Strolling through a grey and barren wasteland, two girls are on a journey. Rations are their only food, each other's company their only comfort and a Kettenkrad motorbike and a protect rifle their only partners. This is a story about a post-apocalyptic future, cultures lost in war and appreciating the little things in life.
Few future settings display the thoughtfulness present in Girl’s Last Tour: war has, multiple times, left its mark on Earth and humanity. The numerous layers of the forsaken and metallic city tell tales of many civilizations long gone; their technology gradually grows more sophisticated and the cityscape more complex by the layer. Their different religious beliefs, or lack thereof, as well as their different perceptions of beauty are ingrained in them: some show idealistic symmetry spread evenly throughout, others are dominated by religious symbols resembling a progressed Christianity. However, their god seems more like an alien creature possibly playing a central role in mankind’s long history of war…
The themes and background of the show allow for contemplation and its war-ridden lands give ground for cynical criticism of war, but Girl’s Last Tour is not at all about nihilism, the cruelty of war or the dangers of technological advancement. With overpowering optimism and gratitude for life, it avoids dwelling on many of its philosophically potent and open-ended questions through the sheer simplicity of its appreciation for the here and now; there is solace in solitude and beauty in company.
It’s hard not to get swept up in the show’s pensive mood, but it is near impossible not to fall in love with the protagonists' fun antics: Yuuri and Chito have amazing chemistry and partaking in their intimacy is a truly soothing experience. The two share a heartwarming bond of love and trust and remind one of simpler days; to take the role of an onlooker is to embrace a heartwarming nostalgia.
Chito is the duo’s brain: she is literate and reliable. Over the years, she has learned to work around Yuuri’s shortcomings and deal with her eccentricities. At times, her diplomatic mindset clashes with Yuuri’s air-headedness. However, she has no issue striking back should it get overbearing, for she knows it’s the only way to get through to her dense companion.
In comparison, Yuuri might at first seem like an unpleasant person. She is a glutton, unreliable and at parts overbearingly annoying - but actually a very caring individual. She keeps looking out for Chito and ensures her safety, she is sorry when Chito is hurt and does her best to express her guilt. It is not only her shortcomings that need to be worked around: her partner has serious fear and submits to panic at the blink of an eye. Fortunately, Yuuri always stays supportive of her.
Rusty pipe systems, snow-clad plains filled with weapons of war and desolate temples - the show’s landscape is empty and its designs range from simple to highly complex. The dark, barely saturized, grey color palette only changes during dreams and revelations. Unlike one might initially assume, the empty and wistful world radiates a romantic feeling. While it may be devoid of nature and has no ecosystem to speak of, the countless tales told by the cityscape itself more than make up for it. The bubbly moe character designs help alleviate the central juxtaposition of the cold world and the comforting company of the two protagonists (and whomever they might meet along the way).
Such sparse environment rarely allows for much movement to take place, but through dosated usage of CG the show enables engaging camerawork and alleviates the overall experience. The CG itself does unfortunately not hold up to the gorgeous and detailed look of the hand-drawn backgrounds but it in turn allows the explosive scenes to benefit from the momentum achievable through animation - and they look great!
The show’s solid visuals are accompanied by both upbeat and melancholic music. In insert songs, the vocalist creates a great feeling of departure encompassing an euphoric mood and a grieving goodbye. On the other hand, the Opening and Ending songs excel through their sheer musical simplicity. They embrace modern electronic music and pop culture (the moonwalk and even dabbing), depicting and enhancing the fun shenanigans of the two girls and their endless journey.
Due to its metallic landscape, the soundscape of the show mostly consists of industrial sounds: petrol engines, gunfire and cold, metallic echoes dominate, and their prevalence is only trumped by the two girls’ dialogue.
Girls’ Last Tour is lighthearted and emotionally poignant; it excels through simplicity and thoughtfulness, but never dwells on the latter. The juxtaposition of its thematically dense but desolate cityscape and the intimacy of the main duo create a melancholically wholesome experience and make it one of the best shows of the year.