When you start watching Carole & Tuesday, you may ask yourself why is the setting a colony on Mars? When you finish the series, you will find a satisfactory answer beyond “because Mars is a novelty way cooler than ol’ boring Earth”. This answer may come as a bit of a surprise because of how politically it is handled. It doesn’t have one liners like Porco Rosso’s memorable “better a pig than a fascist”, but Carole & Tuesday makes its political stance clear. Particularly, when it comes to its influence over art.
Why Should We Care?
Let’s begin with the basics. Both of the title characters are outcasts who want to make music for a living, although they have different backgrounds. Carole is an immigrant who escaped to a Martian colony after Earth became inhabitable due to unspecified conflicts beyond her control. On the other hand, Tuesday is a rich hikkikomori whose mother ends up parroting anti-refugee policies during a political campaign, gaining popularity thanks to this.
This contrast is certainly interesting. However, what stands out the most to me are the last episodes, when it becomes evident that turning a blind eye towards the escalating xenophobic tension will result in disaster. Even if they’re artists, not politicians, the musicians from this anime series know (each in their own unique way) that they’re powerful. They can exert influence on the masses, and they use it wonderfully in a collaboration song during the finale. This collaboration’s lyrics are about Mother Earth, a.k.a. the place all humans are originally from. This rings very relevant in this day and age, where people are getting pushed out of the system simply for escaping from war and extreme violence.
Everything Belongs In The Art Field
I remember how a teacher of mine would say “politics, religion… all those things have nothing to do with Art”. Naturally, I would counterattack like a rabid dog: “then what has to do with art? How do we keep it from becoming an empty shell?”. I stand by my words, however impulsively they may have been spat out. It’s perfectly okay for art to tackle mundane topics, but art doesn’t just “happen” in a vacuum. There are tons of cultural factors to take into account when observing and appreciating a piece of art. Nobody would make the same type of art if they were born in a different era or a different country, for example. And perhaps more importantly, they probably wouldn’t even be the same person. Culture makes us who we are, and this includes politics. The fact that some people don’t even want to think about politics is a cultural problem.
This is beautifully reflected in Carole & Tuesday. The girls don’t know if the other artists will want to collaborate with them. They fear the stakes are too risky for people to become involved with the idea. They go through with it anyway because it’s the right thing to do, but they still feel uneasy. Fortunately for them, their own artistic influence as people who work without the constant assistance of machines works in their favor.
I think the most important thing we have to take from this series is the courage to speak about these issues at the right moment, but without taking the artistic value out of the series. The beauty of art is that, while it may draw from every field of human existence, it’s still its own beast, with its own language and the capacity to move us in indescribable ways. To make us think, but without spelling everything out for us. To make us feel, more than anything, like our transcendental questions may one day be answered.