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shinsengumi's Nodame Cantabile Tv Review

Nodame Cantabile

Nodame Cantabile tv Review

Nodame Cantabile is a shoujo romance comedy set at a music university.

When Shinichi Chiaki was little, he traveled the great stages of Europe with his father, absorbing classical music. Although he learned to play piano and violin, his ambition was to one day become a world famous conductor like his mentor, Sebastien Viera.
Now a piano student at Momogaoka University, Chiaki still harbors ambitions of returning to Europe to study conducting under Viera, except for his fear of flying (and traveling by ship.) He turns his frustration into his music. Every at the school is awful, he thinks, until he meets a strange girl named Megumi Noda (Nodame), who is incredibly skilled at piano - and who turns out to be his very messy neighbor. The two don't hit it off, but are forced to take a piano lesson together anyway.
Meanwhile, the clandestine arrival of famous German conductor Franz Von Stresemann sends the school into disarray as Stresemann decides to create his own orchestra consisting of what the school assumes are its misfit students -- and Stresemann taps Chiaki to conduct. Through a series of lessons, mishaps, performances, and trials, Chiaki, Nodame, the students of Stresemann's orchestra and the rest of the school learn more about the classical music they're studying as well as themselves.

Story & Characters

In a medium filled with mecha and magical girls, Nodame Cantabile is a refreshing breath of fresh air. Based on a manga of the same name (which has also been adapted as a live-action drama (see Tama's review), Nodame Cantabile is a romantic comedy set in a music conservatory in Japan about a student named Chiaki Shinichi. Chiaki, who is the top piano student at the conservatory, has aspirations of conducting, but is prevented from pursuing this passion because of his fear of flying. In the midst of a string of disappointments, he encounters Noda Megumi (known as Nodame), an eccentric girl whose peculiar behavior and capricious playing he finds both repulsive and captivating. Over the course of the series, the two grow closer and find in each other that which makes music -- and life -- so enjoyable.

PLOT

At first glance, Nodame Cantabile is very similar to Hachikuro (both of which were produced by J.C. Staff) in its setting and atmosphere. Both run the breadth of the emotional spectrum by going from light-hearted comedy to melancholic introspection to cathartic resolution, though Nodame Cantabile remains first and foremost a romantic comedy throughout, never getting quite as pensive or gloomy as does Hachikuro. Any similarities between the two series end there, however.

In terms of plot, Nodame Cantabile was well-paced, charting the developments of both Chiaki and Nodame as musicians and individuals through their often complicated relationship. While the lives of music students may not make for the most fascinating of stories, the plot was delightfully quaint, made particularly so because of the divserse cast of characters.

CHARACTERS

Chiaki and Nodame are clearly the focus of the series, and one would be hard-pressed to find two more dissimilar characters. Chiaki is a music prodigy from a very wealthy family who certainly acts and dresses the part while Nodame is a girl whose very existence seems to defy convention, and frustratingly so. Yet within her often annoying eccentricity is a charming sincerity and naivete that -- over the course of the series -- manages to win over the heart of Chiaki as well as this particular reviewer.

Aside from the star couple are an offbeat cast of supporting characters, including a tyrannical harisen-wielding piano instructor, a cross-dressing timpanist, a melodramatic music critic, and a lecherous conductor. Together, these other characters never fail to keep things interesting.

Rating: 8

Art

Given that Nodame Cantabile is an anime based off of an existing (and, of this writing, ongoing) manga, its art and art style is largely dictated by the previous work.

DESIGN

Elements such as character design made a good translation from the page to the screen, maintaining the fresh charm inherent in Tomoko Ninomiya's original work. While there isn't anything particularly groundbreaking in the artwork, it is solid throughout with good attention to detail.

Of note are what I will, for lack of a better term, designate as background imagery. In most series, background music is used to complement the visual presentation, but given that Nodame Cantabile is an anime about music, at times the relation between music and imagery is reversed, and it is the imagery which serves to complement the music. When it is used, it evokes Fantasia in its visual portrayal of the piece being featured. While the application is not quite as epic in scope in Nodame Cantabile, it is always very well executed whenever it is used.

ANIMATION

One of the most impressive aspects of Nodame Cantabile is its animation. At the same time, animation is also one of its most disappointing aspects. This apparently contradictory dichotomy manifests itself most obviously in the animation of musical performances. Animation in these sequences, which are easily the highlights of the show, all fall into two categories. On one hand are CG sequences in which it is obvious that much time and effort was spent in accurately animating characters playing their particular instruments, while on the other hand are sequences of those same characters in static images. These two types of sequences are always juxtaposed together, which serves only to highlight the attention to detail in the former and the comparative mediocrity of the latter.

