When looking through the Fall 2017 anime list, I am not sure why I felt so attracted to Girls’ Last Tour. I guess there was something very eerie about the show and didn’t really remind me of anything I’ve watched recently, so I was intrigued. Indeed, at least as far as the first episode is concerned, I feel there is a definite uniqueness to this show.
Japanese Original Episode Title: 星空 / 戦争
The setting for Girls’ Last Tour seems to be a fixed one that will be the show’s permanent setup for its slice-of-life character. Two cute female chibi-faced main characters roam around a post-apocalyptic war zone that was once the Earth, looking for food and fuel. In this particular episode, we are being introduced to them as they travel in an almost painfully slow fashion through some sort of large, dark edifice, unable to find their way out. Yuuri falls asleep as Chito is driving, so Chito joins her, later waking up with her whole hand in Yuuri’s mouth. Thanks to being covered in saliva, she realizes there’s a wind blowing through the building, and the girls follow it to finally manage to get out. They share a can of soup to celebrate and gaze at the stars. The next day, as they keep exploring, they come across an old abandoned aircraft that may be useless to fly with but hides a whole crate of rations the girls can survive on. There’s only five per pack, so Yuuri uses her gun to threaten Chito and get the extra ration. Chito is not impressed and tackles Yuuri, throwing her in the snow, which they later eat while having a giggle on the fact that they have to do so.
The aesthetics: The most prominent element of this show is its uncommon choice of aesthetics. We are introduced to very cute, childishly drawn characters that walk an Earth that is barren, frozen, and completely empty. The whole post-apocalypse theme is obviously juxtaposed to their very existence, and their relaxed relationship to their environment possibly implies how humans get used to the oddest of circumstances in order to adapt and survive.
Size-wise: Takaharu Ozaki, the director of Girls’ Last Tour, used his choice of imagery to consistently remind us of the size of the world the girls are walking through compared to their tiny selves. Distant shots of the interior of the massive building they’ve been stuck into, as well as their tiny bodies interacting with the abandoned plane (all in a background of derelict cityscapes) make the protagonists seem even smaller and almost unimportant in the setting they’re in.
Claustrophobia: It doesn’t really take a lot to make the viewer feel uncomfortable during the first segment of the episode. The girls mention they’ve been stuck in this dark building for days, without having seen any light or found any food or any fuel. This is where the aesthetics are making a huge difference in the show’s content: the characters’ cartoonish qualities somehow ‘protect’ the audience from feeling too worried and uneasy; their casual reactions to the fact that they’ve been stuck in there for days makes us feel like that’s kind of what they usually do, and that they’ll most probably be okay. In any other occasion, I guess I would be getting pretty paranoid about whether they’ll manage to get out of there.
Silence: Even though the soundtrack seems to be not only promising but also helpful in setting the appropriate mood for many a scenes in this episode, it’s easy to notice how most of the time the girls’ surrounding are enveloped in an obvious silence, interrupted by the wind or the sound of machinery. Their dialogue remains simple and to the point, without providing more that the essential information needed: there was war, there’s not food, we need to survive.
Themes & Trivia
War: The most prominent theme of the show seems to be that of war. Apart from obvious phrases like ‘Having to eat snow of all things… War sucks’, the protagonists discuss the irrational abundance of weaponry and severe lack of food, wondering how people could be stupid enough to produce weapons (used to kill them) rather that food (to keep them alive). The commentary –apart from obviously being a pun- is further emphasized from the fact that Chito uses the example of food to justify war: if people fight about not having enough food, why would they focus on producing weapons to kill those they have to share the food with, instead of producing more food that could actually solve the problem?
Kettenkrad: a German military motorcycle with tank qualities, used in WWII.
Comparisons: Being personally unexposed to the genre, I looked up the show online to investigate its origins and possible influences (personally, it mostly reminded me of Angel’s Egg, but significantly less grim and religious). I was not very surprised (or impressed) to see it being compared to last season’s Made in Abyss, which I find a rather easy comparison to make, mostly based on aesthetics and story rather than actual content. Other suggested references are Planetarian (not really), Youjo Senki (hmm maybe a little bit), and most accurately imho Kino’s Journey. It’s also often compared to Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou.
Does being alive even matter?
It might be my constant obsession with death themes, but that’s what I kept thinking throughout the whole episode – how very unimportant humans look and feel on Earth. Chito and Yuuki are trying to survive without really having anything to live for, apart from each other, but is that even worth it? Is this struggle they’re going though really justified by them still being alive?