Carole & Tuesday just premiered and even though legendary director Watanabe Shinichiro is at the helm, I shall remain cautious about the series. I don’t want to put all my eggs in one basket. The story of ‘young girl who runs away from home’ or ‘young girl who desperately seeks recognition’ has been done before. Take Nana for example. I will always remain a faithful fan to the series for its music, story, and characters. The stark differences between the girls is what drew them towards one another and created a friendship that could surpass this roller coaster we call life. It was, for me, what really got me into anime back in the 2000s. As for Carole & Tuesday, although it gives off similar vibes, it hasn’t wowed me just yet. There’s a similar meeting where two girls with different background meet in a large city and decide to support one another’s dreams. But what about this series will make it stand out from the rest as the season progresses?
For one, I’d say their world is pretty interesting and allows for a whole new setting. Did anyone else notice that Carole (Shimabukuro Miyuri) had to drink water out of a plastic jug? Based on the environment, I assume humans spent a certain amount of time terraforming the planet, building cities, and developing the necessary infrastructures to sustain life of Mars. Even so, it seems as though something as common as filtered tap water is a luxury many live without. I like sci-fi but I don’t think the series will linger on the details revolving humans moving to Mars. We might get some brief flashbacks or mentions about the reasons why, but I’d be very surprised if we got an in depth history of the event. This isn’t unlike Watanabe. It’s the subtle details that first caught my attention in Cowboy Bebop, just as they are now, and I’m hoping this Martian world expands because of these little specs of information.
Something else that caught my attention was the date Tuesday (Ichinose Kana) wrote in her diary as she rode the train into the city: April 11th, 0049. This subtle reminder of the show’s premiere date connects us (the audience) to their universe, which we discover is not so different from society in the west as we know it today. In fact, citizens in Alba City communicate, or at the very least, understand English based on the signs and ads I recognized throughout the scenery.
Shifting into supporting characters. We’re introduced to quite a few in this first episode which I found difficult to keep track of. As luck would have it, most of these stereotypical characters can be found in other series. First, you have spoiled Angela (Uesaka Sumire), who essentially had a similar upbringing as any Disney child star would. She’s arrogant and brash but has a strict agent a.k.a. ‘mama’ Dahlia (Horiuchi Kenyu) who disciplines her when she’s out of line. If this mama’s harsh demeanour makes regular appearances, I’ll be having nightmares like when I first encountered Yubaaba of Spirited Away. I can’t be the only one… Then you have the typical drunk mentor, Gus (Ootsuka Akio), who wastes his days in bars because he lacks any life purpose. With decades of music industry experience, he’ll most likely take the girls under his wing and help them navigate the industry with his savvy knowledge. It’ll be interesting to see how he butts heads not only with Dahlia but with Tao (Kamiya Hiroshi), a big name AI music producer who wants to use Angie (Angela) as a front for his music.
And, finally, we have our main heroines. Tuesday, gentle, sweet, and naive, runs away from a wealthy home and family, which includes a protective older brother Spencer (Sakurai Takahiro) and what I imagine is an overbearing mother, to pursue her dreams. Carole, independent, reactive, and vibrant, grows up as an orphan and now finds herself living alone in Alba City. What these two girls have in common are: they live on Mars, they are determined, and music is their life force. It doesn’t matter that the foundation of these characters is generic. In an AI-centered world where classic musicians are obsolete, it’s their relatability and humanity that will hopefully win over the hearts of both Earthlings (us) and Martians everywhere. Tuesday was inspired by the Cyndi Lauper hit “True Colors” and Carole wants to prove she has a place in this world. At first I thought it weird that they bonded so quickly, but then, rewatching the moment they meet on what I think is an exact replica of London’s Millennium bridge, I understood that, even without words, Tuesday grasped the emotion Carole was trying to convey through simple melody.
But it wasn’t this unlikely encounter that captured my heart. Instead, it was their uncovered jam session. It was then that we got a glimpse into their individual worlds. Tuesday writes, thinks and expresses herself through words whereas Carole creates melodies to voice her emotions. I was happily surprised by the lengthiness of the scene. It was drawn out just enough for these two flickering lights to join into one vibrant flame as they collided into the chorus of “The Loneliest Girl“, even if just for a short while. That right there is what I call a teaser created from meticulous work. It wasn’t thrown together. It was meant to capture a moment in time and that’s precisely what happened. The whole episode revolves around this one very raw scene. Music is at the base of this series and I expect it won’t disappoint in upcoming episodes.
Perhaps this first episode wasn’t the home run I was hoping for, but that doesn’t mean it won’t build into something greater.
Will this series catch us off-guard? Perhaps, but perhaps not. One thing’s for sure though. In terms of music production, animation quality, and direction, there’s a great team behind this story. They’ve established a setting where both the music, the characters, and even world can evolve. I wouldn’t put it past C & T to become the Nana of this hyper connected/disconnected generation. A show with a friendship for the ages and music to boot.
ED: 「Hold Me Now」by Carole & Tuesday (Nai Br.XX & Celeina Ann)