Girls’ Last Tour falls within my favorite new trend that emerging the anime medium over the last decade: a dark moe anime. Set in a post-apocalyptic world where the human race has almost extinct, our two girls wandering around the world in their kettenkrad looking for food and shelter. If it sounds a bit bleak and minimalism, rest assured that Girls’ Last Tour is at its heart a slice-of-life show about those girls having relaxing time in that world. And did I mention that those girls are real moeblobs? Their faces can go rounder and squishy, but strangely they never feel out of sync with the more realistic industrial setting. The show could be entertaining and soothing enough with just those factors, but it has more tricks under its sleeves. More often than not, Girls’ Last Tour addresses some simple philosophical issues that provides another perspective since the girls have no idea how normal society works. Moreover, while I consider the source material an already solid manga, the anime adaptation enhances this show further with a consistent visual audio production and great attention to details. It’s a beautiful and solid production all around.
I always consider a certain show a great piece of art when they know how to fuse seamlessly between two seemingly contrasting or opposite factors, because then the show can produce some unique chemistry, while at the same time balancing these extremes out – just like how yin and yang work in general. Girls’ Last Tour certainly is amongst this group. Take how the cutey designs of the girls both contrast and complement to the vast wasteland on the verge of totally destroyed. Or how despite the low-key depression of hopelessness that linger to wherever the girls go, the main theme is about how our girls find their little joy and keep moving on. I also want to stress on the small number of the living beings in contrast to the huge remains of weapons and dysfunctional machines. This show is one of the most minimalistic cast I’ve seen in anime medium, with only our two girls Chi and Yuu command the screen most of the time, and the number of people and animals they encounter along the way can be counted in two hands. For other shows it’s a recipe for disaster but in Girls’ Last Tour the girls never stay out their welcome in spite of (and I could argue because of) the vast world of nothingness. The last episode when the stream of many people appear on screen before the destruction, as a result, bring a powerful, overwhelming emotion to the table. This mastery in controlling over the general tone makes this show so relatable, sharp and grounded, despite the show is at its core a moe girls show.
Chi and Yuu make a great pair with their contrasting (again!) personality. Their chemistry is natural and sometimes the show explores the different mindset between Chi-chan who is academic but timid and Yuu who just like eating but quick to adapt. In one sequence for an instance, when arguing about the signs that give them directions to the destination, Chi argues that who would ignore signs that would help them to the destination, in which Yuu responses that it’ll be boring that way. Their difference in the way they approach life complement each other and bring the best out of each of them. Their bond and fondness to each other, in addition, is highlight through the completely comfortable in their close physicality and in the last episode that bond is further developed into satisfying payoff.
The worldbuilding of this series is another highlight, too. We get a hint of how the world come into destruction several times before, but it never at once come into a forefront. The city is displayed as an industrial, vast with multiple layers that the higher the level, the more advance the technology. Ancient people in that world had an advance in technology that now become long lost. Our girls travel that world without a proper knowledge about the remaining technology, and to a greater degree have absolutely no knowledge about how society works and many several topics regarding society like religion, war, home and death. These philosophical questions often pop up randomly, but they all serve the purpose of seeking a bit deeper about our own existence, our purpose in life and even what lifeform is itself. Ultimately, the answer to these questions are just as simple: the best way to die is to keep on living and enjoy little happiness in life.
While comparing the manga to this anime adaptation, I noticed in the manga, the sense of hopelessness is more apparent, thus make it a fair bit darker than the anime version. That’s not a jab against the anime at all, as I consider the production of Girls’ Last Tour a nearly flawless work. The shots are greatly composed, they know when to use natural sounds and when to let the score kicks in. The background art is always appropriate and striking. The direction, the editing make the show as natural as possible, and believe me it’s a goddamn hard job to pull. Girls’ Last Tour is just down right cinematic most of its time. Moreover, the voice acting work for the two girls are exceptional. Bravo White Fox for this wonderful adaptation where I can feel their love and their passion run right through every minute of the run.
While Girls’ Last Tour might provide no definitive ending to the girls’ last tour and sometimes might feel like nothing is really at stakes, I am myself surprise the whole trip never feel boring or repetitive, and Chi and Yuu’s chemistry is strong enough to carry the show. Depressing and comforting at the same time, Girls’ Last Tour is a rare show that produce its unique charms and distinctive tones, while always maintain its feet firmly on the ground. It’s the best of its slice of life dark moe genre and I certainly miss those girls and their kettenrad.