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Nodame Cantabile

Shinichi Chiaki is a first class musician whose dream is to play among the elites in Europe. Coming from a distinguished family, he is an infamous perfectionist—not only is he highly critical of himself, but of others as well. The only thing stopping Shinichi from leaving for Europe is his fear of flying. As a result, he's grounded in Japan. During his fourth year at Japan's top music university, Shinichi happens to meet Megumi Noda or, as she refers to herself, Nodame. On the surface, she seems to be an unkempt girl with no direction in life. However, when Shinichi hears Nodame play the piano for the first time, he is in awe of the kind of music she creates. Nevertheless, Shinichi is dismayed to discover that Nodame is his neighbor, and worse, she ends up falling head over heels in love with him. [Written by MAL Rewrite]
User Count23025
Favorites Count382
Start Date12th Jan 2007
Next ReleaseInvalid date
Popularity Rank475
Rating Rank439
Age RatingPG
Age Rating GuideTeens 13 or older
SubtypeTV
Statusfinished

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These days, I often feel that slice of life is a very much misunderstood genre. Back in the days of "NieA Under 7" and "Beck", it seemed to be a little talked about subgenre of "drama". But a few years ago, for reasons unknown to me, it suddenly exploded into mainstream popularity to the extent that it's now totally eclipsing its parent genre, with anything and everything being (often wrongly) labelled as "slice of life". The small subgenre of genuine slice of life anime however, has always been, in my experience, one of the most consistent genres. They are the kind of anime that deals with the mundane, anime that are often contemplative reflections of various, often under-appreciated aspects of daily life....and then there's "Nodame Cantabile" (and its sequels), a slice of life set in a classical music conservatory. "Nodame Cantabile" is to slice of life anime what the great J.S.Bach is to Baroque music. Just as Bach took the various aspect of Baroque music and brought them to their ultimate form, "Nodame Cantabile" takes the various aspects of slice of life and combines them into into a show that's raises the bar for the genre. It's funny and entertaining without resorting to the forced humour of "Honey and Clover", it's passionate about its subject matter without the exclusiveness of "Genshiken", and it's thought provoking and inspiring without the heavy-handedness of "Planetes". And as someone who's learning piano, it's a series that's really helped fuel my interest not only in piano, but classical music in general (so I might be a tad biased :D \[/disclaimer\]).\[ Warning: I kind of got a bit carried away while writing this and ended up with a rather in depth character analysis section. So be warned that this review contains spoilers regarding the direction of the character development \]"Nodame Cantabile" is not just for classical music enthusiasts (I certainly wasn't one... at least not when I started this anime), there's plenty of other things such as the fabulous character interactions that makes it an awesome watch for the general audience. The storyline isn't completely sensible, but while its occasional use of comedy to progress the story marks it out as one of the more quirky and perhaps less realistic slice of life series, there is no doubt that the values conveyed and the way with which it goes about conveying them are definitive slice of life stuff. It contains plenty of food for thought, as themes such as self improvement and questions concerning ambitions and talent are cleverly woven into the very fabric of the story.Take for example Chiaki, one of the two protagonists of the series. It's obvious from the start of the show that he's a hugely talented musician and can play the violin incredibly well despite being a piano major. Of course, people often has this misconception that things must be come easily to people like him, that these kinds of people hardly need to practice etc, and this is exactly what Mine (a violin student) thought when he's just getting to know Chiaki. But it turns out Chiaki is good on the violin because he'd put in a sickening amount of practice on it prior to entering the academy, where he chose to learn piano precisely because he wasn't as skilled at it. And this is astounding if you think about it, because it completely goes against people's natural instincts, which is pick their strongest subject to study. The fact that Chiaki is willing to take his weakness head on to turn it into his strength is an indication of his incredible drive and commitment. And eventually, Mine begins to appreciate that the secret behind Chiaki's success is not just talent, noting that: "He is amazing, but he's backed up by his hard work." In contrast, the other protagonist Nodame, who is also very talented, is lounging around at the bottom of the class with the stragglers, and this really effectively hammers home the message that there's simply no substitute for honest hard work.Chiaki may work incredibly hard, and may possess incredible musical talent, but he soon finds that sometimes this still isn't enough. His ultimate goal is to become a conductor, and his interactions with various orchestras make up a significant part of the series, throwing up some extremely interesting character interaction and development. The main point of interest here is how Chiaki get to grips with this new role. Despite being fully prepared, and despite being so talented to the extent that he can hear the fault of every instrument in the orchestra (which is an incredible feat itself), he still struggled initially to keep things under control and get them to produce the sound he's looking for. Gradually, he learns that conducting is not just about the music and the technical stuff, the human factor is also very important - getting everyone to gel and striking a balance between being critical of the faults in the performances and keeping the players' morale up all combine to make the task a mammoth one. I know next to nothing about conducting (other than the fact that it's supposed to be ridiculously hard), but I find the scenarios in "Nodame Cantabile" to be extremely believable. If you ever thought conducting should be easy