'Carole and Tuesday' review: Shinichirō Watanabe's show on Netflix is a love letter to music and easily one of the best anime shows of 2019
'Carole and Tuesday' is set in a future where human musicians are more or less a thing of the past and the most popular human artists are merely fronts, their music being designed, produced and marketed by sophisticated computer programs
A lot of the anime shows Netflix has introduced in 2019 have been quite average. 'Carole and Tuesday' is the most prominent exception. This musical dramedy directed by Shinichirō Watanabe ('Cowboy Bebop') is easily one of the best shows Netflix has put out in any genre this year.
There's drama, social commentary and stunning visuals, all of which work together to complement the beautiful music at the heart of the show. The anime's co-lead character Carole Stanley is voiced by Miyuri Shimabukuro in Japanese and Jeannie Tirado in English with Nai Br.XX providing her singing voice.
Carole's partner Tuesday Simmons is voiced by Kana Ichinose in Japanese and Brianna Knickerbocker in English with Celeina Ann providing her singing voice. 'Carole and Tuesday' takes place on Mars in a far future where ninety-nine percent of all music is created by Artificial Intelligence.
Human musicians are more or less a thing of the past and the most popular human artists are merely fronts, their music being designed, produced and marketed by sophisticated computer programs. In this dystopian music industry, the titular duo of 'Carole and Tuesday' struggle to make a name for themselves.
Carole is a street-smart orphan who has been living in Alba City for almost her entire life while Tuesday is a naive rich girl who runs away from home to pursue a musical career with only her suitcase (which soon gets stolen) and her Gibson acoustic guitar.
Despite their differences, the two come together after Tuesday hears Carole busking on a crowded bridge and stops to listen while everyone else simply walks on. Taking pity on the hapless child, Carole lets Tuesday stay at her apartment and the two young artists begin to make music together, music that's so heartbreakingly beautiful it brings tears to the eyes.
In stark contrast to the show's heroes, we have the famous model and former child star Angela Carpenter (Sumire Uesaka) who seeks the help of Tao (Hiroshi Kamiya), a cold and calculating music producer, in an effort to relaunch herself as a singer. Though Angela is mostly just bored with her own stardom, her momager Dahlia (Kenyu Horiuchi) pushes her to further her career, even when she herself doesn't really want to.
While Carole and Tuesday represent the traditional side of music, complete with that special warmth that only a human can bring, Tao and Angela treat music as a commodity to be designed, marketed and sold to mindless consumers. Luckily, our heroes find sympathetic souls in Gus Goldman (Akio Ōtsuka), a washed-up former drummer who becomes their manager, and the young boy Roddy (Miyu Irino), who turned the girls into a viral sensation after witnessing their first guerilla live performance together.
There are other things about the show that make it stand out, including the excellent artwork and the highly inclusive picture the anime projects of humanity's future. There are people of multiple ethnicities shown in the series including Carole herself, who appears to be black (something of a rarity with anime).
In the latter half of Part 1, Carole and Tuesday enter a music competition called 'Mars' Brightest', which introduces the audience to a whole host of new and interesting characters who each bring their own unique musical style, some more impressive than others. Ultimately, 'Carole and Tuesday' is a love letter to music, with each episode named after a classic song and references to musical greats hidden throughout the show.
It makes an important statement that is just as relevant in our times as it is in their future: no matter how advanced technology might become, an AI will never be able to replicate the pain, hope, and soulfulness of true human music. All 12 episodes of 'Carole and Tuesday' Part 1 is currently available for streaming on Netflix. There hasn't been any announcement on when the second half of the 24-episode season will arrive on the service but the complete season has already aired in Japan.