Genre: Slice-of-life, science fiction
Studio: White Fox
Original Author: Tsukumizu
Status: 12 episodes as of 2017
Platform: Amazon Prime
Sometimes, it comes out of nowhere: an anime that you’ve never heard of catches your attention. You give it a watch, and it surprises you because what you just saw was effectful for how understated it was, and for how little attention it gets. And it’s thoughtful enough that one can ponder its themes days after watching the finale.
Girls’ Last Tour (GLT) features Chito and Yuuri, a couple girls journeying through a desolate futuristic cityscape aboard a kettenkrad (a small, WWII-era utility vehicle). As they journey, they converse with each other, make discoveries, and learn more about their world through these discoveries.
Here’s the official trailer:
While one might imagine a post-apocalyptic setting to be grim, dark, and edgy, GLT is lighthearted in tone. While the girls do sometimes make difficult choices concerning their own survival, the survival aspect is eclipsed by the philosophical undertones.
The Girls’ Last Tour anime is based on the manga of the same name, authored by Tsukumizu. Those already familiar with the manga will see that the anime follows the manga closely. But while the manga has a messy but emotive look (comparable to Ueda Hajime of FLCL fame), the art in the anime has a more basic, clear look. In either case, it’s clear that both manga and anime are made with a whole lot of heart.
As is typically the case for slice-of-life programs, there is a particularly strong emphasis on the personalities and interactions between the characters. In GLT, the stakes are a lot higher due to the fact that there are only two main characters.
The main characters are Chito, a diminutive and reserved character who is often quite meditative, and Yuuri, an impulsive, free-spirited person who wears her heart on her sleeve. The two are nothing alike, resulting in the two frequently expressing difference of opinion as they find themselves in different scenarios. Which is one of the joys of this show.
The differences between the two characters makes their positive attributes more evident. Chito is a bookworm, but Yuuri doesn’t know how to read, so she’s slow to see the value of books, or keeping a journal. Yuuri is more physically inclined, being a better aim and being better at swimming. Neither one of the two can do everything on their own, a point that their experiences prove well.
Perhaps I’m imagining it, but it seems to me as though GLT does more to portray Chito in a sympathetic light. Which is perhaps to be expected concerning an introspective character in a light-hearted, philosophical slice-of-life anime. But there are times when Yuuri’s relatively care-free approach wins out, and makes Chito’s concerns seem perhaps unnecessary. One of the two is more prone to worry, and while the case can be made for that being beneficial for one’s survival, sometimes the case can be made for worrying very little.
Over the course of their journey, the girls find joy in the little things: food that they find, fuel to top off the kettenkrad, enough water to bathe in, and sometimes the odd artifact. In rare cases, they might even find another human being. And there is a lot to find in the huge, multi-level city that is GLT’s setting.
As one watches GLT, they may take an interest in the show’s lore. What is the girl’s mission, if they have one? Where did they come from? What is their destination? How did the city get to be in the condition it’s in? How far ahead in the future is the setting?
The show doesn’t do much to answer these questions, aside from the occasional clue. But it seems as though answering these questions isn’t the point. For all the worldbuilding that’s there, it serves the purpose of providing the characters with a setting. Having established the setting, the focus of GLT is the interactions between the protagonists. And Chito and Yuuri are two characters that reflect off of each other so well that to dedicate an episode just to expanding lore would seem like a distraction.
And when we get into the brain-fuel that GLT provides, I almost don’t care how the world ended. Besides, there are many, many anime out there that’ll happily tell you the many creative ways that the world could end. And personally, I think there’s more new ground to be covered when the purpose of life is pondered by two girls who can easily find joy in what they find, rather than be miserable that they don’t have what someone else has.
Having watched the first season, I wondered whether there would be more. The 12 seasons we have now account for most of the manga’s story. However, the few chapters that are left would only fill a few episodes. Thus, a second season seems unlikely to happen unless it involves a lot of filler. And it’s been a few years since season one concluded. Thus, it’s unlikely that Girls’ Last Tour will be picked up for a second season.
Thus, if you’re interested in how the story concludes, the fifth volume of the manga picks up where the anime leaves off, while volume six closes out the series.
Girls’ Last Tour season one gets a score of 8.5 out of 10.
Girls’ Last Tour is a lovingly-crafted, intelligent show. I recommend giving it a watch. Then, go out there and live the best life you can live.