In sixth grade, I joined concert band. I was the only girl in the trombone section. There were only about five of us in total, including a kid from my elementary school, Ben. We were friendly acquaintances but not close friends. Ben was the funny kid, and as the funny kid, he thought it would be cool to gross out the rest of the band by waiting to release his spit valve until it was as full as he could make it. He would then release it on the floor in front of the section.
Spit has grossed me out ever since.
When Chito (Chii) pulls her hand out of Yuuri’s (Yuu) mouth in the first episode of Girls’ Last Tour, there is an audible pop. Yuu’s face stretches before releasing Chii’s hand and a trail of spit shines in the air. It’s a disgusting and funny scene to watch. Chii puts Yuu’s spit to good use — it allows her to pinpoint the direction of a breeze that eventually leads them out of the tunnel — but these slime trails of spit are also visceral reminders of Yuu and Chii’s existence.
Girls’ Last Tour is the story of two girls in a frozen, post-apocalyptic world. How their world came to be this way isn’t as important as showcasing the many ways in which these two girls are alive.
This is shown frequently through cinematography, like the screenshot above. The two girls are placed against a looming backdrop of a dark building, an abandoned tunnel, or a dazzling white snowy landscape. They are made to be small, and are often the only moving thing present in the scene. In the example above it’s the fire, a symbol of life and survival, that becomes the moving object while Yuu and Chii are huddled around it for warmth.
Even more effective than the isolating cinematography is the physicality shown by both girls in a variety of ways. Chii and Yuu are often hugging or touching each other, with the more oblivious and whimsical Yuu initiating the majority of their skinship. This serves as a reminder that they, unlike everything else in their world, are human and have each other for company.
Their blobby character designs are also perfect for squishing and stretching across a screen, and Girls’ Last Tour takes full advantage of this. Much of the physical comedy in the series comes from the rubbery quality of Chii and Yuu’s character designs, which stand out against the mechanical ruins in their post-apocalyptic backdrop. Only Chii and Yuu are, for lack of a better term, squishy, which separates them from their cold environment.
It’s not often that Yuu and Chii aren’t touching, even if that means they’re bickering or arguing with each other. Girls’ Last Tour uses physical comedy frequently as another reminder that Yuu and Chii are human. When something moves in the background, like a drop of water or a puff of steam to denote something of a different temperature, it’s often slow and steady. Chii and Yuu move erratically in comparison, especially when they’re fighting. While pillow shots like a rock hitting another rock in a stream, or steam rising from the girls’ makeshift bath also have movement, they lack the visceral nature that Chii and Yuu have due to their human bodies and fleshy composition.
Interactions in Girls’ Last Tour aren’t limited to Chii and Yuu hugging or fighting each other. The series also makes a distinction between the girls and their physical interactions with objects they come across, which further separates them as human from the world, or even other living things. In the second episode, the girls take a bath. Chii is shown dipping her toe into the hot water, with the typical reaction of pulling back at the heat. Later, she pokes a dead fish. The fish is similar in makeup to the girls, but in both cases, only Chii is moving while she interacts and reacts to whatever is in front of her.
When Chii and Yuu meet Kanazawa unexpectedly in Episode 3, he is introduced with a choking cough and stuttering, guttural sounds, setting him apart from the crash of a nearby building explosion. Kanazawa nearly jumps off of an elevator after his falling maps, and is hauled up by the girls, yet another example that all three of them are alive, despite the fact that Kanazawa tells them to let him fall. The episode then skips ahead to after the girls fix the rail and have made it to the top of the pillar.
What’s important here isn’t how they fixed it or the mechanics of the elevator, but that they saved Kanazawa and reached their destination. At the end of it all, the three share a meal of rations and enjoy the view. Girls’ Last Tour uses both audio — coughing, spit popping, splashing in a stream, grunts of exertion during physical labor — and video to separate people from things, reiterating Chii and Yuu’s humanity in a sparse world.