Image source: TVアニメ『少女終末旅行』 on Twitter

While Girls’ Last Tour leads us to believe that the world in which our main characters find ourselves has been reduced to empty rubble due to war, that may not actually be the case. Instead, evidence increasingly suggests there are other reasons our child protagonists have been left nearly alone.

Alone in a Post-War Apocalyptic Urban Hellscape, The Young Girls of Girls’ Last Tour Still Maintain Their Innocence

Girls’ Last Tour’s premise seems very straightforward. In a post-war urban hellscape, two child soldiers, Chii and Yuu, are sent away from a final battle by their commander. Having nothing but their small tank-like vehicle, they wheel away from the battle as their adult comrades most certainly are killed behind them. Once out into the wider “world” of in which they live, they find themselves almost completely alone. They spend most of their days on the move to find fuel, rations, and water. The city seems to be stuck in a never-ending winter, and so the girls must battle not just hunger and fatigue, but also cold. While the girls do every so often meet another person, they generally believe (as do the people they meet) that the total human population has been reduced to almost no one. They believe themselves to be amongst the last humans.

Image source: TVアニメ『少女終末旅行』 on Twitter

[This article contains spoilers up to the current episode Girls Last Tour]

This may or may not be true, for something we have learned is that they are in a multi-tier mega-city, but it isn’t the only one. Although the mega-city makes it difficult for Yuu or Chii to see the ocean, one does exist, and past it, on a clear day, one can see another mega city on another shore. Human population has not only existed in the mega-city in which Yuu and Chii have grown up—but this does seem to be news to them. They seem to know very little about history, geography, or the technology around them. What Chii does know she knows only because she is literate, and while books are rare, she has read as many as she has been able to find. Yuu can’t even really read or write. 

Given the nature of Yuu and Chii’s existence prior to the series, there seems to be a strong implication that the current state of the world is due to war. It seems as though Chii and Yuu also believe this be true (especially as in the first episode, we see them come across the scene of a battle strewn with military vehicle wreckage and discuss it), but this has been challenged by what we’ve seen more recently. In fact, it seems the more areas of the city we have seen, the less the idea of “total war” makes sense. There just isn’t the kind of evidence that would suggest that war is the reason for so few people. There must be some other explanation. This isn’t to say that military action hasn’t taken place, Yuu and Chii’s history, uniforms, hardware, and vehicle make it clear that for these children warfare was a reality, but perhaps war isn’t a cause of humanity’s disappearance, but rather part of the effect. 

Image source: TVアニメ『少女終末旅行』 on Twitter

What evidence exists that the main problem wasn’t war? More, the answer comes in pointing to what evidence does not exist for war—at least not total war. As Chii and Yuu continue to move, we see honestly very little destruction of the city. The city is old, and it is falling apart (as infrastructure has collapsed), but the damage we see doesn’t often appear to be due to the kind of conventional weapons we would expect there to be based upon Yuu’s rifle or the girls’ Kettenkrad motorcycle tank. When Yuu and Chii meet one of the few other humans left—a photographer and mapmaker—he tells them the city was built by the ancients, and later people couldn’t figure out how to repair or even operate much of the infrastructure. The main enemy of the city appears to be its age, and what warfare has existed appears to be fairly small level skirmishes in very localized areas. This suggests that there was already a very small human population fighting after the city had already largely been devoid of people.

And as for being devoid of people? There is a lot of evidence that the population dwindled over time rather than being killed in large numbers over the course of a rather short time period (some wars may appear to be long on an individual human time scale, like the seven years’ war or the thirty years’ war, yet are but a blip over human history in general).

In fact, Chii and Yuu have come upon no bodies in their travels. Not only is there a lack of fresh decomposing bodies, there are no skeletons, no remains, no evidence of large scale cremation of bodies. You would expect that to be the case in total war, and you would also expect that to be the case if there was a raging epidemic—so it’s also unlikely that there was an outbreak of some plague the worked extremely quickly. Sickness may well have played a hand, but not quickly.

Hand in hand with this evidence, almost every building the girls visit is empty, and yet there is still electric power being generated, and water still being served to the pipes. In many cases the water is hot (or there are other ways to generate heat). Utilities just are not that difficult to access. Yet in these same buildings, there is nothing else. They are completely void. Not just of bodies, but of stuff. In all but a couple of buildings (most notably, buildings where there appears to have been recent habitation or which currently hold a person the pair has actually met), there is no furniture, there are no personal effects and there is no garbage. Everything is very sterile and clean.

Image source: TVアニメ『少女終末旅行』 on Twitter

This does not suggest a quick and tumultuous end to human society. Just like the lack of bodies and the lack of wreckage, what this suggests is a slow drain on the population of the city. Indeed, when the girls find a room with two chairs and a table (and literally nothing else), they remark on how unusual this is. They even debate what makes the nature of a home. The people they have so far met have equally been travelers, themselves seeking to move, not to stay. There seems to be very little left food in the city, and this leads to what seems like the best possible explanation (although not the only one): migration. Probably due to expected lack of food (due to the poor state of the rations factory Yuu and Chii find and seeming lack of any other food production facility anywhere in the city). 

Yes, it’s true that a long-lasting illness (which allows for slow and consistent removal and destruction of bodies) or decreased reproductive ability could indeed lead to the emptiness of the mega-city in which Yuu and Chii find themselves, but I am not convinced. I am not convinced because of the lack of personal effects. The lack of history. The closest we’ve come is the military air base and the religious temple. Otherwise, there is almost no evidence of who these people were, what they believed, how they lived, or what they owned. 

Why? Well, it makes the most sense that the answer is: because they took this stuff with them. If you must flee quickly due to war, you leave your stuff behind you. If famine is immediate, you leave your stuff behind you. If disease is raging throughout the population, you leave your stuff behind you. If even enough stuff has accumulated but there’s not enough population to support it, stuff gets left behind (I would point to rural Shizuoka, that I visited two weeks ago, where due to death and depopulation, 40% of the houses are empty of people, but not empty of stuff). But if you see the end coming from far enough away, what do you do? You pack up your U-haul and get the hell out of there. 

Yuu and Chii are most likely the last remnants of the last remnants of humanity in the city, reduced to fighting “wars” (more like small, urban battles) over whatever food is left in the city. It’s more than possible that migration from the city led nowhere, and other cities are likely in the same situation as the one in which Yuu and Chii have grown up. It’s equally likely that these migrants died on the journey over time. It’s also quite possible that Yuu and Chii just haven’t caught up to them yet. But what we probably do know is that the lack of people on their journey isn’t the effect of a massive annihilation of humanity due to “total war.” It just doesn’t fit what we know so far. 

Girls’ Last Tour can be watched on Amazon’s Anime Strike.

Comments (1)
  1. […] We came across some pretty good reasoning as to the lack of people in Girls’ Last Tour that we wanted to pass along. […]

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