with some guy just waving a baton around, this would almost certainly change your opinion.Though undoubtedly a romantic comedy, "Nodame Cantabile" is relatively light in this aspect, and the romance that is contained in the show has everything to do with music. It's because of her music that Nodame is first able to catch the attention of Chiaki. However it's also because of the music that's there's a gulf separating them. Chiaki's lofty goals means that he's unwilling be anchored by the lack of ambition shown by Nodame, for whom music is initially nothing more than just a fun thing to do. The series' romance revolves around this idea that unless Nodame start taking her music more seriously, Chiaki would soon be heading to a place she can't follow. And though Chiaki's efforts to drag her upwards does have some effect, it would take a lot more than a small change in attitude for them to not drift apart at some point in the future.The character development is not limited to the romance. Chiaki's constant strive for excellence inspires not only Nodame, but also stragglers like Mine to take a more serious, disciplined approach to learning music, and consequently they are gradually able to understand and appreciate better the intentions of the composer in the pieces they play. But what's perhaps more remarkable is that influences are mutual - Chiaki is already incredibly good at the start of the series, but there's still plenty of things for him to learn about music from the straggler students. In particular, his contact with Nodame's wild, untamed talents enables him to take a more complete view of music - it helps him to look beyond his strict, by-the-score methods and realise the value of individuality of musical expression. This ties in with the development that his general personality undergoes: because of his interactions with Nodame and with his first orchestra etc, we see him gradually changing from the cold, aloof perfectionist at the start to a much more warm and understanding person by the end.I don't think it can be denied that "Nodame Cantabile" is an anime that radiates an infectious enthusiasm for classical music, so it's only fitting that I talk a bit (read: extensively) about the music in the series. It should come as no surprise that classical music is omnipresent within the series. The music performed by the students of the conservatory are obviously all from this genre, but the background instrumentals also contain (often tongue-in-cheek) arrangements of famous pieces such as Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" and Tchaikovski's "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy". There are also some nice BGM's that I don't recognise which may be classical music that I'm not familiar with. And though the OP's and ED's aren't classical pieces, there are some connections to classical music even there: the lyrics of the wildly catchy opening theme "Allegro Cantabile" features heavy usage of terms from classical music (as you can see from its title); the second ending theme, plain though it may be, also begins with a really nice violin/piano intro that makes for a blissfully "fade in" music as each episode comes to an end. (The first ending theme is pretty forgettable, but hey - you can't have everything :P) The music that are performed by the students in the series deserve special mention, because a phenomenal effort has been made to tailor most if not all the performances to suit the context in which the performance took place. \[Note: If you want to know more about this, I've dedicated a whole section to analysing this aspect. I've put it at the end of the review so as to not bore the readers who aren't interested in this stuff.\]Of course, all of this leads to a potential problem - though it's easy to like "Nodame Cantabile" even if you're not into classical music, it's a completely different kettle of fish if you hate classical music, especially given that there are long periods, especially towards the end of the series, where you just get a piece of music being performed and not much else happening. This may also bore a not-so-patient viewer who's not that into the music being performed, though it's not something you can really fault the anime for - it's obviously very passionate about classical music after all, and so it's kind of expected that it would invest some time into showing the performances. For those who don't have a knee jerk negative reaction to classical music, it's easy to be caught up in the anime's passion. In particular, I find the characters' thoughts on a piece of music when it's being performed to be an integral part of enjoying the music of "Nodame Cantabile". The "flower garden" of Beethoven's "Spring", the very graceful and "pink" Mozart Oboe Concerto, and the piano play of the Rachmaninoff piano concerto that "illuminates like the morning light in a bottomless ravine"... the well written commentry often combine with the music to form an immersive, spine-tingling atmosphere that effortlessly drew me in, especially during the performances. Often, the audience reactions may be a little exaggerated, but by that point I'd be so taken in by the atmosphere that the exaggerated reactions only added further to the mood. "Nodame Cantabile" can also be quite enlightening with regards to the music being played, often providing insight and background information about the music that really encriched the experience - it's a show that obviously knows its stuff. Anyway, I feel like I've gushed for long enough already. If you love drama, if you love music, or if you want to be inspired, then "Nodame Cantabile" has my highest recommendation.