What They Say:
The world we knew is gone. The massive cities, once filled with people, lie silent, empty and decaying. There are no more forests filled with animals; no more birds in the sky. But life hasn’t disappeared completely; not just yet.
Amidst the rubble two small figures, young girls, travel together, scavenging what they need to survive as they explore the remnants of a world that they are too young to remember. It’s a strange journey, but one that’s filled with wonder as each new day brings another discovery, another echo of the devastated past or moment of unexpected beauty. And as long as Chito and Yuuri have each other, they have a reason to keep pressing forward. As long as there’s still life, there’s still hope for a future.
The audio presentation for this series brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo along with the English language dub produced, both of which are encoded using the lossless DTS-HD MA codec. The show is one that really works a great sound design because it does keep things so minimal. There are a lot of quiet moments in this and the music provides for some great material with the overall atmosphere to set the mood. But it’s when it’s quiet and you hear the footprints in the snow or the sound of metal somewhere in the distances – or even just the stillness of the moment – that the design shines. We do get a few areas where things go a little bigger but it’s mostly just our two leads talking normally, or a touch quieter, as they move through this world and it’s well-placed and designed. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2017, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes are spread across two discs in a nine/three format. Animated by White Fox, the visual design for the show is great as it captures the appeal of the manga with its detail in all of the backgrounds, the ruin of the world, and the architecture of it all. There’s a minimalist approach here but one with enough weight to capture the feeling right, especially with the color design here. It’s a dark show in many ways but it’s shaded in the right way to let us see within this world. That also makes the exterior moments shine even more with the sky visuals as the blues of it all is wonderful. I really loved the visual look of the show and the encoding captures all of it wonderfully, making it a greater experience.
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray case with the two discs held against the interior walls. The front cover uses the familiar key visual of the two girls in their ride where there’s just a little bit of light to it. It’s very shadowed with a dark and grimy industrial look that’s appealing – to some degree. It’s a hard visual to sell the show on as we get a small look at the characters and their designs and only a few clues to the show itself. I do like the stylized logo that’s used here and it does give hint to its darker nature. The back cover sticks to the dark background where we get a nice shot of the two looking at the night sky but within that block we get the summary of the premise. It covers things well to draw you into the show and we get a clean listing of the extras included with it as well. The shots from the show are small and don’t do much to help and we get a clean production credits list and technical grid that decodes how the release is put together. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design for this is pretty nice as it goes for the illustration style of the manga where we get the two standing in front of a different setting for each disc with a different kind of base color to work with for the background. It has a rough and raw feeling to it that definitely clicks, especially when combined with the simplicity of the character designs and particularly the eyes. The navigation is kept to the right where it has some gearwork for the episode number to be in but otherwise works a gray and black design with a little color when highlighted. Moving about the show is quick and easy both as the main menu and during regular playback as the pop-up menu.
The extras for this release are pretty straightforward with the clean opening and closings that we love to see as well as a brief batch of the Japanese commercials for it and the promos from the release.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga Shōjo Shūmatsu Ryokō by Tsukumizu, Girls’ Last Tour is a twelve episode anime series that aired during the fall 2017 season. Initially on Anime Strike, which reduced its visibility, the show was animated by White Fox and was directed by Takaharu Ozaki based on the scripts from Kazuyuki Fudeyasu. The original manga began back in 2014 and wrapped up just after the anime ended with six volumes produced. The manga, released in English by Yen Press, is a bit divisive among fans because of its particular style and approach. But that not-norm in design is something that I found appealing when it was first picked up and showcased because it wasn’t just another familiar series with the usual cliches, particularly avoiding the whole schoolgirl outfit thing or something similar.
The structure of the series has a lot of appeal as each episode is made up of two or three stories in general, allowing for smaller explorations instead of trying to fill a whole episode with one piece. The premise is intriguing as it’s what seems like several hundred years at least since a war ravaged the world and there’s simply ruins left. There’s a sense that this is the twilight of humanity as few people are left and our focus is on Chito and Yuuri, two young women that have a small wheeled vehicle that they use to get around in. Their journey is a simple one when you get down to it as they’re interested in exploring and finding ways to just exist, such as a warm bath when they find a heated pipe in a massive factory. The opening episode delves into that as well as when they come across a plane the next day and gain some rations – and some explosives. They aren’t looking at everything from an archaeological perspective or anything but they have a curiosity about the past and how everything ended up as it did.
A great deal of the appeal for me is the way that they move through the lands, snow falling everywhere and a sense of cold and bleakness that permeates everything. The world that existed before hasn’t fallen to overgrowth because the nature of the war put it into this darker cycle. And that has given everything a really neat tone as we move through it, almost like exploring an ancient civilization. A lot of it exists in smaller and darker spaces so it’s shadowed and uncertain, but Chi and Yuu handle it all well, being properly cautious but also exploring on and on with it. With their character designs and the way the world is designed and built, there is a haunting elegance to it all with that industrial angle that makes the whole thing feel very distinctive while doing it all in a quiet voice.
We do get to see a few other people along the way and that adds a little more to the larger narrative, bringing in a bit more of the past. We also get some machines that are able to have conversations with the pair, and that brings in a little more on the past as well with what went on there and the fallout from it all. Everything here is very grounded for the most part and there are some great moments of tension, such as the scaffolding ride up a citadel early on that almost falls apart. The unusual piece is a small white creature named Cut that they think is a cast of some kind but is part of a larger Ghibli-esque element of the show that works well but adds its own layer of sadness and tragedy to the work. The show works a very standalone approach with each episode and within the stories in them, but it does deliver more big picture material in the final episode with a look at the world itself and the why of it all. Honestly, the why isn’t important but it is a welcome piece. What it left me with, however, is wanting to explore a lot more of this world.
What I love that happens not often enough is that you end up finding something that completely surprises you. I hadn’t watched this during its simulcast run and my first formal experience was just taking this in as a marathon project. I became wholly engrossed in the whole thing, savoring the haunting elements of it, sensing the greater tragedy at hand, but also enjoying the small moments of happiness that crops up in the journey of these two characters. It’s beautifully designed with its world and it plays in that darker area of storytelling that I enjoy, all while avoiding a lot of the usual things that gets mixed in with fanservice and the like. This is a strong series that’s filled with small moments that allows you to immerse yourself in it. Sentai did a great job across the board with a wonderful looking release, a solid cast, and an experience that will stick with me for years to come.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Japanese Commercial & Promos, Clean Opening Animation, and Clean Closing Animation
Content Grade: A
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: January 29th, 2018
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.