In the span of one week, Yen Press released three brand new titles: Delicious in Dungeon, The Royal Tutor, and today’s subject, Girls’ Last Tour. We’ve already covered the first two, so let’s give the third a look.
Translated by: Amanda Haley
Translated by: Abigail Blackman
Publisher: Yen Press
At some point in the past, for one reason or another (most likely war), the world came to an end. Most animals were killed and the human population dwindled almost to the point where there’s no one left. In this concrete, war-torn world, there are two young women, Chito and Yuuri, traveling on their motorcycle-like tank named Kettenkrad. To where? No destination. All that matters is finding enough supplies to survive each day.
Girls’ Last Tour is a very quiet series. Despite the setting and melancholy nature, the story is primarily a slice of life tale set sometime after some unknown apocalypse. Outside of the final three chapters, our story focus just on Chito and Yuuri as they travel from place to place, picking up supplies, scavenging items from the wrecks and ruins of the city, and more. It’s a very simple, decompressed tale that’s mostly quiet, sometimes saying a lot by saying nothing at all. Just the setting and the casual way the two characters chat with each other about life, the world, and the past can often imply a lot without having to outright say it. It’s a rather interesting and relaxing read despite the dead environments that remind me of video games like Limbo and Inside. Though if you were coming into this for some serious story heavy stuff, you won’t find it here.
Our two primary characters are pretty well defined in the first volume. Chito is the brains of the two, driving their custom bike, scouting out where they’re going, making the plans, and even recording in her own journals. She thinks about the future and past, recording her memories and adventures down, while her friend is more about the present and just trying to stay alive. Yuuri is the muscle, doing the heavy lifting and is stated to be the one trained with a gun. She’s also a bit dim and illiterate. While both are friends, they do butt heads with one another over issues and decisions they make, even threatening each other’s lives. They do make up all the time and look out for one another, but their hostile attitudes at time paint a picture about the world they live in and their own upbringings. We don’t know their past or motivations beyond survival, but we really don’t need that. For what the manga is, sometimes answers aren’t always really needed.
For the type of book that this series is, the writing works very well. The tone and approach to the story almost reminds me of Kino’s Journey–the characters venture from place to place,though here, there’s barely anyone left alive anywhere they go. It’s very quiet, reflective, and melancholy in its atmosphere. The dialogue is laid back and feels very fitting between two characters with all the time in the world just chatting about anything and everything that comes to their mind. The pacing is very brisk since the story goes for a decompressed style, large panels to emphasize the world and many panels being used to convey simple emotions and feelings. It works well, but it makes the book go by in almost a blink of the eye. That’s probably the weakest part overall. The story is too fast and the book, as such, feels too light on content and not worth the physical price of $15.
The artwork is interesting. Its art style can be best described as sketchy with a dash of chibi. The world, landscapes, items, and such all look like early sketches an artist would make before cleaning up the images. That combined with the standard trademarks of a chibi style is an unexpected combination that works strangely well all things considered. Given the world the series lives in, the sketchiness helps to paint a rough, gritty, dead world that still at times can look rather beautiful (like the shot of the characters leaving the underground bunker in the first chapter). The chibi aspect helps to make things friendlier and not as dour as they are, relaxing the audience. If they only went one way with the artwork, I don’t think the book would be as effective as it is.
Girls’ Last Tour Vol. 1 is an odd, but rather enjoyable, relaxing slice of life tale in a harsh, dead world. It’s two elements that you wouldn’t think would go together well, but somehow do in a very good way. While it is a bit too fast and not that packed with content, this may be a book worth getting into.