50 years into the future, the world’s songs are generated almost entirely by artificial intelligence. Humanity has long since set out for new frontiers, both settling and prospering on the planet Mars. High-rise buildings and mixed cultures spread out not unlike the Earth that we know, and it is here where a humble story of two aspiring artists begin.

A Day In The Life

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Carole and Tuesday is the story of, as you might probably guess, a couple of girls named Carole and Tuesday.

Tuesday is a sheltered rich girl who, one day, fed up with her life in isolation, escapes from her home to the big city of Alba. With nothing but a Gibson guitar at her side, she meets Carole, an orphan who has struggled to keep her many different jobs, yet continues to try and touch people with her passionate singing on the streets. Through this fateful encounter, the two begin their journey as musicians in a daunting and changing industry.

It’s a musical anime by the legendary director Shinichiro Watanabe, who has worked on classics such as Samurai Champloo, Cowboy Bebop, and Macross Plus. Though Watanabe’s recent works on Space Dandy and Zankyou no Terror were lukewarm entries, Carole and Tuesday may finally be the great return that fans have been waiting for.

Seeing as this is a two-cour series (24 episodes), there’s a long way until we see the show wrap up. The first quarter of the show takes us through Carole and Tuesday’s initial attempts at performing music together but their results are often mixed.

While the songs they write and jam to are consistently awesome, it turns out that you can’t become a star overnight. The girls face their fair share of troubles in convincing both executives and audiences that they’re worth something.

But Carole and Tuesday isn’t that doom and gloom sort of story. Far from it, in fact. Where the girls face trouble, they bounce back with sparkling enthusiasm (and often a charming song). Supporting them is Gus, their alcoholic and self-proclaimed manager, and Roddy, a young music AI operator that finds himself smitten by their music.

The cast is colourful, with personalities that make for fun comedy as the girls give it their all to make it big. They perform in clubs, make their own music videos, and even go viral on social media.

It’s good fun, all-in-all, and you can’t help but cheer for them even with their occasional failures.

Space Oddity

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The setting itself is an intriguing one that’s seemingly inspired by New York City, a place known for its melting pot of different cultures and ethnicities. Even within the first episode, you’ll find subtle nods at the community’s diverse people, such as Carole who is dark-skinned herself, as well as her Chinese landlord, an elderly man that spends his long days by the street.

Racial diversity is a rare trait to find in Japanese anime, what with their long history as a homogeneous society, so the vibe here comes off as unique compared to the many other shows out there.

Similarly, the inclusion of sci-fi elements frames an interesting picture on an otherwise classic story about rookies getting into showbiz. Most of the hit songs in this world are generated from artificial intelligence, as their ability to process algorithms about what people prefer far trumps the capabilities of normal songwriters.

Robotic pets and digital restaurant menus are trendy now. Heck, everyone’s living on a terraformed planet Mars, and the cast even experiences the planet’s intense wind speeds on one occasion.

Considering that Watanabe’s legacy with Cowboy Bebop and Macross Plus showcased a strong affinity for science fiction, it’ll be interesting to see if the show has any other interesting things to bring to the table.

Your Song

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Perhaps the most intriguing part about Carole and Tuesday is its massive focus on music. Each episode is titled aptly to the theme of its story but uses the titles of classic songs such as “Every Breath You Take”, “Born to Run”, and more. It references pop culture with things such as a small segment dedicated to Vogue’s “73 Questions” interview format, a dancing zombie concept reminiscent of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, and a call back to the hand-drawn shenanigans of a-ha’s Take on Me.

For anyone who has had an eye on music in the last several decades, the show is chock-full of allusions, from modern genres such as EDM to timeless musicals like The Sound of Music. References come blow after blow, and yet the show paces itself well enough that you aren’t required to have any of this knowledge beforehand.

The care that’s been put into crafting these details, however, is only a small piece of a larger idea at play when it comes to Carole and Tuesday. The show celebrates music culture across the years and doesn’t just do so with symbols and callouts of your favourite songs.

At various points in an episode, the girls will often break into song, jamming to their own original tunes. Carole and Tuesday themselves have established musicians behind their various acoustics and ballads (performed by Nai Br.XX and Celeina Ann), and they’re a treat to listen to. Though our titular characters have the bulk of the spotlight, various other artists also join in with their own stylistic take on music.

The show is a fusion of different music genres, and you’ll see this best when you study the hefty number of musical collaborators bringing their sound to the anime.

A Change Is Gonna Come

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Overall, the art and music of this Carole and Tuesday are outstanding. Though the animation quality in some parts can appear ample as most Netflix animations do, they’re offset by a unique identity and understanding of the medium they’re trying to portray. Even if you aren’t that taken by the aesthetic, Carole and Tuesday is a tale about two girls that form a strong bond and kick it off to achieve something great.

Set in a society that has grown increasingly unaccommodating for people like them due to technological advancements, you’ll surely find some harrowing similarities with the world we live in today. But if there’s anything that Carole and Tuesday assures us so far, it’s that even with the rise of robots and AI, a human voice still has immense value.

The show is currently available on Netflix Japan, but won’t be touching down in other regions until all 24 episodes have run their course.

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