This Week in Anime
Is Carole & Tuesday Worth Watching?

by Michelle Liu & Andy Pfeiffer,

Carole & Tuesday, Shinichiro Watanabe's newest sci fi musical adventure, has finally landed on Netflix. This week, Micchy and Andy find out if the show's first half lives up to all the hype.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network. Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead. [Not Safe For Work warning for content and language.]

@Lossthief @Liuwdere @A_Tasty_Sub @vestenet


You can read our full review of Carole & Tuesday here!

Andy
Oh hey Micchy, is it time for TWIA? I lost track, because Watanabe just launched me through a time portal to when I was a kid, sitting in my parent's basement and listening to their record collection.
 
 
Micchy
Good ol' Shinichiro Watanabe, back at it again with his impeccable (if a bit hyper-focused) taste in music. Years after Cowboy Bebop and Spance Daddy Space Dandy, he's back to getting talented folks together to make cool sci-fi cartoons with songs that slap.
And, of course, delivering quality drunk robot content.
#Blessed
I will forever stan Idea, the annoying freeloader robot who finds excuses to watch anime for work.
I love every moment he's on screen, and I sure hope he makes a few more cameos in the show's second half. Which yeah, in case anyone didn't know this is CAROLE & TUESDAY BROUGHT TO YOU BY NETFLIX, so we got half of a great cartoon before it was sent back to anime jail.
Unfortunately, Carole & Tuesday is not a show about the adventures of the booze robot trolling through the entertainment industry. The real stars of the show are these wonderful girls:
Wait, I meant these two:
I would watch a show about the Mermaid Sisters too, though!
Justice for the Mermaid Sisters, they were robbed. But we'll get to the Mars Brightest arc later.
Guess we'll have to settle for these lovable dorks.
Much of Carole & Tuesday's appeal, besides its bop of a soundtrack that you can find all on Spotify, is of course the titular duo and their fascination with each other despite their different upbringings. Rich girl runaway Tuesday meets-cute with street busker Carole, and suddenly they're living together like U-Haul lesbians. Now you might be thinking, "wait, isn't this just the premise of Nana?" And you'd be right, except this time it's in space, like any self-respecting cartoon should be.
Also the men involved are less straight up creeps and more bumbling fools with their hearts in the right place. I am of course talking about this turbo nerd:
And this glorious mess:
So yeah, Carole & Tuesday = Nana + Space - Creeps + Drunk Robots
At its best, the end result is a wonderfully serene look at two radically different girls and what music means to them, from connection, expression, and discarding your societal role to just let yourself speak from deep inside. When they play, they can forget the circumstances that brought them here and just sing from the heart.
By contrast, most of the music industry on Mars is sterile and strictly commercial. In the world of C&T, music is algorithmically generated to be popular—catchy and structurally perfect, but mostly meaningless.
This is reinforced to the audience in a few ways. First, there's the producer guy whose logo I could not stop reading as PITBULL every time it appeared on screen.
And then there's Tao, the completely shut-off tech dude who seems to have no human connections or desire to interact with others at all.
Ertegun and Tao represent two different signs of the same problem. One is a performatively emotional guy whose every expression is exaggerated to the point of falseness; the other is a man who refuses to let himself feel at all. Whether through performance or repression, neither of them let their true emotions show. And thus the music they produce (made by AI, of course) is similarly emotionally guarded and artificial, with very little meaning intended. Of course, that doesn't mean the performers who work with them can't imbue it with meaning.
You'd expect that a premise involving AI-created soulless music would be a condemnation of it, but honestly it never reaches that point, because both the performers and the AI creators still mostly care about their work. While Tao does have some secret mind-controlling Mega-AI to create his songs, on the other hand the audience is constantly involved with Roddy, the song creator for Ertegun, and his actual love of music is what originally sets off C&T's career by making them go viral.
While Tao and Ertegun deliberately extract themselves from the music-making process, Roddy straddles the worlds of both indie human-made music and AI pop music, not quite choosing one over the other. While he doesn't outright wish for Ertegun's failure, he also wants to see a different kind of music succeed. There's a place for both inspirational pop ballads and whatever Ertegun's shtick is:
But there's also a place for quiet jam sessions in an attic-turned-living-room.
I kinda love that the show introduces so many different artists through such defining performances, yet this dude that appears multiple times just comes out with his John Cena shirt, whispers "Fire," things explode, and that's it. Multiple. Times.
That said, despite the variety of acts in the show, it does lean strongly toward one type of music over all others, which is perhaps its weakest point. I am, of course, referring to how OG Bulldog and the Mermaid Sisters were absolutely robbed. I'm sorry, a world-class tenor did not deserve to go against the protagonists in the first round of the talent show.
The boy could BELT IT.

Also "talent show" is a pretty loose description of American Idol Mars Brightest.
Look, if you can't see the genius of a song that is 95% curse words by volume, I don't know what to say to you.
it's clear from the get-go that the contestants on the show were chosen mostly for shock appeal and not their actual audition quality. Mermaid sisters got in because of their look, C&T because of their viral video, and OG Bulldog for his fake tough guy story, even though he's a sensitive guy who really loves his unique take on Opera.
 
