“I never new nighttime was this bright” Yuuri remarks after emerging from the depths of an industrial complex. The duo must have been wandering the empty halls of the long abandoned megastructure for some time, as Chito explains that their eyes had adjusted to the darkness, making them more sensitive to light. Earlier while they were still trapped in the darkness of the industrial maze, they also had a conversation about how they had not seen the light of day in some time.
So why were they exploring an industrial wasteland to begin with? The answer is quite simple, Yuuri simply wanted to go into the huge hole they found, to see if there was anything interesting in there. Yuuri takes an old saying that “I wish I could climb into a hole” quite seriously, and convinces Chito to go in and explore.
This short adventure into the unknown captured the spirit of Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou (Girls’ Last Tour) in minutes. There isn’t a terrible enemy that needs to be stopped. The girls are not in any terrible danger. There isn’t even an end destination in sight. Chito and Yuuri are simply trying to live their life to the fullest in the ruins of the old world. Civilization may be dead, but Chito and Yuuri will continue to trot along in their Kettenkrad as they journey across the vast industrial sprawl.
Girls’ Last Tour is telling a very specific story, a story about a world. There is no conflict to be resolved, there is no destination we must reach. Instead, the stories purpose is to let the audience explore the world crafted by mangaka Tsukumizu. We are accompanying Chito and Yuuri on their own journey through the ruins of a fallen civilization, and through them, we get to experience this new world.
The anime has done a beautiful job of recreating the original vision of the sprawling, industrial ruins shown in the manga. As the girls drive through the huge structure the episode begins in, pipes drip and the metal creeks and rattles as they drive by. The place has been abandoned for some time and been left in disrepair. Its dark, empty halls provide a sense of loneliness as Chito and Yuuri drive through. It excellently sets the audience’s expectation for what this world is going to be like. If there are people alive still, they certainly are not here. All that remains of the old world are the abandoned buildings and roads that civilization had built before Chito and Yuuri had arrived.
As they drive past a huge turbine in the background, an impressive sense of scale is also established. This isn’t just some medium sized factory the girls are driving through, this is a megastructure that spawns many floors and city blocks. As they continue to climb staircase after staircase, the pipes that litter the place seem to stretch down into a deep abyss. When Chito and Yuuri finally emerge into the outside world, this sense of scale is intensified as we see the sprawling urban wasteland that these girls live in. Building and roads as far as the eye can see lay in ruins, crumbling down into lower layers of the city. It seems that the world has been built upwards, constantly building over the previous landscapes. How many more levels lie above and below the girls is a mystery, but the fact that it had gotten to this point gives us some clues as to what could have happened to lead to civilizations downfall.
In the second half of the episode the girls stumble upon what might have once been a war zone. Guns, military vehicles and other weapons lay wasted under a thick layer of snow and rubble. Clearly there had been a great amount of conflict leading up to the downfall of society, leaving only a select few alive to wander the scarred landscape. There is no shortage of weapons to be found scattered along the ground, food on the other hand is scarce. The girls rummage through the rubble tossing aside anything that they don’t think will be useful in the future, and luckily come across some explosives and a box of rations inside a decaying military aircraft. The food will help tie over their hunger for a while longer, while the explosives can be used to clear their path of rubble and debris.
This scene is important in letting the audience know what the world was like before everyone was gone. Food must have been scarce, the population overflowing, so the natural course of action had to of been conflict. Yuuri mentions how if the people before them had just focused on making food instead of weapons, the girls would be a lot better off. Its an interesting line considering the vast sprawl of the wasted city, one would be inclined to believe the civilization that built it would be capable of figuring out a way to produce food without relying on a limited resource. Perhaps the lack of food was not the problem than, but a consequence of a world at war. Perhaps the conflict had broken out for other reasons, and food shortages were just a byproduct of a nation mobilizing its industrial power to make weapons and ammunition. It wouldn’t be far fetched, similar scenarios played out during World War II.
Will we ever find out what caused civilization to fall? Who knows? Its one of many mysteries wrapped up in this vast world created by Tsukumizu. If we don’t find out right away, it doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things though. The show is about taking in the world as we experience it with Chito and Yuuri, and learning bit by bit what its like. By looking at its landscape and scenery as we pass it by, we will eventually piece together what might have happened long ago before Chito and Yuuri had wandered there. There isn’t really a set destination for the show to arrive at, and that’s ok. For now, we can just enjoy the journey.