The second half of Carole and Tuesday was finally released on Netflix in Australia on Christmas Eve and… wow. In a sense Carole and Tuesday reminds me, in a good way, of Nagi no Asukura and, in a bad way, of Glasslip.
The Power of Having a Solid Foundation
The key to the second half of Carole and Tuesday working so well is having the first half to build upon.
Looking back the first half of Carole and Tuesday has just the right mix of comedic missteps mixed with character work to make you fall in love with these goofballs. That, along with just enough foreshadowing, sets the stage for the more serious tone of the second half.
I really think Carole and Tuesday is a show that needed the room of both cours to breathe, and find the space to tell its story with the depth it needed.
Which is why, when I sat down to write this review, I was reminded of both Nagi no Asakura and Glasslip. Both shows are similar in needing that room, which the brilliant Nagi no Asukura got… and the unholy mess that is Glasslip didn’t.
Ratcheting Up the Tension… Slowly
The first half of Carole and Tuesday ends with a sort-of victory in the Mars Brightest competition. This puts Carole and Tuesday into a different league in the Mars music industry so a lot of the comedy falls away fairly quickly in the second half.
They’re no longer wannabes, they’re recognised as being potentially serious players in the game. That changes how people interact with them, and the level at which they have to respond.
But this part of the story wouldn’t work at all without the foundation of the first cour to build on. Because whilst the viewer can see what’s changed, pretty much all of the characters take a while to catch up with their new realities. The exception being their manager Gus who clearly recognises what’s happening and actually does well responding to the changing circumstances.
In parallel with their increasingly serious musical efforts, the political tensions caused by Tuesday’s mother Valerie campaigning for President of Mars on a “populist” platform that echoes both Brexit and racist anti-immigration platforms are also steadily increasing.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that throughout the series when musicians or refugees get arrested that they are people of colour, or that the establishment of Mars is overwhelmingly white in presentation.
There’s some fairly serious commentary going on here, but not something I feel comfortable unpacking in detail. I would need to watch it again slowly, and pick each episode apart for that.
Resolving it with… evidence?
Although, fundamentally, Carole and Tuesday is a music show, the real resolution to the political tensions comes through evidence of misdeeds being presented to Valerie and her withdrawing from the election. I do have to admit that this aspect of the series resolution was less than convincing. I mean, seriously how naive did an allegedly experienced politician like Valerie have to be to not realise what Jerry was doing?
The Magic of Music
That said, the final song where all the musicians of Mars come together in a supergroup to sing for freedom truly is magical. The various episodes that established the connections between Carole, Tuesday, and the other magicians throughout the series (especially in the second half) were generally excellent and the payoff in episode 24 A Change is Gonna Come is well worth the wait.
Alongside that is the resolution, and redemption, of Angela’s parallel arc which is also enormously satisfying to see.
Let Carole and Tuesday Romance Each Other Damn It!!!!
If there’s one part of Carole and Tuesday that I loathe it would have to be the yuri baiting that’s never followed through on. Carole and Tuesday have one of the most beautiful relationships I’ve ever seen put to screen in anime and it’s never allowed to go any further than friendship.
When I reviewed the first half I said:
…this is a series that is truly at its best when the eponymous Carole and Tuesday are singing the love songs to each other that they don’t know  are love songs.
I stand by that.
The scene late in the second half where a nervous Tuesday sings Happy Birthday to Carole on the stroke of midnight and gives her a small, heartfelt, gift of a keyboard in a snowglobe was a moment of pure magic.
But even as I was adoring the moment and crying a little, again it left me (the straight white dude) resenting that the show wouldn’t go further than that. I can’t even begin to imagine how frustrating this aspect of Carole and Tuesday is for queer viewers.
I utterly adored the second half of Carole and Tuesday. The first half of Carole and Tuesday would be a good, but not great, stand alone show.
The second half, despite my mini rant above, raises Carole and Tuesday to greatness. If you’ve seen, and enjoyed, the first half, the second is thoroughly recommended.