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.