This Review / Analysis contains Massive Spoilers
I decided to marathon this TV series out of interest. When first hearing of it, I was given the impression it would be better to watch a dubbed version and in a full marathon to completion instead of an episode-by-the-week formula. After having finished it yesterday, I don’t think this decision was wrong at all. Also, I must admit, I am a huge sucker for stories where main characters have a personal goal and do everything in their power and ability to go after it. The opening of Carole and Tuesday enchanted me from the start with Carole playing music in public spaces to become closer to her dreams of becoming a professional musician and Tuesday breaking out of her own confined home to chase after her personal goals. So, right off the bat, I held a very favorable opinion for the story and I’m very happy to say that I loved the first 12 episodes despite the generic latter-half of the story from episodes 6 – 12. I enjoyed episodes 13 – 24 for the majority of it, but I have a few issues with certain lines in the dub that really took me out of the experience of the anime and seemed to create a pointless plot hole in the final episode. When looking through the translated lines of the Japanese version, I realized whomever wrote the script had screwed up on an admittedly small section . . . but it was in the last episode so that took me out of it and I had to lower my overall score. The line in particular was by Crystal where she speaks of her epiphany of realizing that Tuesday Simmons was Valerie Simmons daughter at the Grammy awards, despite it having been publicly announced all over Social Media and Crystal herself having been there to perform alongside Carole and Tuesday shortly after that very public announcement. The actual lines, from the English translated script, was Crystal recognizing that the different social backgrounds of Carole and Tuesday coalescing is what helped them create such wonderful music together. Another, far more minor, issue was Desmond mentioning that they were non-binary after explaining how Mars radiation changed their physical body. The way it was worded was completely confusing. I understand this is a Sci-fi setting, but perhaps they should have followed the original script first with Carole saying that she heard Desmond was “intersex” and then Desmond clarifying their non-Binary status as a social identity or – if supposedly meant to use a Sci-Fi angle what with Mars radiation making Desmond non-Binary – then perhaps a line or two of dialogue explaining how non-Binary is meant to be a scientific term in this context unlike the social context in which we understand it in real life. The dialogue on that part just came off as clunky as it was presented.
However, in consideration for the entire anime, I absolutely loved it and while I could make a standard review, I decided to just talk about my favorite aspects of the story and the connections I made from my own viewpoint of the series:
The Juxtaposition of Tuesday and Angela
I haven’t read other reviews so I don’t know if I’m boring others with what was already obvious or if this is some new ground, but the most noticeable aspect of this anime was the juxtaposition of Tuesday Simmons and Angela Carpenter’s respective journeys in becoming musicians. Both women are the newcomers who jump into the music industry for opposing reasons. Tuesday wishes to break free of her controlling mother to live her personal goal of becoming a professional musician and Angela merely fulfills her mother’s wishes to become a professional musician so that her mother can vicariously live her dreams through Angela. The parallels between them seem to depict not any “good vs evil” dynamic, but rather the respective journey of the authentic versus the artificial. Tuesday does everything possible in the early parts of the anime to downplay and ignore her connection to her own mother, Presidential candidate Valerie Simmons. She goes so far as to take-up menial jobs to support her and Carole’s music career instead of using the special black card given to only the wealthiest of the elites in Mars. Carole is surprised, but never questions Tuesday’s decision and respects her privacy on the matter. Carole focuses on what she can do and supports Tuesday with room, board, and her own menial jobs to keep their music career afloat. In contrast, Tao leverages a 12 million Woolong credits (the Mars currency) from a wealthy financer using Angela’s career, her talents, and the good name of Angela’s mother. All of this is with the consent and confident encouragement of Angela herself to raise her own career prospects in the future.
For the most part, the authentic versus artificial contrast remains firmly with Tuesday’s journey being the authentic display and Angela’s being based on the artificial. Carole and Tuesday would generally focus on their music without the need of extra stage props giving a “bland” but authentic focus on only their music whereas Angela would give stage shows based on Tao’s directive in the most luxurious dresses and stage props to display the artificial aspects of the music industry. However, there is one important example that firmly displays the opposite of this general theme with Tuesday’s behavior being the artificial and Angela’s being the authentic and that is on the issue of Parasocial relationships. Whereas Angela Carpenter bluntly and rudely tells her manager, Katy Kimura, on how little she thinks of her and how she doesn’t seem to be a real fan; thus, hurting Katy Kimura’s feelings and causing Katy to burst into tears before running away; Tuesday Simmons is nervous about hurting Cybelle’s feelings, even when Cybelle is acting incredibly inappropriate by biting Tuesday’s neck and making Tuesday feel uncomfortable. Tuesday feels bad about Cybelle’s own warped aspirations and desires for Tuesday and so Tuesday chases after Cybelle out of pity. Yet, this compassion and pity for the parasocial interactions of Cybelle literally results in Tuesday getting burned and nearly losing the competition for Carole and herself. By contrast, the narrative never punishes Angela for her insulting behavior towards Katy Kimura and Katy learns that she needs to keep her priorities in order by behaving as Angela’s responsible manager and not as her obsessive fangirl. She realizes, from Angela’s rudeness, that Angela is just a regular person like everyone else and it ends her obsessive and overly flattering behavior towards Angela.
