“Each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us. Let’s not be afraid to receive each day’s surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy It will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity.” —Henri Nouwen
Yuuri and Chito continue making their way through the derelict city, making use of their camera to capture different sights that they pass by. They stop at an apartment for a night and wonder what it would be like to have a home, listen to the sound of a rainfall and encounter a woman named Ishii, who has dreams of flying. Helping her in constructing an aircraft, Ishii shares with Yuuri and Chito about a facility where provisions are held, and while Ishii’s flight is unsuccessful, she parachutes to a lower level. Yuuri and Chito later reach this facility, where they use ingredients that they find to make new ratios. When driving through a vast graveyard, Yuuri discovers a radio, and later ascend a vast tower, where they find beer and proceed to get hammered. The girls explore an aquarium with a single fish, and encounter a robotic guardian. After swimming in its vast tanks, the girls rescue the fish by destroying a large construction robot attempting to dismantle the site. When Yuuri picks up music from her radio later, the two decide to find its source, and encounter a small creature that Yuuri dubs “The Cut”. They eventually reach a nuclear submarine carrying ICBMs, and view the full contents of the camera that Kanazawa had given them, learning more about humanity. The Cut’s comrades later arrive and explain that their purpose is to consume unstable energy sources. They depart, leaving Chito and Yuuri to continue on their journey. In the space of the nine episodes since I last wrote about Girls’ Last Tour, quite a bit has happened: their everyday experiences in travelling in the remains of civilisation lead Yuuri and Chito to encounter aspects of humanity that we find commonplace. Through their naïveté, Girls’ Last Tour offers a newfound perspective on things that we’ve come to take for granted, and in doing so, encourages its viewers to reflect back on what our civilisation truly entails.
While prima facie about Chito and Yuuri’s daily life as they explore a post-human world with the aim of surviving, Girls’ Last Tour ultimately speaks on what being human means. The conversations that Yuuri and Chito share, concise and simple in nature, as well as they entities they encounter, each serve to provide a unique perspective on the human species and its creations. The sum of these experiences creates Girls’ Last Tour‘s main theme, that humanity is intrinsically curious and creative once its basic needs are satisfied. Abraham Maslow’s theory on these aspects of human nature were first posted in 1937 and is summarised as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which supposes that once physiological and social needs are fulfilled, people will begin seeking the means of expressing itself, as well as looking for the means of moving beyond one’s boundaries. Girls’ Last Tour supposes that the world’s remaining humans have their basic and social needs satisfied to some level; Kanazawa and Ishii both are driven by the desire to create something and do something meaningful even when the remainder of civilisation has collapsed. In Kanzawa and his cartography skills, he represents the tendency for people to document discoveries. Ishii embodies the human drive for innovation. Similarly, Chito and Yuuri are interested in the remnants of the past civilisation, longing to understand more about it and record their own experiences; they are akin to children working out for themselves the workings of the world. Through the various characters in Girls’ Last Tour, the main notion seems to be that, regardless of what happens to our species, our natural drive to learn and create is an enduring trait. Provided that our needs can be satisfied, we will begin exploring new territory with the goal of finding purpose, regardless of how far our civilisation has advanced or regressed. In spite of being the only species on Earth to have had such an impact on the planet’s environment, and our seemingly insatiable appetite for conquest and destruction, Girls’ Last Tour offers to audiences the idea that some of our more appealing and constructive characteristics should not be forgotten, as they can endure and define our species more so than our current propensities.
The main appeal in Girls’ Last Tour therefore lies in this simple, yet profound message, and this particular message is conveyed in every aspect comprising the anime. While already having a strong narrative in its simple, yet thought-provoking conversations and a fantastically-depicted world, filled with relics of a long-derelict civilisation, Girls’ Last Tour has one more component in its execution that is worth mentioning. This is the incidental music: composed by Kenichiro Suehiro, the soundtrack for Girls’ Last Tour is a masterful addition to the anime. From the gentle pieces depicting the calm of everyday life while the girls explore the vast constructs of the past society in their Kettenkrad, to the choral songs that capture the majesty and wonder Chito and Yuuri must experience while gazing upon something new and wonderful, or the moodier pieces that accompany moments where the girls experience melancholy and sorrow as a result of their learnings, the soundtrack adds a new dimension to the anime that serves to reinforce its thematic elements. Each of the incidental pieces are slower in pace, suggesting that the flow of time itself has similarly slowed. The reduced pacing allows the girls to really take an introspective into things and explore their world at their own pace. Where encountered, happiness endures a little longer, and sorrow dissipates with a reduced haste. Through the music, Girls’ Last Tour encourages its audiences to take their time in considering what Chito and Yuuri are experiencing.
