Anime Review

Anime Review: Carole & Tuesday

One of the best things about watching an anime is the music. Whether it’d be the music that plays during key scenes or the memorable songs that would play during the opening and ending credits, most of the best anime comes with an amazing soundtrack that sticks with you for days. This brings us to Shinichiro Watanabe, a director whose work features some great soundtracks from Cowboy Bebop to Samurai Champloo. This is part of why he’s one of my favorite anime directors. Most recently, he worked with Bones on today’s subject matter, which aired on Netflix last year. This is Carole & Tuesday.

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Carole & Tuesday takes place on a terraformed Mars in the future and follows Carole Stanley, an orphan girl who juggles street performances with part-time jobs, and Tuesday Simmons, the daughter of a politician who ran away from home, as they pursue their shared dream of being famous musicians as the duo Carole & Tuesday. This was one of those anime series that I was looking forward to a lot due to Watanabe and Bones being involved, but I watched it super-late due to both things happening in my life and the idiotic way Netflix decided to release it. See, they released the series in spring, but only the first half. The second half was released on Christmas Eve. I can’t fathom the logic behind this strategy, but whatever. This is a simple enough story about making it in the music business. You got the humble beginnings (for one of them at least), two individuals who share a love for music, they start gaining attention, they work with a washed-up manager looking for a second chance, they face the politics of the music industry, etc. We’ve seen all of this in a lot of biopics, but it’s still good material and Carole & Tuesday executes this concept pretty well.

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While Carole and Tuesday are both rising in the industry, they face competition from other artists like Angela, a famous model who aspires to be a singer and is managed by her mother. Authenticity is a core of this anime and that authenticity is what gains the titular duo notoriety amongst an industry where songs are produced via A.I. On a somewhat related note, I do find it interesting that music made by A.I. isn’t that entirely implausible with the technology we have. Six episodes are spent on Carole and Tuesday competing in an American Idol-esque talent show. Outside of music, other topical subject matters get brought up like immigration, which relates to a subplot about Tuesday’s mom running for President on an anti-immigration platform, and there’s a lot of diverse faces in the anime in terms of race, gender, and sexuality with the inclusion of trans and non-binary characters. Also, it’s really cool to see a non-stereotypical black girl be a main character in an anime. Since this is an anime about music, let’s talk music. I like the music. From the opening and ending songs to even the individual songs that are performed by artists on the show. They go into different music styles, from the singer-songwriter type to different variations of pop music and even rap. Hell, Denzel Curry does the rapping voice for one of the characters. The music in this anime is so good that I after watching the anime, I went and hunt down the soundtrack on Spotify. You can guess how happy I was that full versions of all of the songs are available. There is one song that had me in tears from laughter.

As for the animation? *chef kiss* I expected some high-quality material from Bones, but man, can they deliver some beautiful visuals. It shines the most when there’s a music performance and the movements are more fluid. One last interesting detail to note: every episode is named after a popular song. Did I ever mention that Shinichiro Watanabe is a huge music nerd?

And that was Carole & Tuesday. Bones and Watanabe knocked it out of the park again with this one. A simple story with gorgeous animation, impressive songs, and a warm heart within its core. This is one of those feel-good anime series that I would have no issue rewatching all over and it’s one of my favorites of recent times. Check it out if you haven’t. All 24 episodes are available on Netflix. Next time, we’ll be talking all things Vikings as we look at Vinland Saga.