Hope in the Midst of Hopelessness
A concept that is often explored in media is the resiliency of humankind. No matter how bleak or hopeless a situation appears, people always find a way to survive and carry on. In some ways Girls’ Last Tour echoes this message while depicting a surreal, lonely, dying world. As long as we have each other, we can enjoy the end of the world together, right?
Despite my opening statements, Girls’ Last Tour is also an anime about hopelessness. The lack of control we have on the world as individuals, whether we’d like to admit this fact or not. Yet, these two seemingly diametrically opposed ideas live hand-in-hand. Even if there’s nothing to be done, we may as well move forward taking joy in the little things we can.
To some, I’m sure this makes the series seem heady and complex but in reality it isn’t. Girl’s Last Tour is a show that wants the audience to think, exploring several philosophical and moral questions, while keeping it accessible. Mostly, this is a slice of life anime about two cute girls, a tank, and the wonders they see along the way on one final tour to survive.
By having this lighter tone with an almost magical atmosphere, something that was likened to a Miyazaki film by folks in the group watch (not just that but messaging as well), Girls’ Last Tour balances itself in a twilight position where the subject matter can be heavy or contemplative while presenting it in a lighthearted, and usually comical fashion.
Not sure what I’m talking about when I mentioned the group watch? Learn more about #AniTwitWatches by clicking either the photo or link here. While you are at it, consider looking into my other community initiatives as well!
Credit where credit is due, this aspect of the anime is one of the best things about it. Everything is relaxed, easily digestible, and presented with the level of whimsy with occasional grit that leaves a lasting impact. However, this is also one of my biggest complaints with the show.
Girls’ Last Tour is by no means a bad watch, but some episodes don’t feel as meaningful as others. Several times when tweeting live about individual episodes there just wasn’t much to say, which wasn’t a result of the show not providing a topic of discussion, but rather not leaving much room or reason to discuss it.
Fortunately, this does make the episodes where Chi and Yu come across other people, or in some cases entities, a lot more impactful. These moments are actually the highlights of the show not only for providing a rare opportunity for the girls to interact with others, but because it builds on the core ideas of the show. Usually the girls learn some lesson while the audience benefits from additional world building that deepens the narrative.
Of these episodes, the ninth episode is easily the best one. I don’t really want to spoil why but seeing that every single person in the watch was in agreement on this one it’s something that’d be amiss not to mention. It’s a shame that Girls’ Last Tour could not keep this level of captivation and quality, especially at the end.
Which brings me to my biggest problem with the show. This is very much a story that’s about the journey and not the destination, but when things do end there was a distinct lack of satisfaction. Mind you, not enough to outright ruin the entire show, but it was puzzling.
On the one hand, the nihilistic message and ultimate “conclusion” the series draws is very much in line with everything stated so far, but as a viewer, it’s not something that’s going to stick with me. The profound emptiness that I should have felt just wasn’t there, I did not feel that I had witnessed something great. Not every show needs to be a masterpiece, but for all the buildup it certainly doesn’t deliver on expectations as well as I would have hoped.
This is a real shame as a result. In the same final episode there is a great moment, one that reminded me a lot of Planetarian, a show that long-time readers are sure to recognize that I loved, but whereas that series managed to impress by utilizing its empty world to full effect, Girls’ Last Tour almost spoils itself in a way by trying to have its cake and eat it too.
Maybe that sounds redundant, or perhaps even too vague to provide any real meaning, but it’s something that can’t be shaken from this series. As a result, I can confidently say that this one is worth your time, you will not regret watching Girls’ Last Tour, but I can’t say you’ll be overly impressed either.
This is where I’ll turn things over to you folks. What are your thoughts on Girls’ Last Tour? Did it’s accessible nature hinder more than it helped? Was there a lack of impact for you? Or perhaps you thought this was one of the best shows of its season, or even of recent time. Be sure to let me know in the comments.
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