Nodame Cantabile Finale

October 30, 2010

As the name suggests, Nodame Cantabile Finale is probably the final season for the anime series. My little research on Wikipedia has me discovered that the manga itself too has ended around October 2009 so I guess it is high time that the series that was first given the anime treatment back in 2007 will finally come to a close too, no? Well, nothing lasts forever. Unless you’re talking about Naruto. Haha! Just joking! As for classical music, I suppose they’ll be around much longer as long as we humans retain interests in them.

For those who have watched the prequels, you would be bloody familiar who the pianist prodigy, Megumi Noda or more fondly known as Nodame is. You don’t need any more introductions when you hear her familiar trademarks of “Gyabo!” and “Mukya!”. That faithful meeting with her self proclaimed boyfriend-cum-husband senpai of hers, the perfectionist and arrogant Shinichi Chiaki, has them on a crazy ride in terms of relationship and studies in music which has taken them from Japan to Paris. For newbies who want to know more, go read my previous blog or watch the entire series from the start. The live action drama if you wish also.

In this third instalment, Chiaki and Nodame continue to hone their skills in Paris and hopefully we would see some development between the 2 lovebirds. Hopefully. As episode 1 begins, we see Nodame practising real hard on her piano till she forgot to attend Chiaki’s Roux-Marlet Orchestra performance. Sure, the clock died but you can’t blame it all on it can’t you? It’s like saying your dog ate your homework. This was what happened earlier. Chiaki decides to move out from his apartment for the time being because it is a little noisy and distracting (he bought a little car in the previous season). Nodame tells her desire to her professor Auclair that she wants to enter a competition but that Master Yoda (that’s what Nodame calls him) disagrees and gives her assignments of pieces to work on. Chiaki stays at Nina’s place but develops a fever as he is working too hard. With Chiaki gone, I guess it’s obvious Nodame isn’t her cheery self. But the other occupants of the apartment sure are. Remember the Russian Tanya, the Chinese Yun Long, and the anime otaku of the same level as Nodame, Frank? Yeah, they’re all still here. Tanya and Yun Long argue because it seems they are entering the same competition.

So the night of Chiaki’s performance, Nodame rushes all the way there and missed the first piece. Hey, it’s better than missing the whole show. Then Chiaki conducts and plays the piano at the same time. I don’t know how he did that but he astounded the crowd. After the performance, Nodame confronts Chiaki. She isn’t happy that he is climbing the ladder all by himself. Chiaki has a short flashback of how his dad left the family because he can’t concentrate no his music. Rui and her date are having dinner and since that guy is worried about kissing and the likes, it was bright of Rui to dump him because she knows she’s wasting her time getting excited over him. Tell that right to his face! Nodame continues her piano lesson under Maginot but the teacher notices her playing style quite irritated. Nodame tells her about her boyfriend problems. Later Maginot talks to Auclair that she thinks Nodame should be prepared to enter competitions since she is improving tremendously but Auclair doesn’t want to undo all the progress they have made as she is in a crucial period now. Nodame gets a call from Lambert from St Malo and she is over the moon since she is going to hold her first saloon concert.

Nodame is about to relay the good news to Chiaki in episode 2 but her happiness turns into despair when she learns he is moving out to a place of his own. Poor Nodame thinks he hates her! Though Chiaki says he wants to focus on his studies and be independent. So over the so called ‘Last Supper’ with Chiaki, Nodame tells him her first concert. He promises he will come. Sure Chiaki probably tried to cheer Nodame up by allowing her to visit his new place whenever she felt like it. But given an inch, she wants a mile and even asks how long it takes to reach his place or give a spare key to his room. As expected, Chiaki changes his mind and never wants her to come. Later Chiaki gets a call from his mom from Japan telling him not to neglect his angel Nodame. That night Nodame take stalking pictures of Chiaki sleeping before pecking him on his forehead and leaving. Rui manages to have Auclair as her teacher. But it seems having lessons at his home isn’t what she is hoping for. Spending more time cooking? Even talented pianists like can have drawbacks like not being able to cook well. So it’s not surprising when she starts reflecting back on the troubles she had to go to persuade Auclair to be her teacher and he even spend more quality lesson time with Nodame than her. Rui goes back to her messy apartment and finds her mom there. She is planning for Rui’s next performance (she’s been taking a whole year off already) but Rui wishes not to make any while studying here. Mommy is persistent so Rui got fed up and left. That’s why it’s important to leave without an empty stomach. Now she’s got nowhere to go and hungry. Who is the first person she calls? Why, Chiaki of course. He so happen to have finished his orchestra practice (they got dumped out by ballet girls wanting to use the hall?).

Chiaki and Rui dine at a restaurant in episode 3 as she tells him her issues like wanting to get away from piano but her mom wouldn’t let her, etc. They also talk about the time they performed together and since Chiaki said he had a lot of fun, Rui starts to fall for him (gasp!). Since Rui got rejected to go to Chiaki’s new place, she heads back and finds her place cleaned up and mommy sleeping. Rui starts playing the piano and her beautiful play wakes mommy up. Next morning, her mom leaves and is glad to know Rui is playing piano because she wants to. Rui expresses her desire to play piano with Chiaki conducting. News report that a famous conductor Salvatore Lippi has passed on. Many are saddened of his passing and Stresemann not only becomes gloomy but acts like a kid, much to assistant Elise’s dismay. Chiaki then gets a call to perform with Rui via Wiltord Orchestra. The night Nodame is to play her saloon concert, there is a transport strike, thus the reason why everywhere is jammed up. Chiaki sees a poster that Lippi’s orchestra will be conducted by Viella in his place (I changed his name spelling from Viera from my previous blog since it his name is officially spelt this way). Speaking of the devil, Chiaki sees Viella in the crowded bus. They happily reunited. Viella offers Chiaki to come see him rehearse so understandably Chiaki can’t let this chance slip and has to give Nodame’s one a miss. Nodame astounds the crowd with her piano play. During the break when she gets word Chiaki isn’t able to come, she remains her composure and professionalism. At the end of her performance, several ladies congratulate her over her fine play. They wonder why she hasn’t enter any competition so when Nodame says she wasn’t allowed to by Auclair, they think it’s best not to tell her what to do and wish her luck for her next performance. Lambert congratulates Nodame over her improved performance so Nodame leaves but she doesn’t seem happy. Was it Chiaki’s no-show?

Chiaki returns to apologize to Nodame and explain his chance meeting with Viella in episode 4. Though Nodame is okay with it, she is unhappy she didn’t get any offers to perform another concert. Next morning, Chiaki tells Nodame that he will be leaving for Italy to study under Viella at an opera house where he works. Before Nodame leaves with Lucas to walk together to school, Chiaki suggests they attend Lippi’s memorial concert tomorrow by Viella. It was so great that it reduced Nodame to tears! Meanwhile Tanya is heartbroken that her crush Kuroki is hanging out with another girl. And she thought nobody else would fall for a plain guy like him, eh? Though she learns Kuroki’s girl was being asked by his professor to take care of him (being selfish and disturbing neighbours with her incessant playing), Tanya decides to help him out and allows her to move into her apartment. I’m not sure if this is her plan of winning Kuroki’s heart but she doesn’t seem to happy Kuroki is always visiting her and doing her errands. Not to mention the apartment is getting noisier and noisier with all the pianists practising real hard. Keep it down! Yeah it was wise of Chiaki to move out. Probably Tanya’s worries has her put her soul and emotion into her play so much so her teacher is astounded that she improved so much just before her graduation. One day Tanya spots Kuroki’s girl really down so she concludes she didn’t pass. Call it relief or what since she is going back to Japan doing bakery as they hold a cheer party for her. Tanya sees Kuroki sleeping alone as she kisses him.

Tanya and Yun Long are performing at the same competition in episode 5. Tanya is surprised that the crowd likes it and may be able to pull it off while Yun Long is nervous but manages to get by. Tanya qualifies for the next round but Yun Long is out. The gang learns Yun Long will be going back to China and probably open his own music shop. He even proposes to them if they can’t find a job, they can come work for him there. Is that an insult? Yun Long calls Chiaki to go see Tanya’s competition with Kuroki. Tanya is confident of making the next round but her name didn’t show up. Because of that, she sinks into depression and locks herself in her room. Attempts by the gang to get her out failed so Nodame calls Chiaki for help. I’m sure Kuroki was the secret weapon that got Tanya out of her room. Nodame and Frank go see the final round of the competition and were amazed by the high level of the performance. Kuroki learns that Tanya was betting her future on this competition. Her chances of going home are higher since she failed to produce any results. Kuroki doesn’t mind sharing his room with her as long as she can continue schooling but the rest thinks it’s some confession. But Tanya isn’t happy and runs back to her room. That’s when Nodame barges into the room in high spirits. She tells him about the tremendous final round piece and wishes to play it with Chiaki. She is reluctant to name the piece as she thought it would jinx it but eventually lets him know it’s a piece from Ravel and demonstrates it. But Chiaki doesn’t seem excited because that is the piece he is supposed to play with Rui. He just couldn’t tell her. Tanya laments why she didn’t use her time more wisely while Nodame’s plea to enter a competition gets shot down again by Auclair. Not feeling too good now, isn’t she?

Chiaki is in a dilemma over that Ravel piece in episode 6. Though he intends to tell Nodame but that quirky girl eventually found out about it via Yun Long. Chiaki must’ve known what’s coming for him when he sees a ghostly Nodame. Prepare yourself. Obviously she’s disappointed so the duo chat. Chiaki decides to help Nodame as he coaches her the pieces she is assigned to play by Auclair. Nodame need not worry anything else except playing piano because her meals and laundry are taken care of by Chiaki. He’s being doing that since the day they met, right? Because of that, Chiaki decides to cancel his trip to Italy since he wants to make the journey with her this time. They continue to practice and study the pieces thoroughly (not to mention spending quality time together). Probably they’ve been doing all that music theory and notes all day so it was quite a pleasant surprise when they kissed! That wasn’t a fluke, that’s for sure. Tanya sees Kuroki as the latter mentions he wishes her to be his accompaniment for a competition he is going to enter. Nodame isn’t a selfish girl so using the tortoise and the hare example that Chiaki as a rabbit can’t run forever and must take a break, she wishes him to go study his own materials too since his performance with Rui is coming up.

As Chiaki performs with the Roux-Marlet Orchestra’s Subscription Concert in episode 7, he learns Nodame didn’t turn up like she always did. He knows she is focusing on her piece. Then during her lesson with Auclair, Nodame notices he didn’t address her as Bebe-chan anymore and is ecstatic that she may have graduated in some way. She was so happy that she forgot to ask for tickets for Chiaki-Rui’s concert. She wouldn’t have if Lucas didn’t remind her. Luckily Chiaki foresee this and has reserved several tickets for her and her pals. She would happily go pick up the tickets but Chiaki says he will bring them over instead since he will be stopping by at Rui’s to practice. Nodame sinks into depression over this ‘betrayal’. This allowed Nodame to play effectively a piano piece that is filled with depression and sadness. Till Maginot gives her play a cheery piece. No mood for that, eh? Rui could’ve been Nodame no. 2 for Chiaki if he had started cleaning her filthy room. He learns about Rui’s dad who was more into jazz music. Rui and Chiaki practice with the orchestra and they think they’re going to have a swell time with a talent like her around. On the night of the much awaited performance, everyone makes their way into the concert hall with much anticipated. Seems most of them looks up to Rui but not Chiaki. Probably they have different views on what he’s like :). Nodame sees Auclair attending too.

Nodame is pretty confident that though they’ll give a wonderful performance, that piece won’t suit them in episode 8. Too bad Nodame has to eat her words once she sees how magnificent Rui is. It’s no surprise that the performance exceeds all expectations to a rousing standing ovation. Nodame goes to see Chiaki and wishes to stay at his place. Chiaki allows though he will be leaving early tomorrow to Italy. Chiaki can tell Nodame is acting weird but did he expect her to suddenly jump and hug him? Next morning, before he leaves, Nodame (covering herself in a blanket like a Jedi?) springs a surprise. She wants Chiaki to marry her! But Chiaki brushes it off and leaves. Even if it was a bad joke, he couldn’t classify it as one because she had that serious look in her eyes. Because of that, his mind is clouded with that and paid no attention playing poker with Jean and couldn’t focus his concentrating in Viella’s rehearsal. Stresemann returns to Paris (probably not for anything good if we know him) and sees Nodame. He is the same flirty dirty old bastard but he is taken aback when Nodame starts crying. He hears her out and from the way she says things, she has had it with this kind of life. Nothing but music day in day out. Stresemann has her show her the results of her studies. Stresemann, not sure if he turned into some cult figure or what, he extends his hands to help her out and wants him to ditch Chiaki for him. It’s like making a contract with the devil as he narrates how he’ll be her servant and she’ll do the same on the other side for him. I guess Nodame was at her weakest moment and confused so she reaches out to him.

