*Minimum Spoiler Review*
TL;DR: Futuristic Cowboy Bebop mixed with Kids on the Slope sprinkled with some Nana and a whole lot of wackiness from Space Dandy to give you the new hit, Carole & Tuesday. Seriously, it's just like wrapping yourself in a blanket by a fireplace and drinking hot-choco while enjoying some lo-fi music and falling asleep while watching this anime... Except you don't fall asleep.
[Story: 7/10 , Characters: 7/10, Art: 8/10, Sound: 9/10, Enjoyment: 9/10]
"Fucking bullshit... Goddamn bullshit... Son of a bitch, what the hell?" - Galactic Mermaid ♪
It's definitely a little cold in paradise tonight for the brainchild show Carole & Tuesday, by the visionary director, Shinichiro Watanabe, just came to its conclusion. This amazing show produced by Studio Bones to commemorate the 20th anniversary of their studio and the 10th anniversary of their record label, FlyingDog, in short was quite a success. For people who are not aware of Watanabe's style of work, they might have some reserve or approach his shows slightly differently. However, there's a reason he is known as the Quentin Tarantino of the Japanese Animation Industry. From his previous hits like Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo and Space Dandy, just to name a few, this new show once again proves he is one of the only successful directors that can bridge both western and eastern genres harmoniously in perfect convergence. Moreover, his fascination and importance of film scores and his belief in music being the universal language is heavily shown throughout his works. With all that background in mind, when you approach a seinen sci-fi show marketed as a musical, it's important to go in with an open mind. His shows are never linear with clear cut problems between people but rather looking at the issues plaguing the society today but just set in a different time or era. Now that you have a background of what to expect, let's dive in to see whether Carole & Tuesday is really going to create a wave that might grow into something larger... like a great anime.
"If I believe I can do anything... I can move mountains, I can move mountains" - Move Mountains ♪
The story isn't really complicated at all. The story is set in this futuristic planet, Mars, where everything is maintained and propagated by the use of AI. It revolves around two girls, as you could've guessed by the title, Carole (low class orphan girl trying to get by) and Tuesday (a run-away posh girl) who both share the love for music and singing. They accidentally meet at the city of Alba and they decide to start a band and become successful musicians. The major conflict of this anime is the struggle they will have to go through to become successful in an age where AI rules the music industry. Sure there are minor conflicts among characters but it doesn't pale in comparison to the actual struggle. This conflict might not keep viewers interested throughout the show since they are really used to conflict among people but this is where the big brain thinking happens as Watanabe sheds light on the current state of artistic industries like movies, music, books or manga where we have become so formulaic that we know what works, what resonates within people and how to utilize it over and over again to make profits. We have lost the sense of innocence and ingenuity in our works. If our society continues to progress in this path, what's to say in the near future we too become heavily dependent on AI driven creative works and lose sight of our creativity. So from this standpoint, the story is relevant and appropriate; not just for today but also in the future. That being said, if you nitpick the character conflicts, there are barely any and at times it's just hormonal conflicts driven by puberty and growing pains of adulthood & interpersonal relationship issues. Nothing too gripping to rally behind but at its core it's fun and wholesome to follow the painful path to success these girls would have to take to become musicians.
"Nothing's wrong with my head... Nothing's wrong with the way I walk" - Love Yourself ♪
Now that we have a good idea of what kind of story to expect, we can dive into the characters. Aside from the main characters Carole & Tuesday, the other major side characters are all caricatures of people from today's music industry. You have Gus, this washed out drummer boy, who found a new purpose in his life to manage and build the girl's career. You have Roddy, this tech-savvy computer wiz, who knows how to market and make things viral. They sort of setup a conflict character in Angela, who's your typical "Disney girl who wants to transition into a musician *cough Selena Gomez* *cough Miley Cyrus*, but she just turns out to be a character used as a foil to better propagate our likings for the main character. Sadly most of these characters seem very disingenuous. For me the most stand out characters would be Tao, this music AI-phillic composer, musician and producer who believes there is no such thing as real music and he has perfected the formula to produce pop hits after hits after hits, similar to the real life counterpart Max Martin Sandberg. Look him up; behind almost all the top Billboard chart pop songs, he has played a big hand in their success. Another one being DJ Ertegun, who just seemed the most comical DJ in the industry who was a great caricature of a mix of DJ's like DJ Khaled and David Guetta with his obsession of featuring artists left and right. Also, Tuesday's Mom's actions and characteristics sort of gives off this Hillary Clinton & Trump vibe with how her scandalous political angle was setup in the show but it wasn't executed well. Looking at all the characters, it seems they were just setup to give us glimpse of issues persisting in today's music industry. Other than that, they didn't have much of a function. Special shoutout to the Mermaid Sisters. I understood your music even if the judges couldn't. As well as Pyotr, you have earned a follower in me, Pow!
