[Remembering Love] Nodame Cantabile’s Isle of Joy

It’s been around five years since it first aired, and Nodame Cantabile continues to hold its place in my heart as one of the greatest josei, no, anime that I have experienced.  Although the characters and story are certainly understandable reasons for loving this show, it is the music and setting that really make Nodame Cantabile an anime for me to remember.

Set in Japan’s Momogaoka College of Music, Megumi “Nodame” Noda and Shinichi Chiaki are two extremely different types of music students.  An accomplished pianist and violinist, Chiaki also harbors dreams of becoming an orchestral conductor.  He shines as one of the most driven and talented musicians in the student population, and even intimidates some of university’s strictest instructors.  Nodame, on the other hand, is a carefree pianist with an anime obsession and serious sanitation issues.  She plays music purely on whim, resulting in frequent improvisation and blatant disregard for a score’s notations.

For all its humor, feeding primarily off of Nodame’s child-like fancies and Chiaki’s outraged reactions, NC gives classical music plenty of respect and adoration.  The first season, especially, dedicates precious screen time to large sections of musical performances.  Both the performer and the audience portray the emotional and even spiritual effects of music.  As I noted in my post on Sakamichi no Apollon, my idea of the ideal performance marries technique with expression, all founded upon a thorough understanding of the building blocks and background of the music.  I have played music all my life, and have never regretted learning more theory and history, though I may have begrudged the tediousness at the time; on the contrary, the information increased my appreciation and self-confidence.  As shown in the above image where Nodame performs Debussy’s “L’Isle Joyeuse,” her feelings for Chiaki and many hours of practice work together to convey the floral joy of both the composer and performer to the listener.  The three of these culminate as the quintessential exchange of music and man.

The classical music bad-ass-ery continues on in twenty-five manga volumes, two more glorious anime seasons, and a live action drama (plus specials).  There’s plenty of Mozart, Beethoven, Liszt, and Gershwin to go around for everyone! And although the music is what beckons to me time and again, I am continually touched by the struggles that the characters, both main and supporting, experience.  What pulls them through is not only their love for music, but their love for each other that they discover amidst all the studying, practicing, and performing.


This post is my final one in participation with TRazor’s Remembering Love blog series.

15 thoughts on “[Remembering Love] Nodame Cantabile’s Isle of Joy

    • I can’t even imagine Nodame’s voice dubbed with English! I’m so in love with the VA’s work, I think I would cry hearing the character portrayed differently ><


      • The dub wasn’t terrible, mostly California actors, but I did have an odd moment when I recognized some of them from clips I’ve seen of Digimon. xD


        • Ahaha, that’s pretty silly :p I watched Digimon on TV way back in the day, and so thankfully wouldn’t recognize any of the English voices.


  1. I totally fell in love with this series when I watched it. I was part of an orchestra so I could totally relate on some parts of the series. Also Mukya! Gyabo!


    • It’s interesting to read the reactions to this anime from musicians and non-musicians. Most musicians love the music sequences and were upset when the following seasons shortened/lessened the performances, while non-musicians found them boring and preferred them being cut. Every time I watch Nodame play, I can’t help but ghost play on my lap :p


      • I totally know what you mean. Ahahahaha oh god I also do that too when watching Nodame (or even that Rachmaninoff piece with Chiaki) play.


  2. Every time it comes to music in your blogs it’s like your eyes light up. Your love of music just really shines through. As for the anime I doubt I’ll ever whatch it. I think I’d like it most of the time, but I get this sneaking suspicion that it would depress me badly.

    Oh and it drives me batty when I hear characters I’m used to hearing with a different voice actor. You’d think it wouldn’t with my love of anime and foreign films, especially old kung fu flicks since they used to dub over their stars anyways. I mean in the original language btw.


    • I’m curious why watching this show might depress you. If you don’t want to share, that’s cool, but I have a hard time imagining that you wouldn’t enjoy the anime!


  3. Well because it sounds like a love story. Watching that kind of stuff often makes me sad and if I’m already kinda sad no matter how good it is I’ll go to a very dark place. The first time I saw Shrek I was really down and it left me angry and crying.

    I could probably watch and greatly enjoy the show tbh. I like Shrek a lot now, but this would be a much longer and likely has more serious undertones. Odds are eventually it would hit me hard.

    So basically I’m just weird.


    • I remember one animation that had me whimpering was Pixar’s film, Up. The sweet courting and marriage of Carl and Ellie, followed by her death occur so quickly in the movie, but resonant strongly with the viewer. Pixar at its finest!


  4. UP is an excellent movie. That opening set up you mentioned is brilliant. They quickly and effectively showed you why he is how is now. Good call.

    You know my favorite of those type of movies? WALL-E. I love how they get all of that emotion across with very few words. They just let you feel.


    • I absolutely love WALL-E. Really, I think Pixar does just a great job with conveying affection with their choice of music and skillful art and animation.


  5. This is sweet. Your sentiment of the story resonates with me, for I have fond memories of Nodame Cantabile and the joy it’s brought over the years. The drama left the greatest impression on me, so I hope you’ve seen it!



    • I have seen the drama, and I agree that it is wonderful as well! I think I’ve seen almost every version that’s available, since just the hint of the title and I’m scrambling to get my hands on it!


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