Girls' Last Tour
Episode 4

by Gabriella Ekens,

How would you rate episode 4 of
Girls' Last Tour ?

Following their encounter with the mapmaker Kanazawa, our heroines continue their journey with a camera in hand, which will doubtless prove invaluable to documenting their future adventures. Fortunately, they run into something interesting right away: an urban landscape littered with strange, Medjed-looking religious idols. With a decoration style that's both ominous and strangely comforting, will this city serve as a refuge for our heroines, or will they be chased out by whatever strange forces may be at work?

But first, antics. Chito seems to be a natural at photography, immediately taking Instagram-worthy shots of Yuuri standing next to those weird statues. Yuuri is not as gifted, although she does manage to crash their ride by fiddling with the camera while Chito is driving. That's our Yuuri. Soon enough, Chito discovers the camera's timer function, and the power of selfies along with it. If nothing else, this is guaranteed to be an #aesthetic record of the post apocalypse. And while she has no idea what the word means, she also discovers that the word “cheese” has the power to give you a truly picture-perfect smile. Or at least the power to coerce you into saying it before taking photos. I never really got the benefit of doing this, to be honest. Maybe there are supernatural powers behind the word? If so, they seem to have withstood the near extinction of mankind.

This episode marks the first time our heroines have encountered elements of culture in their trek across the wasteland. In its own quiet way, it turns into a meditation on the comforting presence that religion can serve in times of darkness. When their flashlights shut off unexpectedly, the girls get lost in what appears to have been the faith's main temple. Yuuri is separated from Chito in the darkness – a moment that represents fears of total isolation in the afterlife. Miraculously, however, they run into each other again, and the whole place opens up in a sudden burst of light. For whatever reason, the power comes back on just then, revealing a display dedicated to this god's version of paradise, a minimalist representation of eternal natural splendor. There's a lily pond constructed out of artificial materials (metal plants, plastic water, even fake fish), which has allowed it to withstand whatever blight has annihilated all other images of the natural world. This is the first greenery that we've seen in the show, and it's refreshing, even knowing that it's a simulacrum. It's equally refreshing to imagine that gods still look out for people long past the point that their original worshipers have vacated the earth. This is all in line with Girls' Last Tour's general tone of reassurance – and commitment to the possibility of intense beauty – in what should be mankind's most desolate moments.

You really do feel that these girls are getting an incredible amount out of life. That's why I keep coming back to this week after week – it does what good slice of life should and serves as a refreshing respite in the middle of my everyday life. It's only been getting better, and I look forward to what future episodes have in store.

Grade: A

Girls' Last Tour is currently streaming on Amazon's Anime Strike.

Gabriella Ekens studies film and literature at a US university. Follow her on twitter.

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