Culture / Destruction / The Past
The view from Igirisu:
“Apparently some wars were caused by differing cultures.”
“Really? I wonder why.”
“Maybe because things we don’t understand are scary, or something.”
Probably the most interesting aspect of this series has been seeing Chi and Yuu’s different approaches to life, and how the combination of the two makes for such a good team. Here the implication is that fear leads to bad things… very bad things, so that would tend to suggest that Yuu’s philosophy is better. Chi points out that Yuu puts herself at risk because she’s not afraid, but Chi doesn’t because she reads to acquire knowledge, and until she is clued up about something she doesn’t want to risk anything.
“Everything around us is stuff we don’t understand.”
“Well, that’s true.”
Then a giant robot collapses, in a moment of stunningly impressive animation, and the two girls stumble upon weapons of astonishing and terrifying power, and in one tragic moment Yuu’s philosophy of life crumbles.
She has been a magnificent character, throwing herself into every situation she finds herself in, never afraid, always enjoying life. So far she has been lucky, but anyone who never switches on their brain will eventually reap what they sow, and here Yuu merrily goes pressing a button without realising it says “LAUNCH”. She could be forgiven that mistake, but then she decides to keep pressing buttons.
This is the one episode I find very hard to watch. Yuu behaves like a child playing a video game, causing destruction beyond belief, and then she gets drunk on the power. It’s a sucker punch of a way to deliver the message that power corrupts, and it takes a punch from Chi to bring her to her senses. I see a lot of fan criticism of Yuu laughing about what she has done, but that’s a misunderstanding. She’s not amused by it. She’s delirious. It’s the hysterical laughter of somebody whose mind is overloaded by the enormity of what she has done. Then she tries to blame other people, and finally blame the tech. She’s desperately clutching at straws, looking for a way that she isn’t the one responsible. And there’s that great unspoken horror: she might just have killed Kanazawa and Ishii.
So in the end there was no right or wrong to the discussion the girls were having earlier in the episode. Both had valid points to make. Fear does cause wars, but ignorance and power trips are other factors. If Chi fears the unknown then she fears just about everything, but if Yuu fears nothing then she’s a dangerous liability. Once again the series makes the point that there is a middle ground to find, and the combination of these two girls’ philosophies is what keeps them alive and stops Chi from becoming a quivering wreck who won’t go any further, and stops Yuu from just walking off a cliff to see what will happen. Without Chi, Yuu would have kept pressing buttons until there was no city left. When she presses the launch button she makes a similar sound to the one she made when she was launched into the air by the platform lift last week: a sound of excitement; a sound of somebody experiencing something new. Except this time she doesn’t land on her feet.
The episode doesn’t end there, and we get back to slice-of-life fun with the two girls driving through a very impressive wind farm, in search of the origin of the radio transmissions, but by the end of the episode they have walked straight past nuclear warning signs and are faced with rockets. We’ve seen the cosy opening and ending sequences for the last time and there’s no post-credits sequence. We are just left with the image in our minds of a girl who has just pressed launch controls for fun, walking into a room full of nuclear weapons.
“Let’s head out to see something we don’t understand.”
The view from Amerika:
When we meet the cat, named “Cut”, it was pretty evident this was not a regular cat. When it first poked its head out of the tube, my thoughts immediately turned to the statues we’d seen in the past. Then it emerged and had legs, and I thought: no, maybe it is just a weirdly drawn cat. But it could communicate, so perhaps not a cat. The big question for me was: how far into the future does this series take place and could cats have evolved? The answer is no. This is just around 1200 years in our future and that finally jumped out at me when I saw (and paused) the date on the camera. It says 3231.03.02.11.23. I see that as March 2nd 3231 at 11:23 am. (Later the time stamp changes with 3231.03.23.15.18 at the end, leading me to believe weeks have passed and it’s now the 23rd at 3:18pm.) So no, not enough time for cats to mutate. Whatever Cut is, he’s not something we have on Earth now. The fact that he can eat bullets is just fuel to that curiosity fire. “Yummy!” I hope we get to learn about what he is! The fact that it’s learning from Yuu is funny. Up until now, it was shown that Chi was the “smart” one while Yuu was the “brave” one. Yuu’s value has certainly improved over time. When Cut says “things I can’t eat don’t have value”, I laughed at the fact that he and Yuu just seemed to be … cut… from the same cloth! The duo is now a trio and I think it’s a great setup!