Screenshots and Commentary
- If the point of humanity is to learn and grow, Girls’ Last Tour suggests that no matter how often our species suffers catastrophic loss to its population, people will nonetheless retain the core aspects of what makes us human. Our capacity to transmit and store information, through language and other forms of expression is the most sophisticated on this planet, and it is this ability that allowed civilisation to advance to the extent that it has.
- While driving through the city, Chito becomes distracted and crashes into a statue of a thin cat. Girls’ Last Tour covers a variety of topics, and each episode deals with a range of topics. Religion is one of them; early societies used religion as the basis for their belief systems, codifying moral and social values together with an effort to explain natural phenomenon. Even though societies began moving towards the separation of religion from state and advanced scientific knowledge, religion remains a very powerful force in the world, as it reminds people that there are reasons beyond ourselves that motivate us to keep on living and do good.
- It turns out that bright light emanates from a temple of sorts. After entering its cavernous, dark interior, Chito and Yuuri find a beautiful reflecting pool with lilypads and spend a moment here, considering what a god is. Throughout history, gods and deities have been described as benevolent and malevolent beings who looked over or sought to harm humanity; these beliefs unified people and eventually created a much more cohesive society, although as our grasp of the world improved, science eventually took over as we discovered how natural phenomenon occurred and in time, could be controlled.
- Chito and Yuuri find an apartment while on their travels. They briefly fantasise about what they would furnish the apartment with, wondering what it’s like to have a house. The definition of a home is then covered; there is a fine separation between the two, and the prevailing line of thought is that a home is a place where one can return to. For Yuuri and Chito, the two are constantly mobile and therefore, do not have a single fixed place of residence, instead, moving from place to place. As the two discover, their home is simply where the other is.
- For all of their conflicts, Yuuri and Chito genuinely care for one another. They occasionally find themselves in mortal peril as a result of either Yuuri’s carelessness or as a result of their limited understanding of their world, but overall, are spared any genuine harm simply on the virtue that this would stand contrary to what Girls’ Last Tour is about. Despite the anime’s seemingly basic premise, a great many topics are covered, and looking back, this is an anime that would have merited episodic coverage so that all of these topics could be adequately discussed.
- One day, a heavy rainfall forces the girls to stop and rest. Chito begins reading, and Yuuri, ever the troublemaker, begins banging around on some nearby items with an iron rebar. The resulting cacophony causes her to stop, and the two subsequently enjoy the sound of rain falling on their surroundings, creating a music of its own. The sound of rain is immediately relaxing because of its consistent acoustic properties: a persistent and consistent sound masks out other sounds, and as humans are sensitive to sudden noises, the presence of another sound will dampen out the effects of sudden noises to help us relax.
- There is a charm about Ishii’s character, both in design and mannerism, that I am very fond of. Voiced by Kotono Mitsuhishi (Gundam Build Fighters‘ Rinko Iori), Ishii’s ambition is to use old blueprints to construct a functional aircraft and reach the city’s highest levels. Chito and Yuuri first encounter her testing a scaled-down prototype of a plane, and she’s so engrossed that she neglects to notice a pole in her path, bumping into it.
- When they encounter Ishii, their Kettenkrad has broken down, and so, the girls agree to help Ishii on her projected in exchange for her help in repairing their ride. One of the joys in Girls’ Last Tour is the introduction of other characters, both human and otherwise: while they’re only around temporarily, it adds a depth into the world to give the sense that things are not as empty as we might otherwise believe it to be.
