Note: Review copy supplied by MVM Entertainment
Title: Girls’ Last Tour
Anime Studio: White Fox
Publisher: MVM Entertainment
Genre: Slice of Life / Drama / Sci-Fi
Released: May 13th, 2019
Language: Japanese, English
Extras: Japanese commercials and promos, Clean OP & ED, Disc credits, Trailers
The world we knew is gone. The massive cities, once filled with people, lie silent, empty and decaying. There are no more forests filled with animals; no more birds in the sky. But life hasn’t disappeared completely; not just yet. Amidst the rubble two small figures, young girls, travel together, scavenging what they need to survive as they explore the remnants of a world that they are too young to remember. It’s a strange journey, but one that’s filled with wonder as each new day brings another discovery, another echo of the devastated past or moment of unexpected beauty. And as long as Chito and Yuuri have each other, they have a reason to keep pressing forward. As long as there’s still life, there’s still hope for a future.
Girls’ Last Tour is based on Tsukumizu’s manga of the same name, and boy is it an aesthetically interesting series. White Fox studio worked on a number of shows that I’m fond of, including Steins;Gate, Jormungand, and Grimoire of Zero, and the visual quality from those shows certainly carries over into the backdrops here. Everything that the girls come across is high on detail, with the ruined world looking absolutely beautiful from a technical standpoint. In particular, the texturing on floors is actually marvelous to look at.
The strange thing here is that the girls themselves are far less detailed in appearance. I think that the best way to describe them would be as a toned down version of the more exaggerated moments in Amanchu!. In that respect, they should clash with the backdrops, but it really seems like it works here. If anything, the clear difference in styles just serves to draw your attention to the girls. In a way, it kinda feels like an intentional representation of the girls’ simplistic lifestyle in a complicated world.
The story follows Chito and Yuuri on their journey through the apocalyptic setting. While they do meet a handful of others at various points, these meetings are fleeting. As such, the focus is almost entirely on the two protagonists, often with little to interact with than each other and their surroundings. This works remarkably well for a number of reasons. First is that the girls themselves are very likable, with Chito assuming the role of decision maker and Yuuri playing the more naïve comrade. This contrast combines well with their young age to allow them to explore what remains of the world and approach the things they find with a very pure feeling curiosity. From questioning what a god is to learning to cook, the girls are absolutely fascinating to watch, and seeing what different things gives each of them pleasure is lovely.
Second, it really hammers home how lonely and cold the setting actually is. Things are dire for the pair, with them having to scavenge for the things they need and take comfort where they can find it. This is not a bright, happy story, but rather one of resilience and a desire to simply live on. Had the series featured a larger cast, this feeling would have been lost.
In terms of worldbuilding, it takes until we near the end of the series to learn exactly what happened to the world. Even then, it’s not quite as simple at it first appears either, with new elements having risen up as humans declined. Prior to this though, we do get little hints as to things that have happened, not only through the weapons of war that the girls find but through some grainy, silent flashbacks. This slow build-up may have dragged if the series had been longer, but at only twelve episodes, it works fine.
Rather than full-length stories, each episode is split into multiple smaller but linked set pieces too. This bite-sized approach means that the story moves along without faltering, allowing each section to only show what’s needed. The result of this is that the series does a really effective job of conveying emotion at appropriate times. Moments like the sad events of the ninth episode or the bittersweet ending really have some impact, and that’s thanks in a big way to the way the episodes are built to play out.
White Fox have also done a great job with sound placement. Appropriate music is used to enhance scenes, but when ambiance is more important, we’re treated instead to the sounds of the breeze and so on without anything to detract from it. Meanwhile, both the Japanese and English voice cast do a good job with the material, leaving both versions easy to watch.
The limited edition extras in the collector’s edition are certainly musts for fans of the visuals. First up, you get a thirty-two-page art book. This is accompanied by an additional one hundred and forty-four-page storyboard art book. Yup, if the show is aesthetically up your street, then this is absolutely a worthwhile purchase.
So, what do we have here overall? Well, while the simplistic character art may be off-putting for some, I do feel like you’d be missing out to discount it. Taking the Slice of Life genre into a dreary setting but losing none of the sentimentality that works so well in that kind of story is no minor feat. Yes, it won’t be everyone’s style of storytelling, but Girls’ Last Tour is a wonderful journey to experience. If you’re already a fan, MVM’s limited edition release is also a good purchase. As such, I give this one a solid 4.5 out of 5.