Carole and Tuesday is a science-fiction anime from Shinichirō Watanabe (yes, that Watanabe) about a couple musicians in the future.
Tuesday has grown up in a political family, but really wants nothing to do with politics. Rather, she just wants to be a music star, writing and performing songs. So the little rich girl grabbed her guitar and headed for the city.
This did not work out well; she has no practical skills and no idea how to survive. Luckily for her she finds a street musician named Carole, who takes pity on her. They become friends, but their dream is… impossible. Because?
Because it’s the future, on MARS, which has been terraformed, and all pop music is created by AI – Artificial Intelligence – that’s why.
OK as Science Fiction it leaves a lot to be desired, but at its heart this is a tale about the music industry and about fascism and economic isolationism. See, Mars has an illegal immigration problem, so Tuesday’s mother is running for president on a “close the borders” populist ticket. And she wants to find Tuesday and shut down her weird obsession before it causes unwelcome attention.
Along the way we meet old, burned-out drunk, insane recording industry people from the days when music was created by humans. And some stars of the present, AI-driven industry, who are not really that happy. Our young heroes get themselves on a music contest show and there’s some skullduggery and terrorism and things start getting really bad and in the end… they manage to start a rebellion against AI-generated music. At the end of the series we don’t know if they’ll succeed or not.
The two girls are not amazing musicians, but that’s sort of the point; they just want to make music. And they get help from the old music-industry burnouts and some good luck and they make some progress.
I was reminded of this show by the rise of AI-generated art and college-paper writing, and the effect those things are having on the art industry and higher education, respectively.
Here’s a good review that goes into a lot more detail. The reviewer is also a former runaway and a musician, and he draws parallels between the AI future of Carole and Tuesday and how music is currently made on our Earth: