On the Saturday of MCM London Comic Con October 2019 Anime Superhero were given the opportunity to interview legendary anime creative Shinichiro Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, Space Dandy) and his co-director Motonobu Hori (Psycho-Pass, 009 Re:Cyborg, Spirited Away) about their musical sci-fi drama Carole & Tuesday.
SHINICHIRO WATANABE: The original story is by me. I’ve always been a music freak my whole life so I was thinking about making an anime about music eventually. But the problem I had was that if a complete music fanatic was to make a music anime, it might be too specific and not have broad appeal. That’s why I didn’t try until now. [Hori chuckles at this remark]
So we came up with a story about 2 young girls starting out on their initial path to becoming professional musicians to make it more appealing to the general public. Because they’re just starting out they won’t use any of the jargon professionals do and I thought “This might do ok.”
Additionally, I wanted to depict the concept of initial creative impulse as well. Not simply music but the wide variety of creative impulses that young people possess. Those two ideas of mine together as one are the identity of Carole & Tuesday.
ANIME SUPERHERO: You both share a director credit on the series. What were the specifics of your relationship on the production?
SHINICHIRO WATANABE: I took on the scripts, screenplay and storyboard whilst Hori-san oversaw everything else. [Hori chuckles at this summary]
Put simply, I have the role of saying “This is what I want to make!” and pass it on to Hori-san. [Both Watanabe and Hori laugh] He’s actually done more than me.
ANIME SUPERHERO: That leads well into my next question, specifically for Mr Hori; This marks your debut as a director. What differences did you find from your previous roles in animation production?
MOTONOBU HORI: I have worked on previous productions as the second director, but was credited as a unit director. The difference now is I can boast about it. And that’s very important!
ANIME SUPERHERO: One of the themes of the story is the titular characters struggle to create music from passion versus an industry which has become increasingly manufactured. Was this intended as a statement on the music industry today?
SHINICHIRO WATANABE: That was intentional commentary, yes. I mean, there’s music out there that’s not really different from something that would be made by AI…
But it’s not intended as a simple distinction that things made by AI are terrible and things that are made by humans are amazing. Emotion is the key. Angela’s songs are created by AI but because it is sophisticated enough to possess emotion that’s why the resulting songs are so great.
Allow me to explain my thinking of the nature of AIs in the series. The concept in my head is that a significantly sophisticated era of AI would develop thought patterns very similar to that of humans. So there would be some AI’s that would be lazy and deceitful and others who are productive and honest.
MOTONOBU HORI: [Addressing Watanabe] That’s a very sci-fi concept.
SHINICHIRO WATANABE: There’s some AIs who might just hang around an office doing nothing and keep drinking. As some humans might do~… [All laugh]
ANIME SUPERHERO: Music itself is a huge part of the series DNA, down even to episodes being named after the titles of famous songs. What do you both think about why music is such a universal language?
SHINICHIRO WATANABE: [Ponders]…That is a very difficult question. I’m going to pass it to Hori-san. [Hori laughs]
MOTONOBU HORI: I was discussing this with colleagues yesterday. Most people stop their music interest around graduation time. When they stop being a student, they cease exploring new territory so actively. But Watanabe-san is different. He keeps exploring new music and new trends constantly, which is rare. I think that’s likely what leads to creating something that appeals universally.
SHINICHIRO WATANABE: Music is something that goes beyond spoken language. That’s proven by how many tunes there are without lyrics; just a simple piano sound could really, really grab somebody’s attention. So many emotions can be found within it. I really do believe music holds the key to accessing people’s hearts. I’m trying to unravel that secret and I still haven’t managed after several decades of listening to music.
….And that’s why I keep buying more vinyls, more music… [All laugh]
ANIME SUPERHERO: For my final question, do either of you have a message you’d like to impart to European viewers of Carole & Tuesday?
SHINICHIRO WATANABE: [Confers with Hori] ..That’s a difficult question. Especially ‘Europe’… [All share a knowing laugh]
There were many British musicians who took part in Carole & Tuesday and Mocky lives in Portugal now, where a lot of the songs were made. There are also songs in French as well. We strongly recommend European audiences to watch Carole & Tuesday! [All laugh heartily]
MOTONOBU HORI: I think Watanabe-san covered it!
SHINICHIRO WATANABE: I’d like fans of my previous work and those who have seen anime before to watch Carole & Tuesday. But I also think it’s something that could also appeal to people who haven’t watched anime before. So I really hope that people share it with their friends or their family. Their mothers, perhaps. For example colleagues tell me their parents watch it. So I really hope that it has that kind of wider appeal in Europe too.
MOTONOBU HORI: To go back to your previous question about universal language, you raised it was music but I think the same could be said about animation as well. Music itself is great but when it is composited with visual images and characters, it adds depths to the character’s performance. That depth is something that can only really be experienced in animation. So I’d really like people to watch it and appreciate anime.
Anime Superhero would like to thank Shinichiro Watanabe and Motonobu Hori for answering our questions and Andy Hanley and Jeremy Graves of Anime Limited for facilitating this interview.
Carole & Tuesday is available to stream on Netflix.