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Music in Anime: Carole & Tuesday’s Genre-Defying Soundtrack

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I love music. I grew up playing piano and guitar from age 10, and since then I’ve played in tons of different bands and recorded some music of my own. I also love anime, and I especially love all the amazing music in that’s in some of my favorite anime. There’s so many great shows out there with amazing original soundtracks I could write about, but today I wanted to write about a fairly recent one that blew me away in 2019. Carole & Tuesday, a sci-fi music show by Cowboy Bebop auteur Shinichiro Watanabe, is a show about two plucky young female musicians and how music can transcend any worldly boundaries. And every song on it is amazing – and in English, so I can actually sing along to them!

Also, it’s low key a sequel to Bebop… or at least takes place in the same fictional universe

Set on a futuristic Mars that feels closer to our own modern society, Carole & Tuesday is the story of a poor refugee and a runaway politician’s daughter who become friends over their shared love of music and start a band together. They have their work cut out for them, though, because they are the only musicians who still write their own songs – everyone else performs music written entirely by AI. It’s a clear metaphor to the struggles indie musicians face today competing with the corporate machine. And as a fan of acoustic coffee house singer-songwriters, the girl’s wholesome blend of folk, pop, and R&B is 100% my thing. The first song that they play for the show is “The Loneliest Girl”, a gorgeous piano ballad that will make any Regina Spektor fan tear up:

The girls have a ton of chemistry together, and their unique styles and personalities compliment each other wonderfully. And the show does a great job showing some of those wonderful moments of inspiration every musician gets, like when they’re just hanging out doing chores and all of a sudden they get an idea to write a song about it:

But even though Carole & Tuesday is clearly making a statement in favor of independent musicians, it never comes across as preachy or puts down more successful artists. The girls’ rival and foil, pop diva Angela, has just as much of a compelling character arc as the main characters, and her songs are just as good. She even sings the ending song in the second half, which boasts some killer lead vocals and a smooth Latin-inspired guitar lick:

It’s not just her; many musicians in the world of Carole & Tuesday use technology to experiment with new sounds and break boundaries in music. This anime has a soundtrack that is as eclectic and genre-bending as Bebop or anything else Watanabe has done. I mean, in what other show would you have a hip-hop/opera singer…

and a drag queen doo-wop trio?

I usually listen to this one on my way to work.

At its core, Carole & Tuesday is a celebration of music in all its forms. The music is written and performed by dozens of musicians from all over the world, ranging from virtual unknowns to well established performers in their own right. The show gives artists of color and queer musicians the spotlight in an industry that often ignores them (both in the series and behind the scenes). The animation, by Studio Bones of My Hero Academia and Mob Psycho 100 fame, is lush and colorful, making each performance scene feel like a music video all on its own. The story isn’t perfect – it gets too convoluted and overly serious by the end – but the main characters are wonderfully written and a joy to watch on screen. If you haven’t seen Carole & Tuesday yet, check it out now that it’s finally out of Netflix purgatory. If nothing else, you’ll have a ton of great new songs to add to your anime playlist!

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