\*\*\*For those who are interested, here's some extra information on the music used in Nodame Cantabile that I picked up. Before I begin, I should give a little background about myself (just so you know how large a grain of salt to take with my opinions on this :P) The first time I watched this series was soon after I started (re-)learning piano at the ripe old age of 24 (I did learn for a couple of years starting when I was about 4 or 5, but had completely forgotten everything by the time I started again). On my first watch, I often wondered whether how closely the music performed in the series matched the commentary made on it. Is the music really performed badly when characters say it sucks, and is it honestly good when they say it's good? It all sounded fine to me! Coming back to this series over two years later with more piano practice under my belt and having listened to many of the pieces found in the show, I now have a better idea about the music performed. So basically my level of expertise isn't very high - I can probably pick up more than a casual listener, but anyone who's studied a bit of classical music would probably know a lot more than I.In fact, for pieces that gets played properly in "Nodame Cantabile", I STILL can't really tell exactly how good they are, because the quality is far enough above the average homemade youtube video performance by random people with usernames along the lines of z0MG1337\_pIaNisT that I'm not really in a position to judge. However, for pieces I'm sufficiently familiar with, I can at least verify that when a character (usually Chiaki) points out that there is a mistake in the performance, then there definitely is a corresponding mistake in the music that is used for that scene. More impressively, one of the main characters Nodame is supposed to be a very talented but eccentric (not always in a good way) pianist, and on my second viewing I was actually able to hear some of the eccentricity in her playing. In particular, her playing of the 2nd movement of Beethoven's famous "Pathetique Sonata" is very distinctive. The piece is supposed to be a sombre, gloomy one, but Nodame plays the left hand part in an almost stoccato like way, and the whole piece is given a bouncing, frolicking interpretation that is a perfect reflection of her own personality.Now, as unbelievable as all this already is, I'd assumed that the same effort is not applied to the orchestral performances, since getting a proper orchestra to perform and tailor their mistakes to the anime would be far more effort than tailoring solo/duet pieces. Also, I could not really tell any difference between the repeated performances of these pieces during the various orchestra rehearsal sessions in the anime. Upon listening to the sound track of the show though, I was shocked to discover that I'd completely underestimated "Nodame Cantabile". For example, there're several tracks dedicated to a single section of an orchestral piece, and just listening to the music by itself allowed me to focus and detect some messiness in the performances, but here's the surprising thing - these tracks are all subtly different! They must have been used for the different rehearsal sessions I was referring to! This really is phenomenal, jaw dropping attention to detail. Seems like they've pulled out all the stops when making "Nodame Cantabile"... and what a splendid piece of work it turned out to be.

Nodame Cantabile (のだめカンタービレ Nodame Kantābire?) is a manga by Tomoko Ninomiya. It follows the story of Noda Megami and Chiaki Shinichi. Nodame Cantabile is a slice of life anime with heavy emphasis on pursuing a career European Classical Music. Like lot of slice of life Nodame Cantabile lacks actual plot, rather the show revolve around the Nodame and Shinichi. The path for professional music is difficult and even more when it a classical music. You don't only need talent but also luck.The focuses is on the idea that achieving your ambition is not an easy task. There are times when nothing goes according to plan or you start to question your own ability but these are part of life and if you want to achieve your dream, you have to change your world yourself. Romance between Noda and Shinichi has quit a prominent part in the anime but the way it is represented is very subtle and light. It never over powers the main theme of the anime. Thus making this anime a great mix of Slice of life, Romance and Music. The show has well balanced comedic and serious scene and none of them overpowers the actual content. The cast of side characters is huge but the best part is that they are very well developed and the anime shines when it brings fresh cast of characters. Their screen time might be less than few minutes but at the end of the day they feel fleshed out. The way they are written and portrayed is phenomenal. Everyone has their ambition and dream even if they walk the same path every one of them feels unique and different. It adds a layer of realism to the anime. But it’s the main characters that sells the show. Even if their first impression may make them look clichéd and stereotypical but as show progress they start standing out. Shinichi is your typical male lead who seems gifted at everything. He is a genius at music and initially the anime make him look damn near perfect but the thing that set him apart (and makes him more interesting) is that he has his weakness. He is afraid flying making it impossible for him to fly abroad where the best of the schools are. Seeing him fight and struggle for his ambition and future makes him hell a lot entertaining. And then there is Nodame. I won’t be talking about her much as it will be a spoiler but know this that she is insane. She represents the opposite of Shinichi, she is very talented on the piano but don’t want to make her love, her career. She want to play piano only for fun not for fame. The animation of show is pretty standard affair but it’s not bad in any means. The background is static compliment by lot of static shots. The interesting part is that there are lot of visual metaphor and in my book that make it more interesting. There are some CG which fits very well with style of the show. Overall the animation is average with some tricks of its own setting it apart from the crowd. Where the animation fails the music succeeds with flying colors. It includes work by Mozart, Beethoven, Elgar and other composer from European classical music. I am no expert on Classical music but you can make out how much work went into it. Every new episode features new pieces. The show’s original soundtrack is pretty great. The opening and closing are very catchy and enjoyable, there are some piano tracks which complements the show quite well. The show could drag out if you’re not a fan of European Classical music as it has a prominent role in it. I watched it dubbed which was done by Animax Asia which was average. Nodame Cantabile has very few flaws and it is a treat to watch both as a slice of life and music anime as well.

