Posted by SuperWooper on 26 May 2019 with categories: Carole & Tuesday, Currently Watching:

Sorry for the delay in covering these episodes, folks. Mario has been overseas for a few weeks now, but he’ll be returning home soon to pick up the pen once more. In the meantime, I’m planning to blog these episodes of Carole (plus Fruits Basket 6-8 tomorrow) to lighten his workload a bit. Shinichiro Watanabe is one of my favorite anime directors, so I’m glad to have this opportunity – his Road Show Trilogy is comprised of three of my favorite TV series, and even his lesser works are packed with visual style and mood-enhancing music. Can the same be said of Carole & Tuesday in Wooper’s opinion? Read on to find out.

My biggest issue with the show so far lies with its two lead characters. We have a bit of interesting information about them: Carole was an orphan raised in a refugee camp who changes jobs as though they were clothes, and Tuesday is the runaway daughter of a politician. They became fast friends based on their love of music, and now they’re trying to make it in the big city. And… that’s about it. We’ve got a decently-realized Martian future on our hands here, but the show is content to place them on the outskirts of it, instead of right there in the thick of things. Think back to the major beats of these three episodes. The girls play a gig for 10 people, then play a festival for tens of thousands, and then try out for an American Idol knockoff called Mars Brightest.

Where are the part-time jobs they have to work to make rent? Relegated to montages, for the most part (though even those are absent in these episodes). What about the time they spend hanging out when their manager Gus isn’t stealing their hard-earned cash? There’s a scene where Tuesday spills her guts to her new best friend in episode 7, but it feels like a scripted reaction to Carole’s sad past. If their time on screen felt more like the lives of two teenage girls struggling to make it in the big city, rather than the improbable adventures of two fated starlets, Tuesday’s words might have packed more of a punch. Their sadness at being booed at the Cydonia Festival was similarly unaffecting for me, because they shouldn’t have been there in the first place. Each girl’s reaction to meeting their idol Crystal, however, was much better – behind those stunned expressions lied their histories as music listeners, giving context to their hope of having their own voices heard.

Speaking of Crystal, it’s episode 6 that was the real standout among these three for me. The musical contributions from Thundercat, Flying Lotus, and Lauren Dyson were outstanding, especially Dyson’s turn as Crystal. As a Beyoncé proxy adored by both of the main characters, her performance was the most pivotal of the episode, and boy did she deliver. With a song title like “Unbreakable,” it’s easy to imagine the set of watered down lyrics we might have received, but they were actually very nice. The refrain of “Two hearts, four broken pieces / That’s who we were before / Somehow we fit together / Now we’re unbreakable” tells a story, rather than serving as a simple empowerment anthem. What’s more, it signals that she’s gotten over her past fling with Skip, the crooning bassist voiced by Thundercat. Skip’s scene with the kids before taking the stage was a bit too “black guy delivers sage wisdom” for my taste, but his longing for a lost love was painfully evident in both his performance and the looks he gives Crystal at other points in the episode. They both have rad character designs, as well, and their interest in Carole and Tuesday makes me hope for their reappearance that much more.

I haven’t mentioned episode 5 much, so let’s touch on it. The basic structure of the episode creates a parallel between Gus and Tao (Angela’s manager), both of whom pitch their talent to men with money and status. Only one of them succeeds, and it’s the one who actually brings along his artist and has her perform some damn music. Angela does manage to reach Schwarz with her voice, but she remains a commodity in his mind, just as she is to Tao. Perhaps it’s because Schwarz is an eeevil hedge fund manager (an ominous harpsichord plays when his name is mentioned earlier in the episode), but I think we’re on track for Carole & Tuesday’s raw passion to beat out Angela’s calculated play for fame. Allying herself with Tao and distancing herself from her mother has taken her to a dark place, as we see in the moody home sequence in episode 7. She’s on a collision course with her eventual rivals as of this episode, as well, with both of them nabbing a spot in the final eight of Mars Brightest, that TV talent show I mentioned a few paragraphs up.

The auditions for Mars Brightest dedicated a lot of time to meme contestants: unintentional yodelers, ventriloquists, dubstep grandmas, and a twerk artist who invited the judges to “get retarded,” among others. Even IDEA, the mooching AI from episode 4, showed up to showcase his skills. Most of these were misfires for me, perhaps because the judges had no imagination put into their appearance or personality. A general lack of care caused these segments to feel isolated from the rest of the episode, but we eventually made it back to Carole and Tuesday. The latter disguises herself for the audition, which makes little sense at this point – they’ve been uploading videos of themselves performing, and they played for a massive festival audience just an episode before this one. Putting that aside, her sudden rush of self-disappointment that comes later was a false start from my point of view. It would have been smarter to foreshadow it for a while before her controlling mother discovers her location and brings out those feelings for real. It did lead to some very pretty sunlit shots of the girls as they had a heart-to-heart by the river, however. I wouldn’t call it an even trade, but at least there’s some compensation there.

On the whole, I’d say Carole & Tuesday is modestly entertaining, though it hasn’t yet created a life for its main characters that we can really involve ourselves in. I do have some hope for the meeting between Angela and our main duo, as well as the Skip and Crystal saga that I want more than anything else at the moment. We do seem to be headed somewhere significant with Mars Brightest stretching beyond a single episode, so maybe the main story will kick into gear soon, and my small concerns will be left in the dust. Whatever road the show opts to travel, Mario will soon return to serve as your guide, so I’m out of here. See you, Space Cowboy.

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