Their respective story arcs come to a head in each Season’s conclusion. In the first Season. the hand burn leaves Tuesday less equipped to prevent her mother’s hired henchmen from kidnapping her to force her back home and Carole’s dangerous and brave stunt of jumping on the back of the car to get to Tuesday only results in her being thrown off. Tuesday is left to worry about Carole’s condition for over a month while forced into solitary confinement in her own room by her mother. The viewers know Carole is perfectly fine, but Tuesday does not. As she is confined to her room, Tuesday thinks to herself that all she has on her mind is Carole, their music, the future of their band with their manager Gus and friend Roddy, and the final bout of the competition that she’s prevented from practicing for. In other words, what Tuesday has on her mind . . . is her own life that her own mother’s thoughtless actions are preventing her from living. At the end of each season, both Tuesday and Angela face and react in diametric opposition to two personal questions that both their personal character arcs have been grappling with throughout the story: What is my mother to me? What is my sense of self? And, if you look at the trajectory of how they got onto the stage where they sing together with Carole, you may find surprising conclusions.
Tuesday never hesitates in sneaking out of her home with the help of her brother and displays no remorse for embarrassing her mother. Why? Her mother is a non-factor throughout her entire journey in her own personal considerations of what is important to her life. When Tuesday is forced back home, any pleas and attempts to talk are immediately shut down with Valerie only talking to herself about how Tuesday’s actions were a political embarrassment for her before she confines Tuesday without Tuesday’s consent. Valerie may have seen it as a mother disciplining her disobedient and recalcitrant child; Tuesday sees it as an attempt from her control freak Mother to impugn Tuesday’s musical talent and impede Tuesday from being allowed to live her own life. Valerie’s monologue reveals that – whether she’s consciously aware of it or not – she only views her daughter as an extension of herself and her public image. In short, Tuesday’s sense of self is in opposition to her Mother Valerie treating Tuesday as merely an extension of herself. Although it may wrangle some viewers who hoped Tuesday and her Mother could reconcile and talk over their differences; there’s very little evidence to support that Tuesday cares at all to do this. Judging from the narrative and Tuesday’s own behavior: At best, Tuesday feels indifference towards her Mother and at worst, Tuesday hates her Mother. In fact, when given the opportunity to remark on her own interview with an anti-Valerie political journalist, Tuesday doesn’t hesitate to insinuate that her Mother is hellbent on being a control freak. What’s most surprising is that the narrative never rebukes her for saying what she feels about her Mother and Tuesday never shows any remorse for it either. Spencer Simmons reacts with appropriate hesitancy over the political scandal that could destroy her Mother’s life and prior to this, told the reporter not to speak with Tuesday. Yet, the narrative never rebukes Tuesday for what she says about her Mother and quickly changes focus to her one-sided crush over the reporter. In fact, Spencer nearly walks out on his Mother too and his stated reason – which perhaps causes Valerie to begin rethinking her political aims – is that Spencer says Tuesday saw what kind of person Valerie was and understood Valerie’s obstinance better than Spencer himself. Perhaps even more surprising and noticeable; Tuesday never hesitates to willfully break the law in defiance of her Mother. Tuesday ignores her Mother’s image popping around during her excitement of her and Carole’s first viral video, viewers are presented with a generic story of a fan helping Carole and Tuesday defy the police to make it to the talent competition to play their music but this is also direct proof that Tuesday won’t hesitate to break the law in defiance of her Mother, and unlike Angela Carpenter – who sings in reconciliation for her thoughts and feelings for her own mother – the narrative never once brings up Tuesday Simmons having any embarrassment or hesitation to break the law and sing in direct defiance of her Mother. Nobody makes a point to ask her about her feelings over hurting her Mother this way during the planning stages for the final event and Tuesday treats the prospect of defying her Mother as if she’s defying a stranger. Even the prospect of her Mother potentially raising a military strike force to shut them down doesn’t cause Tuesday to hesitate. Angela may have sought reconciliation, but Tuesday’s journey in the last episode was one of direct repudiation and defiance of her Mother’s political goals for the sake of her own sense of self and to show that she was living her own life with Carole. If you doubt this, keep in mind that Tuesday genuinely has no way of knowing that her brother convinced her mother to back out of the Presidential campaign or that the military force was probably a last-ditch effort by Valerie’s political associate and not Valerie herself. The last image of Valerie is one of a woman humbled by her daughter’s defiance and finally recognizing that Tuesday Simmons is her own person, Tuesday has her own life to live, and that Tuesday has her own personal goals that don’t consider Valerie a factor at all. My interpretation is that Tuesday will refuse to reconcile and the saddest part is that Valerie did this to herself and Tuesday has learned this painful degree of obstinance from her example.
