The Optimistic Hopelessness of Girls’ Last Tour

There’s a certain scene in episode 6 of Girls’ Last Tour that perfectly encompasses the show as a whole. While Chi and Ishii both work to fix Chi and Yuu’s vehicle, Yuu just lies on the ground happily singing the word “hopeless” over and over. It initially seems like more Yuu being Yuu, but the idea shows up again after Ishii’s plane falls apart and she’s left parachuting to the ground. Yuu and Chi notice that she’s smiling even though her dream failed, and Yuu comments that Ishii’s finally getting along with the feeling of hopelessness. Yuu never elaborates on what she means (possibly because she doesn’t know herself), but the idea she’s expressing is one central to Girls’ Last Tour.

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As post-apocalyptic stories go, Girls’ Last Tour is rather unusual. Most stories in this genre focus on characters trying to rebuild society, defeat some enemy, or just survive. In contrast, Girls’ Last Tour never even mentions how or why most of humanity is gone and everything is in ruins. Things just are the way they are. Yuu and Chi don’t have much of a goal beyond continuing their journey and aren’t particularly concerned with the state of their world. They just wander through and explore the dead city, not caring about things like rebuilding or finding other survivors. The two of them know that the world has ended, and they’re okay with that.
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On the surface, this philosophy of accepting hopelessness is a depressing one, but it actually has its own form of optimism. We see the upside to this in Ishii’s thoughts as she parachutes down to the ground after her plane falls apart. Her life’s work ultimately failed, but she found it freeing instead of discouraging. There’s comfort in the knowledge that the worst case scenario has already happened and things have hit rock bottom. At that point, you know that things can’t get any worse, and there’s nowhere left to go but up.

Exactly where to go isn’t always clear, but we see one possibility in Yuu and Chi’s behavior. Even though the world has ended and they’re some of the last humans still alive, Yuu and Chi never seem bothered by their situation, and goof off all the time. From playing around with dough to try to make bread, to setting out cans to make music in the rain, the two of them find happiness in spite of (or perhaps because of) their own aimlessness.

We see even more of this in practice with Kanezawa. Like Ishii, he lost his life’s work when his map falls to the ground and is scattered everywhere. He’s initially depressed, having lost his purpose in life, but his mood improves thanks to Yuu. She points out that there are still good things in the world, minor as they might be. Yuu, Chi, and Kanezawa all take pleasure in sharing a meal and watching the city lights. Even in a dead world, there’s still beauty to be found, still happiness left. Instead of dwelling on the hopeless situation, Yuu and Chi simply keep going and find happiness in the little things. They get along with the feeling of hopelessness.

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