Review for Girls' Last Tour Collection - Collector's Edition
It seems that cute and dark is the new black. There seems to be a fashion in anime to subvert audience expectations by using cute and infantilised character designs to tell adult and harrowing stories. The current trend may have kicked off with Puella Magi Madoka Magica; the reinvention of the magical girl genre that delivered a brutal, gut twisting take on the tale. Most recently, MVM have brought us the brilliant Made in Abyss, where a mutated blob made the audience cry. Now they bring us Girls’ Last Tour, a post apocalyptic tale which follows two girls as they explore the devastated wasteland. Cute, adorable and depressing; three words I thought would never live in the same sentence.
There was a war... no-one won, and the world came to an end. Now two girls, Chito and Yuuri wander the wasteland and the ruined cities on their Kettenkrad armoured and tracked motorbike, looking for food to stay alive, fuel to keep going and encountering the occasional survivor. But even in this total devastation, there’s something to keep living for.
Twelve episodes of Girls’ Last Tour are presented across two Blu-rays from MVM.
1. Starry Sky/War
5. House/Nap/The Sound of Rain
11. Culture/Destruction/The Past
Girls’ Last Tour gets a 1.78:1 widescreen 1080p transfer courtesy of Sentai Filmworks, whose discs MVM have re-purposed for the Region B release. The image is clear and sharp throughout, the colours are consistent, and the animation comes across smoothly without any artefacts or aliasing. Even digital banding is kept to a minimum. Girls’ Last Tour is an odd one, with a post apocalyptic setting, a dreary colour palette, and a downright depressing world design, but when it comes to the characters, the show follows a cutesy aesthetic more suited to a slice of life comedy show. You wouldn’t see Yuu or Chi as out of place in a show like Yuru Yuri or Hidamari Sketch.
You have the choice between DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo English and Japanese, with player locked subtitles and signs. A couple of quirky theme songs bookends a surprisingly serene show. It may be a post war setting, but this is an empty world, tending to the quiet, with only the odd moment of action to really test the speakers. Otherwise it’s really a dialogue focused show. The subtitles are accurately timed and free of typos.
The show presents its content with static menus, and each episode is followed by a translated English credit reel.
On disc 2 you’ll find the 3 Japanese Commercials (1:06), 2 Japanese Promos (3:04), the Textless Credits, and trailers for Made in Abyss, Princess Principal, UQ Holder!, and Armed Girls Machiavellism.
I haven’t seen the physical extras that accompany the Collector’s Edition to comment.
A disappointment I face more and more often these days is ‘discovering’ something original, only to find that it is anything but. I want my entertainment to let me experience things that I haven’t seen or heard before, and while there is something reassuring in sticking to certain genres and styles, it is easy to get stale and jaded. That’s one reason I drifted to anime to begin with, having been bored by Hollywood once too often. After this much time, I’ve come to feel the same way about mainstream anime, and instead I seek out the niche, the oddball, and the experimental. Girls’ Last Tour certainly felt like a combination of the three, the tale of two girls wandering through a dead and dying world, following a final war; a combination of cute and depressing that you don’t see too often in anime.
There is that superficial similarity to the recently released Made in Abyss, but it was as I was watching Girls’ Last Tour that I realised I had seen something like this before in anime, and actually done better. Girls’ Last Tour is another take on Kino’s Journey. That too was set in a world in decline, a civilisation on the downswing, although not so drastically as following a final war. It followed Kino and the talking motorcycle Hermes as they travelled from country to country, encountering strange people in episodic parables.
There’s a motorcycle in Girls’ Last Tour as well, although the Kettenkrad is more of tank-cycle, and a non-verbal one at that. The two characters are Chito and Yuuri. Chito is the more thoughtful, serious one, while Yuuri is more easygoing, and liable to play the odd prank on her stoic friend. Given such a sparsely populated show, the city itself becomes something of a character, a multi-level metropolis that the girls ascend in the hope of finding some civilisation, some signs of life, scavenging fuel and food as they go. It’s an empty world, with oversized buildings and strange architecture that raises more questions than it answers.
The show also begins in media-res, with what little we learn about the world, the war that resulted in its devastation, gleaned through the girls’ conversations and discoveries, and the odd flashback sequence. The big difference is that where Kino’s Journey had a mythic nature to it, Girls’ Last Tour is a far more reflective show. This is two girls just sharing each other’s company as they travel, often talking about nothing in particular, and once in a while driven by their surroundings into getting philosophical about it all. But you never feel any sense of despair or depression, despite them being practically the last two people alive; and they don’t even have any sense of panic or urgency. This is just life for them.
It’s when they do encounter others that the show begins to resemble Kino’s Journey more, as they are exposed to other viewpoints, perspectives that might not jibe with their own, and they are compelled to re-examine their own beliefs. Perhaps the most similarity comes from when they meet a woman who wants to fly to another city, and when they encounter a robot looking after the last fish. The end of the show gets outlandish enough to feel out of touch with the tone of the rest of the episodes, but it is still enjoyable.
Girls’ Last Tour is really a post apocalyptic slice of life show; although once again it’s not alone in that particular niche. Sound of the Sky wears the crown in that genre. But this show is entertaining, the characters are likable, and it’s easy just to go with the flow while watching an episode or two. Cute girls do cute things in the ruins of a dead and dying world.