It seems like, unless something is specifically marketed towards girls, anime can be a bit of a boys’ club. Then a series like Carole & Tuesday comes along and knocks my socks off. Carole & Tuesday was created by Bones, the studio behind classics like Cowboy Bepop and Fullmetal Alchemist, to commemorate its 20th anniversary. While technically labeled under the “music” genre, it’s set in a futuristic Mars society with loads of sci-fi elements, a setting where two cute anime girls aren’t often seen. And really, just look how cute they are:
The basic premise of the series is the girls’ efforts to become famous musicians. They’re set apart from the other musicians on Mars because, while all music is now written using AI, Carole and Tuesday write their own songs. The plot may be a bit predictable, and the songs aren’t anything groundbreaking, but there’s a lot to appreciate here. Our girls certainly are tenacious, for one thing. Even when they’re not making money or having much success, they keep working hard trying to follow their dreams. I also love how quickly they bond with each other, despite Carole being an orphan living in an old storage room and Tuesday being the daughter of a rich politician. Almost all of their songs are about how they were destined to meet and their lives are forever changed because of it. Strong female characters and a strong female friendship: it’s a twofer.
A more complicated subplot involves Tuesday’s mother, Valerie, who’s running for president of Mars. In one scene, Valerie gives a speech about immigrants from Earth being the source of all their problems, while her supporters stand outside holding up red signs with her name on them. Really subtle, right? When musicians start getting arrested for speaking out against the government’s censorship, Carole and Tuesday take it upon themselves to do something about it. For me, this is where the show felt super relevant. When we tune in to the news and see terrible story after terrible story, it’s easy to feel helpless. What’s the point in creating art when our planet is combusting? Who are we to write stories or paint or sing when children are dying in cages at the border? Carole & Tuesday challenges these thoughts by saying that we need art exactly because the world downright sucks. In the last episode, when Carole and Tuesday are about to pull of their big stick-it-to-the-government stunt, Crystal, one of the most popular singers on Mars, tells them that the two of them are the light in the darkness, and their music has the power to illuminate the world. I loved that. I’ve seen a lot of anime where the characters save the world through the power of friendship, which I guess is an admirable feat. It’s a lot more relatable, though, seeing two young girls saying, “We won’t stand for injustice,” and using their artistic talents to lift up the rest of the world. Going into 2020, let’s all try to emulate Carole and Tuesday, shall we?