Sometimes I find it hard to have faith in the world we’ve left ourselves. In a heartbeat we could lose it all because of the whims of a few people, so how could we trust that our best intentions will prevail? It seems impossible, it defies rationality. But we aren’t always rational. We’re willing to keep pushing on with only a moment of unconditional support and compassion. And when you distil us to our most primal selves you may find that we can be mean and selfish, but you’ll also find the power we have to care. To care for others, to care for our passions, to care for what we have. Girls’ Last Tour believes in the goodness of others.
Girls’ Last Tour is an optimistic series. It believes that even if human civilisation is beaten to shreds and pushed to the brink of inescapable extinction that we’ll still find things to live for. Chito lives for the stories of the past and creating the stories of her own present. Kanazawa lives for drawing maps of the decaying world, and even when it all slips away he finds the will to start over. And Yuuri lives for the simple joy of being able to eat. Sometimes these passions prompt them to behave selfishly, but it’s ultimately those passions that empower their best instincts and values.
Girls’ Last Tour recognises the awfulness we’re capable of, but doesn’t feel the need to dig it in. Without words its setting speaks for the selfish horrific destruction of war and the threat it poses to our lives, every new setpiece giving a different subtle reflection on a nearly forgotten world where people once lived and thought and felt. The most it ever feels the need to tell is through the almost innocuous banter of Chito and Yuuri, with silly but genuine quips like “If they’d preserved food instead of making weapons, our lives would be so much easier”. The world of Girls’ Last Tour is hopeless, but the characters gradually learn to get along with hopelessness.
Girls’ Last Tour isn’t a text heavy series. The bulk of its events are the lightly quirky slice of life experiences of two super deformed cute girls, and to many people that probably sounds groanworthy. But within the backdrop of its war torn surroundings and the gradually creeping scarcity of resources these seemingly pointless events take on an abundance of meaning. What we see before our eyes is life itself, with all the sadness and struggle fought off day after day by an unthinking ability to carry on and appreciate whatever happiness and closure we stumble on. Chito and Yuuri find happiness in little things like fiddling with an old camera or making music, and they find closure in seeing the questions of their own existence reflected in the civilisations left behind. The subtext of Girls’ Last Tour gracefully delivers the gravity of human experience through the broad strokes of simple dialogue and the understated nuance of its environment.
The closing episode of Girls’ Last Tour brings these things full circle, giving us an audiovisual experience of a world not so different from our own. Little moments of joy, war and destruction, a happy new family, political quarrels. The videos that stand out the most to Chito and Yuuri come from a high school machine research club. “They look like they’re around our age”, Yuuri comments. They may come from another time in a still developed and functioning world, but they’re not too different from our protagonists. They’re equally as amused by the little technological wonders, experiencing the joy of discovery just as viscerally. The smallest of the three gleefully munches on a packet of fries, a mirror reflection of Yuuri’s primal love of simply being able to eat.
As Chito and Yuuri get along with hopelessness they get what they can from these little joys, and they find closure knowing that these feelings have been felt by humans for centuries. It’s from there that the two develop an unconditional support for one another, both a mutual recognition of their fragility and a pure gesture of empathy. But from there the journey still goes on. Until there’s nothing left in them they wander to the top of the world, ready to discover more of the sad yet sometimes beautiful history of humankind as they breathe its final breaths.
Girls’ Last Tour believes in human beings, even if it doesn’t believe in our survival. It believes that no matter what terrible things happen our better selves will continue to find happiness and fight to the bitter end. The world of Girls’ Last Tour may be ours one day, and I suppose if it is we may be powerless to prevent it. But if that is the case I’d like to think the last of our kind can be the sincere good people that Chito and Yuuri are. If humanity were to end on such a whimper it would be the greatest whimper we could hope for.