Spoiler alert everyone!
So I recently finished the show Carole and Tuesday and it was pretty good. At the time I hadn’t seen anything by Watanabe, and still haven’t, so I thought I would give it a shot. I had heard so much about Cowboy Bebop so I knew I needed to check out his work sometime.
I found the show surprisingly realistic. Maybe that sounds weird since it is almost a sci-fi show, but I found a lot of realism in many aspects of it. Like how the world doesn’t feel like Star Wars and is based on what we can do today, how the dialogue felt natural (especially liked that they said fuck, very uncommon in anime), how the songs felt like they were actually written by musicians and didn’t sound like idol songs sang by 5-year olds. It is refreshing to see something be set on another planet and that it actually feels like it is. The fact that they sing in English feels especially good cause it shows that Watanabe isn’t obsessed with his own culture and language and just wants to make shows and that it doesn’t always have to be about Japan. Yeah, the voice actors talk in Japanese of course since it is made in Japan, and yeah, the English singers don’t always sound like the Japanese voices, but I still loved that they did that for some reason.
While there were moments where the facial animation got a little weird, I found the visual direction to be one of the better aspects of the show. All of the character designs give off so much character and aren’t just the same girls/boys with different hairstyles and colors. Again, it is refreshing to see character designs that feel unique and original and I loved that. If anything, the show is just generally very refreshing. Other than that, the animation is pretty great and succeeds extremely well in the singing/dancing scenes where a lot of nuance is shown through subtle movements and facial expressions. After seeing this show it is clear why Watanabe is an established director.
I wouldn’t say that any characters are that interesting, though they are very charming so it’s just to see them grow as people and as musicians. if anything, I think Angela could’ve been improved. I really liked how she was handled in the first part, where her relationship with Carole and Tuesday isn’t anything special, where they’re just another competitor. She isn’t written as an antagonist is what I’m saying. But in the second part, she becomes more of a villain, seeing Carole and Tuesday as something she needs to beat. And while she gets some depth that can make her character more interesting, it’s just about her substance abuse which I think Bojack Horseman does a lot better and how she saw her old self in Carole and Tuesday and how that was the reason she hated them which is a pretty cliche motivation. Other than that, pretty good characters gotta say.
But ultimately, the second is the one that kind of ruins the show. While the first half has focused on multiple sides, both Carole and Tuesday and Angela. But in the second half, they add so many more side stories that it starts to feel messy. And while all of these stories could be great, they all feel a little too rushed and disjointed. It feels like Watanabe thought of another theme he wanted to convey and just added it after half of the show has been made. “We want to make a show about the music community, no what about AI, wait a second what about politics and racism, no police violence”.
Honestly, I would’ve been fine if the whole show wasn’t really centered around Carole and Tuesday but just the whole planet and its musicians. Kind of like a Pulp Fiction story, or like Durarara, where we see a lot of different people whose stories we can connect and in the end, they can all sing together. But now it starts off as a show about Carole and Tuesday, but kind of becomes a mix of that and the idea I had. It doesn’t have anything to focus on, so it feels like everything is just fumbled together.
In the last episode, Carole and Tuesday make a concert to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first immigration to mars, where they ask every single musician on mars to sing a song with them so they can counteract the ever-growing oppression of immigrants. And while it is surely cheesy, somehow it made me fall back in love with the show again. The combination of animation, performances, and writing made the moment just really enjoyable. It symbolizes that we people should stop fighting each other, that we should be a community, singing about what makes us the same. Maybe it is an overdone message but it seems to be needed.
Oh, and by the way, Pyotr’s dance at the competition was so fucking beautiful oh my god!
7/10, closer to an 8 than a 6