- The human drive for creativity and progress is something borne of our ability to transmit and store information in language. Once humans had a reliable way of passing on culture and survival knowledge (e.g. cooking and agriculture, as well as precedence in law and social organisation), we could spend less time hunting for food and worrying about security. Our minds then became free to create things, leading to the development of more sophisticated forms of self-expression and a curiosity to better understand our surroundings. Thus, when characters like Ishii and Kanazawa are shown, they’ve already addressed the basics, allowing them to find purpose in a world even where there seemingly is none, to create something meaningful in the time that is given to them.
- After several days of preparation, Ishii is finally ready to take off. Her aircraft has a narrow fuselage and resembles the Lockheed U-2. However, it is powered by a propeller and has a large external fuel tank. The similarities to the U-2 means that Ishii’s aircraft would have a low weight and behave like a glider: it would be extremely difficult to handle. However, whether it be from deficiencies in the construction process or materials, Ishii’s aircraft breaks apart mid-flight, forcing her to parachute out and return to the lower levels.
- Following Ishii’s suggestions lead Chito and Yuuri to a food processing facility, where they discover the raw ingredients to make their own provisions. I spent a portion of today helping out with Christmas Eve dinner, which consisted of a delicious prime rib au jus, garlic butterfly shrimp, a fully loaded baked potato with cheese, bacon and sour cream, and mixed vegetables. The smell of prime rib still lingers in the air, and we have two massive prime rib bones that will be enjoyed at a later date. We subsequently took a bit of a night drive to checkout the Christmas lights downtown and ended the evening with some cheesecake tarts.
- The recent snowfall has meant that we will have a White Christmas tomorrow: I look forwards to a quiet day spent in the company of some books and possibly, some missions in The Division. My family tradition for Christmas has always been to spend the day at home relaxing, and if the weather permits, I might go for a bit of a walk in the winter wonderland. The forecast is projecting a colder day tomorrow, with a daily high of -19°C and a low of -25°C: the Canadian Winter is here in full force now, so said walk might not materialise if the weather proves too bitter even for me.
- Amidst the large tombstones, Yuuri discovers a radio, while Chito wonders why societies remember their dead. Borne out of a desire to acknowledge and remember the lives of those before us, there is also a superstitious component in some cultures. For example, the Chinese believe that spirits of the deceased may return and will not find rest unless they are remembered. Our mortality is a major part of who we are as humans, and my experiences, coupled with my Chinese ancestry, means that I believe that we honour our ancestors by making the most of our lives and working hard to benefit, not harm, society.
- Underage drinking is openly shown in Girls’ Last Tour: neither know what alcohol is, and when they find some, they down it quickly and get plastered. I recall with amusement a family Christmas party last year; the genetic predisposition that governs my reaction to alcohol is shared by everyone on that side of the family, and so, I will avoid drinking where possible. This year, wisdom meant no repeat of last year’s events, but the food (Lobster tails, Cornish game hens stuffed with sticky rice, rack of lamb, roast beef, wild rice and mixed vegetables) was superb. A snowfall had started mid-evening but had ended before the party ended.
- The buzz and associated elation lead Chito and Yuuri to share a spirited dance under the moonlight. Besides the annual family Christmas party yesterday, I also went out to watch Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi before stopping for a light “lunch” (a half-serving of prime rib eggs Benedict at a nearby Denny’s). This is not a post on The Last Jedi, and I have no intentions of spoiling the movie for readers who’ve not seen it, but I can remark that the film, while fun in every way and a solid bit of escapism, is not a strong addition to the established Star Wars from a narrative perspective. Overall, I enjoyed it, but it’s eclipsed by the works of the extended universe, such as Timothy Zahn and his Thrawn trilogy.
- In an aquarium, Yuuri and Chito discover an automated quadrupedal guardian, who prohibits them from eating the fish and also acts as a friendly guide, helping them make their way around the facility. Its presence is a reassuring one, helping the girls learn about how aquaculture was carried out. Despite being programmed to carry out its directives, the guardian also seems to demonstrate a limited capacity for cognition and expression of human emotions.
- Girls’ Last Tour has a very distinct visual style in its characters compared to other anime and manga: the minimalistic and flat colour tones indicate that the focus in Girls’ Last Tour is not entirely on the characters alone, but rather, the sum of interactions between the girls’ and their environment. Compared to the flat tones and distinct faces on the characters, environments have a very gritty sense to them.
