Carole & Tuesday – Sonata in B-flat Major

  • Titles: Carole & Tuesday, C&T, Carole y Tuesday
  • Genre: Drama, music, scifi
  • Episodes: 24
  • Studio: BONES

There’s something magical about music, isn’t there? And by extension about the people capable of creating it. Since time immemorial music has been a way for us to face out demons and master our grief. It’s been a way to rally troupes before the battle and to mend tragically broken hearts one generation after another. And for Carole and Tuesday, it’s a way to figure out the crazy world they live in and maybe feel a little less lonely in the process. But it just happens that these two girls are special, and their music might just manage to make everyone feel a little less lonely.

I remember when Carole & Tuesday was first announced. I was very intrigued. And anime about musicians, not idols, and young ladies at that. It’s not as if the rise to fame story hasn’t been told before. I mean how many times has a Star id Born been remade. But I’ve always seen these stories from a very American perspective. I was intrigued to see what an anime could do with these classic tales.

you know, the classic tale of a girl and her AI owl/alarm clock…

Some of you may already know that I am a fan of BONES as a studio. I think they pull off consistently strong productions that still manage to always look and sound very different from one another.

Carole and Tuesday is no exception. It is unique enough that I couldn’t have guessed it was from BONES but at the same time, I wasn’t entirely surprised. This show is what I would call background pr0n. From the lavish mansions to Carol and Tuesday’s very humble attic apartment, the dingy little bars and world-renowned stages, even the very city itself, every single setting in the show was lush and beautiful.

Now character designs are a very personal thing and I must say, these weren’t a style a particularly like. They were very nice and detailed though. And I did really appreciate the contrast between young and older Gus. It was extremely well done.

I see it but also how?

One thing though, and I am very surprised to say this about a BONES production, but I found the animation lacking. Actually, that’s not fair. 99% of the animation was great. It just looked to me as if the animators had never seen anyone playing instruments and singing at the same time. Whenever Carole is on her keyboard and Tuesday on her guitar, the movements seem stilted and just odd. It was fine when characters were only singing though, the instruments are the culprits. Still, it took me out of a lot of the most important scenes.

Then there is the voice acting. Now I have to say, I watched Carole and Tuesday in English. Despite what I just said about a non-American perspective, the narrative still seemed very Americain inspired. The classic records used as eye catches were of American artists, there were plenty of references to American music history specifically and as such it felt more fitting to watch this in English.

This was probably a big mistake. I really hate saying this but both Carole and (mostly) Tuesday turned in performances that I just didn’t like. To me, they sounded stilted and often forced. I did not feel any sincere emotion at all. The rest of the cast was much better in my opinion although not exactly great. I did think Ertegun and Skip stood out in the performance.

I generally quite liked Skip

But aside from the voice acting (which might be fantastic in Japanese) and the animation in certain scenes, Carole and Tuesday was definitely a solid production. Above average in most regards.

Like I mentioned, the story is a rise to fame one. Actually, the way I saw it there were 4 more or less important story threads running through Carole and Tuesday. The aforementioned rise to fame, the implications of an increasingly digital world, an exploration of the politics and struggles of immigration and refugees and finally a very interesting classic sci-fi exploration of the implication of colonizing Mars. Unfortunately, I found all of these storylines to be rather flawed.

Early on in the series, there is a lot of emphases put on the fact that most music in the Carole and Tuesday universe is digital and often created through AI. A character even makes it a point to state out loud that Carole and Tuesday compose their own music and play their own instruments which is something that is barely even seen anymore. Oh and there’s also a brief mention of designer babies towards the end of the series that might go with the same theme but it was not developed at all.

there’s a few things that seem to go nowhere

Everything seemed to be pointing to a commentary on what we give up in exchange for the commodity of the digital age, especially when it comes to art. But that commentary was never made. Despite drawing our attention to the fact that music is mostly digital, there was no follow up to that thought. Some of the AI made music was beautiful and touching, some of the non-AI music was beautiful and touching. Performers and audiences seem to get just as much out of one or the other. Aside from stating it was rare, the show itself never really elaborated on the differences.

I suppose that viewers may have feelings and thoughts on electronic music that are brought up but the setting but the show itself didn’t. And since I also have no preference I was left with just a bunch of neutral information that didn’t really go anywhere.

Towards the middle of the series, the political plot that was in the background starts taking centre stage and becomes quite important by the end. In essence, Tuesday’s mother is running for office on an anti-immigration platform that really resembles something we say 4 years ago. Carole herself being a refugee on Mars as well as many known artists, these political views have serious implications for a lot of the main characters.

although those implications are surprising

In case you didn’t know, I am also a refugee. When I was little we use to change countries every few months or so for over half a decade before our refugee status was accepted and we finally got to come here. I was very lucky compared to most. Immigration and the plight of refugees is a subject that not only interests me deeply but one with which I feel a personal connection.