The first part of this story focuses on culture and there’s something in that. It’s not just the girls who are learning about cultural differences; the audience is along for the ride and I have never felt more proud of this show than in this episode because the message is sound! “Things we don’t understand are scary!” YES! And that’s why we need to seek understanding, as Chi does. Bear in mind, this is the episode where she finds the book “War and Human Civilization” written in English! Is that a coincidence? Our cultures are very different, but in the end, we are the same; we are human. (Contrast that to Yuu’s question about eating bullets; Cut is not the same! Humans… we are!) In Chi’s world, humanity seems to have wiped itself out based on war, and from episode one, we were told it was due to cultural differences. This differences lead to war. The writers have cleverly woven a tale to remind us that we do get scared of those differences, but we don’t need to – we can seek understanding. “Cool but scary!” Yes, but we should focus on the cool part, not the scary. Understanding can lead to peace, and alas, in their world, humanity did not seek it.
“Nothing will ever hit us unless we’re really unlucky!”
As if to emphasize how bad cultural fear can get, we find one of the agents of destruction and Yuu goes crazy blasting things. So much so, that Chi punches her in the face and drops her to the floor. Chi recognizes that there’s nothing funny about destroying things others have made. She even tells Yuu that the people who used these machines were bad and destroyed humanity, and points out that now, Yuu is among them. Yuu chastises herself with a mild punch to the back of the head which is both cute and a little embarrassing as she really should have understood that already. But seeing the massive power of the machine really drives home how far our ability to destroy one another could go in another 1200 years.
The discussion of the food chain was great fun too. Chi wonders aloud if Yuu intends to eat her “anytime soon” and Yuu gets a lightbulb moment, which made me laugh. (Chi even tells her not to act like she had a good idea!) But it does beg the question about what is on the top of the food chain, and Cut’s kind may be that. Again I find myself hoping to find that out too in the next episode. As Chi comments about the future, she says “if we survive” which makes me wonder what the next part holds for our brave travelers. Is this an allusion to what’s coming? Or just idle talk?
I also need to point out that I don’t go for some of that bubbly music I’ve heard in other anime; it’s too childish and silly for me. This series does not hit us with much of that, barring the opening credits. When the music plays, I’m mesmerized. This is a series with music that I’ve been playing on youtube while I work. The choral pieces are stunning. There’s a reverent beauty to it that gets into my soul. I felt now was as good time to bring this up as any since I suspect the next episode will be big. Chi, Yuu, and Cut spot a submarine and they intend to investigate it. How ironic. This series has had so much meaning under the surface, is it any surprise the submarine would be sitting on land? My guess is that means the story will be on the surface, but the meaning will be deep. Time to take a deep breath and dive in. ML
Read next in the Junkyard… Girls’ Last Tour Episode 12
One thing that science-fiction enhances about real life is how reactions to the not-yet-understood can depend greatly on the individual. Whether you suddenly enter a strangely new world or are born in that world, individual differences can still be a driving force. One can get intoxicated on the power of a violent video game. The other can see the sickness in that and do what it takes to snap her out of it. This might make the relationship between Chi and Yuu more fragile when the disputes may come to blows.
Chi being the smarter of the two and Yuu being the braver reminds me of The Defiant Ones, with “Joker” energetically driven by the goals of completing his escape, while Cullen is naturally more cautious because of the obvious dangers that he would face. They were consequently a powerful mix that formed a most complex friendship. So Chi and Yuu reaffirm how popular that tradition may still be today, at least fictionally.
Thanks again for your reviews.
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The opening dialogue on how wars were caused by fears of what’s different is something that I’ve been thinking a lot of in recent months. We know that it’s still a great danger today and we know that our science-fiction can still base quite a variety of moral tales on it. When we think about all the TV shows and movies of the past that for obvious reasons wouldn’t get made today, still seeing the dramatic genre of how fears can be societally devastating, the scope of which often appearing much greater thanks to SF, we can be grateful for the storytellers who still care about the value of such familiarly important stories. Certainly via the wisdom of Anime.
Chi and Yuu contemplating where their pre-apocalyptic ancestors went wrong remind us all how we similarly try to understand our ancestors. The obvious difference for Girls’ Last Tour is that a world that seems pretty much at its end simply leaves Chi and Yuu enough to reflect upon, but of course not much to build upon for any chance of a better future. Fascinatingly, all they may do is learn and accumulate what they learn as they near whatever ultimate fate awaits them. This can make us all care even more about them and I’m very grateful for that.
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