Though word has Nodame being sick and unable to attend class for 3 days in episode 9, she goes missing. Chiaki gets word of it and calls back to Japan to see if she has gone back there. Ah yes. All our season 1 characters make their brief appearances her such as Chiaki’s family, Mine and Masumi. But that’s about it. She’s not there. Maginot is worried that something might have happened to her since she and Auclair were secretly preparing her for a competition (Nodame doesn’t know about this). Nodame is with Stresemann as he introduces the ‘lifeless’ girl to his British orchestra that he will be performing with. They are amazed with her talent. Chiaki learns from Elise that Nodame is going to make her debut performance with Stresemann in London. Nodame is the talk of the town since she is a relative unknown with no competition wins to her name and yet a famous maestro made last minute changes to include her in his performance, she must be really something, right? Chiaki attends the concert and after the lengthy orchestra intro of Chopin’s piece, it’s Nodame’s turn to shine. Her magic finger work is making Stresemann a hard time to keep up but overall she didn’t wreck the music and maintains everyone with her power. Chiaki realized that God probably made him ‘stranded’ in Japan to bring her to this stage. It was a splendid performance in the end. Chiaki was brought to see Nodame in the dressing room but she doesn’t want to see him. Chiaki takes an overnight train back to Italy and has a feeling they can’t go back to their usual ways now.

News of Nodame’s debut success hit worldwide and everyone (even as far as her pals back in Japan) finds out about it after watching a famous online video file sharing site in episode 10. Elise is probably trying to get Nodame to sign contracts for future performances but Nodame is still reeling from the shocking limelight she has just received. She tells Elise that she can’t play anymore. Because of that she runs away and I don’t know how, she ended up in Egypt! Did she have enough money? Now she doesn’t. Apparently Nodame isn’t happy with her success because it has been her dream to do a debut with Chiaki and not somebody else. Now that dream is in tatters. Stresemann and Auclair happen to meet in a hotel. Auclair isn’t happy of what he has done because he had ruined everything. She had nearly become a true pianist and the resolve to live with music till he ruined everything. She loved music but hated the industry and learned the joy of music through different composers and pieces. Till he ruined everything. Stresemann thinks it’s some parental love-like thingy but Auclair thinks he is a devil. I don’t know how Nodame got the money to take a trip back to Paris but she overshot her destination and ended up in Belgium. Stresemann sees Chiaki and talks to him. Meanwhile Kuroki is babysitting children from the Roux-Marlet Orchestra and brings them back to the apartment. Nodame makes her way back and starts playing her piano. Everyone recognizes that play and is surprised to see her returned. Kuroki sends Chiaki a mail on Nodame. Chiaki wonders if it would’ve been a good thing to have left her in Japan. But he will say yes to her proposal.

Nodame is having her hands full playing pieces the Roux-Marlet kids want to hear in episode 11. Remember, Nodame’s ambition was to become a kindergarten teacher so it’s no surprise she’s good with kids. Chiaki’s return shocks her as he wishes for her to perform together. But Nodame declines thinking that if she fails at playing a concert with him, she may stop loving him! Still kicking up a fuss, Chiaki ‘kidnaps’ Nodame and brings her to Nina’s place (since she has 2 pianos side by side). Noting that they both have changed, Chiaki insists that they try. As usual their piano skills didn’t get rusty at all and is more than ear candy. Aphrodisiac if I should say. Though Nodame crumbled in the final movement. But it seems Nodame has fallen in love with him again and jumps to hug him. Nodame returns to Auclair and will work hard to graduate. He also tells her that the Benoit family in St Malo has requested her to play another concert, in which Nodame quickly accepts. Chiaki narrates how the apartment got a couple of new music students as tenants, Yun Long returns to China, Tanya accepted in a chamber music class and gets to continue staying in Paris, Frank gets to play a duet with Rui at the Fontine Music Festival, Kuroki and Tanya take a train to Munich for the former’s competition (it’s safe to say that their relationship blossoms from here) and Stresemann reliving his childhood days by riding rides at an amusement park (he never grows up). Lastly, Nodame prepares her St Malo concert before a packed crowd with people coming from afar and wide just to see her. Chiaki is also there to watch her. And yeah, I never realized this but Nodame’s French must’ve been good by now.

Though it has ended, there is an OVA episode many dubbed as episode 12 as it takes place between the main series and Opera-hen setting. Opera what? After the series has ended, Nodame Cantabile: Opera-hen as a 1 volume sequel (at this point) released back in December 2009 that also serves as a prequel to the live action film released in April 2010. Confused? So am I. In this episode that lasts less than 12 minutes, we see Chiaki narrating about jealousy and stealing of loved ones. Is this guy undergoing some mid-life crisis? It all started when he and Nodame are arguing about food. I don’t know. Must be some sauce. You know, typical lover’s quarrel. Nodame gets a call from Lucas (sounds all grown up now?) asking her to go out for a date. Sly Nodame takes this chance to get her revenge by accepting it. Sure Chiaki doesn’t give a hoot but you can tell by his facial expressions and body language it is otherwise. Tanya teases Chiaki that he may have a date as well since he is humming happily. He doesn’t deny it. As Nodame and Lucas go out on their date (nothing spectacular really. Eating hot dogs on the hill slope…) but Nodame is talking how cool Chiaki is still. She receives an SMS from Tanya saying that Chiaki has a date so she instantly rushes home to ‘prevent any further damage’. Haha! Seems the girl Chiaki is dating is Yuiko (Chiaki’s younger cousin). Lucas is taken in by Yuiko’s beauty and hits on her. Frenchman style! Use the language of love, baby! Did he ditch Nodame? But heck, Yuiko too is taken by his charming words. And heck, Lucas starts taking Yuiko out the next day. Because of that, Chiaki isn’t too fond of that and follows them like a stalker! He’s going to kill him! Now he knows the true meaning of jealousy of hate when he sees the duo so close together. Since when he’s got a loli sister complex? Poor Nodame…

There is another OVA episode dubbed episode 0 because it takes place between the Paris Hen and Finale. Think of it as a prelude to the third season. We see Kiyora (Mine’s girlfriend) joining Chiaki, Nodame, Jean and Yuko in Vienna to see Stresemann. But that old jerk irresponsibly ran off to Japan. What to do than to go sightseeing and I guess Nodame was drunk at a restaurant that she started conducting with a knife! She made Kiyora play her air violin too! The gang also learn Jean and Yuko are getting married sometime soon in Japan. Jean and Yuko depart for Italy while the rest return to Paris. Kiyora is entering a violin competition there. Mine with the permission of using his dad’s secret funds, takes a lifetime trip to Paris to see Kiyora in action. If you remember the idiot he is, you’ll be glad to know that with Nodame around things didn’t change. Two idiots… Yeah, Nodame and Mine even played a mock scene of Chiaki and Nodame respectively. It was so gross that Chiaki had to throw stuff at them. Two idiots… Mine takes a tour with Nodame, Tanya, Frank and Yun Long around Paris. He also tells them and Chiaki about some of the relationship development of his Rising Star Orchestra members. Mine missed Kiyora’s first round performance because he took the wrong train. He still needs time to master French. Also, Kiyora’s number is among the first. Dejected Mine talks to Kuroki about his Rising Star Orchestra whereby it may not materialize because everyone is busy with their own schedule and the conductors like Matsuda and Takahashi are no go because the former is going overseas and the latter loggerheads. Chiaki was eavesdropping. Kiyora’s astounding performance has her reach the final round. There, she surprises Mine by hugging him (he didn’t tell her he was here initially as not to distract her but she could spot her idiot anywhere) and doesn’t care about the results since everyone was here to support her. She got 3rd place. Kiyora and Mine return back to Japan as Chiaki and Nodame see them off. Chiaki gives him words of encouragement and contacts of Katahira and Jean if he ever needed a conductor for his orchestra. Mine is touched that he has been praised by him.

If that was how it really ended, then I can’t say that I am really satisfied. It felt that it could go on further. No doubt that just in the previous seasons, it explores and develops the relationship between Chiaki and Nodame further. In addition to their musical skills being vastly improved, I could say that there is a step forward in their bond. No doubt they may be the same people overall and though the surprising revelation of Nodame’s serious proposal to Chiaki, they’re still short of being officially a couple. See, doesn’t that feel a little disappointing if this series is supposed to be its last? They kissed, you know. But it’s nice to see the duo when they interact with each other. Sometimes hilarious and fun, sometimes heart warming. Hey, what happened to Rui? I was sensing that Nodame was going to get another love rival since it hinted that she has feelings for Chiaki (I already guessed that in the previous season) but after the sizzling duet performance, it’s like they have gone their separate ways. Nodame seems to rely less on her anime and Puri Gorota obsession now. With Auclair giving her lots of assignments, perhaps she has no time with that. Chiaki was able to meet Viella finally and even if he isn’t going to waste this chance studying under him, he still keeps Nodame in his sight.

There wasn’t much on the other characters but it is better this time round as compared to the second season. For example, Masumi and Mine did make their cameo appearance albeit only very brief. It was better than never appearing at all during the second season. Tanya, Frank and Yun Long are still around trying their best but my guess is that they’ll never reach the levels of Nodame and Chiaki. They’re on a different level. Oh wait, Yun Long isn’t around anymore. Hehe. And when Tanya and Kuroki’s relationship was just about to blossom right at the end of the series, it already ended. See, doesn’t that feel a little disappointing… Oh, I’ve said that already. Stresemann and Elise also never changed. The old guy is still a pervert and irresponsible carefree conductor while his manager the scheming woman. I don’t know whether Stresemann’s plan of Nodame’s London debut has more good than bad because although it wrecked her dream, at least in a way it propelled her to the stage and made her decide is this the kind of future she wants. Hey, Nodame’s a simple girl. She dreams of being a kindergarten teacher if music isn’t her priority. I’m being reminded of that Matsuda guy during his Paris Hen OVA appearance. Since he didn’t make any here, I guessed he really got screwed. Haha!

The opening theme by Yuu Sakai is Manazashi Daydream feels like it has a little bit of soul in it. At least it sounded better than the previous season. The little thing I find odd about it was how the music was abruptly ended. I know, trying to fit within the time constraints but I felt that way it was like being ‘cut off’. As for the ending theme, it is Kaze To Oka No Ballad by Real Paradis with Nodame Orchestra. Don’t worry, this sounds more like a pop piece sung entirely in Japanese as compared to the previous season which was totally sung in French. Of course there are feature orchestra pieces and since I’m not a classical music buff, I don’t identify with many of them. Everything else in the series remains the same in terms of the drawing and art visuals (still have that ‘bleached’ and ‘light’ feel to it) to the voice acting (nobody does “Gyabo!” and “Mukya!” better than Ayako Kawasumi) and the next episode preview (short random nonsensical lines that hardly lasts 5 seconds. And if you really want to see clips of the next episode, it is still presented during the ending animation credits).

Maybe the word ‘Finale’ is a little misleading. Certainly with the way things are going it isn’t going to be the finish line for Chiaki and Nodame yet. Yeah, I know I don’t want it to end this way and hope that they would make a proper sequel to end it. Well like I’ve mentioned, there is Opera-hen is still ongoing so maybe if they ever feel like it they could make a sequel from there. Who knows. But I still don’t have any interests in classical music and more into anime pop. It’s the moe-moe culture for me. Time to take out that keyboard of mine and pound some tunes. Never mind, it got rusty…

Nodame Cantabile

When the much highly anticipated 3rd season of Nodame Cantabile came out in October 2009, I was a little disappointed because it was just a 1 episode OVA entitled Nodame Cantabile: Paris Hen OVA. Later I found out that the 3rd and final instalment of this series was slated to be in early 2010 (which is currently in the midst of running at the time of this blog) so I guess it must be a trend for anime producers these days that if a series is to have more than 1 season, an OVA is necessary. Just like appetizers, it serves to whip viewers’ appetite and interest for the upcoming series.
 
In this particular OVA which lasts 22 minutes only, the main character in focus here is some conductor guy named Yukihisa Matsuda. Initially I don’t remember who this obnoxious stuck up guy is so I went back and checked my previous blog and started to recall faint memories of it. This Matsuda guy was supposed to be Chiaki’s replacement of the R-S Orchestra right at the end of the first season. Because he was such a minor character then and didn’t make any appearance in the second season, it’s no surprise that I could not remember him.
 
It seems that Matsuda has just landed in Paris. Don’t actually remember the real reason. Whether he gave up his conducting leadership for the R-S Orchestra or he is here to improve his conducting skills or just pissed about his rival Chiaki. Speaking of which, this guy has got his so called beautiful future planned out that he has written them in a diary called Future Journal. Going to be the next world’s best conductor, eh? So why does his attitude towards Chiaki seems like the jealous kind of type? I’ve got a feeling that his obnoxious talk in some cafe with other customers seems to be talking highly about himself and putting down Chiaki. Not that everyone really cares, though.
 
While Matsuda takes a stroll, a lot is going through his mind especially the national level orchestra in France. Not to mention he can’t believe Chiaki is Stresemann’s apprentice. Furthermore, he’s talking about his dark hair colour which should’ve been his character for debut. Huh? Oh just keep quiet already. He gets a call from his lovey-dovey lover in Tokyo, Mai, who seems to be blabbing about something and after all that she hangs up. "Not even a word of good luck?". Yeah, he’s going to need it alright.
 
