Oh hey, everyone. How you’ve been? You ever have a larger amount of time that you spent just relaxing or only partially doing something and then finally come back? For that past month and some change, I’ve been blogging only at half steam because everything I’ve been posting has been written months ahead of Mecha March. Yes, that how long Mecha March was planned and also my usual blogging break thing. This post indicates my massive return to full steam ahead blogging. Hooray! Before Mecha March I was really straining myself when it comes to pushing out posts, so this was completely necessary for me to continue. I’m really glad to find my creative juices again and find my complete motivations again to do all this. In fact, I was actively stopping myself from blogging until the time felt right. It’s now the right time.
Before diving into this, let’s talk a little bit about Netflix and Shinichiro Watanabe. I don’t think I’m ever going to be happy about Netflix’s release x anime y months after the show’s release. I know they think binge culture is the way to go, but it’s only going to give attention to their shows for a short period of time before the hype fades away. Unlike other seasonal shows where the hype is around for months and possibly afterward. Even something created by Shinichiro Watanabe himself, Carole and Tuesday, suffered this fate. You know, because Watanabe is one of the most prolific anime creators in the entire world? Doesn’t that say something about Netflix’s releases? You have a guy with infinite creativity, drive, and passion working on massive projects and you are going to knee cap him like this? For shame, Netflix. For shame.
Spoiler Alert for Carole and Tuesday. Following this point, I will be talking about Carole and Tuesday in a lot of detail other than “I like it” or not. If you want a quick recommend, I did enjoy it for the most part and give it a decent recommendation. That’s it for the warning. You’ve been warned.
With that shaming out of the way, let’s talk about Carole and Tuesday. Set in the future where Mars is semi terraformed and people can live on it without wearing space suits until they wander outside a bubble, Carole and Tuesday takes place in a fictional location of Alba City. The story itself starts when rich girl Tuesday Simmons runs away from her family home with only a guitar and clothes in hand trying to live her dream as a musician. After having some of her stuff stolen, she meets a girl on the street named Carole Stanley playing an electric piano. A girl who has worked hard to survive by herself on the streets. It’s the music that draws the two together without question. From now on, it’s Carole and Tuesday (and some others like Gus Goldman and Roddy) working together to find their place in the world. A relationship that works through feeling and strength.
You know there are more characters then just Carole and Tuesday in this world, right? At the time our titular duo found each other on the streets, a rival appears. A popular model by the name of Angela Carpenter also makes her start in the music world. Guided by her mother, she was brought to the famous Music Producer Tao. A guy who has made countless hits through his use of A.I. This entire concept of creating music for an actual person to sing his songs, Angela, is like an experiment to him. Are you starting to feel some kind of commentary of A.I. created music vs music created with heart and natural feelings yet? Yeah, it’s the main thematic explorations of Carole and Tuesday for the first cour and then is pushed into a different direction in the second cour. We will talk about the second cour in a few more paragraphs.
The first cour is the “How do I make it big and rich” portion where that’s the main focus. I can’t help but love the first half because it was fun and full of good energy. A lot of good things happened while the world building happening in the backgrounds of their shenanigins. I loved seeing Carole and Tuesday just breaking into a concert hall to play on a real piano then just leaving before they got caught by security. A major break for them considering that Rody recorded their song while doing sound duty and Carole and Tuesday’s song went viral. After that, they found their manager Gus and try to find their way music world through different schemes each week. All while working part time jobs, meeting celebrities, and playing at different venues so the world fills itself into their work. At the same time, Angela is working hard with Tao in different ways for her to become a singer. Of course, those events could only go so far.
That leads us to Mars’ Brightest. It’s pretty much like American Idol but for Mars. It starts with an open audition in which Carole and Tuesday along with Angela easily pass. Then we immediately move to the finals where it’s tournament style singing. Yay tournament arcs. Now I have to say, this arc isn’t only a couple episodes long. It’s half the first cour which means you get to see all sorts of different singers with different personalities and music styles on and off stage. It’s great fun to sit back and watch this unfold. The only sad thing is the poisoning focus on Tuesday. She gets stuck in a parasocial relationship she doesn’t like with one of the performers (Sybil) and then gets thrown into her room by her mom for an extended amount of time. I mean, naturally the competition is Carole and Tuesday vs Angela, right? Guess who wins that? Doesn’t matter in the scheme of things, both groups are offered a musical deal.
What is interesting is the relationship between Angela and our titular group. It’s so much more complicated and compelling then “eh, I don’t like your style” or anything. I already brought the styles of their music up right? Or at least how they create their music? Carole and Tuesday go with the flow and make music that sounds right to them and then instantly connects to the feelings of those around them. That’s why they were so successful in Mars’ Brightest. On the other side, Angela has her music manufactured for her. She has that natural charisma that Carole and Tuesday don’t have because of how she was a model, but she doesn’t have a natural musical making talent of the other two. It’s a very fun and complicated competitive relationship with so many layers behind it. It’s also great because towards the end, each group wants to see the other succeed.
Sigh, I guess I should say something about the second half now. This is the weakest part of Carole and Tuesday because it tries to do way too much with everything. Let’s start with the good portions. We see more Carole and Tuesday trying to find their way into the music world again because they didn’t take the production deal which is still good because they are fun characters to cheerful because they are the underdogs who want to go the indie route by earning money and fame their own way. On the other side, Angela takes the deal and wants to make her singing better. At the same time, she is constantly forced into relationships she doesn’t want, digs deeper into her relationship with her “mother”, and literally confronts herself when it comes to music because of Tao’s A.I. She is the victim of her fast success despite the fact that she was already famous. It got too much for her to handle and she goes the route of many other famous performers. Drugs. Will she get out of this trap? You probably know.
