[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:
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.