Matsuda is conducting the Roussel Orchestra as Chiaki and Kuroki are part of the spectators watching his performance. After the concert at the backstage, I’m not sure who this ballerina Caroline is to Matsuda but from the way she said things, she does not want to see him again. He has a secret lover in Paris? Well, that is at least what he thought. Though I don’t understand the root of the problem, I somehow understand why it is a good thing she ‘dumped’ him. She does like him but don’t want to be in a confused relationship. Smart girl. And save your breath, Matsuda. She isn’t interested in listening. Kiss your Future Journal goodbye. After Caroline leaves, Chiaki and Kuroki are seen snickering that he is being dumped so unamused Matsuda suggests going out for a drink together. Kuroki gives an excuse he needs to do something for his oboe and runs away but Chiaki isn’t so lucky as he got caught. Now he has to accompany him.
 
At the bar, Matsuda starts ranting about his beloved Mai AKA Elizabeth. Bla bla bla, some rich pretty girl, yada yada yada, her dad likes him, pushy about marriage, yawn… Well Chiaki isn’t interested in his ‘boasting’ and wants to get straight to the orchestra tips which he promised. I don’t know what that intimidating drink vendor machine flashback was all about. They both ‘selected’ each other’s drinks. So what about the tip? What tip? He’s not going to give it anyway unless Chiaki introduces him to Stresemann. Then Matsuda tells him his experience during his stint at R-S Orchestra and is having a hard time at M. Philharmonic. He proceeds to ask Chiaki about his ‘girlfriend’ Nodame. I don’t know Matsuda is just joking or being a pervert for real because he wants to have a look at Nodame’s boobs himself to judge how big they are. Because Chiaki threatens to leave, he changes the subject… His opinion on French women. Is that all he is thinking about? Well, he says how music and women are the same. They’re both fun and pleasurable. That better not be an insult. He is so like Stresemann. Probably that’s why he wanted to meet him.
 
The duo go back to Chiaki’s dorm and it seems Nodame isn’t around. I guess Matsuda has too much drinks so he rushes to the toilet. As he eases himself, he spots Nodame taking a bubble bath nearby and she’s glaring at him. "Lock on…". GYABO! MUKYA! Ah, those familiar lines. I was beginning to wonder if she’ll ever appear in the OVA. Nodame is in distress as there is a pervert in the toilet. Probably Matsuda is drunk because since he showed her his, he wants her to show hers to him. They continue to argue right after Nodame finishes her bath while Chiaki, you can tell by his expression it’s going to be a long night. Matsuda then learns Nodame is a student living this dorm as she proudly proclaims Chiaki as her current husband. She goes on her ambiguous lines by saying how he’ll eventually do it and that she is practicing hard… For piano. Oh, no amount of rebuke can make her change her mind. Having enough of her antics (she’s also in her room to record her favourite Puri Gorota as her own recorder isn’t working) so he kicks her out of his room. Matsuda gives out a maniacal laughter after all that settled down. Then he gets a call from Mai asking him to be a conductor for one of her new building’s opening but since he’s got a rehearsal with the R-S Orchestra, he scolds her (is shut up and stupid sh*t a little to strong?) and hangs up the phone! So Chiaki throws him back his coat and tells him to go back to his Elizabeth. Matsuda leaves, still pretty much arrogant with his words that he’ll be the next rising star. On his way out, Matsuda calls Caroline, wanting to meet up but she instantly hangs up on him. Haha, padan muka that womanizer. He has to rewrite his Future Journal. Then suddenly appearing behind him is Takahashi (that pretty gay boy in R-S Orchestra). Matsuda is surprised to see him in Paris. Takahashi says he wanted to talk to him alone and suggests at Matsuda’s place.
 
Back in Japan, Mine’s family restaurant in particular, he and Masumi are discussing how obsessive Takahashi went after Matsuda in Paris. Then another member of the R-S Orchestra, Sakojou, comes in to order. Mine notices his dad’s recipe book is missing. He searches for it but finds a journal on the sit. The trio browse through it and viewers can guess that this is Matsuda’s Future Journal. Yeah, they’re reading all those so called poetic but disgusting high-and-mighty lines about his future (which you have heard him spew throughout this OVA). Yuck. Some fantasy delusion he’s got there. They continue reading an entry which includes the R-S Orchestra performance last year and a cheesy proposal he did to Mai (dropping a ring into her glass?). Mine gets a call from Matsuda wondering if his journal is in his place. It has to. That’s because in his bag he has Mine’s recipe book. Ah. He tells Mine not to read it (too late!). Yeah, I don’t know how his other entries sound but it was enough for Masumi to say he is the enemy of all women. Suddenly Mine hears a disturbing thing over the phone. Takahashi is undressing himself and is getting too close to panicking Matsuda. He can’t hold it in anymore and… ARGH!!! Just hang up the phone. Matsuda’s nightmare continues and I really wonder if he could be the next biggest conductor at this rate. Yeah, got screwed in Paris…
 
Well, well. I guess the OVA is pretty much decent even if it does not focus on Chiaki and Nodame. They are like side characters here. It was pretty amusing that Matsuda got done in by that gay Takahashi. I thought he was on to Chiaki? Perhaps because Chiaki left for Paris, he felt lonely and well, saw Matsuda as a ‘replacement’. Besides, there were hints during Matsuda and Chiaki’s conversation that Takahashi was eyeing on the former. And he thought he was just receiving due recognition when the concert master (Takahashi) was always glaring at him. Heh, now he knows what that all means. Hey, Paris is the city of love, right? Sort of.
 
Surprisingly Mine and Masumi made their brief appearance here seeing that they did not make a single appearance back in the second season. Well, it’s good to see that they’re both still doing fine. And Masumi is still pinning for Chiaki’s affection. I guess it’s better than not making any appearance at all or else viewers may have forgotten who they are like how I did for Matsuda at the beginning of this OVA. Since this OVA is short, I suppose those who made their debut appearance in the second season like Tanya and Frank aren’t shown here.
 
Though there is nothing groundbreaking in this OVA (just like the previous season) in terms of story or even the animation, like I said it serves as an appetizers for the final instalment of the series. Maybe then, we’ll get to see if Chiaki and Nodame have got what it takes to be the masters in their respective field and earn international recognition. I’m betting that they will. Of course, not without Nodame’s quirkiness, which is my main motivator for watching the series. Keep up your quirkiness, girl! I wonder if Mine and Masumi will be reunited with Chiaki and Nodame or other characters back in the first season as well. Hopefully the other characters too will shine and improve as they go by. But for Matsuda, maybe he really needs to rewrite his Future Journal. And avoid getting future homo screwing or it will turn into some sex memoir.
 

Nodame Cantabile

MUKYAA! GYABO! Ah, those are the favourite catchphrases of Megumi Noda or more fondly known as Nodame. This time she is back in a sequel called Nodame Cantabile: Paris Hen (Paris Chapter) with her beloved senpai-cum-boyfriend-cum-husband, Chiaki (according to her, that is). As the title suggests, the duo are now in France to further study their musical skills and also a chance for Chiaki to be an accomplished conductor that he has always dreamed to be. Hey, Chiaki has been cured from his flight phobia, remember?
 
That’s right. So it will be in Paris, the city of love. French, the language of love. Oui. Bonjour, monsieur. Bonjour, mademoiselle. Merci beaucoup. Sacre bleu! Hah. Do I sound like I’m proficient in French? Oddly, this entire sequel isn’t going to have its characters spewing their dialogue totally in French. On occasions, maybe several simple French words like I’ve mentioned. So it was kinda weird for me to see that even the inhabitants of France or foreigners speaking in Japanese! And I thought French people are so proud of their language. Or is it they are speaking in French but are purposely dubbed into Japanese? Maybe not because Nodame certainly has a lot of brushing up to do.
 
This second season in terms of number of episodes is shorter than its predecessor. Half of it. Only 11 episodes to be exact. What an odd number just like in its previous season. Perhaps to reflect Nodame’s quirkiness? But that has got nothing to do with it, really. In this sequel, viewers can expect to see new faces and of course more classical orchestra pieces (actually in terms of numbers, it is lesser than in the first season. What I’m referring to is the new musical pieces and movements you’ll get to hear). But because Nodame and Chiaki have left their home soil for Europe, some of the characters back in the first season do not make their appearance here. Especially Mine and Masumi. Yeah, no more the weird quartet they used to be. Maybe it’s more expensive to have everyone go further their studies in Paris. Or rather everyone back in the S-Orchestra had their own ambitions and goals after that final performance. On the other hand, if some of the other characters in the first season do appear here, it is most likely just cameo.
 
So in episode 1, Chiaki and Nodame have touch down in Paris and arrive at Chiaki’s plus size mom’s family apartment. Too bad for Nodame because she won’t be getting to stay in the same room as Chiaki, though their rooms will be adjoining. Nodame’s piano play is still excellent but haphazard as usual. Meaning, she adds and deletes notes and lines of famous classical pieces while playing the piece. Definitely purists would scorn her in the strongest form. This episode also introduces the other inhabitants of this apartment and music students. A fellow Japanese, Frank (somewhat a little obsessed with otakuism) and a Russian pianist, Tanya. It seems Nodame recognizes Frank because she has met him in some exam in Japan before and they both could click well because of their fondness of the anime world (notice a chibi Shana on Frank’s t-shirt!). You can see that Frank has a little crush on Nodame while Tanya is a little flirty around Chiaki. But no big deal. Later Chiaki and Nodame go see the orchestra performance of Viera (Chiaki’s mentor) and are touched. That night when Nodame and Chiaki were dining at a restaurant, the hilarious part was that in Nodame’s efforts to learn French, she said how she was raped in French, raising the suspicions of the waiter! What kind of learning book is that?!
 
The next day, Nodame wants Chiaki to bring her for sight-seeing but that guy is busy preparing for an upcoming competition. So disappointed Nodame goes to Frank’s room and is amazed to see her favourite Puri Gorota on TV. And in French! Nodame gets motivated to learn French while Frank thinks it’s an opportunity to get closer to Nodame. Meanwhile Tanya visits studious Chiaki in his room and ‘convinces’ him to help her connect an Internet connection to her laptop while she blabs about her failed relationships. Boring. Chiaki doesn’t really care about that. But he requests her to play the piano for him. In the end, while Frank totally lost out and ‘in shame’ after discovering Nodame’s otakuness and enthusiasm on anime (she managed to memorize perfectly the Puri Gorota lines in French!), Chiaki is visibly annoyed that Tanya isn’t a good pianist either. Not even close. So Tanya has to endure strict hell lessons from the maestro himself… What a morbid feeling for Frank and Tanya…
 
Chiaki and Nodame take a train to the former’s Platini International Conductors’ Competition in episode 2. Nodame gives a Puri Gorota baton as a lucky charm. Chiaki meets a tough competition in the form of Jean Donnadieu (hate his proud and egoistic girlfriend, Yuuko). Not only Jean is the favourite to win this competition, he is also a top student under Viera. I can see why Chiaki is a little worried. It’s like going up with the master himself. Chiaki also meets a fellow Japanese, Hajime Katahira, who is also participating in this competition. Perhaps it’s because the duo are from the same country that they stick together. Over the 10 day competition which splits into several preliminary rounds, Chiaki, Katahira and Jean make it through the first hurdle. The 3rd round features the trio in which the number of participants has been shortlisted to just 6. Another weird and hilarious part from Nodame is that, she is seen trying to kiss Chiaki’s picture on the board of shortlisted candidates! Desperate case or what! Thankfully Frank just pulled her away.
 
Due to stress, Chiaki makes an error and apologizes but as for Jean, he tries to cover up his mistake by ‘putting the blame’ on some other orchestra player. Not very good. Even those orchestra players are human beings you know. And I think one of them, Roland, a young lad seems to take a liking for Chiaki. Gay? If I remember well, Chiaki has this mysterious charm not only on girls but some guys as well. As for Katahira, well his jumping-cum-conducting did surprise the judges like as though he was flying. The suspected trio as expected gets into the final 3 and the night before the finals, silly Nodame even had the cheek to ask which matching lingerie she should put on for the finals! Yeah, Chiaki is super surprise that she is a D-cup. So the results of the finals are announced and the winner is Chiaki. Can’t believe they skipped whatever piece Chiaki was to conduct. Not even a second of the song shown or heard. In the aftermath, Jean congratulates Chiaki though he doesn’t feel it is his lost, Chiaki too feels that he hasn’t really won. Jean wants Chiaki to tell Viera the results himself because Jean heard from Viera himself, which makes Chiaki his senpai (Note Yuuko and Nodame fighting in the background). Chiaki is relieved to know that Viera hasn’t forgotten about him and later as Chiaki goes home with drunken Nodame, she hugs him and says how he has cleared another hurdle.
 