Such inconsistency, while understandable, is nevertheless disappointing. As much as one would love to have a series where every episode is given the Live Alive treatment a la Suzumiya Haruhi, unhappy fiscal realities prevent the realization of such fantasies. Still, the CG-to-static ratio of performance sequences improves markedly and consistently throughout the series, and one cannot fail to be impressed by the painstaking attention to detail in the fully-animated sequences.

Rating: 7

Sound

As can be expected from a series where music plays such a central role, there is much to admire in the aural aspects of this anime.

VA

Both the lead roles are voiced by veteran seiyuu who certainly fail to disappoint. Both capture the essence of their characters perfectly; Nodame's signature "gyabo!" exclamation, for example, is at the same time hilarious and charming. The supporting cast are also given very convincing portrayals by their respective voice actors.

SOUNDTRACK

Of particular note, however, is the soundtrack. While plenty of anime have utilized classical music to good effect, none in memory have featured such music in such a way as has Nodame Cantabile. Here, the repertoire includes operas, symphonies, concerti, and sonatas in everything from baroque, classical, romantic, and even modern music. Furthermore, the interpretations used in the course of the series have been tailored to fit the personalities of the characters performing them. Nodame, for example, has a tendency to substantially re-imagine music, from a whimsical Sonata Pathetique to an brilliant -- yet absolutely reckless -- Rachmaninoff Second. All in all, the repertoire -- which plays as much a role in the series as the characters -- is wonderfully selected and can be appreciated by anyone, not just aficionados of classical music.

Incidentally, it should be noted that one of the Nodame Cantabile soundtracks -- Nodame Cantabile LIVE! -- broke a record by becoming the highest ranked classical music album ever on the Oricon charts.

It would be remiss if I were to omit some mention of the opening and ending themes. The opening theme, Allegro Cantabile, by SUEMITSU AND THE SUEMITH, is an upbeat song about love and music that seems perfectly tailored to the anime in both form and content. The ending themes, of which there are two, are also excellently-selected pieces: Konna ni chikaku de..., by CRYSTAL KAY, and Sagittarius, again by SUEMITSU. All three pieces make excellent use of classical instrumentation (piano in the SUEMITSU and string orchestra in the CRYSTAL KAY) within the framework of contemporary pop music and are great to listen to on their own merits.

Rating: 9

Presentation

Amongst anime, there are some series which invoke philosophical rumination and others that play to more visceral tendencies. Nodame Cantabile is neither, and nor does it pretend to be; it is nothing more than a light-hearted romantic comedy that finds the perfect balance of quirkiness, seriousness, and drama to keep one entertained and hooked through the course of twenty-three episodes that is simply enjoyable to watch. (Note: Potential side effects may include an inordinate desire to listen to classical music. Lots of it. End note.)

Bottom line: It's really one of those series that leaves you with a smile at the end.

Rating: 8

Final Verdict

8.00 (good)

Reviewed by shinsengumi, Jul 26, 2007

Comments

  1. magicfindsheep Jul 26, 2007

    Splendid review! I cannot write a review this detailed and this good. It captures everything and anything about the anime. Good job. I'd reccommend people to watch this anime. It is a refreshing anime and somewhat touching. ^^

  2. gomurocket Jul 30, 2007

    This anime is really good, I love it!

  3. xxKurumi Aug 06, 2007

    It's actually quite funny. I'd ended up watching the Nodame anime only a few weeks ago, as I've already been reading the manga for some time, so after I finished another episode I felt compelled to submit a review to minitokyo - and I did. Then, when I went to the review pages, I was shocked to see, not too many spaces down another Nodame review.

    I also found it quite funny that both our reviews started out with somewhat of the same line; which, on my part, was unintentional, as I'd only discovered your review after writing mine.

    But, I did enjoy your review, and the aspects it went over, and we did have similar verdicts.

    Congratulations on a splendid review.

  4. shoujoboy Dec 19, 2007

    What else would I expect from you? I've had this series on my "to watch" list for a while. You don't always need some kind of magical girl or blood fest type show or even one that everyone seems to be watching. Sometimes all you need is that overlooked gem and this seems to be exactly that. Your reviews never fail to dissapoint and are good at either persuading me or dissuading me from watching something all together.

  5. oishi88ramen May 19, 2009

    Goofy girl? Oh, It's Nodame... Best anime, so dont look for another one!

  6. SchRita Aug 24, 2009

    Thanks for the review!

    merged: 10-31-2009 ~ 10:15pm
    Thanks for the review!

  7. rukasu44 Oct 03, 2010

    Best anime? I haven't watched, but I'll take a look and tell you later :P

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