We’re back! After a summer period dominated by long-standing favourites, we’ve finally returned with some great series to share with you!
Later on we review the exciting original series that has just started its run globally on Netflix. First of all, though, we take a look at the return of one of the streaming site’s original Western anime series.
(2019, S2, 10x28mins) Comedy, Fantasy
Following on from the end of season one, Bean (left) leaves with her mother as her father, King Zøg, is left in a Dreamland turned to stone. However, when she arrives at her mother’s home of Maru and uncovers a sinister plot. After finding Luci (centre), escaping her mother and saving Elfo (right) from the afterlife, the three of them head back to Dreamland in hope of saving the kingdom.
There’s always a bit of pessimism when, after a fairly long break, a comedy series comes back for a second season. In our last APR, we saw how Saiki K. struggled to introduce new energy to its predictable routine. However, Disenchantment feels like a rarity in that its second season was marginally better than its successful first!
While some people may dislike the ‘Groening Style’ of show, there’s something incredibly moreish about the style of Disenchantment’s comedy. Almost petty in nature, the short jabs are unrelenting throughout the series, leaving a smile on your face throughout the ten episodes. It’s certainly not the kind of writing that will win you awards, but it leads to an incredibly fun series nonetheless.
As with the first season, Disenchantment remains far from perfect, falling into many of the same pitfalls as it did previously. As with season one, it felt like the series ended prematurely, as if a traditional 12-episode anime was squeezed into ten. Once again, the series found itself somewhat scrambling for a concluding act which took away from the very relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere of the episodes previous.
The story in Disenchantment is not great but often that’s not the point; the show is more enjoyable when viewed as a Simpson-esque sit-com. Thankfully, much of the series follows this mantra, creating a hugely entertaining show that is Netflix binge watching at its finest.
ANIME RANKING: #63 – A sizeable jump from its previous position of #68, Disenchantment now sits alongside shows such as Konosuba and Death Parade!
If you liked this you’ll love: Konosuba (#65) – Probably the closest we’ve seen to Disenchantment in anime. This slightly crass comedy about a boy reborn in a fantasy world hits all the classic tropes of Japanese fantasy while also delivering some of the most mature comedy we’ve seen. Like Disenchantment, the story is light, but it remains one of the funniest comedy series out there!
Carole & Tuesday
(2019, S1-2, 24x12mins) Music, Sci-Fi
Set in a distant future in which humans have colonised Mars, Tuesday (left) is a teenager brought up in a mansion in the wealthy Herschel City who, one night, runs away from home to pursue her dream of being a musician. She boards a train to the metropolis of Alba City but is quickly overwhelmed by its size, robbed of her belongings and left on the verge of defeat. Then, she meets Carole (right), a streetwise teen sharing the same dream. A chance encounter leads to a blossoming friendship between two different people who share the same goal: to create heartfelt music in an industry now monopolised by AI-created sounds.
After about a year of Netflix being heavily involved in anime, we’ve learned to group their series into two groups. You have the “straight to Netflix” Japanese anime series which, on almost every occasion, are bright ideas but blandly executed. Then, you have the “International Rights” series that are shows traditionally in Japan before appearing as Netflix ‘Originals’. That latter group is developing some reputation, including series such as Kakegurui and The Seven Deadly Sins. Now, Carole & Tuesday can be added to that list.
As mentioned during our Half-Term Report, this was a series hotly anticipated as early as last year. Any sci-fi anime series with Shinichiro Wantanabe’s involvement will have eyes and ears firmly locked. We imagined it would only be a cursory involvement, but throughout this series, hallmarks of the great director’s work add glitter to a fantastically inventive anime.
However, that classic anime vibe is coupled with an incredibly forward-thinking storyline for the modern age. C&T’s story takes on all manner of topics, including feminism, racism and right-wing politics, all of which have a very real-world feel. At times, it almost felt like the show was too ambitious, taking on incredibly heavy storylines before dropping them a few episodes later without the meaningful resolution they deserve.
While its story is very modern, and the world itself beautifully designed, this is ultimately a music anime. Thankfully, we’ve always been huge fans of the genre, and the music in this series is another thing that sets it apart from the rest. Interestingly, everything is sung in English, while the production is modern and fresh, which will really help the series’ global appeal.
Overall, I think very few anime series this year have left us as impressed at this one. Carole & Tuesday sings not just to the great sci-fi anime of the past but also has an incredible modernity about it, from the story to its characters. If anything, the only negative about the show is that it was almost too perfect. With a heart bigger than its stomach, C&T has ambitions to help solve the world’s problems but eventually settles for being a visually and audially stunning feel-good story about two distinct girls. However, for fans of music anime, and anime in general, this is a very good example of how an original anime should be made. A lesson taught with the support of one of the medium’s true masters.
ANIME RANKING: #25 – A great ranking for an exciting original series! C&T sits alongside another recent hit in Darling in the Franxx while it’s also just ahead of another Wantanabe project, Space Dandy!
If you liked this you’ll love: Shiro Bako (#10) – With C&T being such a modern series, many of anime’s musical hits don’t follow the same themes as seen here. However, the story of people making it together in the world is echoed in Shiro Bako. A story about girls from the countryside who move to Tokyo to get into the anime business, this show’s mix of technical reality and feel-good optimism made it one of the best original anime series of the last decade!
As with almost all visual media, there is something of a decline original ideas getting the big blockbuster treatment in anime. However, stories like Carole & Tuesday show that something created just for anime can work really well if done right! Subscribe to The Culture Cove for regular anime reviews and recommendations! Keep an eye out for episode 65 featuring one of the most famous anime series of all time, Neon Genesis Evangelion!