Stresemann makes a brief comeback in episode 3 and he is still the harasser he is, fondling Nodame’s boobs from behind. Somebody should sue this guy. Where’s Chiaki? Right after the competition, he is being swiftly kidnapped by Elise (Stresemann’s manager) and being forced into signing a contract (with the devil, hehe) that will have him tour around the world performing conducting concerts. I don’t know if that Operation Desert Prometheus is when Elise starts tickling Chiaki with a double wooden back scratcher. But hell, it’s sure one heck of a non-stop laughing torture. After that, Chiaki goes to meet Stresemann… at the nightclub (after finding out from Frank that Nodame when out with him after bringing him back to the apartment for tea. Another case of ‘kidnapping’?). Still flirting, that old fart. So I guess if Chiaki’s going to be on a world tour which will last for 3 months, might as well look at it as a training opportunity. To be a conductor lah. So of course with Chiaki’s sudden departure, the apartment feels a little empty without Chiaki around as we are introduced to yet another apartment resident. He is Li Yunlong, another music student hailing from China.
 
Another naughty thing Stresemann did was while he and Chiaki was on tour, Stresemann send back photos to Nodame in which the pictures show Chiaki being very close to a piano prodigy of China, Sun Rui (note how Stresemann highlights and points out she is an F-cup!). Nodame sinks into depression because she thinks her ‘husband’ is having an affair. But no time for that because Nodame receives a letter that she will be under the tutelage of Charles Auclair (one of the judges during her piano competition back in the first season). Frank isn’t too happy because Auclair is the professor he really would love to study under. And on the first day of school, they are already running late because Nodame woke up late and if not for Tanya’s ‘help’ (she can be Chiaki’s replacement to look after Nodame!), they wouldn’t have made it just in time. Phew. Don’t want to start off with a bad impression, would they? They could be expelled, you know. Meanwhile as Chiaki and Rui are shopping together in Shanghai, Chiaki spots a ring from outside a store and is in a dilemma whether to get it for Nodame (before he left, Nodame requested some souvenir). I guess he was pretty embarrassed about it so he opted for a necklace instead. Back in Paris when Auclair requests Nodame to play a piece she wanted, Nodame instead plays one from Rui (after hearing that piece on TV). But Auclair isn’t happy because he isn’t here to listen to her showing off her skill, which leaves Nodame pretty much shocked. Lastly, Chiaki and Rui part ways as the latter leaves with her strict b*tchy mom who doesn’t seem to like Chiaki because I think he’s under Stresemann. And I think soon after that, Stresemann said something to Chiaki about making his stand on Nodame and why he’s treating her like this.
 
In episode 4, Chiaki returns from his world tour but finds Nodame all gloomy instead. She isn’t glomping over him with excitement. I guess Nodame is still disturbed over Auclair’s words, which in a way is true as she reflects herself. Thus Chiaki requests Nodame to play a song and she plays that horrible Rui one. He stops her and suddenly kisses her! OMG! I didn’t see that one coming. However, Nodame still isn’t in the mood. Damn of all times when that bubbly girl wanted a kiss so much from Chiaki, then when she got it, it’s like no emotion or whatsoever. So when she resumes her class with Auclair, Nodame slowly learns what she is missing and the funny part is how she sees Auclair as Master Yoda and to use the force! Haha! Never thought she’d make a Star Wars reference. Yeah, she’s back to her usual self. With Chiaki’s return, he practices under Wiltord Symphony Orchestra for an upcoming performance. Looks like that Roland really does look forward performing with him. On the day of the concert, Chiaki’s family members turn up to watch his awesome feat and even Nodame is being reduced to tears. Then at the backstage as Nodame requests an autograph from him, she gets more than that. She gets hugged! Woah! So it’s no surprise when Chiaki’s family members come in to see Nodame lying on the floor love-struck. The next day as Chiaki and Nodame go out together to an art museum and something about painting and music are similar. Yeah, art, that is. A form of expression, I’d say. Later as they eat some chestnuts by the bridge, Nodame wants a re-kiss from Chiaki as the earlier one was a little hazy but he stuffs the chestnuts in her mouth instead! Oh man. At least they’re back to normal. Oh wait, they’re walking back hand in hand too. At least there’s some development between them now.
 
As episode 5 starts off with Chiaki’s short flashback of how he waited for his dad to return for Christmas but he never did, this episode also marks the of Kuroki, the oboist of S-Orchestra who has a crush on Nodame back in season 1. Fate has him meet up with Nodame again as he is staying at the same apartment and attending the same school. We also learn that Chiaki is leaving for another performance in Holland as Nodame desperately clings on to him and tries to get another goodbye kiss but he ignores her and escapes after being seen by Kuroki. Then I think as Nodame was searching for a key to Chiaki’s room in her own room, Kuroki gets the shock of his life. No, it’s not her messy place. Okay maybe. But the main shock is that he spots a photo album filled with pictures of Chiaki in it! Some are just plain sexy! Crazy stalker woman! Anyway Kuroki goes to practice his oboe after listening to Nodame’s piano play. Then Kuroki is feeling that he is lucky when a fellow student, Katherine comes up to him, requesting him to be her partner for a test. But in the end, she dumps him for another. Adjusting life to Paris is hard. Meanwhile Chiaki is feeling insecure because Nodame hasn’t picked up his handphone messages about spending their Christmas together (he’s on his way back by train, by the way). Wow. I didn’t expect him to turn out like that.
 
The rest of this episode sees Nodame and Kuroki helping out with a play at a local church. Yeah, the duo are to play the part of the donkey and Nodame is so hard up to play to donkey front. Hey, she has experienced playing the mongoose mascot, remember? So the birth of Jesus Christ play when smooth until the donkey part. I don’t know. Swaying its hips? A donkey saying "Congratulations"? Enough to bring the house down with laughter. But the kids love it. As Chiaki returns home, he is somewhat disappointed because Nodame wasn’t there to usually greet him. Because of that, when Nodame runs pass Chiaki at the bridge without noticing him, Chiaki felt hurt. But Nodame soon stops because she recognizes that familiar smell. When she calls for him, it’s like revenge because upset Chiaki just ignores her. Then Chiaki says how he is giving up on her which resulted in the duo getting into a physical fight and trading accusations of being busy away and uncaring. OMG! Nodame doing a spinning kick on him! She too can play that game as she dumps him! So I guess when Chiaki finally says to start all over again, Nodame is overcome with emotion and in tears as they reconcile and quickly make up. Wow. Just like a real life drama unfolding before the eyes of those passer-bys. Woohoo! They don’t know what’s going on as they cheered but it sure ended like how many happy ending lovers’ quarrel dramas should end. Finally on Christmas, Chiaki listens to Nodame playing her piano.
 
In episode 6 as Nodame rides a bus with Frank and Tanya, they spot a large poster of Jean performing for Deschamps Orchestra. We see that Chiaki is enduring some torturous insult and laughter from Elise because she’s a fan of Jean. However she tells him that Chiaki gets to conduct an orchestra that Stresemann once conducted during his younger days, the Roux-Marlet Orchestra, because some famous director, James Depriest, recommended him. However when Chiaki and Nodame went to watch a performance from the band, it was downright disappointing. Mainly because many of its usual members have left and they had to quickly find replacements as fill-ins as Chiaki finds out from Roland who too was attending with his grandma. Later Nodame forms a band with Kuroki and bassoonist Paul Dubois and dubs her team Yaki Trio (I think she was thinking about food because it closely sounded like yakitori – roast chicken) for an upcoming exam. Nodame then notices a familiar face (Rui) asking for directions to the toilet. Ever since, Nodame is stalking her although Rui obviously notices it. So I guess Rui gets her off her back by giving Nodame her autograph. Meanwhile as Chiaki is out shopping in the streets, he meets Rui and when she gives him a greeting kiss, this shocks Nodame so much that she jumps on him and bites him! This has Rui realize what kind of relationship Chiaki has with her (that shopping for a ring incident several episodes back). Chiaki invites Rui back to his room and we see Nodame in some denial hallucinating mode as she acts as Chiaki’s goody polite wife. They learn Rui and her mom are not in agreeing terms so she is to stay here temporarily. Rui manages to convince Chiaki to help her look for an apartment tomorrow and when she gives him another kiss, Nodame blows her top but Chiaki has had enough of her ruckus and kicks her out.
 
The next day, Chiaki gets a call from Roland to accompany him to be an extra violinist for Roux-Marlet Orchestra, which will serve as a good opportunity to see how the orchestra works. Because Chiaki is quite famous, Roland disguises him and his alias name: Nissan Toyota. Haha! Upon arrival, they find that the grumpy cocky concertmaster, Simon, isn’t the kind that is easy to work with. To make things worse, a sudden announcement that the conductor has ditch this rehearsal because he went back to Poland, thus this practice is cancelled. Roland then suggests Chiaki to be the conductor, Simon isn’t happy and thinks he is an amateur. Must be a real insult for Chiaki who is listening to all this. Yeah, he realized he was chosen because he is young and cheap! It all boils down to this. Meanwhile Nodame adds more words to her French vocabulary like "My husband is cheating on me" and "This is unforgiveable". She sure learns fast. She then spots Frank and Yunlong welcoming a guest, Rui. It seems that they are quite a fan of her work. The guys were also the one who helped find Rui a room since Chiaki suddenly left for that Roux-Marlet thingy. At the same time, Chiaki’s hands are in a bind because time is not on his side as he has to 3 pieces of music for the performance which is in 3 days time and the orchestra has only 1 shot at rehearsal. This is worse than beating the deadline to submit your tax form. But Chiaki vows to do his best and not give up because he feels that this is the orchestra that Stresemann kept alive.
 
Episode 7 begins with Rui waking up drunk in Nodame’s messy room. By the way, Nodame slept under a kotatsu. Chiaki goes to meet his Roux-Marlet Orchestra members after meeting with the orchestra’s agency staff, Theo (who is quite happy to see him). Of course many of the orchestra members are thrilled to be playing alongside Chiaki except for Simon. Chiaki carries on with the rehearsal and even ignores Theo’s advice not to provoke or dispute with the Simon. However their practice is cut short when they are ‘kicked out’ by a bunch of little ballet girls because it’s their turn to use the room. How embarrassing. Meanwhile Nodame accompanies Rui out shopping instead of looking for an apartment. Then at the park, Nodame plays with a little boy at a fountain with his paper boat. But since it is drifting further into the middle, Nodame tries to reach it but falls into the water. So when she comes back and Chiaki wonders why she smells, she gives an excuse that she fell into a puddle. But you know, her story has holes in it. The next morning, Chiaki finds Nodame has cooked for him (we know she isn’t a good cook because Chiaki was the one who ALWAYS cooks for her) and a note saying she’ll invite all their friends to come see his performance.
 
With the performance coming up, Chiaki is still short of a few instrument players and ‘threatens’ Theo to find replacements or else. But Chiaki has a person in mind to play the celesta. Nodame. He calls her and she is on cloud nine. She rushes to the place but surprisingly finds Rui there. As the ladies enter, Theo is surprised to see Rui and thinks she is the one Chiaki had requested to play the celesta and quickly rushes her into the hall. Oh no. Nodame’s world crumbling. Not only that, everyone else is ecstatic to see Rui playing with them and that Rui is a well known friend of Simon. But I guess Chiaki tried to explain but everyone got caught up in the excitement. Poor Nodame decides to back out even if Chiaki tries to call her over as she starts acting as Chiaki’s polite wife. Must be to cushion the devastating turn of events. On the day of the performance, Kuroki, Frank, Tanya and Yunlong attend the concert but wonder where Nodame is because they spot Rui playing in her place instead. The performance seems awful and since Theo’s failure to find a replacement for a percussionist, one of the orchestra members has to double up as a cymbalist and a gong player. He has to be pretty fast and precise because he has to mute the gong as soon he hits the cymbals and this resulted in a funny moment because it seemed like he is hugging the gong. The audience bursts into laughter and applauses. With that, Chiaki vows to make his way to the top.
 
Even so, Chiaki feels disappointed for his first performance and is seen sulking in episode 8. He’s thinking his disastrous performance was something like a wizard’s apprentice whereby magic was used to clean up the place but it got out of hand when he tried to control the chaos in the end. On the way back home, Rui suggests to help cheer up Chiaki but Nodame refuses since she has practice early next morning. Suddenly Rui’s mom shows up and gives her a slap! She is disappointed to learn that Rui has been slacking and been hanging out at Chiaki’s place. She wants her to immediately leave with her back to America. Because she isn’t fond of perverted Stresemann, what more a student of his, mommy smacks Chiaki with her handbag! Gosh. Violent woman. Back in their room, Chiaki tells Nodame how Rui has been performing since at a very young age and her recent performances are below par. Thus Chiaki makes it a point for them to treasure the time they spend together. Nodame feels sorry for Rui and starts crying as Chiaki comforts her. Nodame gets her energy back when Chiaki says for them to work hard so that they will be called Golden Pair. The next day, Chiaki goes to the library to research what musical scores Stresemann used for the orchestra when he overheard Simon and Theo about an audition for the orchestra and wants in as a judge.
 