- While having spent most of the episode day-dreaming about eating the last fish, Yuuri ultimately decides to save it when a large construction automaton begins dismantling the facility and the smaller caretaker fails in its negotiations with it. She plants explosives at the top of the automaton and Chito destroys it, allowing the facility and its single living inhabitant to continue living. Concepts of empathy are discussed in this episode, and while there’s a more technical definition of what empathy constitutes, at the simplest level, empathy is being able to understand what someone is feeling.
- While searching for the source of the radio transmissions, Yuuri and Chito come across a vivid sunset that, in conjunction with the music, brings tears to Chito’s eyes. The stillness of the moment was quite moving, and the lengthening shadows of a sunset bring to mind the atmospherics of my office during the winter, when the last light of a late autumn’s day fills the space with a warm golden light. Despite having no prior experience with music, Chito intrinsically is saddened by the aural and visual properties of this moment; humans have an innate ability to characterise emotions taken audio and visual cues, hinting at a universal set of beliefs that are shared regardless of background or culture and further reinforcing that in spite of our differences, all humans are ultimately more similar than different.
- After an excursion leads Yuuri and Chito to find a small cat-like creature capable of consuming bullets and shells, Yuuri decides to name it nuko (a mispronunciation of neko, but in English, could also be seen as “nuke”, foreshadowing its role). The English translation hilariously puts it as a “Cut”, and since it’s amusing, this is the spelling I’ve chosen to go with. Capable of shifting its shape to manipulate mechanical devices, The Cut communicates with radio signals and is a quick learner, as it’s soon able to articulate how it feels about things. The Cut is voiced by Kana Hanazawa (Yukari Yukino of The Garden of Words and Your Name).
- Yuuri decides to swing from a clock that appears as an artistic installation. Cleverly integrated into Girls’ Last Tour narrative is the idea of time. For Chito and Yuuri, time is largely dictated in terms of their physiological requirements (i.e. food, water and sleep): they wonder what it is about the previously civilisations that would have required more precise timekeeping, mirroring the idea that modern society moves too quickly.
- Yuuri’s carefree spirit and unbridled sense of curiosity leads her to throw a few switches in a humanoid war machine. After firing a rocket, she inadvertently fires an energy beam of vast destructive power, incinerating a section of the city and earning her a punch to the face from Chito. My prediction is that there were at least two wars: one that was fought with weapons equaling and surpassing what we’ve currently got. While destructive, enough of humanity survived and redeveloped, before a second war broke out. Using both weapons redeveloped following the first war (which reached World War Two-era levels) and the more advanced weapons they did not fully understand, humanity sustained heavier casualties as a result of using the older weapons without fully being aware of their effects. The two-war theory would explain why incredibly sophisticated automaton and directed energy weapons, plus modern 50-calibre rifles, coexist with World War Two-era tanks and rifles.
- Another one of the joys in Girls’ Last Tour are the fanciful landscapes and the sheer scale of human constructs. While seemingly implausible and impractical, they act as a visual metaphor for how our civilisation’s complexity may appear to those without any prior knowledge about said civilisation. The increasing interdependence of intricate systems on one another underlies modern civilisation’s vulnerability to failure and also makes it difficult for one to have a comprehensive understanding of the system as a whole: contemporary education specialises us towards a specific role in society. For Yuuri and Chito, the function of the structures and installations they found form the topic of many conversations, and although they have a general idea of what something does, they do not know all of the the details; the choice to design these structures in an unusual manner is to convey this sense of wonder to audiences.
- Colours have been quite minimal in Girls’ Last Tour, but when the camera Yuuri and Chito’s brought with them connects to the nuclear submarine’s central computer, it displays a plethora of colourful images from its previous owners. Chito and Yuuri look back on their own travels, gain an insight into Kanazawa’s journey and learn that he had a wife. Going back even further, Chito and Yuuri find a video from girls not much older than themselves, presenting their science project about self-replicating automaton. The Cut offers to operate the system, giving Chito and Yuuri access to memories they did not think would be possible.
