By Tsukumizu. Released in Japan as “Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou” by Shinchosha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Kurage Bunch. Released in North America by Yen Press. Translated by Amanda Haley.
As I read this manga, I kept wondering which of the many slice-of-life series starring young girls drawn in a moe style it reminded me of. I’d said on twitter that it was like a post-apocalyptic Yotsuba&!, but at times it also reminds me of Strawberry Marshmallow, Sunshine Sketch, and Non Non Biyori. The key thing that connects all of those titles is that they’re all slice-of-life – note that Girls’ Last tour doesn’t really remind me of other post-apocalyptic mangas where survivors wander the remains of the Earth. Because while that’s the gimmick here, it’s not what keeps people coming back to the title week after week. You come back to see Chito and Yuuri, the two leads, discuss reading, or find hot water so they can take a bath, or meet up with other survivors who help them get up to higher levels of the wasted world they drive their small, cute tank through. It’s… relaxing.
It’s never really made clear, at least not in this volume, exactly what happened to the world that the two girls are wandering through, and honestly it’s not all that important yet. All we know is that there are multiple levels, they are decaying and falling apart, and that for the first 2/3 of the book or so, the girls are the only two survivors we meet. Their concerns are basic: food, heat, shelter, and finding a way to get to a level where there might be more of all three. As you’d expect with a slice of life title, the girls have contrasting personalities. Chito is serious, studious, and does most of the thinking for the two; Yuuri is cheery, dazed, a bit of an idiot, and provides the muscle and shooting skills. And yes, they drive around in a tank and have guns, though we don’t really run into much of anything in this first volume that would require them. Unlike a lot of the slice-of-life seinen titles out recently, there’s not even any faux yuri tease in this – the girls are simply friends, with one perhaps finding the other one more aggravating than she’d like.
About 2/3 of the way through, they meet an older man who is trying to map out the desolate landscape they’re both exploring. Sadly, thanks to a malfunctioning elevator, his maps end up scattered to the four winds (this is even lampshaded right before it happens, with one of the girls talking about the poor design of the freight elevator they’re riding and how it needs railings). This also shows off that even if the girls can slide into moe sameness a bit (I still tend to forget their names), they both have a drive to explore more, to find out what’s beyond the next level, and they convince the understandably distraught mapmaker to do the same thing. Girls’ Last Tour is exploring a landscape quietly and peacefully with two cute young girls. It’s not just a slice-of-life moe manga, it’s trying to be the last slice-of-life moe manga you’d read before the end times cast the universe into heat death. And for the first volume, at least, that’s not too bad.