Although the two words are often used interchangeably, surviving is different than living.
When I first began watching Girls’ Last Tour, the premise reminded me of School Live!: young women placed into apocalyptic circumstances which they then must navigate to the best of their ability. School Live! is also about living rather than merely surviving — Yuki Takeya’s entire character is proof of this — but the two series couldn’t be more different in their approach. Where School Live! is full of conflict and obstacles to navigate, Girls’ Last Tour‘s Chito (Chii) and Yuuri (Yuu) inherit a world without direct conflict. The war is over. Most living beings are dead.
Conflict begets emotional highs and lows. Watching or reading School Live! is a cycle of triumph, despair, and perseverance as Yuki and company are given a world that is actively being destroyed. It too deals with the difference between merely surviving and living, but does so while exploring the young women’s fractured minds, a result of constant high-pressure situations.
By contrast, Girls’ Last Tour is contemplative. Chii and Yuu don’t have a war to fight and are rarely in immediate danger. The few times they are in danger, it’s a result of their environment crumbling not an impending human crisis. They’re given ample time to contemplate everything from where their next meal will come from — food is scarce and almost entirely rations rather than anything organic — to the reason they’re continuing to move forward in the first place. The opening song “Moving, Moving,” says, “It doesn’t matter if it’s today, tomorrow, or yesterday.” Present, future, and past are effectively the same.
In previous posts, I’ve alluded to my personal struggles with depression, self-hatred, and anxiety. This line from the opening resonated with me — it doesn’t matter if it’s a day in the past, present, or future. Some days, I hate myself so much that I don’t want to get up and do anything. A lot of days, I make mistakes and wallow in dread (which, as an aside, makes it worse). But ultimately, like Chii and Yuu, I keep moving forward. Maybe there’s something up ahead, maybe there isn’t. The pursuit of whatever that thing is — the upper layer of the city, being the best — becomes just as, if not more, important than the end goal because at least you’re moving forward.
Girls’ Last Tour is a series that will stick with me for a long time.