Rhapsody IN Blue

It was obvious which anime I would choose to write on for my first review; actually I wanted to think about this particular anime by writing something about it. Nodame Cantabile. The term ‘cantabile’ means ‘song-like’ and it provides a flexible way of playing in terms of tempo and measure. No other term would describe Nodame better than this. The mangaka is Tomoko Ninomiya and manga was published between 2001 and 2009. It was awarded the Kodansha Manga of the Year award in 2004. The genre is josei.

The anime has three seasons; the first season Nodame Cantabile where we get to know the characters and the story sets in Japan, then Paris Hen, and at last Finale.Anime also has a live action drama, probably because I didn’t like the acting, I didn’t really liked the tv show itself but nevertheless I watched it till the end xD. Our main woman Noda Megumi, Nodame, is a student in a conservatory named Momogaoka, majoring in piano and in her 3rd year. She’s sloppy, an airhead and sometimes hanging around in the same clothes for weeks and doesn’t shower for an entire week. The daughter of a not-so-wealthy family, when we get to meet her parents later, it was said by the family that she doesn’t have much talent for anything except music and they sent her to conservatory because they ‘couldn’t create a better chance for her‘. And of course, we have our main man, Chiaki Shin’ichi. This guy is in his senior year, also majoring in piano but actually aspiring to be a conductor. He has very close relations to music since his childhood; his father is a famous pianist (they don’t really get along well, though), mother is a music enthusiast who supports promising conservatory students financially. Chiaki, completely opposite of Nodame, is from a rich family, never encountering hardships and on top of everything being exteremely gifted, makes you kind of irritated. Chiaki is aware of this situation, always being in the center of and admired by women in the conservatory, he ‘gets everything he wants’ and this makes him a bit blind to other people’s feelings and arrogant. Eventually, these two characters become neighbours and they start to walk down a path (sometimes together, sometimes apart) that will change them.

Nodame Cantabile doesn’t have a mission to make its viewers a classical music enthusiast but setting aside the beautifully and carefully picked classical music pieces, the orchestra’s interpretation of the pieces for anime are also really beautiful. Knowing that Nonomiya sensei based her character on an actual woman, Noda Megumi, and consulting her about music made me think it really helped. Noow, moving on to why I’m blabbering about this…

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Nodame! Even though I watched the whole series three times, no matter how much I think about her still not quite sure where to put her character. At first glance, she seemed to me as a ‘child-woman’. In some way, seeing a character which is not perfect at all is really nice and comforting. Like her music, Nodame is carefree, living her life as she wants and saying whatever on her mind, i really liked that side of her; especially when the general type is  when woman loves but expect men to sweep her off of her feet. If she loves Chiaki she says so and doesn’t hold herself back. Biggest problem I had concerning Nodame’s character was she wasn’t an individual anymore. Everything was defined with him and would make sense if he was there. If she were to perform in a concert, it had to be with Chiaki. Later on in the first season, it is revealed that this side of Nodame is linked to a childhood trauma. Because of this incident, Nodame stopped playing piano for a long time and become a person who runs away from her problems, putting up a front like nothing is bothering her. When a conducter they have met from Europe, Stresseman said that she has to face music fiercely and face to face, otherwise she will never be able to be with Chiaki, it all made sense for me. This overly-emotional and ‘obsessing over the one you love and denying/ignoring the rest’ state starts to change after going to Paris and meeting with lots of people but in the end, a part of Nodame was still defined with Chiaki and existed only because of him. It would really made me happy to see Nodame becoming independet completely, but of course that’s me. : )

Seeing Nodame made me think about a trope, Manic Pixie Dream Girl (MPDG), I wondered if she was one of them… In first season her character fitted the definition of MPDG. Her character was there solely to underline the male character, helping him to solve his problems and move on, existing to make him happy. It seemed kind of hollow. Later on, as I stated above, there were changes but sadly Nodame cannot achieve to be the main character and getting ahead of Chiaki overall. Still, she’s not as shallow and a side character to be a MPDG.

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Aaaand Chiaki! Uughhh, the urge to beat him up is too strong! So cocky, Mr. Know-it-all. It is always about him and his problems; will he be able to go to Europe, will he be able to be on good terms with the new orchestra’s conductor…. Apart from me hating him a little (!), like many of the male antagonists Chiaki learns, develops and moves forward eventually. He really likes to have everything his way as a habit, on one hand he always expects Nodame to wait for him, always satying by his side. However when his expectations are not fulfilled he immediately thinks “Well, whatevs, so she doesn’t love me at aall, gotta break up soon.”.  Whenever he decides to do something, Nodame is the last one to know. And I’m not even talking about informing her when he’s going to the toilet taking a dump, decisions like leaving off to Europe, going on a tour overseas etc., life changing decisions. While acting on his own, expecting Nodame to wait for him and getting upset when she doesn’t let Chiaki know everything about her life is a bit hypocracy.

Overall, I really love romantic stories and seeing these two fairly different characters going on a journey, encountering problems and solving them together (sometimes easily, sometimes in a messy way) is much better than lots of other stories out there. All these treats make Nodame Cnatabile precious and fullfilling not only in terms of music/visuals, but also story and character development-wise.

I know I skipped beautiful parts and only blabbered about the negative sides of the anime but all the more because I really enjoyed watching! These series is really fun and funny also, even people normally don’t have anything to do with a romantic story can enjoy.

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A little side-note before i finish: Anyone else out there thinking that Chiaki’s violent action towards Nodame is a little over the top? It is supposed to be a comedy element, seeming unrealistic (like the violence Jerry using on Tom) but its frequency and dose made me a little uncomfortable. And noticed how I didn’t made any comment on Stresseman’s sexist actions? Well, he would certainly fill another article. I will just comment on his seiyuu, I really like his accent. : )

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