And yet, I just didn’t find it compelling in Carole and Tuesday. Part of the reason for that, I think, is lack of information. You see Mars was colonized by earth at some point do the Martians are clearly humans and look perfectly human. Although the few individuals we see threatened by NICE (yeah) with deportation are all dark-skinned, we don’t actually know if there is any sort of visible difference between immigrants and born Martians. If they all look alike then casual discrimination becomes impossible and it’s just a question of paperwork. Which isn’t good by any means but it’s different. The extent of the conflict was never established.

Moreover, we don’t know why there is an anti-immigration sentiment. Especially if immigrants look identical to natives, speak the same language and have the same genetic background. All we know is that there is a considerable amount of immigration and that people go there in search of a better life. Not sure why that’s bad. Are resources on Mars limited, making immigration unsustainable? Are there rampant diseases on Earth that make contagion a concern? Have the crime rates gone up? The answer to all of these is maybe. Fact is, I don’t remember a specific reason for anyone on Mars to be wary of immigrants and as such the entire conflict just felt superficial and potentially added on for its similarity with real-world events.

the fallout of the immigration bill proposal – angry rap videos?

Two down, two to go. I hope you’re still here.

OK, on to the most developed and by far the most important storyline, Carole and Tuesday’s rise to fame. As far as this storyline goes, it was pretty standard. It touched on a lot of the expected tropes, the obsessed fan, the fear of writer’s block, the pitfalls and the isolation of fame as illustrated through Angela’s character.

In the middle of the series, there is an American Idol-like reality show in which Carole and Tuesday take part to get their big break. I recognized it despite never seeing a single episode of American Idol. I guess it’s just one more thing I absorbed through cultural osmosis.

These episodes are by far my favourite part of the show. The competition gives both structures and focuses the narrative which I find is missing from the rest of the series. And it also showcases a lot of different characters bouncing off each other in a professional rivalry which works very well.

I know I shouldn’t like her…

The problem with the rest of the rise to fame arc of Carole and Tuesday is well, Carole and Tuesday. These types of stories are essentially character studies and unfortunately, I found Carole and Tuesday to be the two least compelling characters in the entire show. Don’t get me wrong, they are nice girls but that’s really it. I would probably be friends with them if I knew them in real life, but as protagonists that just lack depth or appeal for me, outside their character designs.

Some of the others had a bit more going on. Conflicted backstories or slightly more layered personalities, but no one was given enough time to really have a compelling arc. There is a side story about Ertegon going broke and having to climb his way back up but it was always a b plot and very little time was devoted to it. Too bad cause I really wanted to see that story.

The final storyline and .the one that intrigued me the most is also by far the least developed one. Even calling it a storyline is way too generous. It’s more of a scattering of elements. There are two separate characters who are not seen often but have a pretty big impact on the plot, that are going through something similar. Angela’s mother Dahlia, and classic pop icon Desmond. Both are old school martian stars that have been in show business for a long time and on Mars for all their lives. And both are being affected by the planet’s background radiation.

surprisingly, I have very few caps of Desmond

In both cases, it has created serious hormonal imbalances that have resulted in these characters becoming more or less androgynous but we also know that it’s taking a heavy toll on their health in general. Although it doesn’t seem like it’s a generally documented fact that this condition exists as they have to explain it all the time, it also doesn’t come as a shock to the people that hear about it.

Now, this is a super weird and specific thing to put in your martian stories. There is no need for either of these characters to be going through this for the plot to play out exactly as it did. The characters are completely unrelated and yet the symptoms are almost identical and in both cases, it’s clearly specified that it’s due to the planet’s radiation.

So what does that mean? Is it something that is likely to affect everyone if they stay long enough on Mars? Will that mean that further generations of Martians will become increasingly androgynous or genderless? Is there any impact of fertility and as such immigrants are absolutely necessary to keep the life on Mars going? What does it mean for humanity if Earth has gotten so bad people flee it every chance they get but their only alternative could kill them?

I know! Scary!!!

As a premise, this has golden age sci fi written all over it and yet the potential to actually explore new issues that have come up in our society. But like I said, it’s not even a storyline. Basically, it’s just mentionned that both of these characters are going through this and nothing more. And that still fascinates me. Why include it if you’re not going to do anything with it? Was it more important in the manga? Is it an adaptation fail rather than a storytelling oopsie?

This is my bottom line. Carole and Tuesday could have been great. It had the potential to be 4 great stories! It’s original and very well made and it did have some ideas. But to me, it just never really explored any of them enough to be compelling. So it was o.k. I’m just a bit miffed it wasn’t better.

Favourite character : Roddy cause he’s a cutie!

look at this cutie!

