Tour. It is really hard to put into words because basically if you told me I was about to watch a slice of life anime with two overly moe girls as the leads and there wouldn’t really be an overarching narrative or any other real characters I’d probably start backing away before bolting from the room. It sounds toxically boring and unappealing to me. Yet having started episode 1 of this show, after the first few minutes of initial mis-givings having seen the characters for the first time (I went in pretty blind), I found myself captivated by this charming duo, their antics, the world they were exploring and as the episodes progressed I realised that this anime packed a lot of depth into a very simple looking package.
Girls’ Last Tour utilises its fairly simple setting, pleasant aesthetics, and adorable leads to delve into some pretty dark subject matter at times. The two leads regularly have opposing viewpoints or both lack understanding of an issue which leads to some really interesting exchanges and because of the choice of young and inexperienced characters the show is not interested in giving the audience an answer to anything but rather has the characters draw conclusions and leaves the audience to consider the validity of their underlying assumptions. Of course, an addictively cute opening and lighter moments scattered along the journey are welcomed as they provide a breath of fresh air preventing the story from getting bogged down under the weight of the themes it attempts to tackle.
From a narrative point of view, this story doesn’t really have a beginning or an end. It doesn’t really need one either. While the final episode will give some information about how the girls began their journey, it isn’t necessary. They are travelling together and have been for some time when we encounter them in episode one. Their journey will continue on beyond episode 12. While we are with them, a momentary encounter between the audience and the girls much like their encounters with the few characters that do exist in the show beyond them, we see how their experiences affect them and their journey but there is no clear goal or end point in this story.
And really, what could there be?
This story isn’t about the girls trying to track down some signal promising refuge from whatever disaster has befallen the world or about them trying to connect with other survivors. It isn’t about them trying to undo the damage or save the world from further deterioration. It is simply their day to day as they try to survive and while that could be as boring as watching grass grow the execution of this very simple idea is nothing short of brilliant.
The two girls, as the only characters of note (they do have two episodes where they intersect with other survivors but these pass quickly), do a remarkable job. Mostly that is because of the fantastic chemistry between them as well as the audiences’ ability to relate to both of these characters. We may not be a Chito or a Yuuri but we certainly know one or the other (or both) in our lives, and watching these two characters explore their world is mostly a pure joy.
However, the darker undertones are what really sold this show to me. The world undeniably has gone through hell before we encounter these characters and we slowly get hints and clues as to what has occurred though never an exposition dump much to the shows’ credit. Over explaining is a trap that a lot of shows fall into and if you were trying to tell a story about saving the world you would definitely need more information. However, for the story this is trying to tell, we get more than enough and it is better because of the details we are able to fill in for ourselves.
But it isn’t just the setting that has some darkness in it. Chito and Yuuri have grown up in this hostile environment and have been on their own for awhile. Their morals and attitudes at times present some interesting conundrums. Yuuri’s early explanation to Chito as to why she should carry a gun doesn’t seem all that hostile while viewing the episode and yet Yuuri’s words could have undermined a fragile trust between the pair and a falling out over food isn’t that unbelievable an outcome. As Yuuri is the only one armed of the pair, you have to wonder whether Chito is concerned about this threat a number of times during the series.
Equally, Yuuri is often reckless whereas Chito freezes in situations where swift action is needed. Both characters could often have ended up in significant strife if left alone without the balance of the other.
Outside of this, we see their general lack of purpose and goals beyond feeding themselves. They see and compare their lives to a spiral staircase where they endlessly repeat the same actions. In later episodes, Yuuri’s reaction to an explosion is incredibly troubling and yet at the same time not so surprising.
Contrasting these darker moments with the lighter moments such as Chito getting drunk and dancing, or the girls creating something akin to music through the use of tins and raindrops, and what you have is a show that moves you emotionally and knows how to leave a lasting impact.
All and all, this show was a fantastic surprise from the Autumn season and one I fully recommend trying. While the slow pace and the absence of a strong overall narrative may turn some away, there’s more than enough going on here to recommend it. Definitely one to check out if you missed it.
- Episode 1: Deceptively Charming
- Episodes 2 & 3: Can We Eat That?
- Episode 4: Is This A God
- Episode 5: Beauty in Simplicity
- Episode 6: Look There’s a Person/Plane
- Episode 7: Two Types of People
- Episode 8: What is Left Behind?
- Episode 9: Asking the Hard Questions
- Episode 10: Not Answers But Insight
- Episode 11: Painting a Grim Picture of the Past
- Episode 12: Parting At The End Of The World
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