Honey & Clover was a great show, and a cherished, personal favourite of mine. That was what first attracted me to Nodame Cantabile. They share the same animation studio, director and character designer; a.k.a winning formula. I’m trying to emphasize that expectations are a bitch, and this time the benchmark was set particularly high; so I’m happy to proclaim then that against all the odds, I’ve just finished the first four episodes of Nodame Cantabile and really enjoyed them.
I like that the main character, Shin’ichi Chiaki, is at once a heartless bastard and helpful friend. He furiously berates Nodame for her poor attention to hygiene, but he still cooks her dinner and cleans out her apartment. His life and personality are somewhat frustrated, caught between his heart and brain, he can be harsh and push people away, but still recognises when they need help.
“Nodame” Noda has no brain, just a big fluffy cloud and endless blue sky. Driven by instinct, ignoring rules and following her heart, Nodame is a polar opposite to Chiaki – she leads her life and plays piano as freely as a bird, unburdened by worry, while he is often lamenting the future; his dream is to one day be a world-class Orchestra conductor, I don’t imagine Nodame’s vacant mind extends beyond a few hours day dreaming.
Nodame Cantabile frequently slips into bouts of slapstick humour but I’m not watching it to laugh. The show can be funny and the music school is an refreshing setting, but this is undeniably a slice of life anime, looking at how people in creative environments deal with talent and ambition, how friendships, rivalry and admiration can inspire confidence and breathe new life into tired hearts.