Saturday, July 7, 2018

Girls' Last Tour Volume #04 Manga Review

The corpse of a machine

Creative Staff:
Story & Art: Tsukumizu
Translation: Amanda Haley
Lettering: Xian Michele Lee

What They Say:
Chito and Yuuri borad a train that runs below the forgotten remains of the streets above and take it to the end of the line. When they finally reach the surface of this new layer of battered city, they discover a mysterious creature that can learn human languages. With a new companion along for the ride, the girls' tour gets a little more lively -- but what awaits them is beyond what they could ever imagine!

The Review:
Content: (Please note that the content portion of the review may contain spoilers)
I guess it's kind of important-ish to preface this review by stating I have no idea what happened in the volume prior to this one. Considering my distaste for the first two books and how our third review copy was skipped out on, I couldn't bring myself to jumping through hoops in order to acquire it. That being said, Girls' Last Tour hasn't exactly been the most linear tale around thus far and, unless something ridiculous happened in volume three (Which is highly improbable), I can't imagine the gap being all that noticeable- if even at all. Regardless, here I am again, hoping to be reacquainted with one of the best 'ideas' in recent memory- but with a bit more prowess this time around.

Book-four starts with Chito and Yuuri waiting to board a train in a dilapidated subway station. For some reason that I am apparently incapable of comprehending, trains are still running in this post-apocalyptic world and, before we know it, our girls have embarked on another journey to...somewhere. They eventually arrive at what appears to be some sort of military base. The excursion this time, however, isn't accompanied by the same hints of loneliness typically synonymous with the series. The girls wind up encountering a strange, white creature that, despite looking like an incomplete ferret, survives by eating bullets and missiles. Their quick attachment to him/her/it becomes a subtle focal point of the manga, with each action backed by a layer of skepticism stemming from their confusion over what the hell that thing even is. Regardless, human nature plays its part once again as they decide to protect and accompany it, padding their numbers and attempting to kill their expected loneliness.

Eventually, they encounter the creature's "family" and allow him to rejoin them. Well, I guess 'allow' isn't the right word to use here, considering the eldest creature actually eats Yuuri during their first confrontation, but that's beside the point. The biggest thing we get out of this is that the girls have learned the valuable lesson of 'letting things go.' It is perhaps the only time in the entire series that a central theme is not battered into the reader and is, instead, purveyed with a sense of necessity. Everything else, however, winds up falling incredibly short.

Girls' Last Tour and Tsukumizu have made it frighteningly apparent that they are nearly incapable of posing philosophical questions without sounding like a rehashed Jayden Smith tweet. A good five or six times in just this volume alone come to complete standstills when Chito looks at the camera and says, "(Insert theme here)." I'm all about post-apocalyptic worlds and dystopian communities, but what this series lacks in comparison to the rest of those is its incessant insistence on never letting the reader do any work. It's actually really depressing because, at least in this volume, the world building is fantastic. Volume four is more war-torn than any of the preceding volumes and it does wonders in establishing where these girls are in the bigger picture. The main issue is that it's hard to care because of the writer's lack of faith in the audience. Girls' Last Tour is less of a manga and more of an excuse for Tsukumizu to pose overly-generic, philosophical questions only to answer them before we have a chance to formulate our own opinions.

In Summary:
Despite a step-up in world building and some of the best panels we've seen in terms of art, Girls' Last Tour is unable to overcome its inherent lack of faith in the audience. It forces us to realize its themes through the use of poor dialogue rather than allowing us to formulate our own thoughts on the world as a whole. Sometimes, less is more- and considering there is almost nothing in this series to begin with, it's almost impossible for me to see how it could be remedied. Girls' Last Tour is the perfect example of a great idea executed horribly. It's almost as if the writer is so eager to let us in on it, that they wind up killing it before it has the chance to bloom. 

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

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: February 27, 2018
MSRP: $14.99

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