Suggested drink: a Rock ‘n Rolla

  • Every time Tuesday reminds me of Taylor Swift – take a sip (basically drink whenever you feel like it if Tuesday is in the scene)
  • Every time the girls jam together – snap your fingers
  • Every time Carole rides her skateboard – take a sip
  • Every time we see Tuesday’s family – take a sip
  • Every time Gus gets them a gig – yay!
  • Every time Angela has a voice lesson – take a sip
  • Every time Roddy knows a guy – take a sip
  • Every time we see Owlie – hoot!
  • Every time Carole has her hair down – take a sip
  • Every time Angela is alone – contemplate
  • Every time any artist has an unexpected musical style – rock out
  • Every time Angela has a new hairstyle – take a sip
  • Every time the girls sit by the river bank – admire the view
  • Every time Angela is awful to her assistant – take a sip
  • Every time anyone has a burger – get a snack
  • Every time Tobe swears – take a sip

In case you’re new here, I have a Pinterest with all my screencaps (there are a lot!). If you can’t find a show you are looking for in my main boards, just go to Anime Screenshots. I move the shows I have reviewed there. Of course, I’m still going to add a few images here!

Irina

I'm much nicer than I seem, we should be friends!

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12 Responses

  1. If this was set in the same universe as Cowboy Bebop, that would explain all the Earth refugees. That place got smacked by meteors.

  2. stillcircle says:

    Music has always been an intricate part of Shinichiro Watanabe’s story-telling craft. More than mere background noise or mood-setting, music has always been part of the narrative structure, driving the story forward and giving us insights into the characters’ inner emotional worlds and thought processes. This is true in “Cowboy Bebop”, in “Space Dandy”, in “Kids on the Slope”, in “Michiko and Hatchin”, and in any other project in which Watanabe has had a substantial involvement. Not for nothing did Watanabe utilise the brilliant talents of Yoko Kanno to compose the soundtracks for “Bebop”, “Kids”, etc.

    “Carol and Tuesday” is another wonderful example of Watanabe’s capacity to integrate music as a key part of his story-telling technique. Combined with some truly brilliant cityscape visuals that were almost Makoto Shinkai-like in their realism, “Carol and Tuesday” is easily one of my favourite anime of recent years.

  3. ramon3ljamon says:

    Bien dit, mon amie.

    Si je peux me permettre, qu’est-ce qui a mene au depart de ta famille?

    • Irina says:

      Simplement dit – le comminuisme. Comme j’ai dit, je m’en suis sortie bien mieux que la pluspart des réfugiés.

  4. I watched the japanese version and some of the english version with friends. I didn’t find it surprising that I liked the japanese version better. It’s a nice ‘in the moment’ show, but it lacks an overall direction and twenty four episodes wasn’t really enough for this kind of show to make you care too much about the characters. Having said that, it was a relaxing watch, which was decent, but it had the potential to be great. You don’t just take a setting like Mars and squander away all the opportunities presented, not even talking about some of the characters. Show don’t tell is also violated a bunch.

  5. Dawnstorm says:

    Yeah, that was a show far beneath its potential. Nothing seemed to matter much, and a lot of things felt… odd. See, if you’re setting a show far in the future and on Mars, then using retro-songs as the episode headers feels inconsistent. If you take a AI-make-soulless-music angle, you probably shouldn’t have a scummy scamster AI whe behaves exactly as a human would for comedic relief (or a jealous AI owl for that matter). Not that that angle would have gone anywhere beyond feeling like grumpy-old-man complaints. And it goes on and on.

    Musically, the show feels extremely conservative. Carole/Tuesday are the protagonist, yet they have the most generic music in the show. I did like one or two of their numbers, but I was bored by most of them. The most interesting piece was probably the opera rap. My favourite? I can’t remember.

    The Mars setting seemed poinless, and they didn’t even use “Life on Mars?” as their final song title. The political angle might have worked on earth just as well, with how generic it was… It’s a show with great scenes and some fun music, but with lots of pointless clutter and unfunny humour that unintentionally undermines the plot. I was still entertained, but it’s hardly a show that sets any sort of standards, nor is it particularly good at anything it does. I tended to like the comic relief episodes the least, and the quiet bonding episodes the most. The competition was fine, but also highlighting my problems with the shows take on music. I finished it and mostly had fun, though.

  6. WCRobinson says:

    I actually thought that the show picked up a lot when it got past the talent show section, as I thought it did not develop many of the characters that popped up there well, and they often seemed to be stereotypes. It is a show that has a lot of ideas and only develops certain ones, and whilst it is good there was perhaps the potential to be great. Less of the crowd-pleasing performances/activities and more of finding out what makes each character tick would have been welcome for me personally; Carole & Tuesday were my favourite part of the show because they got more of that time to see their dynamic. IIRC I watched with Japanese VO and liked it, so that could be a factor too.

    Also I am very much a Taylor Swift fan so you may have caught me out with the Tuesday comparison. XD I am not always a complex person to please haha!

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