Megumi Noda, or "Nodame" is a piano student at Momogaoka College of Music. She is a profound pianist, but with genius comes eccentricity. She plays her piano by ear rather than read a music score, and her aspiration is to become a kindergarten teacher, rather than make a career in music. She is gluttonous, a slob, and extremely irresponsible.
Shinichi Chiaki, on the other hand, is Momogaoka's top student. He is a "purebred" musician, born into a family full of musical talent. He is brilliant, and he knows it...being quite arrogant and condescending. He lived abroad and is multi-lingual, and has perfectionist tendencies which make him a scrict and disciplined student.
They accidentally meet, and Nodame is immediately smitten. Chiaki is instantly repulsed. But fate ties them together as they grow in Momogaoka, meeting other colorful personalities and overcoming both personal and academic challenges. Will Chiaki ever return Nodame's love? Will he ever realize his dream as a composer? Will Nodame ever take him seriously?
After a series like Honey and Clover, I never thought I would be sucked into the lives of students in such a way ever again. I was still living in Japan, and everyone I knew was sucked in by this miraculous manga series.
Predated by the live-action drama, the Nodame Cantabile anime had large shoes to fill, as the actress and actor portraying the leads set a very high standard (having won best actor and actress awards for their work) for the corresponding seiyuus to follow.
The first episode doesn't hesitate to suck you in immediately with its unconventional, but subtle sense of humor. Chiaki is a drastic change from the pathetic male leads - rather than pining after the adorable and charismatic female, loving her in spite of her flaws (which, in the real world, would be unacceptable to the majority of confident and pulled-together men), Chiaki adamantly scolds and chastises Nodame for not keeping her act together.
There's no softening this blow - Chiaki and Nodame are two very flawed, very immature individuals at the beginning of this series. Their growth, while not as subtle as that in Honey and Clover, is artfully done, and this series is a master at completely and utterly manipulating your emotions. I can't remember a time I so desperately wanted a couple to get together.
The supporting characters in this series are all so refreshing and at the same time maddening. Maddening in the sense that they are not part of an ensemble cast, but they are truely [i]supporting characters--just barely touched upon, but never really developed in a way that one expects in a girl's story. The love triangles are never a threat, the other romantic relationships in the show are never of any consequence...really, Nodame and Chiaki are the stars here, and while every moment with them on the screen is pure magic, once can't help but long for their surroundings to be fleshed out a bit more. But I suppose that it was in anticipation for the sequel series, in which the supporting characters completely change. (Sad!)
One of the other most striking things about this series is the musical tie-in. While NANA was about bands, the musical tie-in opportunity wasn't used, I feel, to its full potential. Here, a great number of the storylines through the series are centered around the musical selection, and the emotions behind the characters' performances are pivotal to the development of the story and the characters themselves. For those who yawn at classical music, these scenes may seem to drag on a little bit, but for most, this is an enlightening experience, and for those intimate with classical music, an uplifting indulgence.
This series has earned its place among one of the current most popular, well-loved series currently running. The characters never grate on you, the male lead is a strong, upstanding individual without the typical otaku tendencies of so many male leads. The female is, for a change, not tsundere (oh, I'm sorry, "headstrong") and refreshingly pursues the guy, rather than being pursued. This girl is a fine example of a modern girl taking matters into her own hands!!--no wait. Scratch that. Nodame isn't a model woman...
Completely and utterly perfect. Romantic without being too much so--comedy timing is flawless--loveable characters, engaging stories, something to easily be invested into. — Melissa Sternenberg
Recommended Audience: Safe for most teens...even pre-teens, as long as homosexuality (as there is a flamingly gay character) and swearing isn't objectionable. Later in the series there's a brush with death that one of the characters has to deal with...otherwise, nothing objectionable.
Version(s) Viewed: Prerelease fansub.
Review Status: Full (23/23)
Nodame Cantabile © 2007 J.C. Staff, Fuji TV (Noitamina)
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