- The videos stored on the camera show humanity at its best and worst: from the simple act of a family sharing precious time together and students exploring their world, to the wars fought on what equate to the whims of politicians, Yuuri and Chito gain an insight into what being human means. We’re a species of contradictions, capable of both great good and incalculable evil: from devising ways of bringing clean water to folks in need and caring for those around us, to slaughtering members of our fellow species and desecrating our world, these acts define who we are, and it is a mark of progress when the good slowly becomes more prevalent than the evil.
- The small Cut was adorable to behold in spite of its simplistic design, reminding audiences that actions can also influence what audiences count as endearing. Towards the end of Girls’ Last Tour, Yuuri encounters a larger Cut who subsequently eats her. Frightened with the prospect of being alone, Chito sets off in search for her, equipping a combat knife and Yuuri’s Arisaka Type 38. Despite all of her annoyances at Yuuri, this moment cements the fact that Chito greatly cares for Yuuri.
- Unable to communicate with the smaller Cut, Chito decides to bring it with her, placing it on her head in the same way that Chino carries Tippy around in GochiUsa. By my admission, I only picked up Girls’ Last Tour because the premise initially was essentially “Yuyushiki meets Sora no Woto“, as well as for the fact that Inori Minase voiced Chito, which gave her a personality not unlike that of Chino’s. However, as the series progressed, it began exploring directions that I had not expected. Folks who’ve seen the manga will know where Girls’ Last Tour is headed, but the anime itself provides a new level of immersion that the manga’s format disallows.
- As it turns out, the large Cut was only interested in Yuuri’s radio and communicates to Chito that they cannot digest organics. They explain their function to remove the accumulated unstable energy sources in the world: weapons hold a vast amount of potential energy that can be converted into other forms for destruction, so by neutralising this, the Cut’s species aim to dispose of the weapons in the world before moving on.
- The Cuts thank Yuuri and Chito for returning the small Cut to them. They then take off into the skies for another destination while a brilliant shaft of sunlight breaks through, casting the land in a vivid glow. With the Cuts gone, Chito and Yuuri continue on with their everyday activities, but not before Chito admits that she cares for Yuuri. It’s a fantastic closing to the series, and I crossed the finish line earlier today.
- Because we’re also very nearly finished with 2017, I would remark that Girls’ Last Tour and Sakura Quest were the two anime I enjoyed the most out of any of the shows that I’ve seen this year: Girls’ Last Tour earns a 9.5 of 10, an A+ for its surprisingly thought-provoking and cathartic execution, losing only a half-point to the fact that it could have been longer. This brings my post to an end, and I close by noting that I’ve got a pair of Wolfenstein II talks on the table, dealing with the Uberkommando and Episode Zero missions. I’m aiming to wrap these up before 2017 comes to an end. Other posts on the stack include a finale post for Wake Up, Girls! New Chapter!, but for now, it’s time to take it easy and enjoy the festivities. Merry Christmas, Readers!
Overall, Girls’ Last Tour proved to be an unexpected surprise; its simplicity belies an incredibly detailed and insightful perspective on human nature. The anime adaptation capitalises on the additional immersion that audio and motion confer to create a masterpiece of a work that genuinely captures the messages that Tsukumizu wished to present through the manga. It’s therefore unsurprising that my final verdict on Girls’ Last Tour will be a strong recommendation. Quite simply, the anime exceeded expectations: its striking balance between normalcy (evident in the antics of Chito and Yuuri) and insightfulness creates a distinct atmosphere that encourages introspection. Further to this, exceptional attention paid to the details in their world add an additional sense of immersion that captivates the viewers, and the slower pacing in Girls’ Last Tour, while possibly seen as a weakness by some, further serves to remind viewers to approach things with a much more relaxed, methodical mindset. It’s a complete change of pace from the world itself, where folks with a career might consider their existence to be akin to that of a rat race: repetitive, exhausting and unfulfilling. In a world where progress and efficiency are valued, Girls’ Last Tour illustrates that our learning and progress could stand to come at a more natural pace, as Yuuri and Chito do so. Relaxing and thought-provoking, Girls’ Last Tour presents an optimistic view of humanity, reminding its audiences that there isn’t anything intrinsically wrong with taking things at a slower pace to gain more from a moment than we are presently wont to doing.