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Firechick's Manga Reviews: Girls' Last Tour



I give this manga about two girls living in a barren world...an 84/100!

Not gonna lie, I had never even HEARD of Girls' Last Tour before last year, but a blog I follow was praising the first episode of the anime up the wazoo. Curious, I decided to check the anime out, and while it didn't necessarily blow me away, I found myself really liking it. I watched the rest of it, loved it, bought all of the original manga, and now I've officially finished it! Seriously, what anime can you think of that has cute moeblob girls exploring a barren, post-apocalyptic world where humanity is pretty much extinct and resources are extremely scarce? Then again, this is Japan, and they've made crazier stuff than this. The premise is pretty simple: Two young women are traveling the world searching for food and shelter, learning a little about everything they come across, from abandoned buildings that were part of a bygone era, to sentient robots taking care of the only living fish in their world. Every day, they keep going, trying to find a little bit of happiness in their ruined land.

What makes Girls' Last Tour stand out from most works set after an apocalypse is its use of minimalism. The manga doesn't rely on long paragraphs of text that spoon-feed you details about the world Chito and Yuuri live in in every page. Instead, the background art and the setting speak for themselves. Giant, decrepit structures dominate the landscape, unstable and probably ready to crumble at the slightest touch. Industrial cities with multiple layers going all the way to the stars lay abandoned for possibly centuries. The manga doesn't tell us anything about the world Chito and Yuuri live in, and by making the girls know nothing about it themselves, it adds to the immersion in that they're just as confused about the state of their world as we are. They don't know how society works, nor anything about the technology save for what Chito has read in books. We get small details peppered across the manga in regards to what might have happened to their world, but nothing too concrete, and I think this approach works here. At this point, humanity is close to extinction, and knowing the answers doesn't change the current reality. The worldbuilding is really neat here, leaving a lot to the imagination, but offering just enough details so that we as an audience can fill in the blanks ourselves.

Another thing that makes GLT different from other, similar works is its contrasting tones. The bleak, morose setting and dark premise is rife for sorrow and drama, but the overall mood of the story is surprisingly lighthearted, with the main moral being about finding all the little joys and happiness that life has to offer, even after the world has supposedly ended, and to keep moving forward. What apocalyptic story can you think of where characters, while worrying about food and shelter, marvel at the night sky or throw snowballs at each other for fun? Or try their hand at cooking or have fun in rainy weather by using cans and helmets to make music? The character designs serve as a neat contrast as well, with the girls looking cutesy and moe, setting them apart from the realistic, industrialized, dilapidated metal buildings that tower over them and the empty landscapes they ride on in their kettenkrad. Continuing on in regards to the art, I like how the mangaka draws everything in a rough, sketchy style, with rough pencil lines, stark shadows, sharp angles, and unpolished drawings that actually add to the atmosphere of the setting. Considering that the world they live in is on the brink of extinction, the lack of polish in the artwork really sells just how hopeless and bleak the world these girls live in really is.

Of course, a story like this can't work without a good cast of characters to carry it, and Chito and Yuuri, thankfully, manage to do so. Since this manga only has two main characters, with very few minor ones appearing every now and again, the manga has plenty of time to devote to developing them and fleshing them out. In the context of the manga's setting, I think they carry the story very well, and their starkly differing personalities help them bounce off of each other with aplomb. It helps that their chemistry actually feels organic and genuine, and every conversation they have gives the feeling that these girls do genuinely care about each other, even if they have moments where they get annoyed at one another. This is the thing in regards to anime and manga like this, particularly moe anime: They think they can sell their work just on cute girls alone, but that can't carry an entire piece of media. Those cute girls need to have depth, personality, character, and nuance to them, not to solely consist of one overexaggerated character trait and then that's it.

Manga like Girls' Last Tour remind me of why I love anime and manga so much. They're able to tell a wider variety of stories than most mainstream media are typically allowed to do, and you never know what you'll find. It cleverly stays away from a lot of the cliches that plague both sci-fi and moe manga and, while it does have a bleak atmosphere, it never tries to be too dark or too saccharine, maintaining a good balance of realism and hope. Now, I personally liked this, but some people may not like the manga's slow pacing and lack of action. You won't find explosions and high octane battles here, and the story is fairly episodic, without much in the way of a linear narrative. But if you're looking for a solemn, heartwarming, laid-back manga about cute girls finding joy in the little things while surviving in a dying world, this is definitely the manga for you.
Tags: girls, last, manga, review, tour
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