Imagine you’re trekking into a dense forest with your friends. The sun is going down and it’s getting late. Then, you hear strange unknown noises coming from all directions around you. You check your phone and it has no signal. You can’t find the compass in your pocket and there’s no food left. Now, you and your friends just realized…you’re lost. You’re in trouble.
I don’t know how many of you have been in this type of situation before but watching Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou brings a similar feeling. The idea of being lost in an unknown place evokes a sort of uneasiness. The constant fear of danger, feeling restless, and hoping to survive is what really attracted me to this show. To me, Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou (Girls’ Last Tour) is much more than just a world-end journey. It’s a show that combines slice of life with post-apocalyptic themes for the sake of survival. Do they need a reason beyond that? Not really. Yet, it doesn’t really need more to sell its masterful storytelling.
To be clear, this anime takes place in the aftermath of a vague apocalyptic event. What do I mean by vague? It basically means that the anime doesn’t fully explain the details of what happened in the past. It only leaves behind details with places, objects, and symbols that characters will discover. In the meantime, this anime does a solid job at world building. Essentially, their world is dead. It’s devoid of almost all life. What’s interesting to note is that the structures, gadgets, and weapons looks realistic enough to relate to our world. These range from food factories, libraries, tall towers, and among others. Even some of the weapons that appears in the show looks realistic such as the guns and iconic tank that the two characters operate. Throughout this anime, we can only interpret the various mysteries of their world. To be honest, that’s what makes it intriguing. The anime doesn’t give true answers and leaves the viewers to theorize with their own imaginations. “What happened to this world?” is a big question mark I’m sure most viewers will formulate throughout the show.
If you’re invested into a linear storytelling of complexity, turn back now. This show isn’t to please a certain demographic but instead relies on its creativity to do the storytelling. Every episode is an adventure of its own as Chito and Yuuri makes new discoveries during their journey. At times, it almost feels like playing an open world game like Assassin’s Creed Origins or Fallout. The vast open world of unknown leaves behind so much to explore and honestly, it’s what bought the most interest for me. From cultural symbols to mysterious ruins, it’s a show that carries itself without a plot doing the talking. Our two heroines, Chito and Yuuri walk the earth without an end goal and it’s dazzling at how much interest they bring in.
Of course, Chito and Yuuri are the main characters that ultimately connects the show together. Without these two, there wouldn’t be a journey. Watching Chito and Yuuri together really shows that the two has a unique relationship. Chito’s calm composure balances out Yuuri’s easygoing personality and two makes a dynamic approach to their survival. For instance, Chito has the skill to drive Kettenkrad (their spider-like tank). She’s the one usually making decisions thanks to her literate skills. On the other hand, Yuuri has the knowledge to operate firearms, a skill essentially for their survival. The two make an interesting team in that although they don’t always agree, they’re able to collaborate to survive. However, a big part that attracted me about the duo is their character chemistry. There really isn’t many characters in this show so watching these two connect really brings the best out of each other. There are episodes that show their imaginative creativity and make the most of their situation. Despite their current condition, Chito and Yuuri enjoys each other’s company and even has fun when the opportunities present itself. Their small talk is also meaningful that even includes some philosophical dialogues from time to time. Still, this show does introduce a few characters although they only make sparse appearances. Kanazawa and Ishii are human beings that our main duo will encounter. Their encounter with them brings an interesting side and provokes a question such as “are there others like them out there?” Their role in the show is also interesting to note as they help each other to survive while accomplishing their own goals. Later on in the show, there’s also another character introduced although it swings into the otherworldly category.
You would think a show like this is about despair and sadness. No. If you take notice, you can easily discover that Chito and Yuuri lives their daily lives happily. Their journey takes them to ruined cities as they scavenge for supplies. They even hope to make memories from this journey with the help of a camera. Additionally, there are episodes that puts these two into ludicrous positions such as being drunk. I can also honestly confess that the show is emotionally appealing on different levels. Chito and Yuuri’s relationship give the impression that no matter how desolate a world can be, there’s hope and joy. Adapting a show like this really takes skill and I am very impressed by the craft the creators applied. As a manga reader, I’m also glad that the anime captured the mood of the show throughout each episode. It’s mostly faithful and really does a solid job at selling its ideas.
White Fox has been experimenting with a variety of genres recently. To make this anime really needed effort as adapting a desolate world is no easy task. Thankfully, I can say that they did a stellar job at adapting the visual quality of the show. The atmospheric feel really hits the marks with designs of the city ruins, cultural objects, and even weapons. Kettenkrad is a tank that people can relate to our modern world while the weapons such as rifles are visually realistic. The most interesting part is perhaps the character designs of Chito and Yuuri. The two look like characters from a cartoon. Some viewers might not be too keen on accepting them but it should be recognized that they are more complex than they appear. This is expressed through their character expressions. There’s no succinct way to put it but the two really draws a line between abnormal and normalcy. Their expressions evoke emotions from laughter, sadness, and curiosity. To note, there’s also some fan service but viewers should overlook that as those parts stand as a foil to the despair of this desolate world. You’d think these girls would be dressed like they are child soldiers read to go to war but in reality, they just live life.
I can’t say this enough but the soundtrack is stunningly beautiful. Music composer Kenichiro Suehiro shows his craft through the simplistic yet very convincing OST for this show. The melancholic tone with the eerie vibe every episode gives off matches perfect with the setting. Not to mention, I’m also impressed by the avant-garde style of the theme songs. It’s unique with a catchy tone that’s hard to miss. Finally, praise should be given to the two main heroines. It only took one episode to convince myself that Chito and Yuuri’s voices matches perfectly with their personalities.
I’ve watched this show several times during its duration and it still feels like I only scratched the surface. Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou is a rare anime that took on a peculiar premise and turned it into a near masterpiece. It has the ability to get viewers invested without an overlaying plot. The characters are deceptively complex. With a world setting filled with mystery, it’s no wonder you can find yourself lost. Don’t worry though. It won’t be like one of those trekking trips where you get drenched in fear. No, it’s a show that breathes life into such a post-apocalyptic world.