What’s it about? Civilization is dead, but Chito and Yuuri are still alive. So they hop aboard their beloved Kettenkrad motorbike and aimlessly wander the ruins of the world they once knew. Day after hopeless day, they look for their next meal and fuel for their ride. But as long as the two are together, even an existence as bleak as theirs has a ray or two of sunshine in it, whether they’re sucking down their fill of soup or hunting for machine parts to tinker with. For two girls in a world full of nothing, the experiences and feelings the two share give them something to live for.
Source: Anime News Network
It’s rather unfortunate that this show came up for review on the same day as the Kino’s Journey reboot. Both are shows about young people traveling through the world and finding what makes life worth living. Kino’s premiere came within spitting distance of the original’s masterpiece status. Girls’ Last Tour… does not measure up to that watermark.
But that’s not fair. Let’s start again, and try to give Tour a fair shake on its own merits.
Oh. Oh, boy. First we have to contend with those designs. Girls’ Last Tour’s leads are meant to be part of the tradition of cute, innocent children wandering through a world of horrors. You know, like last season’s Made in Abyss (which, whatever my frustrations, walked a masterful line with its visual design). No, wait, I’m doing it again. Got to stop comparing and start looking at the show itself.
The trouble with Tour is that so very little happens in it. Not in the sense that “this is a mood piece and you’re meant to soak up the atmosphere” (although I think that might be what it’s aiming for), but in simple lack of coherence. The girls drive through an abandoned cave/factory/warehouse that they get lost in (during which the integration of their jeep against the landscape is…not great). They get out and eat soup. They wander around a battlefield doing target practice and stumble upon some preserved rations in an abandoned bomber. They fight over them. They play in the snow. End of episode.
A show needn’t have an action-packed premise to be good, but the trouble is in the execution. This premiere is divided into two shorter episodes, and there seems to be very little sense of continuity between them. Chito dreams about the wartorn world and apparent parental figure she and Yuuri left behind in the first half; then in the second half, the girls talk about war in entirely theoretical terms, because So Innocent yada yada.
The show also has trouble finding a balance between “cute” and “cutesy,” and falls into the latter far too often. The girls’ designs aren’t so much rounded and soft as literal moeblobs, and Yuuri’s constant complaints about how hungry she is make the problem seem far more like the typical bottomless stomach-type character than an indication that these kids might actually starve to death.
Tension is briefly achieved in the latter half when Yuuri holds Chito at gunpoint and steals the last ration, capitalizing successfully on the idea that for all the musings about how fighting doesn’t make any sense, there’s something brutally human in fighting over low supplies. Unfortunately, the show can’t carry this into any successful payoff. A legitimately harrowing moment where children play with tools of death devolves almost instantly into a lighthearted fight in the snow, which Chito caps off by declaring that War Is Bad.
That brief moment and a few other nice, quiet beats (like Chito and Yuuri bundled together, watching falling stars) make me want to check in for another episode, but I’m not sure that’s a compliment. I want to see if this show is going to do something. Something good, bad, or anything. The premiere is a pile of mush with a few brief hints of promise, but keeping your audience hooked by implying that “next time we might do something interesting” is not a sustainable approach.