Girls' Last Tour

Tagged: TV

Japanese animated tv series (2017); original title Shōjo Shūmatsu Ryokō. White Fox. Based on the Manga by Tsukumizu. Directors include Takaharu Ozaki. Writers: Kazuyuki Fudeyasu and Tsukumizu. Voice cast includes Kana Hanazawa, Yurika Kubo and Inori Minase. Twelve (24 minute) episodes. Colour.

A brief flashback conveys that soldiers arriving at their settlement led to "grandfather" persuading sensible bookworm Chito (Minase) and impulsive, illiterate Yuuri (Kubo) to take flight: these two girls are first encountered an unspecified time later, travelling on a Kettenkrad through a vast Post-Holocaust City and its environs. Initially the derelict buildings recall the twentieth century, but the city proves to have successive higher levels (with underlying labyrinths of tunnels and pipes), connected by towers. Each new layer displays peculiar structures, some utilitarian but geometric, others resembling art installations; one level has pillar-shaped statues with rudimentary faces. During the first nine episodes the girls meet only three living creatures: two people (one gives them a camera) and a fish (with a Robot who declares "I am the caretaker of this fish").

In episode ten they find a small animal (recalling the statues), which they call Nuko (Hanazawa), who speaks through a found radio and can interface with machinery. When they enter a stranded nuclear submarine, Nuko downloads the camera's files onto the control screens, revealing images and videos from long ago: family, music, science, sport and Politics – the latter including probable references to the real-life 2015 scuffle in the Japanese Parliament over a bill to allow the military to fight abroad; later there are newsreels of Japan declaring war on "neighbouring states" and an escalation, possibly covering centuries (see Future War). Yuuri is then swallowed by a giant version of Nuko.

However, this was merely to ingest the radio: Yuuri climbs out. The creature unfolds from its pillar shape into a giant humanoid mushroom. It explains that its species renders dangerous (such as radioactive) materials safe, and that once their work is finished life on Earth will end, the planet slumbering once more – adding that they have surveyed all but the highest level and "to our knowledge you are the only two humans left alive". Then, along with its brethren and Nuko, it ascends. Digesting this, the girls confirm they are not lonely, as they have each other. They climb back into the Kettenkrad, agreeing to go to the top level; Yuuri suggesting they then travel to the Moon.

The design of the main characters in Girls' Last Tour is simple, but the backgrounds and Technology are detailed and visually interesting, whilst the soundtrack is memorable. Chito and Yuuri are charming protagonists (tempering the show's deepening sombre tone), travelling through a landscape whose history is unfamiliar to them. World-building and philosophy are casually dropped in as they search for food, fuel and distraction: the story gathers momentum slowly until the acceleration of the last three episodes. Although the tale has continued in the manga, it is greatly regretted that no second season of this fine Anime has been announced. [SP]

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