Angela Carpenter’s trajectory is far more overt in the narrative and requires less context clues. Despite remaining the number one hit singer as her Mother Dahlia wished, it costs Angela everything and her career path is revealed to be far more brittle than she hoped. Whereas Carole and Tuesday focused on the music, Angela Carpenter focused on the fame and her image and it costs her everything. Angela is used to proving that she is the best and she goads Carole and Tuesday as her rivals partly to keep herself going because she feels no attachment to her current music career and partly because she is jealous because Carole and Tuesday represent what Angela had wanted to be as a young girl – authentic musicians doing it for fun and not to serve others. Angela admits this outright in the finale; the way Carole and Tuesday made their music career was what Angela herself dreamed it would be like and the reality was a dreary disappointment by comparison. The juxtaposition of Angela and Tuesday start right at the beginning; whereas Tuesday feels no remorse for choosing to leave home, Angela has a conversation with her Mother about their painful early childhood and Dahlia promising that she’s fine now and won’t get into violent mood swings. Angela keeps herself separate, but thinks over those harsh early days with a tumult of feelings as she considers her Mother’s offer. Angela’s confidence and self-assurance are entirely dependent upon her Mother. When she hears of Tuesday having been harmed, she worries that her Mother doesn’t truly have confidence in her talents. Angela immediately goes to her Mother and speaks to her asking if she had anything to do with it. When Angela becomes assured from her Mother revealing the only secret that she’s kept is putting Angela in a commercial without her prior knowledge, Angela feels better and takes out any lingering annoyance by telling Katy Kimura that she doesn’t seem to really be a fan of her. In contrast to Tuesday, who has a crush on the reporter and quickly gets over her depression thanks to Carole’s help; Angela feels unexpectedly hurt by David’s refusal to want to have anything to do with her after the car attack against him. She doesn’t know how to deal with the rejection despite having initially thought him to be the creepy stalker and only dating him for the publicity. Without a comforting friend like Carole was for Tuesday, Angela simply stews in anger as a response to her unexpected hurt feelings. After Tao deftly deals with the parasocial stalker and hacker turned creepy attacker far more effectively than the police, and even better than Carole did for Tuesday during the time Cybelle planted a weapon to hurt Tuesday; Dahlia has a heart attack shortly after this period with Angela left horribly conflicted, hurt, and confused as her Mother attempted to harm her again just as when she was a young girl, revealed she’d been adopted, and promptly fell over from a heart attack in a dramatic scene. Angela searches for information about her adoption, but comes-up with absolutely nothing as her Mother’s condition slowly worsens. Angela is left weeping and alone as she tries to understand who she is and what she’ll do without her Mother around to be there for her. Unable to bear the pain, she begins taking an overdose of pills after her Mother’s final words in which Dahlia gives her a heartfelt plea affirming that she does indeed love Angela and never regretted adopting her. Immediately after her Mother’s death, Angela cries and screams asking her Mother what she wants Angela to do because she’s left so purposeless. Angela Carpenter built her life around appeasing her Mother’s desire to live vicariously through Angela’s talent and hard work. In contrast to Tuesday’s character arc, Angela’s sense of self and the importance of her Mother in her life are entirely intertwined. She always saw herself as an extension of her Mother. In fact, her explicit reason for going to the Grammy’s to sing before her collapse from the overdose of pills is that it is what her Mother Dahlia would have wanted her to do. It is only after much rumination and some encouragement from both Carole and Tuesday along with Katy Kimura that Angela Carpenter reasserts herself and decides to join the illegal musical gathering out of her own personal passion to perform music that she held as a child and had slowly walked away from. Whereas Tuesday Simmons sings in defiance and rejection of her Mother Valerie, Angela Carpenter’s singing performance is one of reconciliation and gratitude after coming to terms with the tumultuous feelings that she’s had for her Mother Dahlia.