Meanwhile Nodame is practicing with her Yaki Trio and after that, Paul gets firsthand experience how to eat soba ramen the right Japanese way from Nodame. Also, Chiaki invites Kuroki to audition for the Roux-Marlet Orchestra. Paul wants to audition too but gets depressed to learn they want a fagotto player although it basically also means a bassoon. Elsewhere, Rui has cleared up the misunderstandings with her mom and is allowed to go see Chiaki so that Rui could go apologize to him. But she decides to leave right away after hearing Nodame’s piano play. On the other hand, Chiaki decides to get a small car to have a little mobility (it’s hilarious to see Jean and Yuuko protesting Chiaki to buy that car because they test drove it before and gave the thumbs up, allowing Chiaki to make his decision to purchase the car, leaving them stumped) while Nodame’s Yaki Trio passes with flying colours (a perfect score!). Even Nodame passes her solo piano exam with a Tres Bien when the judges (which include Auclair) find her playing style to be bold and interesting but unstable and that they feel her playing was more recital-like rather than an exam. Nodame relays the good news to Chiaki when she gets back and even hugs him. With Tanya and Frank passing their exams too, the gang gathers to celebrate and Nodame announces that for the upcoming summer vacation, she is going to perform a recital in a church at Saint Malo, a town located near the ocean northwest of France. Chiaki has a surprised expression on his face. Is he thinking how Nodame may have surpassed him or has he not expected such a big feat to happen for Nodame?
 
In episode 9, Tanya’s dream of basking in the southern beaches of France comes crashing down because her mom gives her a call to inform a cut in allowance due to her brother’s unemployment. Though Yunlong and Frank have gone back home for the vacation, Nodame is hard at work attending special classes. When Tanya learns that Chiaki is to attend Nodame’s recital, she decides to tag along and even had the cheek to ask Nodame to bring a nice guy along (hint: she wants to flirt and doesn’t want to be left out due to Nodame-Chiaki relationship). And that nice guy turned out to be Kuroki. They’ve met once before and it wasn’t pleasant… So the quartet takes a drive to Saint Malo and Chiaki is once again his fearful self because he finds the place an island surrounded by water! I see this phobia still isn’t gone yet. So much so, it’s quite hilarious to hear and see Chiaki acting like a scared little girl and when he gets all clingy with Nodame, Tanya gets pissed off having the impression that they’re doing lovey-dovey stuff boldly in public. Odd to see Nodame is the one playing the comforting role. Thus Tanya decides to cool off as she has Kuroki go shopping with her. They’re still not getting along well.
 
The duo then bump into Nodame and Chiaki on their way out and they learn that Nodame is to play several Mozart recitals because the owner, Pierre de Benoit, is a Mozart fan. They soon arrive at his castle mansion and are given a warm welcome. He is even dressed as Mozart! Funny part is, Nodame thinks it is cosplay. Haha! After being shown their rooms, Nodame lets Chiaki know that she still hates playing Mozart pieces due to her past strict teachers. To make things worse, Benoit wants her recital to be as precise as Mozart. Meaning, no haphazard playing. That night, the gang are being treated by Benoit’s wife cooking but the unappetising meal resembled like some Zen temple gruel. Haha. Before Chiaki turns in for the night, Nodame (still nervous and worried about tomorrow’s recital) requests him to read several diaries of Mozart. Is this how obsessed Benoit is with Mozart? Some entries are downright funny and embarrassing ("I was downright happy to my buttocks"?), causing Nodame to laugh. Then Nodame falls asleep as Chiaki continues reading and he too sleeps by her side.
 
In episode 10, Chiaki tries hard to zip up a dress that Nodame is to wear for the recital but it rips. Haha, looks like she put on weight. Don’t despair. Benoit have a wardrobe collection full of those old European clothes. Meanwhile Tanya lets Kuroki know her intentions of attracting one of Benoit’s sons who will be attending the recital. Of course to her horror the receptionist tells them that they need to pay 15 Euros to enter the recital and since she’s short of cash, she has to borrow from Kuroki because she spent her money to buy some necklace for later attraction. *Shaking head*. As everyone gathers in the church, Nodame appears in a Mozart dressing! She sure looks funny. Nodame starts playing and enthralling the crowd, especially Benoit with her Mozart pieces. After finishing her 2nd piece, she immediately plays a 3rd one which catches everyone by surprise before her final one. Everyone gives her a standing ovation.
 
The post recital party has Benoit wanting Chiaki, Tanya and Kuroki to perform since he doesn’t let them stay here for free. Though Kuroki and Tanya are excited as they get to dress up, Chiaki feels otherwise. At the party, Tanya is upset because everyone else is also dressed from that era so she can’t really stand out. To add to her dismay, Benoit introduces his eldest 2 sons who are already married with children. But there is still hope because he has a 3rd bachelor son. Who is he? The receptionist! Ah well, at least he remembers the cash-short lady. But he isn’t interested in her either. Bummer. Soon Chiaki starts playing his violin with a quintet and Kuroki decides to join in soon after hearing Tanya’s rant on how she left Russia and French guys are arrogant. He advices her to perform in order to make herself more appealing. Though she is still gloomy, she plays a solo Mozart piece but is of a depressing tone. Meanwhile Nodame finds Chiaki outside as the clothes are too hot for him. As they chat, Nodame takes a picture of Chiaki but he is annoyed to know that she has secretly taken pictures of him and snatches her camera away. Desperate Nodame tries to get it back and when she couldn’t, I think she did some Street Fighter combo move on him. Tanya and Kuroki spot the duo fooling around outside so Kuroki takes Tanya’s hands to suggest that they go eat. Hey, Tanya’s blushing. Could it mean? Outside, the ‘fight’ ends with the duo on the ground. Chiaki then says how he doesn’t want to lose her and kisses her! I hope Nodame remembers this one. Hehe, what are the chances she’ll be asking for more.
 
The gang is back in Paris in episode 11 and Chiaki is judging the audition along with Simon and the other remaining Roux-Marlet Orchestra members. It isn’t smooth sailing though as Chiaki and Simon face disagreement from the rest but it’s like a conspiracy from the duo, going against the rest. Yeah, it may seem that they’re like good buddies. Kuroki attends the audition (Tanya having several tsundere and blushing moments when Kuroki thanked her for helping him out) as well as Paul who brings his bassoon instead of a fagotto. They both pass and are recruited into the orchestra. Once the audition is done, it’s back to the strict persistent practice. Chiaki style. I wonder if everyone can take it. After the 1st practice, Chiaki gets a call from Depriest to check on things. Though that guy is with Stresemann, Depriest mentions how he chose Chiaki because he heard his concert rather than Stresemann’s recommendation. Chiaki feels honoured and after they hang up, Depriest notes how Chiaki has surpassed Stresemann. Chiaki continues to rehearse hard with his orchestra and 1 night while taking a walk with Nodame, she tells him how she’s working hard so that she could play in the same orchestra with him. Just before the performance, an oboist guy seems to make Kuroki his errand boy like borrowing a reed from him and requesting him to pick up his daughter for him. I guess Kuroki has no choice but to oblige. Kuroki brings the little girl back to the apartment and during dinner, she mentions how the conductor is a terrible person as everyone is having a tough time. Yeah, Chiaki was standing behind her and heard everything. But after hearing how her dad has practiced hard even when he came home late, they understood because they are all pros. On the night of the concert, it is a sell out crowd as Chiaki performs his best to a standing ovation. Even Nodame is in tears as Tanya resolves to continue studying. But Chiaki isn’t going to rest on his laurels yet because there are more upcoming concerts.
 
Well, there isn’t anything breakthrough in this season. Even the hot-cold atmosphere between Chiaki and Nodame felt like it was to tease viewers. We all know that Nodame still has her eternal crush on her senpai but as for Chiaki, I’m not sure if the feeling is really mutual or not. Sometimes he ignores her and sometimes he treats her nice. So to me, they are unofficially a couple. Not so obvious. Maybe just one-sided. As for Kuroki-Tanya, there are some indications that the Russian babe is starting to have feelings for him. Nothing conclusive. At least I wanted to know what happened to some of the characters in this and the previous season such as Jean, Mine and Masumi. I’d really like to know their status and whereabouts. Unless they’re not considered as important as Chiaki and Nodame. Hmm… Even the Puri Gorota that is all Nodame’s craze isn’t given much prominence after the initial episodes.
 
The drawing, art and animation is consistent with the first season and first time viewers may find the colouring a little ‘bleached’ and light. I’m not saying that the backgrounds and scenery are horrible, but the water colour-like painting and sketches leaves a lot to be desired. Then at times, I have a little trouble distinguishing certain characters because they almost look the same. Some foreigners don’t look like foreigners, if you know what I mean. Perhaps it’s the series’ ‘trademark’ on how the characters look? It’s hard for me to remember them all, especially the new characters. But on the plus side, the finger movements while playing the piano or movements of the orchestra is still super smooth.
 
The opening theme, Sky High, by The Gospellers sounds like a calming moderate-paced piece. The animation here has the characters like as though they are from a cardboard cut out while many of the background buildings (mainly landmarks of France) are in silhouette-like drawings. Of course, you can also see the musical stave complete with clefs and notes as they float randomly across the screen. The ending theme however, Tokyo et Paris, by Emiri Miyamoto x Solita, is totally sung in French. Though the vocals may sound sleepy and drowsy, it is the liveliness and spirited play of the single violin in the background which makes the song catchy. If you notice, the next episode preview is shown during the ending animation credits.
 
Thankfully there are a few simple pieces which I could still recognize. Like Mozart’s Turkish March and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. So okay, not the most grand of pieces but at least there are some classical pieces which I know of. I noticed that those who watched the anime and the live action version, many prefer the latter because they show the orchestra performances longer. What do you expect since the live action version lasts an hour. Furthermore, there is a live action version of this season called Nodame Cantabile In Europe albeit it lasts only 2 episodes but each episode is 2 hours long! But the series isn’t au revoir yet because it has been stated that a 3rd season will be released in late 2009. More like au bentoit, no? First Japan, now Europe. What’s next? The world? Yeah, the sky is the limit for Chiaki and Nodame.
 
Even after watching this sequel, I still don’t have what it takes to appreciate classical music. My current favourite music category is still anime songs! But that’s a different story. It’s good to see that Chiaki and Nodame’s skills have improved since their fated meeting and I hope that they will carry on to do what they love most. Hmm… Fancy hearing Nodame say in French, "Sacre bleu!". Hahaha! I think "Gyabo!" suits her just fine.
 

Nodame Cantabile

Nodame Cantabile Special

September 19, 2008

Now I understand why the anime tv series for Nodame Cantabile had such an odd number of episodes. That’s because I kinda feel that it’s part of the producer’s plan to release extra never-seen-before episodes on the DVD. Okay, I’m not really sure if I could classify this special episode as the 24th episode because its boring uninspiring title states, Lesson 1, which is actually a special episode.
 
Though I’m not sure how many special episodes there are going to be, but let me just blog on this one first. In addition, this episode is also special because it is just 14 minutes long. Take away the opening and ending credits, and you’ll probably have 11 minutes or less screen time. Yeah, probably it’s not a good idea to classify this as the 24th episode.
 
Now this particular special episode takes place while Chiaki, Nodame, Mine, and Masumi are car pooling and taking a ride to Nina Lutz’s music festival as requested by Stresemann’s request during their summer vacation. Ah, it does bring back nostalgic memories when I was watching this show a year ago. As usual, Chiaki isn’t amused about riding in the same car with 3 weirdos but he has got no choice but to put up with their cacophony. Yeah, the other trio are singing 3 different tunes at the same time. I guess Chiaki has to learn to be patient. Ah well, there’s so much he can take. He tells them to shut up eventually.
 
But during their journey to the music festival, Mine took a detour. Uh huh. It’s not like he drove straight to the music festival-cum-seminar in Nagano. Chiaki dozed off during the journey and is awaken by Nodame’s voice calling him that they have reached their destination. Chiaki is in for the shock of his life (there are more to come, if you’ve watched the entire tv series ;P). Where the hell are they?! Niigata, Chiaki-senpai. Where is that? Heck, I too don’t know where but it seems that the gang have arrived at a beach. Yeah, those guys must be thinking it’s time to have some fun in the sun. Chiaki remembered how Stresemann mentioned about bringing their swimsuits before and I guess it’s normal for Chiaki to think he was just drunk or joking. Well, he wasn’t.
 
Chiaki is trying to make some excuse not to go with the weirdos, who are already all geared up in their swimsuits. Since Chiaki didn’t brought his, Mine says he’s glad to lend him his extra Speedo trunks. Like hell Chiaki would. Besides, if you remember Chiaki has a phobia of getting on planes and boats. Furthermore, he can’t let these weirdos know of this weakness of his as he fears they might do something nasty. Anything is possible. He then comes up with another excuse about suntan lotion. He’s saying how his skin is delicate and the doctor even advised against him about using it. The rest believed him and Chiaki told them to go have fun without him.
 
Nodame and Masumi are getting ready to swim in the sea but Mine thinks of getting a good tan and decides to sunbath so that he could look all manly and healthy. Masumi mentions how he looked like an asparagus growing underground and stares at his pink nipples! Enough to make Mine feel violated. As Nodame is swimming further out into the ocean, she notices how a lovey-dovey couple is clinging on to each other and sulkingly wishes she could do that with her Chiaki-senpai. Jealous Masumi then comes by and kicks some water and interrupts those poor lovebirds and tells them to go die. Heartless. When the duo head back to shore, they find Mine sound asleep. It’s then they devise a devilish plan. Yeah, they poured some sand and make a pair of musical notes on his chests!
 
