Prepare to embark on a surprisingly pleasant and thoughtful tour of an overall dour land. In this world where strata of ruined societies are decaying atop one another, two girls are left fending for themselves in the lower levels. All alone, the two must rely on each other in order to navigate the dystopian landscape as well as the curiosities of life itself.
Tsukumizu’s Girls’ Last Tour is very much a character-driven story that relies on scattered glimmers of philosophical and existential wisdom, as well as the comforting personalities of its two leads, to succeed. Dark-haired Chito acts as the leader, chronicling their adventure in her journal and mulling over the unknown quantities of their lives. Illiterate Yuuri is the brawn, much more curious and absent-minded than her companion, not really allowing herself to be shackled down by any creeping melancholy. The girls travel around on their motorized Kettenkrad, a half-bike on treads, as they wander through the cataclysmic remains of a society in a vague, almost instinctual, quest for life answers and meaning. No real narrative exists, as the story of the girls is told through sequential snippets of the their journey. There’s not a bad guy to fight nor are there any tangible goals beyond survival. The manga is simply a quiet and relaxed look at the relationship between the two girls and the lessons they learn about life and the world as a whole as they venture onward.
This first volume takes place in a fairly low stratum of the broken civilization. Discarded weapons and abandoned artillery litter the landscape, hinting at a war that potentially ravaged the world. The girls briefly dwell on the peculiarities of war, but the subject is never lingered on for too long, as the story instead opts to showcase glimpses of joy and relief the girls share in an otherwise bleak setting. The girls are surprised whenever they encounter another animal, as Chito reveals they thought everything but humans was dead. Despite the two possibly being abandoned from an unknown origin as part of the aftermath of the war, the two never seem particularly lonely. Whether that is because they have each other or simply because they don’t know otherwise is left up to interpretation. From their conversations it seems they are largely unaware of life before whatever apocalyptic-event occurred. All they know is each other, and that has to be enough to get them through each day. The war is a background element that has clearly molded the girls’ reality, but it really does not seem to have shaped them emotionally other than instilling them with savvy independence at a seemingly young age. (Though we really don’t know how old these girls are.)
The art of Girls’ Last Tour is quite simple. The characters are drawn with almost chibi-like features, and many of the world’s details are depicted through rough sketches, making the whole book feel strangely reminiscent of promotional artwork for the game Don’t Starve. The art is not vivid, engaging, or all that interesting. That being said, it still works oddly well within the story, both being minimalistic. The overuse of scrawled lines coats the setting in a worn-down aesthetic that complements the nature of the story, though that does backfire a bit by not always providing enough texture for the dilapidated buildings and facilities. Ultimately, this is one of those times where you have to look past the initial appearance of a work and view it instead within the context of its own material.
The girls’ rather unstructured designs highlight the emptiness of themselves and civilization. Their blank, circular stares guide them ahead, unaware of how to narrow in scrutiny at the surrounding desolation. The girls are hollow, but only in a materialistic manner. They know little beyond what is directly in front of them or pertains to their basic survival needs, so they know not whether to be happy or sad at their situation, and instead they opt to forge ahead in blind pursuit of food, shelter, and possibly thriving civilization. The world may be comprised of despairing sketches, but the chibi-like girls act as beacons of hope, new slates upon which a better future can write, and vice-versa.
Girls’ Last Tour is a nice read if you’re looking for a relaxing, low-stress way to spend a half-hour. It’s probably not worth the fifteen dollar price tag to most people, though. (It’s cheaper on Amazon!) As enjoyable and thoughtful as the book is, it’s still lacking in substance, which really makes its cost stand out even more. I do wish to continue reading about the travels of Chito and Yuuri, but I hope future installments can pull a little more weight in the emotional and narrative departments.
Girls' Last Tour Vol. 1
- Simplicity of narrative and art mesh well
- Ponders the existential elements of the world
- Allows readers to bask in the relaxingness of a non-materialistic life
- High price tag
- Lack of visual details
- Fast pacing does not allow for much exploration
- Yuuri can be obnoxious