When does Girls' Last Tour take place? …and why it may not matter

No computer, no screenshots — I got a scan!

[computer still broken, so a short phone ramble]

When does Girls’ Last Tour (Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou) take place? I googled the question and found no answer on the first few result pages. So, while re-reading the manga through a surprise digital detox sprung on me by a broken computer, I thought I could provide an answer:

Via the panel above (volume 2, chapter 1 of the manga or episode 4 of the anime), a timestamp on the girls’ camera shows the date August 6th, 3230 at 9:04pm.

Of course, maybe the camera gives an incorrect time (a few pages earlier, Chii wondered if Yuu had messed with it somehow). But later on in the adventure, the girls find some beer dated 3201, a year consistent with the first one, if still odd (who brewed it?).

More importantly though, I don’t know how much it matters beyond the curious appeal of trivia. The abstract and evocative setting of Girls’ Last Tour resists any ‘hard’ analysis. I mean, the girls use World War 2 gear while traveling a dead, multi-leveled megapolis littered with the corpses of half-functioning sentient AI robots and nuclear submarines hoisted up into the sky. Maybe the war or whatever other calamity forced humanity to pare down its production from the post-Information Age back down to the circa-second Industrial Revolution. Or maybe as the fighting became desperate and then hopeless, the last few survivors began to mobilize museum pieces, like Nazi Germany on the eve of the Battle of Berlin.

But when the manga author Tsukumizu produces dreamy artwork like this:

Yes, please, I wish to be the fish. Also, see the absolute mad stuff in Tsukumizu’s current project, Shimeji Simulation

I think that any attempt to rationalize the setting of Girls’ Last Tour will fail.

It’s the appeal of ruins; the brooding mystery of time’s conquest over everything human contains so much more power than any true (in the fiction) history of modernity’s decline. I don’t even consider the series a clear example of speculative fiction, despite the apocalyptic aesthetic, because it cannot speculate about its ceaseless preoccupation: the certainty of the end. Beyond the impossibility of the task then, anyone who sets out to reconstruct a realistic basis for the world-building in Girls’ Last Tour has embarked on their own absurd, hopeless journey.

But, hey, if you want to start, just for fun, there’s a year: 3230.

5 thoughts on “When does Girls' Last Tour take place? …and why it may not matter

  1. Maybe the best way to not having you’re war vehicles electronics hacked is for them to not have any? (I never thought that through, while watching the show. Didn’t feel the need to.) What I did wonder is if what we saw is global or locally contained.

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    1. Maybe, though I think Tsukumizu mentioned in an old interview that she picked the Kettenkrad because it appeared in the film Saving Private Ryan!

      As far as scale, I think the series gives some strong hints for a global catastrophe (just in volume 1, we learn that the ocean itself is almost devoid of life). But like with the issue of time, the extremely abstract setting obscures many concrete details. And then too, I don’t how much impact that determination has on the narrative since, to the girls, the only world that matters is the limited one of their perception.

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  2. To expand your point about the meaninglessness of pinning down a date to the series, Girls und Panzer isn’t a particularly lore heavy story. That probably plays into what the author is trying to accomplish in the series, a focus on moments that would otherwise be incidental and mundane if not for the ruins that surround the girls.

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    1. Yeah, that’s a great point that I never considered about the thematic purpose of the setting! By stripping away every other possible comfort via the dying world, Tsukumizu can emphasize the authentic goodness in the few pleasures that the girls do come across, like the bath or, in this chapter, the camera. Neat.

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