***Exposition*** Nodame Cantabile is an anime adaptation of the manga written by Ninomiya Tomoko. It is a slice of life-romance anime and does not disappoint. Nodame Cantabile is set in a university specific for those studying music and seeking careers in said field. Nodame Cantabile lacks a proper story, but as a slice of life its main focus is on the main characters and the time they spend at the conservatorium working towards their goals and whatever may come in between. The romance between the two main characters could be considered as the main plot device; though it works in such a well-executed way that sometimes you forget it’s even there. The animation of the show is pretty average, but it excels at providing decent background music and is even better music when there are actual pieces playing. Nodame Cantabile is a very satisfying slice of life anime. ***Development*** Nodame Cantabile is set in Momogaoka Conservatorium. It follows the everyday doings of the main characters, Chiaki Shinichi and Noda Megumi, as they study at university and aim to fulfil their wishes in completing their degrees to eventually find work in whatever they may want. Of course, on top of this, Nodame is smitten with Chiaki from the minute she is introduced to the show, and is Chiaki’s neighbour at the student dorm; and the anime continues from there. Chiaki Shinichi is an incredible pianist and violinist, although he is a piano major. At the start of the series, he comes across as a highly arrogant musician; but as the series continues, we learn that he is simply highly critical with regards to music, on others and most especially himself. Though being very talented with the piano and violin, Shinichi’s true dream is to become a conductor. As the series goes on, Chiaki, because of Nodame, becomes much warmer towards others, and his evolution from his initial character is highly prominent. After meeting Nodame and discovering she is his neighbour, he takes incredibly good care of her. Noda Megumi is studying a piano major at the same conservatorium. She is one year Chiaki’s junior. She falls in love with Chiaki and becomes incredibly reliant on him when need be. She plays piano by ear, an incredible talent in itself, but is ridiculed by Chiaki and others because her playing is eccentric, and dependant on Nodame’s feeling’s at the time of playing; as a result of this, they are many are time when the music she plays is different to the original composition. The art and animation of Nodame Cantabile is fairly ordinary. It isn’t that bad, but it isn’t too great either. The animators did fairly well at time when animation of characters playing instruments or conducting was needed. There were times when still shots of an environment were used. These shots may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I thought the watercolour shots were very nice. In retrospect, the still shots they used were very well fitting, considering the anime is about Classical European music. The background music of Nodame Cantabile isn’t the highlight of this anime at all. A fair bit of the time I could hear classical pieces played in the background, but a lot of it I don’t remember due to it being drowned out by whatever may have been happening in a scene. The true music that stands out in this anime is the classical pieces. There was at least an excerpt of one classical piece in each episode. But whenever there was a proper orchestral performance, the whole piece would usually be played, and would make up at least a third of the episode. The performers of each piece need to be given credit here, as they made the whole experience great. Now, my ears aren’t the greatest, and I’m not the most observant listener, but there were many a piece where characters would mess up the piece in the slightest ways, and it was nice to hear the mistakes whenever they weren’t so subtle. Now, I have to say, that on my watch through of this anime, I garnered a great interest in classical music, and personally am quite keen to learn some pieces myself. That being said classical music isn’t always something a person may like, so whatever your take on classical music is. You can take my thoughts in whatever way you’d like. ***Recapitulation*** Nodame Cantabile is not much for a story, with the closest thing to a story being the romantic plotline between Shinichi and Nodame. The main characters are fairly charismatic in their own way, and have their own understandings for the viewer to see. The art of Nodame Cantabile is pretty, but generally is satisfactory at best. The true selling point for the anime is in the music that is brought to the table. All the music is played exactly how it is intended to sound with regards to each scene of the episode. The anime does very well in producing genuine interest in classical music. I was not really one for listening to classical music beforehand, but this anime did well in convincing me otherwise. It was a very enjoyable watch from start to finish, and if you are a watcher of Slice of Life anime, Nodame Cantabile is one you definitely should not miss. ------------------------------------------- Hi. This review was written at the same time as my Shinsekai yori review, so obviously it is equally as bad, if not it’s more lacking. If you’re reading this, I’d love it if you'd read my Shinsekai yori review as well, and if you wanted you could give me feedback! If not, that’s your choice, I don’t mind lol. Cheers.

Touching, thoughtful, and laid back. Very few anime I have watched gave me the impression that I was watching real people, but the characterization and overall vibe of this anime give that impression. I'm normally the last person that would watch a romcom, anime or otherwise, but this one is just too good to miss. This anime is moving, both emotionally and musically, and if you have any experience in a wind band or an orchestra, you will be able to appreciate the setting even more. The comedy is well done, and complements the romantic aspect of the show completely. 9/10

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