The Contradistinction of Carole and Tao
Perhaps many will be confused by this comparison, but I do believe the comparisons are valid. They’re the ones who respectively introduce Tuesday and Angela to the new world as the mature partners and gatekeepers of the world of music. The trajectory of their journeys couldn’t be more different by the conclusion; Carole becomes Tuesday’s best friend and confidante whilst Tao decides that there is a purpose greater than Angela to fight for. Carole convinces Tuesday to go on rambunctious escapades breaking into a music theater to play music causing their first viral video to be filmed and Tao has Angela stuck in a sterile room where he has her mouth gripped by metal objects to force her to sing higher vocals based upon algorithmic computations that suggest it is the best way to perform music. The story acts as a parallel of the authentic versus the artificial for most of the events; Carole and Tuesday sponsor themselves via an Instagram-style picture for the public and having a widely dispersed viral video of the both of them playing at a random building they break into whereas Tao has Angela locked in a chair and orders her to reach a certain vocal threshold with her singing because the algorithms determined that it would enhance her career. Whereas Tuesday weeps at Carole’s lovely music as their first meeting and immediately hit it off, Angela feels confused and wary of Tao; she even suspects at one point that he could be the creepy stalker because of how little she knows about him and how robotic he behaves. Whereas Tuesday and Carole come-up with music while waiting bored at the laundromat, Tao simply orders Angela around like a pet telling her to perform and then leave as he computes and measures her performance based on the algorithms which annoys and angers Angela. Whereas Carole leaps onto a moving car to immediately help Tuesday, Angela has to be prompted by her Mother Dahlia to seek Tao’s help in finding the creepy stalker / hacker due to Angela’s initial lack of trust in Tao despite all the time they spent together. Tao deftly takes care of the stalker to protect Angela and only after such a dire threat is dealt with does Angela feel comfortable trusting Tao. Whereas Carole goes to search for Tuesday to make sure that she’s safe on numerous occasions; looking for where Tuesday has wandered off before Tuesday gets injured due her own short-sighted feelings of pity, searching for Tuesday in the winter snow when Tuesday is alone and crying because of the one-sided crush on the reporter, and to protect Tuesday from rabid fans in the laundry mat after their initial rise to fame; Tao always treats Angela as secondary to his own personal goals. Tao is flippant about Angela’s annoyance and considerations when testing her vocals compared to algorithms, Angela can’t rely on Tao’s emotionless behavior for consolation over being rejected by David and she’s further annoyed by him, and – up until Dahlia’s insistence to ask Tao for help – Angela was worried Tao himself was the stalker.
One can see the parallels in the concluding character arcs of both Tao and Carole. Whereas Carole empathizes with the plight of Amir and other refugees, having been one herself, she still refuses to take the leap and join him in becoming a terrorist fighting for immigrant rights. It is a position that she acknowledges that Amir was forced into himself as a child, but which she realizes that she’s too naïve to truly understand the full weight of what that means. Carole chooses her fulfilling life with Tuesday over any real and meaningful life with Amir as a freedom fighter / terrorist against the Mars government. Carole and Tuesday’s shared goals being the beacon for a fulfilling and happy life for Carole. Meanwhile, when Angela is spiraling down towards her lowest point, Tao gets Angela’s text in which Angela is crying for help, but Tao places it as a secondary priority to his newfound realization that he must use his raw intelligence and knowledge to fight corrupt plutocrats, businesspeople, and politicians so that the technology that he invented isn’t misused again to kill innocent people; such as what the political associate of Valerie’s did in planting and successfully hiding the fact that he was able to blow up the weather plant using Tao’s technology. Tao eventually meets with Angela and informs her that they were both artificially born in a scientific lab to essentially be perfect humans in any talented pursuits that they had. The implication that Tao and Angela could possibly be blood-related and potentially brother and sister is left open to viewer interpretation. Nevertheless, they both come from the same origins and while Tao has as much sympathy as he possibly can for a homunculus born without human emotions, he splits apart from Angela because he has his own personal goals. After learning how his inventions were misused to kill people and how he was charged with criminal activity (whether he was framed for cyber theft or not is left to viewer interpretation), Tao decides to live his life by making amends using cyber hacking and cyber terrorism against the criminal plutocrats consisting of corporations, politicians, and the wealthy who misuse their power to hurt innocents and that must take priority over Angela’s emotional wellbeing. Tao tries to assure Angela that he’ll keep an eye out for her, but he can’t be there for her despite her spiraling downward and becoming suicidal because his personal goals of fighting corruption to help the innocent is far more important. Whereas Carole chooses Tuesday over terrorism and freedom fighting, Tao chooses terrorism and freedom fighting over Angela. The final episode ends by acknowledging Carole and Tuesday’s different social backgrounds uniting due to their shared goals and love for music and Tao and Angela’s permanently parting ways due to different personal goals despite sharing the exact same background and being created from the same medical scientist.