We can be in the presence of a deja-vu, an anime about children (I used that words before). Could it surprise us as Made in the Abyss did? Will we feel empathy with those kids in a post-apocalyptic world? The truth is that we can be surprised one more time.
We live our lives hastily surrounded by numerous technological devices. We consider that our daily tasks, such as eating and taking a shower, are "habitual," and we never asked ourselves what would happen if life change due to destruction and a terrible war. What would happen if we lose those things? What would we do to survive? Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou takes us to a time where civilization disappeared because of war. The only memory of the existence of the culture lies in the numerous ruins of cities and the devices that once served humans. The animation captivates us with an incredible story of friendship, trust and the constant struggle to survive. Day after day the actions of two girls are a ray of hope in a desolate world.
The story 9
The world is a hostile, challenging and sometimes somber place. The constant struggle between nations led to chaos and destruction where countless lives were lost. The war took to oblivion the meaning of the civilization that once existed. The bonds of this condemned world are reflected in the few survivors who day after day must be scavengers to obtain a supply that can prolong their existence in a dead world and thus give meaning to their lives
Two girls, Chito and Yuuri, wander in the middle of the solitude, the ruins and the deteriorated structures of what was once a society. In the same way, they struggle to find their daily sustenance. A simple ration bar could be a treasure, a place to bathe would be a longed-for dream. In summary, all the dreams changed for the constant struggle to survive. Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou's story has an incredible context that could make you remember writings from Martin Heidegger and Jean-Paul Sartre that talk about human existentialism. In the same way, the story leads this duo to question about life, death and human nature.
These girls have dreams, feelings, fears that are exposed in each episode and are perceived by the spectators. They transform a simple rain into a musical festival and maintain a high level of optimism that we can observe in the various actions, games, and jokes that they make throughout the plot. However, you can ask yourself if one day you will find an answer to what happened to the world and if these girls will live long enough to grow and have a happy life if there is one.
The setting of Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou is excellent. The anime portrays the scars of a war that happened a while ago. Abandoned buildings, rusty pipelines that vanish in the shade as the last sign of life and in the midst the survivors. Elements such as the environment show the catastrophic scenario that these girls have to endure in order to survive day after day. Maybe those details add more realism to the story.
Something you can notice is the constant need to move, climb and reach higher levels. We can compare that world with a spiral without an apparent end. What will they find in the higher levels? What difficulties will appear? Moreover, the world is full of mysteries, one of them is the reason for the war, another the "statues" that arise during the adventure that perhaps are part of a higher purpose and a camera that keeps the records of the lost memories.
The most exciting part is how the information is delivered to the viewers. The story advances with these girls and the audience advances with them. The viewer is an active part of the story since it depends on these girls and is not a simple observer. The story has good pacing it has a lovely narrative that will keep you hooked until the end.
Sometimes, for a lot of spectators is difficult to sympathize with children or to find an animation about children engaging. However, this duo maintains the innocence of their age no matter what problems they have had. They still act like little girls in a devastated world. Yes, I know that, under certain circumstances, they must make decisions as adults, but I liked that they still have dreams, that they question everything and that they want to discover new things. In other words, they are not adults, Chito and Yuuri still have a childhood to live. For example, I will always remember when Yuuri tried to draw Chito in the diary. That kind of moments matches the innocence and youth of the characters that sooner or later will have to mature. Finally, the series highlights several ideas such as friendship, trust, the need to be together to survive. What would they do if one of them were in danger near death?
Pitifully, the story does not conclude entirely. Maybe we will need to wait some time to see a full conclusion. However, the final episode could give you a partial completion where the emotions (sadness, love) were present. It will reveal some mysteries and facts that we were suspecting.
The most delightful couple of the season. Chito and Yuuri could be very different, but they care for each other. Moreover, they are in a constant fight to survive, but they maintain the innocence of a child that isn't corroded by the war or any other event.
Chito. She is the brain of the group, she takes smart decisions but also is very fragile and has some fears. She likes to read and writes a journal. Also, she keeps the duo working for a higher cause, surviving or maybe feeding Yuuri.
Yuuri. She is the muscle and the comedian of the group also is a good shooter. You can see her as Chito's guardian. Her humor is fantastic she can make us forget about that desolated world with her actions and jokes. For example, it was hilarious when Chito comment to Kanazawa "she burns others books," and Yuuri's expression was pretty amusing.
Each episode offers excellent detail and artistic quality. However, some CGI can be observed in some camera angles (mostly on the Kettenkrad motorbike), but they are not so strange and do not damage the narrative. Also, the series has an intelligent use of lighting. You can feel that the world is gone. The light is contrasted each scene showing the designs where the decadent world (rusty pipes), abandoned machinery, weapons. The camera angles used in the scenes are correct and keep the eyes occupied in the critical parts of the narrative and the main characters.
The characters' design is not very detailed. Moreover, they are a bit simple, they follow a chibi art, for some persons they have a mocking style, but I liked it in general, and it helps to have a better idea of the personalities of the main characters.
The sound is pretty amazing. I am a bit amazed by the score; it can compete with Made in the Abyss. Also, the track rises the climax of each episode. For example, the central theme (Episode 1, Ending) adds the concept of mystery and innocence to the story. The sound mix is excellent, you can feel with your senses the desolation and the ruins because the sound boosts the ambiance and the characters actions.
The OP is very catchy, has a constant rhythm where you can see some traits of the main characters, and it has interesting lyrics. About the ED, it isn't as good as the OP but in general is a good song.
In each episode, I expected to see answers to some mysteries, and I was waiting for what this pair would find. I wanted to follow the story. However, maybe the plot has some problems since we will not have all answers to all questions and there is no real ending that reveals us the future of this unique duo because the manga is still in progress. No matter this issue I liked how this pair acted and tried to find answers to philosophical questions such us life and death, and the reason for the existence.
Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou was a surprise. In my case, I want to see the answers to the mysteries, I want to understand more about what happened to that desolate world and, above all, I want to see if these girls will survive the adventure in this world. Unfortunately, I'll have to wait a while for that, and I'm sure you will have similar feelings towards this magnificent story because you will see it regardless of my recommendation.