Meanwhile, Chiaki is at the rest house and is doing some deep meditation (or perhaps he’s trying to be in denial that all this is happening). Something about being in a Zen temple in the mountainous recesses of Nagano. Nodame and Masumi come by and Chiaki tries his best to ignore what they are saying. Nodame then suggests to rent a little boat and ride it over to a nearby little island. The fear is back. Since they are pestering Chiaki to come along, Chiaki creams back what would happen if the boat capsizes. Chiaki realized what he has just said but the duo thinks that Chiaki can’t swim. With that, they took some measures (doesn’t seem useful) like preparing an instant anti-suntan lotion, Masumi’s strawhat (looks like the one Luffy’s wearing in One Piece) and a small little inflatable raft… They’re joking right? Not. Chiaki cowers in fear behind some kids making a sand castle when he saw how scary those waves are. Probably it must be a figment of his imagination and his phobia might have enhanced things. Nodame is convinced that he can’t swim after all. I’m not sure how they got Chiaki on the boat but he’s paralyzed and shivering in fear.
 
Masumi then tells Nodame that since he is rowing, he wants her to push the raft to launch it. But it was just a ploy to get rid of Nodame. As soon as the raft picks up speed, Masumi rows away quickly, leaving Nodame behind. Now nobody can stop him from making a love nest with Chiaki on that island. Chiaki must be feeling sea sick at that speed. But Nodame isn’t going to give up. With the power of "Mukyaa!", Nodame powers up and swims even faster than those who are jet skiing! Nodame catches up with the raft and grabs it. During the tussle, the raft capsizes and Chiaki’s worst fear comes true.
 
Those 2 must be real slow in realizing that Chiaki is drowning. When they do realize, they even fought with each other to save Chiaki! He’s going to drown at this rate. And please, stop fantasizing about Chiaki coming into your arms. This is a life and death situation here. Anyway the duo failed to save him and resurfaces. Luckily Chiaki manages to grab a nearby float of an ugly looking tanned blonde woman. Ugh! Those thick white eyebrows and lips… She and her identical looking bunch of friends then helped Chiaki ashore. No thanks to you guys, Nodame and Masumi. Back on land, Chiaki thanks them and says he’ll never forget their help. But in his heart, it was just a lie. Probably it must be their ugliness.
 
Chiaki goes back to the car but realizes that Mine has the keys and that his bags are inside it. What will he do? He then spot those ugly tanned ladies and their car number plate is of from Nagano. But it seems that when he called them, they don’t recognize who he is and they think that he is skirt chasing at this time of the day. Are they different girls. But heck, they look like the ones earlier on. Ah well, I guess you can’t tell people apart after they get tanned.
 
It’s evening already and Mine is crying. That’s because he is heartbroken to find that his chest has that musical note shape… Feeling betrayed by the friends he trusted (yeah, right), Mine decides to get his revenge. He drove all the way to Nagano alone as he mentions how he isn’t going to forgive them. When Nodame and Masumi head back to the car spot, they found a note written on the ground by Mine saying "Farewell, idiots!". Masumi thinks he’s such a villain while Nodame wonders if they have to hitchhike all the way to Nagano in their swimsuits. You guys get what you deserve. And as for Chiaki, he’s hitching a ride with those 3 tanned ladies who couldn’t believe that he’s going to a music festival. So yeah, as the screen caption states, "Their summer starts now…".
 
This special episode does indeed bring back memories while I was watching the series. Though it is enjoyable, but there isn’t really anything ‘special’ about it either. Just enough for a few short laughter. The only difference that I notice is that during the opening theme and credits, there are several piano keys on the top of the screen with some kanji writings on it. Since I can’t read, I’m not sure whether they’re additional credits or what. Similarly, the ending theme and credits has a flute on the upper part of the screen.
 
I suppose this beach episode is to provide fans of the series a little fanservice. I mean, Nodame fans can get a glimpse of her in a bikini, right? Yeah, there was an onscreen statement which points out that Nodame is a D-cup Devil. But I would recommend for those who want to watch this episode, to watch the tv series as well. Unless you just want to have some random laughs which makes no sense because you don’t really follow the series, then I think it’s okay.
 
Nodame Cantabile

Nodame Cantabile

January 19, 2008

Fancy an anime with classical music? Then Nodame Cantabile may just be your cup of tea. Don’t worry. The entire series won’t be filled with classical music concerts from start to finish. It wouldn’t make sense to turn it into an anime, right? I mean, if you’re really a classical music enthusiast, wouldn’t it be better to attend the real live concert? To get more viewers to be interested in classical music especially otakus, you say? Maybe. But I wouldn’t bet on it. I feel it’s an acquired taste if one really wants to appreciate such music.
 
Though classical music is the main music theme of the series, the anime’s storyline is mainly driven by comedy, romance and some slice of life bits. Not that you’d get to see how classical music students go about in their daily lives. I mean, it would be plain boring just to watch them practicing their instruments day in day out, right? They’re just like any other college students, trying to strike a balance between their study and social life and of course thinking about their future career. And most important of all, their love life. Okay, maybe not all of them.
 
The series main protagonist as seen in episode 1 is Shinichi Chiaki a piano student at Momogaoka College Of Music, who is an expert in playing piano and violin. However, his dream isn’t to be like Richard Clayderman or Vanessa Mae, but rather an orchestra conductor. Chiaki looks up to some famous conductor, Sebastian Viera, when he was young and would like to follow in his footsteps. However, his fear of flying and even stepping into an airplane (not to mention taking a ship) has prevented him from following in dream and has since been ‘trapped’ in Japan. Thus Chiaki finds and questioning himself how far he could go in music as he watches everyone surpasses him. Even so, Chiaki still hasn’t lost his musical touch and at times still strut his stuff whenever he has to. Because he’s the son of some famous pianist, it’s no wonder there are other girls swooning over him and other guys admiring him.
 
Probably because of this attitude of his and recently being dumped by his songstress girlfriend, Saiko Tagaya (she did admit she hate losers), is Chiaki’s life gonna take a turn for the worse? Well, that depends on how you look at it. But definitely Chiaki’s life will undergo a transformation when he meets a free spirited student, Megumi Noda or more fondly known as Nodame. Note that it’s a short of her first name and surname together and no, it doesn’t stem from that famous French cathedral. Because Chiaki’s depressed from his recent break-up, he somehow slept outside his apartment and that’s when Nodame found him sleeping in the hallway.
 
Chiaki wakes up the next day to find himself in a room filled with garbage everywhere. Is this really a room or a dumpster. However, among the filthy stench, Chiaki hears a nice piano piece being played by Nodame. Of course Chiaki is still shock to find himself in this endless piles of trash but wait. Isn’t this his room or what. It’s Nodame’s room alright and just like fate itself, Chiaki’s room is just next to hers. With that fated meeting, thus begins the quirky and weird relationship between the duo.
 
Nodame is practically my favourite character in every aspect. Her ‘dreamy and naive’ voice makes her sound unique in addition to those funny sounds she make when she’s surprise like "Pukya!" and "Gyabo!". Hahaha. Her personality is really quirky and amusing. Though she may be a person who lives in a pig sty-like environment and doesn’t know proper hygiene, Nodame is a bloody good pianist. Though she can read music notes, her true forte is that she’s able to play a difficult piano piece perfectly at first go after hearing the entire song once! That’s fantastic. I really envy people who could play by ear. How I wish I was like her. Unfortunately, I’m just a rogue pianist, meaning someone who’s not destined to play a piano no matter how much I try :'(. But that’s the good part about her piano skills. There is one bad habit though. Since I’m not a classical music enthusiast nor have I heard most of the classical pieces before, all of Nodame’s pieces sound really good and I couldn’t tell the difference. However, since Chiaki is a maestro in this area, he seems to notice that Nodame’s peculiar habit of adding and deleting some notes of her own when playing such masterpieces. So much so he gets pissed off and hits her as he tells her not to ‘rewrite’ the entire piece herself. Yeah, Chiaki spots a talented girl and in a way decides to give her a little piano lesson.
 
So you could also say that it’s the start of a one-way love relationship. Nodame falls head over heels over Chiaki but her love is unreturned. Why, Nodame even claims Chiaki to be her boyfriend but the latter just gives her the cold shoulder everytime. Poor girl. And sometimes when Chiaki’s in a bad mood, he’ll abuse Nodame with weird items if she becomes too bothersome. Yeah, not to mention throw things at her. Because Chiaki is giving a little piano lesson to Nodame, he can’t stand the pig sty of her room and even took the liberty to clean up her room! I suppose he doesn’t want to do that but maybe it’s just his reflex. Not only that, since Nodame is a horrible cook, Chiaki too has to cook for her sometimes in order for them both to get a decent meal! Oh the irony.
 
Just like the odd Nodame herself, the entire series has only 23 episodes. I was wondering why not 24 or 26 or recently the trend of 25 episodes. Maybe the producers want to catch viewers off guard when the series ends at that episode. Maybe the number 23 is related to some piece like Opus or Symphony number 23. Dunno. Just speculating. Besides, there’s a live action version of the series and though I read many viewers prefer the live action one, it has only 11 episodes and it’s not a very popular series either.
 
In most of the episodes, there will be at least 1 classical music piece being played. There will be a display on the screen to prompt when this happens by spelling out the name of the piece and its composer. I’m thinking and sure the producers didn’t go to great lengths to record a live orchestra just for this anime. I mean, that would exceed the budget, right? So while the excellent music is being played, you’ll just see the calm faces of the audience and some even giving their acclaimed opinions about it. Uh huh. I feel that such scenes provide more ear candy rather than visual. So I suppose it’s best just to close your eyes and enjoy the music.
 
Back to the storyline, episode 2 introduces another weirdo who’ll be part of reluctant Chiaki’s group. He is Ryutaro Mine and is a violin student (more towards rock music and he’s currently looking for members for his own band) and his dad runs a Chinese restaurant which is right next to the college. Mine is going to take a practical exam in which he once failed and he needs someone to be his piano accompaniment. Since Chiaki once disliked his playing style, he’s out of the question. During his practice, Nodame accidentally trips and unplugs on his electric violin’s cable. Thus the start of another fateful meeting. Mine asks Nodame if she would want to be his piano accompaniment for his exam. She agrees. Thing is, Nodame hasn’t learn the piece they’re gonna play at the exam yet. So over the episode we see and hear more classical pieces being played and… more food. Yeah, I guess Nodame’s a glutton since every darn food also she likes. Still Chiaki isn’t too fond of Nodame proclaiming herself as his girlfriend so much so Mine gives her some advice like being sexy in order to sleep with Chiaki. I don’t think that’ll work. But it’s hilarious to see Nodame putting too much make-up. So after much practice and talk, we see Chiaki replaces Nodame at Mine’s exam because Nodame comes down with a cold. However, since the duo’s combination is flawless, the examiners are impressed and Mine passes the exam with flying colours. In the end, because of his earlier chat with Chiaki, Mine decides to break up his band and go into classical music as he joins Chiaki and Nodame’s circle. Well, two’s a company, three’s a crowd. Wait, it’s been rowdy even with Nodame alone.
 
Episode 3 introduces yet another weirdo. This time the timpanist student, Masumi Okuyama. What’s so weird about this guy? Besides being claustrophobic and sporting an afro hairstyle, he’s actually the kind of guy who thinks he’s a woman born in a man’s body. In other words, a ‘pondan’. Furthermore, Masumi’s in love with Chiaki and with Nodame butting in, the competition is really heating up. Most of the time (especially when it involves Chiaki), Masumi and Nodame don’t see eye to eye (I like it especially Masumi calls Nodame ‘No-Dummy’ and ‘No-Dame’ meaning not good. Haha), other than that, they’re just fine. Thus in this episode, we see Masumi pulling off several pranks on a hapless Nodame as revenge. But since it’s getting no where, Mine suggests to see who can get to date with Chiaki on Christmas Eve. I believe Chiaki isn’t homo and if he has to choose I’m sure he has to pick the lesser of 2 evils. Anyway, those 2 losers failed. As the duo reflect on it, we find out Masumi has been kicked out of his orchestra group and has no where to go. Nodame suggests for him to join them and form a 3 piece ensemble. Though the usual bickering ensue between Nodame and Masumi, the trio starts their practice session. And soon Chiaki joins and helps them in their jazz-like piece, since he doesn’t mind to lend an extra hand, making Masumi extremely happy. Earlier on, Chiaki and Saiko did had a walk together but that Chiaki guy refuses whatever Saiko had offered him. Didn’t she dumped him? Yeah, looks like deep down Saiko still loves him but there’s no turning back now. Better be with a unhygienic weirdo than an obnoxious selfish b*tch.
 
