Do not let the rather casual, almost cartoon-like animation fool you; this is a rather cruel and heartless show. “Shōjo Shūmatsu Ryokō”, (“Girls’ Last Tour”) tells the tale of Yuuri and Chito (left to right) as they navigate a massive city complex after some apocalyptic war has taken place. Driving their Kettenkrad (a kind of motorcycle half-track), they search for something, anything, to help them understand what went on and what is going on.
Although they meet a couple of people, for the most part, it is them, a day-to-day existence, as they search for rations and fuel to continue their mission. But what IS that mission? From who did their get their marching orders? Who do they report to? How do they report to them? Chito is constantly writing in her journal or the daily log or whatever you want to call it, while Yuuri eats, shoots and makes trouble. Chito is the brains of the outfit and Yuuri is too impulsive for her own good.
At one point, I thought this may have been an anime version of “Waiting for Godot”, as they discuss life and death and the oddness of their circumstances. I also was of the notion that, perhaps, they are already dead but do not know it, as the landscape is barren (it’s usually snowing) and there is nary a soul out there to speak with. Plus, when they do speak with the rare others (they meet a few folks) the dialogue is terse, the Joe Friday school of exactness.
They come from a time or a land or an environment where they have not seen certain things before, like a camera or a radio. These things are rather baffling and puzzling, as they seem to serve no real immediate purpose. When they encounter AI, or robots, it is still more of this mono-minded approach to things. It’s all very binary (on-off, left-right, up-down, either-or) and if things get too tough to comprehend, it just gets left behind, kind of like an errant puzzle piece that doesn’t seem to serve any real purpose.
I found this a captivating show, in that you really felt for them. I was also concerned about the potential ominous nature of ‘last tour’, and whether they might be killed while doing their task. The ending is off for me, a genuine deux ex machina approach to things, so I felt cheated, but certainly the long slog to get there keeps you riveted, in what they find, whether it is a massive cemetery, or a warm, comfy house.
I am also of the belief that if they had a more traditional approach to the artwork, the show might not be as effective. You just can’t really read these two. Are they friends or merely working together? I got the feeling that if Yuuri got too bored, she would shoot Chito, just to alleviate things. When your days are spent trying to find enough fuel to keep going, both for man and machine, how does this wear of strength and spirit to keep going forward?
The ending implies that they will be doing this for some time, as long as they are able to keep going. This is one of those shows that even if nothing happens, something is always happening. They want to know the answers. WE want to know the answers.
Binging might add to the disconnect and uncertainty of it all, but it may also add to the day-to-day monotony of going out and doing something else or new. I feel that you might lose something without some caliber of introspection and curiosity as to what they learned or perhaps haven’t learned. This is a hard call for me, as I needed a chance to recover. Pushing the envelope may emphasis the feeling of abandonment and loss of direction that the show excels in.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 7 (Intentionally cute and bland)
Plot 9 (Quixotic)
Pacing 8 (Cold and deliberate)
Effectiveness 8 (Because it is so bland and puzzling)
Conclusion 5 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 0 (A similar show would be “Honey and Clover”)
Bingeability 7 (Less the show and more your abilities)
Overall 8 (Just enough enigmas to keep one guessing)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. Can we eat the fish?