Carole and Tuesday

Watanabe and the power of music

I love music. That is probably evident by the number of times I write about it to relate to my personal life or the world at large. Songwriters have the capability to catch a slice of life, capture that within 3 minutes and transfer that emotion to the listener. And while music is deeply personal, there are songs that receive praise for capturing a moment that we as human beings can identify with. With the holiday season coming closer All I want for Christmas is one example that springs to mind, putting emphasis on being together with a person you love.  But it’s not just music that can transfer emotions. Other media are just as capable of doing it, just in their own way.

Shinichiro Watanabe and Cowboy Bebop

Shinichiro Watanabe is a big name in the realm of anime. Director of the arguably most famous, highly praised series Cowboy Bebop. I love Bebop: the setting, the characters and the episodes plots. It is a complete audiovisual spectacle that is exactly as long as it should be. What I love about high quality shows is that moment when the soundtrack detaches itself from the imagery and you keep listening to it long, long after you watched the show for the last time. And while it sometimes brings back memories of specific moments or episodes, but more often than not it is what it is: just enjoying yourself listening to good music.

I don’t know how I first got to watch Bebop, but the pleasure I had watching it I will carry with me forever. To the point that I don’t need to rewatch the episodes to step into that (nostalgic) feeling but do so anyway.

My fondness of Bebop led me to Samurai Champloo, another of Watanabe’s projects. It did not disappoint. Again the clean cut action, likable characters and excellent soundtrack gave me a series that I will recommend to anyone without hesitation.

I know it is sometimes hard to step into something new, especially in the world of sequels we live in. Because you don’t know what you will get when you start watching, and sometimes previews or trailers don’t help either.

This preview is not representative of the complete product

Netflix tries to have it’s users watch films and series via suggestions. I don’t have insight into its inner workings, but I gather it is similar to youtube. All with the goal of keeping the subscriber subscribed. So when it kept recommending me the show Carole and Tuesday I checked the preview and wasn’t really interested. Simply because it did not tick the correct boxes for me at the time. ‘Two girls trying to make their mark in the music business’, is not something that peaks my interest. Especially because I saw something about a music contest in the episode description. 

When I eventually gave in to the system and started looking at the ratings of this show I discovered that it was directed by Watanabe and animated by Studio Bones. Two big names in anime collaborating on a project. Who was I not to try it for at least two or three episodes?

Watch and listen

The first episode starts with the two titular characters and their current situation. Nothing really special there, except it takes place on Mars. This is the moment Watanabe ticks a box for me: Sci-Fi setting. Though the animation style takes some getting used to it is fluent and serves the out of this world setting. Another box ticked.

Second episode. Carole and Tuesday have started their journey together and somewhere around the 14th minute mark end up in the memorial hall. They start to play their first song and it this is the moment the show grabs me. I don’t know what happened, perhaps it was the culmination of the events to that moment. But I kept watching, episode after episode. I was invested in these characters and their journey, laughing and crying with their successes and failures until there were no more episodes to watch.

Wait how many?

I rewatched a few episodes for this blog and the music still gets me. Most of the music hits home. It turned this show from something mildly interesting into a must watch. 

Granted, not all songs are my cup of tea. But there is enough variation in style to serve the character it belongs to. From Angela’s power pop songs to Ertegun’s DJ compositions. All are different and are definitely not made by the same person. The music team which served as a backbone for this production lists at least 28 people. The list includes names like Steve Aoki, Andy Platts (Young Gun Silver Fox & Mamas Gun) and Tim Rice-Oxley (Keane). And these are just the ones I am familiar with. 

How much influence they had on the overall music production I do not know. But it is clear Watanabe’s history as music video director has given him the necessary connections to realize this beautiful beast.

A love for music

This show breathes a love for music and the music industry. From the characters it portrays; the way music is made and the downsides the subsequent fame brings.* 

Now I always found it cool that Watanabe had episode titles of his previous shows refer to cultural phenomena, films or be literal song titles. In Carole and Tuesday all episodes are song titles, which in some part also relate to the plot.

And this is just one of the cherries on the cake. Carole and Tuesday was a wholesome viewing experience in 2020. A beautiful slice of life show with a deep rooted love for music. One that I believe I share with the creators of the show. 

But before you grill me, not everything is as good as I make it out to be. It is not a perfect show by a long shot.  But it scores high at what it sets out to do, and transfer a wide variety of emotions along the way. The main cast is well written and the show produced my favourite character of the year: DJ Ertegun. 

Closing thoughts

There is so much more I actually wanted to say about Carole and Tuesday, critique it in a more proper way. My options to do this would be a series of blogs or a video describing also my dislikes of the show. And although I am greatly intrigued by the second thought, I want to keep focus on my other writing for now. Perhaps if I return to the show in the future.

To end I would like to point out the optimistic note the show ends with. Music is personal. Music can help you cope with problems. And music is something that can bring people together. This is the message the show tries to convey to the viewer, and it also ends with that specific message. So I recommend watching and sharing it with your loved ones. Perhaps you will, like me, carry a piece of the music of Carole and Tuesday with you. 

* One thing that struck me is that there is always something with money in Watanabe’s shows. It is a bit present in the first 12 episodes but never on the forefront as it was with Bebop or Champloo.