Nodame meets another weirdo in episode 4. A foreigner from Germany by the name of Milch Holstein. This is by far the worse weirdo ever. Why? He’s a womaniser and a pervert. Probably Nodame’s naiveness got her to bring him around here and there and eventually to Chiaki’s room, which Nodame claims to be her boyfriend’s room. I didn’t know Chiaki’s good in German because he can see that Milch guy’s a fake. He’s actually Franz Von Stresemann, a highly reputable and respected conductor who comes to visit the college as a guest instructor. And yes, the part of him which womanizes is still true. Stresemann visits the college next day and meets Chiaki. He claims to know Viera and asks him if he wants to be a conductor, in which Chiaki affirmed he wants to. I suppose it’s Chiaki’s intuition not to let Nodame go out with that dirty old man rather than he has feelings for her as Chiaki makes up excuses or attempts to get Nodame away from him. Of course Nodame would choose Chiaki and everytime this happens, Stresemann gets jealous and would be plotting something against Chiaki. In addition to teaching the college’s A Orchestra, Stresemann’s here to form an orchestra of his own and would consist of students he’ll personally pick. Mine and Masumi or on his list (Nodame is in too… as their mascot. Huh?) and with that, Chiaki decides not to transfer to the conducting course. Of course Stresemann didn’t allow this and rips apart his transfer letter.
 
So a little flashback when Stresemann met Viera 15 years ago (that guy’s still flirts around and with Viera’s wife!). Though Stresemann’s S Orchestra has gathered in the hall and waiting but Stresemann arrives late and wants to get to know them all to some drinking party. It’s his excuse of flirting around. Is he really a world famous conductor he claimed to be? Nodame also finds out that if Chiaki transfers to the conducting course, his graduation will be delayed by a year and this means an additional year to be with Chiaki. So Nodame tries to persuade Stresmann to approve the transfer but to no avail. Because of that, Chiaki thinks of quiting college but Nodame rips his letter and forcefully brings him to the principal’s office to sort things out. Seeing a pitiful Nodame in tears pleading, Stresemann admit he lost but will approve Chiaki’s transfer on 1 condition, that is, Nodame has to kiss him. He’s still a pervert right till the end, isn’t he?
 
Well, Nodame didn’t make the kiss in episode 5 because like any other girl’s reaction, she gave him a sucker punch right in his face. Who’d want to kiss an old geezer like you. Meanwhile the S Orchestra is getting tired of waiting for Stresemann and decides to leave when Nodame comes in and says Chiaki will take over. Though Chiaki thinks he’s just filling in, he can’t let this chance pass up, since everyone else is eager to know how good is Chiaki’s conducting. Mine is acting like the concert master because he said Stresemann picked him, much to the dissatisfaction of others. As they practice, Chiaki realizes that this whole bunch of misfits in S Orchestra are awful players of the college. Yeah, the cacophony and no synchronization. Why, Chiaki could even pick out and sharply criticise those wrong notes or playing just by hearing. He’s good. But it all sound normal to me. Chiaki has had enough so much so he quits. Stresemann, who’s watching from the audience seat stands up and says Chiaki has failed. Why? Because Chiaki made a girl cry. Doesn’t it feel like American Idol here? Yeah, harsh words, crushed dreams. Don’t worry, she isn’t kicked out yet. Stresemann takes over and starts from the top with his gentle persuassion, everybody feels better and cooperates. Yeah, probably it’s part of his plan to make Chiaki look bad.
 
Next day, Chiaki again tries for his transfer but Stresemann rips it apart but Chiaki mentions that he’s gonna keep on trying till he accepts him. Stresemann notes that his talents are being wasted by being Viera’s student and that he should continue with his piano course. When he’s not doing so, he could try being at Stresemann’s side. Stresemann invites Chiaki to a place where he could get some girls when Nodame barges in and protest and says she’s not gonna let Stresemann have Chiaki. But Stresemann isn’t perturbed because he thinks by getting Chiaki, he’ll get Nodame as well.
 
Stresemann lets Chiaki know in episode 6 that the S Orchestra is going to play against the A Orchestra in an upcoming concert. Thing is, Stresemann is busy missing in action flirting and the S Orchestra hasn’t practice much under him so much so Chiaki has to be the substitute conductor. Other than that, we see one of the S Orchestra members, Sakura Saku, facing a few difficulties of her own as Nodame tries to help her out. Eventually Chiaki and Nodame visits Sakura’s house and learn her father’s an avid collector of violins, which in a way contributes to the family’s bankruptcy. Uh huh, he should’ve sold off all those violins to lift the family out from trouble since he himself can’t play them. Well, he took Chiaki’s advice to sell them all and Sakura’s family is doing well again. Something about that violin being cursed too.
 
Beside Mine creating some weird trademark movement for the S Orchestra (whereby everyone lifts up their instruments in the air), Stresemann drops the bombshell by quitting the S Orchestra and decides to coach A Orchestra and leaves everything to Chiaki. Why? Because the previous night outing, the girls especially Nodame, ignored him. I mean, Chiaki’s surprised to learn from Nodame that Stresemann thought her how to be seductive. And to see Nodame trying to be all over Chiaki, he can’t take it anymore. Be careful, he’s such a vengeful creature. Though Mine feels it’s their chance to show their true potential and overthrow A Orchestra, Chiaki is feeling depressed with the responsibilities he’s shouldering and thinks he can’t win against Stresemann, so much so Chiaki evades and ignores Nodame’s attempts to kiss him while he’s in deep thinking. He didn’t even realized she’s trying to do that. As usual Chiaki continues his usual criticism on everyone’s play which made everyone to think Chiaki’s like a dictator akin to Napolean Bonarparte.
 
With that everybody’s confidence is shattering as Chiaki himself is having a hard time trying to keep the orchestra together in episode 7. Meanwhile a student who looks a bit like Chiaki, Oukouchi, who’s a student of Stresemann wants him to allow him to conduct the orchestra in his absence. But Stresemann pisses him off saying that he could only swing chopsticks. Oukouchi decides to go see himself how good Chiaki is but is stopped by Nodame who thinks he’s a spy from A Orchestra. While the duo are arguing, the door to the orchestra door opens and slams Oukouchi and we see lots of girls streaming out crying. Even Mine! Can’t take the heat any longer. Later we find out Nodame is an obsessed fan of some movie called Puri Gorota. I’m not sure what it’s about but she pissed off Chiaki when she commented how he’s similar to 1 of the characters. Yeah, he’s gonna kill her.
 
Next day, Chiaki notices his S Orchestra members aren’t paying attention to him and Nodame wonders if they’re boycotting Chiaki. Later Mine and the rest apologizes for not doing so as Chiaki does the same for his selfishness. With that, they continue practicing. On the day of the performance, Chiaki is shocked to see his orchestra wearing black t-shirts with ‘S Orchestra’ printed on it. In the end, S Orchestra pulls off an astounding performance and the audience are thrilled as they give them a standing ovation. As for A Orchestra, they did badly because of a last minute sudden change in conductor. Uh huh. Stresemann decides to leave it to Okouchi to conduct. But in the end, that loser ran away, claiming stomach ace. Later the S Orchestra thanks Chiaki as it was him which made them pushed harder and promised to try their best in the future. Then we see Chiaki sleeping on a park bench and this time Nodame sees an opportunity to kiss him. She successfully does and quickly runs away in ecstasy. Well, it seems Chiaki purposely let her do so as gratitude. And that Stresemann is burning in jealousy as he watches from his window. Chiaki will always be number 1 in Nodame’s heart, pal.
 
Stresemann tries to go back to the S Orchestra by inviting them to that party again in episode 8 but they rejected him since he abandoned them before. However, Stresemann says who wants to have a feel on Chiaki’s chest, made all the girls change their minds. I suppose let bygones by bygones as we see the S Orchestra members having a swell time with Stresemann at that restaurant. That guy still wants to flirt, especially with Nodame. Later Chiaki does some research on Stresemann and finds out that he’s supposedly missing after some public performance in London and that police are searching for him. Next day, a helicopter lands in college and Stresemann recognizes the woman coming down from it as Elise and starts running away. Elise orders her henchmen to capture Stresemann in which they successfully done so. Yeah, he’s gagged and bound. Chiaki finds out that Elise is Stresemann’s secretary-cum-manager and the reason he’s here is because of a woman, Mina, which is his ex-lover and is also a director of this college. So Stresemann becomes a topic among them to talk about like his true intention and such.
 
While Stresemann is rehearsing with the S Orchestra, Mina comes to see him and Stresemann even seriously asks her to marry him, which she just brush it off as a joke. Uh huh. He got dumped so fast. With that, Stresemann decides to conduct the S Orchestra for a while. Chiaki thinks he’s just doing it to gain Mina’s attention. Stresemann spots Nodame playing 1 of her pieces and asks what are her ambitions. Nodame replies that she wants to be a kindergarten teacher and marry Chiaki. But Stresemann says at this rate she can’t marry Chiaki. Besides that, Chiaki hears from Elise a little about Stresemann’s past and Stresemann and Mina discussing things about Chiaki with the former suggesting to take a trip to Nagano as there’s a music festival over there. We also see Nodame frantically clinging on to Chiaki because she believed what Stresemann said to her.
 
We see Chiaki, Nodame, Mine and Masumi in a car on their way to Nina Lutz’s musical festival in episode 9. This festival is held yearly whereby each participants take lessons from famous musicians to further enhance their music skills. While Mine is overwhelmed by the many talented musicians, Nodame gets Nina herself. But Nodame fails in her eyes because she’s lousy at note reading and partly because she’s thinking about Chiaki. So much so Nina loses her patience and tells Nodame to get out of her class. Meanwhile Chiaki and Stresemann are attending the festival’s party and Elise gives Chiaki Stresmann’s schedule and even a book on how to deal with that guy! Must be like an animal. But isn’t that Elise’s job? Yeah, she says she’s on vacation now and as expected Chiaki ends up becoming Stresemann’s P.A. Poor guy.
 
Later Nodame is relieved that she gets to see Chiaki after a long time and touches his hand, freaking him out. He finds out Nodame got kicked out and tells her to go home if she’s scared of the teacher. Because Stresemann again has a hangover, Chiaki has to play temporary conductor for Stresemann’s pupils. Yeah, more harsh criticising and correcting their playing style. Chiaki notices a violinist, Miki Kiyora, the only one among the pack which sounds different and talented. On the final day of the festival we see Stresemann conducting while Nina performs with a special orchestra. Also, a couple of reporters seem interested in Chiaki because they think Stresemann’s student should be newsworthy. Nodame on the other hand is behaving strangely like an orang utan (as said by Masumi) and can’t be found anywhere. Chiaki went to ask Nina but she said she lacked passion and was excused from class. But Nina later heard a beautiful piano piece (by Nodame) and by the time she reached to room to see who it was, nobody was there. Finally that girl hit the right notes. What’s this? Chiaki bringing back Stresemann on a train instead of riding back with his pals? Ah, the lesser of 2 evils. Besides, he is his assistant for the day, right?
 
The college will be holding a cultural festival soon in episode 10 and Mine wants the S Orchestra to do a costumed orchestra for it. However, Chiaki won’t be joining them because he’s busy practicing with the A Orchestra. At the same time, Stresemann is still fooling around and this didn’t make Mina happy because she thinks he’s not taking Chiaki seriously. Mina nearly ‘kills’ Stresemann and tells him not to belittle her students and the festival before leaving. A letter opener can be a deadly weapon too. On the day of the festival, the S Orchestra comes dressed in some traditional Japanese costume, except Masumi who’s in some lady’s attire. Why did they dress so? Something about a chance to beat Chiaki. Anyway if you’re wondering that weird costume thingy at the end credits, worry no more because it finally made it’s appearance. Well, it’s a badly made mongoose actually and Nodame is wearing it. Uh huh. Some unrelated blabbings about mongoose from Nodame, stumping everyone. Funny part is that it appeared on stage as the S Orchestra is about to perform and though Chiaki can’t see who the person is behind it but has a strong feeling it’s Nodame. A mongoose playing a melodian? The S Orchestra does another astounding performance even though they pulled off that weird trademark move of theirs. Though Nodame is the orchestra’s mascot, she still feels she isn’t really part of it and wonders why a piano isn’t included in an orchestra. Good question. Maybe it’s because piano pieces sound better on its own in classical music? On the final day of the festival, everyone is anticipating with excitement a performance of Chiaki with Stresemann. However, Stresemann informs Chiaki that he’ll soon be leaving Japan.
 
The combined performance of Chiaki and Stresemann begins in episode 11. One thing I notice is how darn smooth the animation when they show the person’s fingers playing the piano. It made me go wow. I don’t know if they simply just move the fingers without any correlation with the music, but that’s a different story. You’ll see this smoothness everytime a piano piece is being played. Talk about providing eye candy now. Of course the duo’s performance was the best so much so the S Orchestra comes in second place. Nodame is awed by Chiaki’s performance so much so she frantically tries to search and play that piano piece Chiaki played that day. She’s more like panicking. Then some advice from Stresemann to Nodame saying that she has to take music face on or else she won’t be able to truly enjoy music, which makes Nodame a little angry.
 
