Sunday, June 18, 2017

Girls' Last Tour Vol. #01 Manga Review

Memories? Those just get in the way of living.

Creative Staff:
Story & Art: Tsukumizu
Translation: Amanda Haley
Lettering: Abigail Blackman

What They Say:
Civilization is dead, but Chito and Yuuri are still alive. So they hop aboard their beloved Kettenkrad motorbike and aimlessly wander the ruins of the world they once knew. Day after hopeless day, they look for their next meal and fuel for their ride. But as long as the two are together, even an existence as bleak as theirs has a ray or two of sunshine in it, whether they're sucking down their fill of soup or hunting for machine parts to tinker with. For two girls in a world full of nothing, the experiences and feelings the two share give them something to live for.

The Review:
Content: (Please note that the content portion of the review may contain spoilers)
I firmly believe that the 'Young girls in post-apocalyptic settings' genre is one of the most underrated in all of manga. I mean, just look at the list of titles it has amassed -- There's Girls' Last Tour, uhh...Girls' Last Tour, and who could forget the 2014 cult-classic, Girls' Last Tour? Without milking that joke any more than I already have, I'll jump right into this by saying the premise on which Girl's Last Tour has been built on is absolutely fantastic. And while I'm not typically a fan of the slightly non-linear formula it utilizes, its apt for social commentary is actually rather refreshing in an industry comprised of parallel worlds and unlikely monster harems. Each chapter of Girls' Last Tour leaves you with a quick, "Oh, I get what they're trying to say," that holds you over until the end of the next chapter where the same thing happens but with a different subtext.

Now, I know I mentioned earlier that there is a bit of non-linearity in the format this book uses. I need to clarify, however, that this isn't something that goes completely off the rails in terms of lack of plot. Early on in this volume, it's chapter after chapter of, "Oh, I guess there going to go do a different, unrelated thing now," but once we're introduced to the series' first secondary character, a middle-aged cartographer named Kanazawa, that comes to an end. Tsukumizu drops the sporadicalness (Which is apparently a real word. Can you believe that?) and picks up a more coherent formula that carries from one chapter to the next. This, of course, puts an end to the brief social comments that make the earlier part of the book enjoyable, to begin with. Suffice it to say, it starts to sort of fall apart.  

One thing that does not fall apart, however, is the absolutely gorgeous world building Tsukumizu has done here. Everything about Girls' Last Tour is massive. Whether it be the wreckage of an airplane, a chain of skyscrapers, or a gaping chasm, the environment of this book reels you in. Unfortunately, the character designs aren't anywhere near the same level. And while I respect and appreciate the minimalist take on both Chito and Yuuri, the gap between the atmosphere and the characters themselves is a bit hard to overlook. One could perhaps argue that that is the point -- the girls being just placeholders that could mimic anyone and everyone, but I'm going to refute that right now in saying that this series is heavily based on the girls themselves. Placeholders and symbolism wouldn't really make any sense here.

I think the main problem Girls' Last Tour runs into is that none of it is really all that memorable. Is it enjoyable? Yeah, I'd say so. Definitely more the first part than the last, but it's a fun book either way. But even know, just twenty minutes after finishing the series, I'm struggling to remember what even happened halfway through. It's a decent book, don't get me wrong, but for the time being, I wouldn't label it as something peeking anywhere above average.

In Summary:
Girls' Last Tour dumps two relatively uninteresting main characters into a beautiful, post-apocalyptic setting and essentially tells you to deal with it. While the first half plays to parody various aspects of the world we live in, the second half strays from that and picks up a more familiar, safer format. The introduction of yet another uninteresting side character in this section of the story only winds up playing against the book even harder. Is it good? Yeah, I guess so. But it seems that the amount of care put into each scene is far from equivalent. Unfortunately for us, it's easy to see where those sections are.

Content Grade: C+
Art Grade: B-
Packaging Grade: A
Text/Translation Grade: B+

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: May 23, 2017
MSRP: $14.99

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