 
Oh, and the other contestant that we should probably talk about is the post-child-star aspiring teen
singer Angela:
Child star cum model Angela is desperate to revamp her image from has-been to professional singer. On the outside, it looks like she's just trying to stay relevant, but it's an effort to break free of the expectations thrust on her—by her mother and her audience.

It's too bad her methods involve working with the guy who seems most likely to box her in. Vocal practice should not resemble a trip to the dentist.
Angela is trying to escape her prison by getting fancier cells, because she doesn't know a life outside of fame. She's more than willing to be Tao's puppet because she's always been one anyway, so why not at least be the best puppet? Especially in an industry where everyone already works as fleshy Hatsune Mikus.
And that's supposedly where Carole and Tuesday come in. They're not remarkable musicians, but they're honest. If they can make it big, they could potentially alter the dynamics of the Martian music industry, transcending the boundaries it's set for its performers. But their strategy is to go through the rigid structure of a TV singing competition, with its rules and organized matches? It was perhaps not the best direction for the show to take.
It's a shame how much runtime this plot takes up, as their other schemes are more fun and effective one-off episodes, but it mostly feels like an excuse to set up Angela as their rival-to-fan as they'd have no way to interact otherwise? I also think this would've worked fine with Angela gaining popularity through the system while also seeing C&T succeeding outside of it.
But hey, you gotta fit in that lesbian stalker somehow.
Yeah, Mars Brightest is mostly an excuse to pit Angela and C&T against each other. That's fine, but the competition takes up six whole episodes, most of which occur in a single location. Despite all the talk about breaking down the walls that the industry builds around its individual actors, the show ironically goes ahead and puts them all within literal walls for a full quarter of its runtime.
Ending episode 12 with "THEY'VE GOT A CONTRACT! NOW THEY CAN SHAKE THE INDUSTRY!" was pretty tone deaf tbh. The idea is that Angela is the actual winner within all the rules, and now C&T get to win outside of those rules, but they'll still have a dumb contract to fight against.
Now sure, they got that opportunity by breaking the contest's (super arbitrary) rules, but that's not so much a real transgression as a narrative convenience.
Right? Now, the competition works great for Angela's development. Her conflict with Tao's AI songs being both written for her as a puppet but also based on her own emotions is pretty good! Especially when her final performance is a song addressed directly at him to stop being a constipated ass and recognize her efforts. But C&T are just kinda there because they're the title characters.
Yeah, Angela managing to convey her spirit even through music that was prescribed for her is great! I'm just not sure we needed to spend six episodes on it.
I've also got a small bone to pick with Watanabe usually great episode titles and the eyecatches featuring 45s. The songs chosen work as a neat meta narrative to the show itself, so I highly recommended listening to them as you watch, but using this one during the Angela-focused arc was unfortunate. Yeah, Tina Turner made some great music while being abused both in her personal and professional lives by the monstrous Ike Turner and actual murderer Phil Spector, so to collate that with Angela trying to get her producer to notice her was not cool.
Yeah, and don't even get me started on the whole stalker thing with Cybelle, who has way too hot a character design to be stuck in that role.
I know too many people who are going to fan-art non-metaphorical versions of this line:
It would've been interesting to get into how Cybelle developed this obsessive parasocial relationship with Tuesday and show us what she was craving, but she doesn't get any development. So she becomes a simple creep who's there to create arbitrary obstacles for our main duo.
And all this was happening in the same location! How much more interesting would this be if it was explored after C&T washed out in the first round and Cybelle has to hunt her down? Oh wait, I forgot everything involving Mars Brightest is actually focused on Angela instead. The need to pit these separate (and both good!) stories against each other for screentime is actually my biggest complaint of the show, since it struggles to play the balance right.

Yeah, the entire Mars Brightest arc suffers from clumsy attempts to keep Carole and Tuesday relevant during Angela's moment, resorting to tired and clunky contrivances in the process. Between stalkers, acid burns, and kidnapping, none of the show's attempts to raise the stakes for our heroines quite works. But hey, at least we got to spend some time with Mr. "Hey Guys"?
That was another missed opportunity imo; there's a bunch of interesting things you could do with an "influencer" character. What parts of his persona are genuine, and what's an act? But C&T never bothers to ask those questions.
He gets a "We'll you're an annoying egotistical dude, but you clearly believe your ego helps others and you put a lot of effort into that, so good for you" and that's about it? His story role is just to have a camera where there shouldn't be cameras so the stalker gets found. It's kind of exhausting how clumsy the narrative gets during this part, compared to the masterpiece that is the music video episode.
So yeah, Mars Brightest is the pits, but despite all my complaints, I still love the show. I love the quiet moments Carole and Tuesday get together, I love the beer robot's hijinks, I love how casually queer the show can be, even if only on its periphery.
But most of all, I love these dorks.

Give me more C&T slumming it in laundromats, and then the random guy there showing up episodes later to teach them a cool handshake.
 
 
Or Tuesday being the best at disguises:
What an absolute nerd.
No one will suspect a thing!
I can only hope that going forward, C&T leans more into its characters' chemistry and relies less on dramatic twists. But if not, well, there's always the great soundtrack. Go listen to it!

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