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Nodame Cantabile – Big fluffy clouds and endless blue sky

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.

Comments

Os says:

This is one hell of a show. I too went into this with really high expectations and I came out pretty satisfied so far and I dont think it’s a reach to assume that it can maintain this high level of entertainment for the rest of the series. I anxiously await the next episode. Oh and I think Nodame thinks a lot about food and sometimes about her dream to become a teacher… sometimes.

kuromitsu says:

My problem with the anime sharing the same creative staff as Honey and Clover is that they basically copied the "winning formula"… right down to the visual style, which IMO doesn’t suit Nodame at all. The soft look and pastel colors suited H+C very well because there were many opportunities to use many colors, artistic depictions, etc. etc. But in Nodame, there are much, much fewer opportunities for such things, and so the animation simply lacks life and energy (especially as it also lacks H+C’s budget), which is really annoying because it’s about musicians and music, it should be brimming with life… and yet it doesn’t.

It’s a very nice show nevertheless, with great writing and acting (though Nodame’s voice doesn’t really suit her in my opinion), and of course the music is great, but the lifelessness bothers me.

bateszi says:

@Os: I didn’t realize Nodame wanted to be a teacher? And I’m looking forward to the next episode too… This is the only show I’ve bothered with from the winter season.

@kuromitsu: You make an interesting point. It doesn’t bother me as much, but it’s true that the art could use brighter, vivid colours to greater effect. Nodame’s character design is good example of this – she has a very bubbly personality but just looking at the screen caps above, her hair colour and dress sense is very down to earth.

On an unrelated note, you should be authoring your own anime blog if you aren’t already! :)

Trinity says:

Sorry, I’m jumping out of nowhere here, but about the coloring thing, I think that Nodame’s looks suit her just fine. Yes, she is exuberant and bubbly, and I love her so much for it, but I think to most people within the anime/manga, she’s understated looking. The best that can be said about her is cute, physical appearance wise, I think. And I love that, because once you get to know her, it doesn’t matter; she just shines with her personality and joy and cheerfulness, and insanity. *coughs* Other than that? OMG I LOVE THIS MANGA AND ANIME AND LIVE ACTION SERIES and I’M GOING INTO APOPLECTIC SHOCK THANKS TO NOT KNOWING JAPANESE OR CHINESE TO READ WHAT HAPPENS NEXT IN THE MANGA AFAWGASDFWDSGF…

kauldron26 says:

so i finally finished the show and i have to say that i liked it. But the thing is i didnt love it, and i wanted to. Decent 8/10. It doesnt come remotely close to the greatness of Beck tho. Both deal with different kinds of music in different ways. I think the biggest difference is that Beck focuses more on characters, while Nodame focuses more on the relationship between music and 2 specific characters. If Nodame had given the characters more depth (outside of music) or atleast fleshed out some story lines like the romance btw mine and the violin chick, or what exactly causes chiaki to not really care about anyone, and why and how nodame feels about chiaki. we all know she likes the dude, but why does she?? how exactly does she like him? these issues i feel would have elevated the show from nice (8/10) to great (9/10). That was what made Beck so great. as much as it revolved around music, the characters felt real u know… o well. nodame was still a nice show. I just wish it could have been great. I really wanted to feel something outside from the spectacular music. One of my favorite movies of all time is Amadeus. i dont know if any of u guys have seen it, but it is about the life of Mozart thru the eyes of Salieri. Even though the movie revolves around music, the characters get as much if not greater focus as the music.

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