Girls' Last Tour Episode 9
by Gabriella Ekens,
How would you rate episode 9 of
Girls' Last Tour ?
How does this show manage to be so great?! After last week's atmospheric and thematic showstopper of an episode, I'm surprised that Girls' Last Tour managed to deliver another all-time-high so quickly. It's really a stellar little show that's only been improving as it's continued. But with my requisite adulation for the show out of the way, on to the main action:
So our girls walk into a facility that turns out to be one of the world's remaining fisheries. The whole thing is maintained by a single robot, who keeps what remains of his sector running in the absence of humans. At first, Yuu and Chii question the personhood of this critter (and others like him). However, they soon come to realize that these creatures, in spite of their non-organic bodies, still experience a form of “life” comparable to that of humans. This occurs over the course of several conversations, throughout which the robot expands the girls' concept of “life” beyond organic beings like themselves. First, the little guy characterizes the Earth's once-existent natural environment (far gone by this point in time) as one enormous organism composed of both organic and non-organic parts. Next, the robot compares an animal's DNA to a machine's programming, and the spontaneous genetic mutations that cause evolution to computer bugs. Finally, it's revealed that their new friend is capable of empathy, having been programmed that way in order to better interact with humans. At that point, there isn't anything that seems inhuman about the robot beyond the surface, so the girls settle into their newfound friendship (as well as a good night's sleep). However, their dreams are interrupted when the big robot they saw earlier arrives to dismantle the fishery. Due to some sort of computer bug, the city (which appears to be an automated entity) has declared the facility decrepit and ordered its deconstruction. Of course, this means that the last remaining fish will die, and the girls' new friend will lose his purpose in life.
This leads to Chii and Yuu committing their first murder. Since this entire episode was dedicated to them learning that these robots are basically people, they have essentially taken a life by choosing to destroy one. The show acknowledges this, as the scene is pervaded by the appropriate sense of melancholy. The ethics of the situation are complicated; in this instance, the girls have decided to preserve one life (the fish) and the well-being of another (their friend-bot) at the expense of a different life (the construction robot). The only justification for this action is that they're arbitrarily attached to one creature over the other. However, this action is understandable because being subject to death is the inescapable condition of all life. The fish die or the construction robot dies. Both are inevitable, but one or the other has to happen in the immediate future. Chii and Yuu simply make that choice themselves.
The important thing is that our heroines recognize what they're doing and are able to sufficiently honor their victim by acknowledging it as a fellow human being. It also helps that they were forced to confront their mortality right before this. Chii nearly drowns while attempting to swim, and the girls realize that their own lives are in no way exceptional when it comes to both the constant possibility of death. Ultimately, while this knowledge is sad, it's also life-affirming in that it makes you realize the magnitude of what you possess as a living being and how much every single moment is worth.
I continue to be impressed by this show's mastery of tone. It's so deft that this little parable about morality, mortality, and human existence in the larger world manages to be conveyed mostly through atmosphere. Girls' Last Tour is turning into a low-key masterpiece, and I'm excited to see what it might deliver in its final stretch.
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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