Muh-kyaa!! It’s another one of those shows about classical music!! Run for your lives!!
For some reason, people nowadays hate classical music for who knows what reason. Maybe it’s because of the length of standard classical music, for example, just one movement of a standard piano sonata can be around 5-8 minutes long. For concertos or orchestral performances, it’s even worse, ranging up to 20 or even 30 minutes long! Maybe it’s related to how parents nowadays force their children to go for music classes to improve their IQ or something like that. As a result, children are not happy with the way they are forced to play the piano or the violin. Thus, they don’t like classical music anymore, in fact, they tend to relate it with chores or boring and troublesome stuff. With all the stuff that goes around nowadays like rock, metal, pop etc., people, especially teens tend to like these genres because it’s catchy or it’s trendy. Of course, it doesn’t help that the society stereotypes classical music as just a tool to help children “realize” their talent or some chore you force on your children. That’s just tragic, because classical music is such a beautiful thing. Now, I won’t put down the other genres as inelegant like some old hag but it is seriously underrated.
Now, enough talking and let’s get on with the review!
In the spirit of Mozart and of all the ancient classical composers, I bring to you… …
Oops…sorry. Wrong roll card.
As a josei manga that began serialization in the josei manga magazine Kiss, Nodame Cantabile is a stand out manga even during the time of publication that was deemed realistic in the way it depicts the problems faced by musicians worldwide. In fact, it was so popular among the music lovers that it even has a cast of musicians known as the Nodame Orchestra, backed by the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphonic Orchestra to work on its orchestral background music and insert song. It even has a live-action drama series based on the manga, which got me started to watch this anime in the first place.
Nodame Cantabile revolves around Chiaki Shinichi, who is studying in a Japanese conservatoire. Despite being extremely talented in music and piano, he is interested in the art of conducting which he picked up when he was younger when he met the world-renowned Maestro Viera. However, due to a plane accident when he was younger, he has a phobia of airplanes and sea travel, impacting his career as a musician. One day, he heard a sloppy but somewhat brilliant rendition of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No.8 “Pathetique” when walking out on the conservatoire’s famed piano teacher. It turns out the person playing that was his apartment’s next door neighbour, Noda Megumi aka Nodame. He was shocked when he found out she was the one. To his dismay, she fell in love with him and wouldn’t leave him alone. I can’t blame him though.
As it turns out this Nodame is not only a carefree girl, she is a seriously, terrifyingly…well, how would I put it…unorthodox girl. She doesn’t clean up, she leaves her rubbish all over her apartment and doesn’t wash her hair. She doesn’t practice much either, and when she does, most of the time she’s playing songs she composed for kids, most memorably, the ‘Fart Song’.
Holy son of a …
Not only that, she is also a poor sight reader thus she prefers to play from ear instead of playing from the sheet. But even with these problems, Chiaki noted that Nodame had big hands, thus being able to play the difficult portions of music easily and she has a way of playing that charms even a talented piano and violin player like himself.
Of course, even after meeting Nodame, life goes on for Chiaki as he attempts to move forward and realise his dream of being a world-class conductor, even though he realises that without leaving Japan, that is impossible. In short, he attempts to hold on to slivers of hope, meeting different people.
This anime is an anime, before it is about music. Anime meaning that every episode isn’t about some boring, long long lecture about the piano and how you play some classical music. So, don’t worry about it and just watch it. If you’re a professional musician playing in an orchestra, you probably may find the anime a little unrealistic but hey, I did say this is an anime before it is about music, okay?
The selection of the songs in this anime are of a great variety and it ranges from concertos to piano sonatas to solo pieces for different instruments such as percussions and strings BUT for people who don’t know classical music, it’s fine. Even if you don’t understand classical music, you can still watch it and still enjoy it.
It lives up its expectations of being a josei anime with a quite good-looking male character, and is definitely a hilarious take on life as a student or teacher in a conservatoire. The chemistry between Nodame and Chiaki is also superbly funny and yet, surprisingly not as repetitive as it would seem since most of the time it’s just…
Poor Nodame. Although on paper, it’s a little boring but this turns out to be a quite entertaining watch, though I can imagine some people may not like it because of the animal abu….no, no, I mean, girl…er…girl, yes, girl abuse.
In my opinion, Nodame Cantabile is a stupid anime where it paints a woman in a different light and inferior to men. The author of this stupid manga must think us women are just sexual creatures at their disposal to lob around. It tries to undermine the role played by woman in today's society by presenting a main female lead character. - Overzealous Feminist P.S. We hate men!
Of course, I wouldn’t call this a perfect anime because unlike what many music enthusiasts who watched this would call it. I’m not exactly a hardcore classical music fan so I reckon I am able to give an unbiased opinion of this show.
First and foremost, the writing is kind of weird and a little unconventional, sometimes even adhering to the all-too-common ‘boy-meet-girl’ plotline. I mean, it tries to be serious but it somehow fails as the problems faced somehow conveniently solved overnight. For example, how do you build an amateur orchestra? Simple, let’s call all the talented people we can find, because they all conveniently like you. Ah…that makes sense now…
Secondly, as to the way the plot goes, it just doesn’t make sense as to how Chiaki can end up with Nodame. I mean, Chiaki’s such a jer– adorable cute little person who loves music very much. He’s a tsundere. Too much of it.
Thirdly, even though the characters are quite funny and fresh, but unlike the live-action drama, it lacks what its live-action counterpart: heart. For once, I actually thought that the live action series was better than the anime.
Fourthly, the animation. The artstyle I could accept, but that animation was not satisfying at all. Imagine my irateness when I, a former band conductor saw Chiaki conduct. In stills. Definitely not satisfying at all. Nodame Cantabile Paris Hen, the second season of Nodame Cantabile tried to correct this flaw but alas, the conductor in close-up now looks like a CG mannequin attempting to sway his hands fancifully with a baton.
Of course, the classical music more than makes up for those flaws, but still for people who don’t enjoy classical music, you may not enjoy it as much as I do but don’t be so sure yet. As a person who always hated practicing on the piano and who couldn’t understand classical music up until now, after watching this anime, I found myself understanding classical music more. I even went to buy a book filled with Mozart piano manuscripts and started practicing Czerny just to be able to play crazy fast. I still hate Schubert, though.
So, if you hate classical music or thought of it as a chore, watch this. This anime lets one see classical music in a new way. You will grow to realize that classical music is not boring but a very expressive and beautiful thing.
I hear the piano teachers clapping their hands in delight…
Until the next review, bonjour~
“Bonjour means Hello…”
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