"Can you feel my... Can you feel my... Can you feel my tears? They won't dry" - The Loneliest Girl ♪
After critically looking at the story and characters, one might wonder, well what could possibly be the it factor that's giving this show such high ratings. Well that would be it's art & animation as well as the music; after all it is a musical anime. It's produced by Studio Bones and if one thing we know about Studio Bones, they are always delivering on the animation. From the stellar works in Noragami and Mob Psycho, they didn't hold that much back in animating this anime. Nowadays almost everything is CG blended and they used it well while animating this anime. The character designs all felt really unique and the mix of western culture and different ethnic backgrounds as well as the rugged New York Bronx/Brooklyn futuristic setting really propped the show up to be more realistic. Some of the scenes felt a bit jarring, like the way the hair flaps or the crowds just being dots but they really painted the picture well of how one may experience different genre of music. Now the biggest highlight for this show is the music. The songs are all sung in English by various artists both in Japan and outside. The lyrics, albeit somewhat formulaic, still able to string a chord among people and the composing of the overall OST is very chill & lo-fi akin to what today's people are used to. None of those loli style, vocaloid music to make your "heart" go doki doki and purchase all the overly priced ecchi figurines for unnecessary reasons. Jokes aside, at times, it really felt like the music was also used to highlight the singers actually singing the song but it was executed well. The show used two sets of voice actors for each characters. One set for just regular talking and the other to sing the songs in English. The transition at first was a bit shocking but you get used to it really fast. So overall, the seiyuus and the singers did a phenomenal job. I would highly recommend listening to the OST plus the OP & ED song are both catchy and sung by same singers as Carole & Tuesday. It's really good. The show features various music genre like ED, pop, rap even opera. Seriously, Watanabe is a serious music-philliac. Also, each episode is titled after a great western hit song and I found that really fascinating. Not only did it open up new classics to enjoy but also to go back and listen to the classics I loved growing up. With or Without You, Every Breath You Take and Don't Stop Believing is just a few of the amazing songs to listen to.
"Two hearts, four broken pieces... That's who we were before... Somehow we fit together... Now we're unbreakable" - Unbreakable ♪
Nevertheless, the best way to describe Carole & Tuesday is to use the quote the great philosopher Aristotle once said where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. If we break things down to judging the story, the characters, the animation and the music separately, it may not look that great but as a whole, it is a really chill, laid-back, feel-good anime. Sure the anime lacks a concrete conflict but in real life, our major conflict is the over-pressing society blockading us from finding success in our career. Sure the characters might seem disingenuous but in reality, it's just trying to mimic the type of people everyday humans are. We aren't some anime protagonists or antagonists. We are both the heroes and the villains of our own success and failures. Sure the music might seem formulaic but guess what, it's the same formulaic music, your trashy music taste continuously seeks out and listen on repeat. Seriously, we made Old Town Road, a billboard chart-topper. Overall, this anime may not be for the mass but it is for the many who enjoys works of Watanabe and enjoys complete anime that looks at issues plaguing the society. It's more of a story driven conflict, rather than a character driven conflict where people are just trying to better themselves to survive in this society without losing themselves in the limelight. You might like it, you might not like but it's worth giving it a shot. I would highly recommend to anyone that wants to jump into watching anime as this works as a great bridging anime for newcomers. Regardless, viewers who love the music genre and not into the loli vocaloid musical anime, you should definitely give this show a watch. There might be a second season or a movie since it ended with a to be continued. Anyways, thank you for reading this review & feel free to share with me your favourite quote from the anime as well as your fav song. Ciao.
P.S. Thank you for reading. I hope you found this short and supaishi review helpful!