On occasion, characters grab your imagination in the first few moments of you knowing them. Girls’ Last Tour is a perfect example of this; how it manages to present its two characters in a way that is hardly exciting, but completely endearing. It’s this slow revelation of who these two girls are where the enjoyment of the show stems from. Naturally, it is character driven – in a sense, that’s all it is. It reminds me of last season’s Made in Abyss; (Why You Need to Watch Made in Abyss) (Made in Abyss’s Worldbuilding) with how its fundamentals are crafted around character interaction, and how the show always manages to have a sense of unease in its background, despite the sometimes joyous moments; we’re reminded that the world Yuuri and Chito live in is an unforgiving one – just like Reg and Riko’s.
What makes a good character? With something so dynamic, is it possible to pin down any objective factors whatsoever; does it depend on the audience, and their situation at the time of watching? Or…
- Are they interesting? (Does this matter?)
- Their backstory?
- Romantic interests?
- What drives them/their motivations?
- Family dynamics?
- Their past/present environments?
- How they’re influenced?
Variations of these factors can make for good characters. After all, as with real life, there is no formula to strictly adhere to. Real people don’t exist in formulaic ways, the same has to be true for fictional characters too.
There’s one thing characters must be: indistinguishable from reality.
Look around you, at your life, and the people who fill that life. What are they? How do they act? They’re unpredictable, they’re often unhinged, jaunty in the way they make decisions. For life isn’t simple… it’s a magnitude of external factors all coming together into one person. And, the result of this cannot be predicted from one day to the next – after all, this is what makes life interesting. Just imagine if each day were the same, and each person identical? It would be nothing less than unbearable, and this is the same for fictional characters too.
Yuuri and Chito
Girls’ Last Tour really only has two characters, something which is highly unusual for anime, or any show in general. This is because it’s not easy create a dynamic that works between only two people – you’re either in favour of it, or you’re against it, there is no middle ground for the audience to view things from. Look at shows like Love Live! Food Wars! and School-Live! They’re filled to the brim with characters; and this is not a bad thing, but it means each one of those characters can be less than perfect in their creation – in how they appear on-screen. When you only have two in contention, not so much. Yuuri and Chito have to be very close to perfect in regards to their image, and what the creators want us, the viewer to feel for them.
When you have the pleasure of watching Yuuri and Chito, there’s something special about how their relationship comes across, how it makes us feel close to them – as if we are there with them, experiencing the things they do. From this, our bond grows with Yuuri and Chito. This concept is at the heart of Girls’ Last Tour, it is the heart of Girls’ Last Tour.
What’s so wonderful about Girls’ Last Tour’s characterisation is how subtle it is. How the environment, the themes, and the characters perfectly compliment each other – how they mingle to create one coherent final image that is both pleasing to the eye, and to the heart. This is a special thing, something that seems absent from much of anime, as much as it is in any other medium. I believe that bond we feel inside of ourselves makes us who we are; forging the way we see the world, and allowing us to see into the minds of people who are worlds apart from the norm. It fosters compassion, sympathy, and understanding.
Our emotion response resides at the heart of what we feel for a character. If we aren’t emotionally connected to the characters on-screen, how can we ever be invested in their thoughts, and in their desires? Not only this, but how will we be able to care for them in the often perilous situations they find themselves in? Or laugh with them in humorous moments. It would dead, lifeless, and ultimately pointless.
At the heart of this is a character’s ability to be relatable. After all, it is magical to be able to recognise a part of yourself in another character, sometimes it is enlightening, and sometimes it can be a truly frightening realisation.
Our past experiences can craft the ways in which we view a character. A personal example of this is Welcome to the N.H.K. After watching the show many times, it still makes me laugh, it still makes me feel anxious, it still makes me want to be different; all things which permeate through the main character Satou. It’s this shared experience – shared worry, excitement, love, comedy, thoughts – that carries us hand-in-hand with a character.
In the Heart of a Writer
Character creation is the ultimate way in which a person can express their most creative side. I believe it to be representative of a persons’ ability. Because great characters create their own narrative, they make things happen, they are not simply passive bystanders in a world that doesn’t care about them. A completely competent writer makes this seem… not easy, but natural, and without effort. It’s this ability to completely put yourself into the mind of the person you are creating, to embody what they do, and to live their life as fully as you live your own.
What are your thoughts on Girls’ Last Tour. and it’s presentation of character?
Thanks for reading, as always!
-Chris (follow me on Twitter! Consider supporting me on Patreon!)