There are other good portions too like massive stars losing and gaining their focuses again. The problem is those happened way too fast. Ertegun lost his money and passion and then gained it back over the course of a few episodes. You know, big career ending things that just get solved just like that? It’s kind of annoying and Ertegun isn’t the only person that does this. The political angle featuring immigration, racism, an election, and Tuesday’s mom running the conservative candidacy was too rushed as well. Yes, there was some powerful moments provided by artists being thrown into prison and then performing their hearts out. That’s powerful stuff.
At the same time, reducing people and opinions down to poll numbers and Tuesday having faith in her mom who threw her in her room for who knows how long to make the right choice is annoying as hell. It also feels so out of character and takes up space you can use for something else plotwise. I feel like if Carole and Tuesday took out the political thing going on in the background so it doesn’t have a face but a vague force of people of hate, the message would have been stronger and would have allowed us to focus more on the struggles the artists are going through. One of the major things going on in this show is exploring people of different races, musical styles, and colors. Diversity is in its name same because Carole is black and poor while Tuesday is white and comes from a rich background and that’s where this aspect starts. Singing that last song in hopes it reaches hearts instead of going “and then racism was solved” would have provided a better story for me. What we got isn’t bad; it’s just not exceptional.
Do you know what is extremely exceptional though? The music. One thing you can always say that a Shinichiro Watanabe has is amazing music. Whether he worked with Yoko Kanno or other musicians that have worked alongside his career, he’s always been big on music. This is Shinichiro Watanabe using his influence and ambition to get every single person with musical talent he can to sing, rap, or whatever it is that they do for this anime. The result is that every song in Carole and Tuesday is powerful and feels true to life. Each person that sing sounds different to other people that sing in this anime. There is no “that generic voice” and it’s amazing. Even if the circumstances in which our characters sing may or may not be questionable, the performances are still.
All of the audio greatness is accompanied by pretty great animation to give the viewer the full effect of what is going on. These Shinichiro Watanabe characters (you can tell because his characters always look so distinct from every other character design in existence) move and sing realistic. I mean, the animation is rotoscoped very well from real singers. I couldn’t imagine how much work that would be. It’s not just “tracing over people”, there is an art and craft to making the movements of the characters and everything work out so well. That coincides with all the work put into the settings and backgrounds plus the music video like opening and ending sequences. Alba City feels alive and you can tell how old and young buildings through the way they are drawn. It gives the show some real depth.
With all that said and done, Carole and Tuesday is an easy good. It would have been a solid with only the first half, but the second half’s theming and business really does drag down the show a bit. The loveable characters, singing, and some of drama the drama featuring these kids growing in fame are what keeps the show up. The good still outweighs the bad even if the bad is just plain bad. The politics were just handled so badly and upfront in your face while feeling inhuman. The messages aren’t bad. Quite the opposite, they are very good ones that everyone needs to hear. Equality and diversity are necessary for life to live. It’s just that there had to be another way for the show to do what it wants to do and still feel satisfying. Just not one hundred percent sure how I would fix it all myself. Still, I had a good time. That’s what matters.
I’ve been interested in seeing this series for a while since I’m a musician myself, but I didn’t get around to it. Since it’s on Netflix, it’s sitting on my queue. However, I’m going to be busy with Camp NaNoWriMo, taking online courses/professional development, and work, so it’s going to have to wait. I still enjoyed the review though.
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I’m excited for when you get to it because Watanabe put tons of effort into the music.
I always know that you’re busy with something. Good luck on Camp Nanowrimo. That’s hard when you have so much to do along with it. I’ve done it a couple times. Kind of worried to do that again.
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I sure bet he put lots of effort to it.
Thanks for understanding. Today and the next few days are going to be pretty swamped for me. You’ve done Camp NaNoWriMo? What stories did you write on there?
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Good review Scott, I enjoyed reading it 🙂 I already knew your thoughts pretty much but wanted to support the work. Oh, one thing I wanted to correct you on is in regards to why Angela turns to [spoilers], it’s not because of her success it’s because of when mommy dearest [spoilers]. I suppose the success plays a factor but I wouldn’t consider that the driving force. Anyway, keep up the good stuff!
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Thanks so much and yeah, we’ve talked about it a lot 😁.
And you’re right. I forgot those things about Angela and her mother.
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I really enjoyed this anime! I do agree with your point that the second half was a bit rushed. It felt like they introduced too many new characters and plot points and didn’t have enough time to resolve them adequately. But the music and the sheer passion of the project was enough to carry it through those bumpy parts, at least for me.
Also, how cool is it that we now have an amazing sci-fi show that’s just about music? I don’t know if that’s ever been done before, but feel free to correct me if I’m wrong heh.
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Yes, it’s a good series. I really did enjoy it all the way through for the most part. Just some bumps on the road. This show should have been like three cours or something.
Watanabe always makes something unique even even it doesn’t feel that way. It’s the reason why I follow his career and everything he makes since Bebop even if they aren’t as good as they could be.
I recently finished this series, and yes, the music is really great! I enjoyed it.
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