This episode also sees Saiko trying her opera voice part as she still reminisces about Chiaki. Though she still loves him, she realized that Chiaki had all along loved her voice only. Funny part is that she decides to go peek at Chiaki and ‘the other woman’. Since Nodame is practicing that piece non stop, she looks like a zombie! After Nodame is instructed to take a bath by Chiaki, the latter fixes her some food in which Nodame refuses to eat so much so Chiaki has to force feed her! Saiko must be really shock to see those 2 like that. Especially Chiaki on top of Nodame trying to forcefully feed her. Haha. Also, you won’t see Stresemann anymore and that perverted old man has made his last appearance. Is that a good or a bad thing?
 
Besides the continuation of the force feeding frenzy, in episode 12, Nodame is still adamant that she wants to play that piece but Chiaki notes that it’s impossible since she can’t read notes but Nodame says she has heard the song several times and is able to. Thus Chiaki decides to bring Nodame to college and try it out in a room with 2 pianos. As expected, while playing, Chiaki notes Nodame’s haphazard playing style and isn’t too amused. Their playing attracted the attention of a teacher, Kouzou Etou, and other students. Everybody’s saying how Chiaki is playing with ‘his girlfriend’ prompting Saiko to be shocked and soon leaves. This episode also has a little more on Saiko and sees how she gets teased and such. Some Dorabella thing. But I’m not going into that. Besides that, we see the rest of the S Orchestra planning about their future careers as some of them will be graduating soon. Also, Keiko and Sakuma, writers from some magazine is doing a story on why Chiaki is still in Japan. It seems they’ve become a fan of Chiaki after that performance at Nina Lutz’s festival. Chiaki gives his reasons for not going as he can’t possibly tell about his phobia on flying. In the end, Chiaki is surprised to learn from Nodame that she’s gonna be a kindergarten teacher and not enter competitions. He thinks it’s a waste of her talents even though her personality is one kind. Chiaki also wonders why such a good pianist like her won’t aim for higher goals. However this prompts Chiaki to remind of his own case. Yeah, can’t leave Japan because of fear of flying. Right back at ‘cha.
 
Graduation is just around the corner in episode 13 and Mine asks Chiaki if he wants to set up their own orchestra with he graduates since after graduation the S Orchestra will be disbanded. Chiaki declines the offer but Mine is still persistent. Not till Kiyora comes in and suggests the same thing to Chiaki, did Chiaki immediately accepts. Double standard? Probably Kiyora has more talent compared to those weirdos. With Chiaki accepting, Kiyora says that oboe player Kuroki and cellist Kikuchi will join too if Chiaki asks them. After Kiyora leaves, Mine Chiaki to allow him and his friends to join in but Chiaki throws him a condition that if he could be in the A Orchestra in the next exam, he would allow it. With that, Mine rushes off to practice. Besides that, we see a little flashback from Masumi how he met Chiaki and ‘fell in love with him’ when Chiaki stopped him from falling downstairs while Masumi is carrying some drum. Also Masumi is in ecstasy when Chiaki invites Masumi to join his orchestra if he has the time. Finally, the S Orchestra gathers for 1 last outing together. Funny to see Nodame and Saiko bumping into each other at the ladies and Saiko proceeds to ‘torture’ Nodame like trying to drown her head in a water filled basin because Nodame’s drunk. While the nearly the whole S Orchestra becomes drunk and annoyed Chiaki with their horrible karaokeing sessions before parting, it ended with Chiaki and Nodame walking home as they waltz through the night streets.
 
Chiaki goes back to his family in episode 14. It all started when Nodame picks up Chiaki’s ringing handphone and Chiaki’s uncle, Takehiko, thought it was Saiko. Nodame gives the handphone to Chiaki and Takehiko tells him to immediately come home… and bring his girlfriend along too. It then dawned to him that he had spend the night in Nodame’s room after last night’s outing. Eventually Chiaki has to bring Nodame along and we hear a little family background from Chiaki like how his parents are divorced and that they’re going to his mom’s parents’ home. Upon arrival, we see Takehiko has a son, Toshihiko, who in a way is jealous and hates Chiaki, and a daughter Yuiko, the kind who wants Chiaki to be all hers and doesn’t like Nodame too well. But before you know it, Nodame and Yuiko hits off on the right note and become best pals. Yeah, like the terrible twins causing a little ruckus here and there.
 
A reason for Takehiko to call Chiaki back is to cure Chiaki’s flight phobia through hypnotism. Didn’t work. Probably being with weirdo Nodame has ‘numbed’ his senses. During dinner, Takehiko tries to persuade Chiaki to give up his music and come join his company, which is what Toshihiko is doing. Yeah, that guy once loved to play the violin and even looked up to Chiaki. Something must’ve gone wrong. During this conversation, Toshihiko snaps and in his sarcasm tells Chiaki about a failed plot to knock out Chiaki to force him to board an airplane. Scary. Before he leaves the dinner table, he tells Chiaki that he should join the company. That night, Yuiko asks Nodame to sleep with her and the duo had a little chat. Since Chiaki had a nightmare, he decides to come down to listen to some music. Nodame too can’t sleep and since she’s amazed by the huge music collection, Nodame decides to play them along with Chiaki. Soon the rest of the house occupants are awaken due to the harmonious melody of the duo.
 
I suppose their music could really heal ties and make them realize things. In episode 15, because the family are amazed by the duet, Takehiko and Toshihiko thinks Chiaki should continue with his music while Takehiko says Toshihiko can do anything he wants and if he wants to carry on continuing the family’s business, it’s up to him. So as the family bid farewell to Chiaki and Nodame, Takehiko tells Nodame to come again so that she could meet Chiaki’s mom, Seiko. However, everyone agrees and persists that Nodame should be a pianist and not a teacher because Chiaki quipped that she’s dangerous and would hurt children, pissing Nodame off. So much so Nodame tells Chiaki he can go home alone. Well, I guess it’s okay with Chiaki too. While Chiaki takes a taxi, poor Nodame is still fuming and walking back.
 
Back at college, Chiaki meets with Kiyora, Kuroki and Kikuchi and discuss plans about forming their orchestra. As for Nodame, things must be getting worse for her as she finds out to her horror, her usual teacher, Hajime Tanioka, has been replaced with a more stricter one, Etou. It’s like those 2 don’t click. I suppose under Tanioka, Nodame could play all those children and Puri Gorota songs but when she does this under Etou, he quickly smacks her with a paper fan. So much so this punishment has become his trademark. Yeah, Nodame’s acting like a stubborn student while Etou tries to change her and make her listen to his ways. So futile. Don’t worry, Etou isn’t a bady guy. He just want to bring out the best from his students. But too much is no good as Nodame eventually snaps and storms into Tanioka’s room, pleading him to take her back. However Tanioka has engaged another student and is unable to do so and Nodame finds out this transfer was done at Etou’s request. Gyabo! Pukya! Oh the horror. Is it a conspiracy? Nodame is so depressed that she goes to find Chiaki but can’t find him anywhere. She finally arrives at Mine’s dad’s restaurant, in which Mine’s dad tries to cheer her up but to no avail so much so he contacted his son. Mine thinks there’s nothing wrong with her until he realized his dad told him how she refused free food. Uh huh. Where’s Chiaki? He’s at some get together outing with his newly formed orchestra members and notices how they’re more ‘civilized and cultured’ than the S Orchestra. Though Chiaki wants to go home and check on Nodame, the members want to for another outing.
 
In episode 16, Chiaki’s new orchestra, dubbed the R-S Orchestra (that stands for Rising Star), starts practicing for their first performance. Mainly the first half of this episode sees how Chiaki tries to understand the playing style of the newly formed group. Chiaki notices that Nodame is with him and wonders why isn’t she at her own class. Nodame tries to make an excuse like how Tanioka is sick when she actually doesn’t want to be in Etou’s class. Chiaki doesn’t believe her and tries to call Tanioka but Nodame stops him. Before Chiaki can pursue the matter further, Kuroki interrupts and Nodame uses this chance to escape. Looks like Kuroki has a crush on Nodame. Well, love works in funny ways. At the same time, Mine is impressed by Kiyora’s violin skills and asks her to take him as her student, in which she refuses. Meanwhile Etou is searching for Nodame who is hiding from him. Funny to see Etou chasing Nodame who’s frantically trying to get away from him. So much so, Etou got stuck in some narrow lane. Haha. With Nodame managing to escape, she bumps into Kuroki and asks him if it’s weird being a kindergarten teacher aiming for a higher goal. Since that guy has no clue what she means, he says as long as he can play his oboe, he’s happy. Later Chiaki gives some advice on how to handle Nodame, which is to buy some Puri Gorota figures. Nodame falls for that old trick by picking up a trail of Puri Gorota figures which leads to Etou. She freaks out and tries to run away when she finds out he’s behind all this. However, since she can’t get away anymore, Nodame agrees to be Etou’s student on 1 condition. If he helps her compose a song and promise not to hit her with his paper fan again. Okay, so that’s 2 conditions.
 
Mainly episode 17 is about the R-S Orchestra trying to get a hall for their first performance and also some publicity. Keiko and Sakuma plans to help some guy Kimura with the publicity thing. Mine is still trying to get Kiyora to be her student and as usual she turns him down. There’s this funny part whereby Kuroki buys a pot of flowers as gratitude for Nodame. Chiaki asks what does this guy see in Nodame and Kuroki replies that she’s cute, bright and such. How ironic. He should try living with this girl for once. Chiaki listed to him her not so good qualities like surfing erotic websites and peeping while he’s changing. Wah! But Kuroki doesn’t believe him and ignores Chiaki. During practice, everyone laughs off Mine when he criticized everyone for not concentrating enough. Though Mine is betting his future on this orchestra, the members seem to have intentions of going overseas and do better staff rather than seeing a future in this orchestra. Though Chiaki believes what Mine is saying, he didn’t say anything and feels depress. So much so his cooking is affected and Nodame can only have can foods.
 
Since some of the orchestra members have their own competitions, Chiaki decides to call for a break until the competition is over. But because Chiaki is also so obsessed with his orchestra that he didn’t bath or eat for 3 days. Wow. He’s becoming like Nodame. Meanwhile Nodame has finished completing her children song ‘Moja Moja Suite’ with Etou and must now honour her end of the deal. He gives Nodame 3 songs to learn the next time they meet. But Nodame is more concerned about Chiaki and tries to buy some stuff for him to eat. Kuroki spots Nodame and tries to chat with her but since she’s in a hurry and the way she says things, Kuroki realized that she’s in love with Chiaki. Another depressed guy. So much so he soaked his oboe reed to long, damaging it. Also Kiyora’s stiff neck causes her to get 2nd place at some competition. Though Kikuchi gets 1st place, it’s funny to see his 3 girlfriends finding out that he triple-timed them, earning their wrath. It’s getting catty.
 
R-S Orchestra’s practice continues in episode 18 and Chiaki once again rear his ugly head with his harsh criticisms. In the end, everyone is dead tired because they practiced for a marathon of 5 hours! Keiko and Sakuma comes by to tell them that they’ve already sold some tickets for their debut performance and even has a poster of it. Kiyora punches Mine when she finds out that he and his dad came out with that Rising Star name for their orchestra. Also, Chiaki has a little dream which may reveal about how his flight phobia came about. Funny part was when Nodame tried to do her hypnotism with the clock watch Stresemann gave to her before he left. Though it didn’t work at first, Nodame is persistant and finally surprised when Chiaki actually falls asleep soon after! Later that night, Chiaki gives Nodame a special ticket to the concert. On the night of the performance, the R-S Orchestra does another splendid performance and one of them features Kuroki as the main player. He’s thankful to Chiaki that even though he didn’t perform well in his previous competition, Chiaki still believes in him and vows to do his best. Keiko and Sakuma did their usual reporting and finds out not many people know of Chiaki’s conducting skills. Not only that, they find Kiyora’s teacher, Kai Dowin, at the concert too. Though his peers are praising the concert, Kai says otherwise. Sounds like an obnoxious dude.
 
The performance continues in episode 19. As expected, the R-S Orchestra receives a standing ovation. Mainly this episode is about how Chiaki developed his phobia. Well first, we see Nodame successfully hypnotizing Chiaki again! Chiaki is asleep and is dreaming about the time he was small and on a airplane trip back from Vienna to Japan with Seiko. Nodame is like a pyschiatrist listening to Chiaki’s words. An old man who’s sitting to the right of a young Chiaki loves music and wants to go see Viera’s performance again next year. But the airplane experiences turbulence and that old man got a heart attack. His wife tries to get some medicine for him but it fell off her hands and rolled down the aisle. Chiaki tries to grab it but couldn’t reach. Back in present time, Nodame tells Chiaki that it’s not his fault and he can board an airplane now. Before Nodame leaves, she tells Chiaki to open his eyes when the alarm goes off and forget everything during the hypnosis.
 
I guess that hypnotic treatment works because we see Chiaki at the airport but since he’s still too scared to board the airplane alone, he drags Toshihiko along with him. Hmm… Still some signs of fear but you could say he’s relatively cured thanks to Nodame. So why a trip to Hokkaido and not Europe? That’s because during the hypnosis Nodame asks Chiaki to go there to buy some crabs and souvenirs. Wow. Her therapy is effective. When Chiaki returns, she doesn’t find Nodame around. She’s currently practicing her piano with Etou at his home for an upcoming Maradona Piano Competition. Chiaki decides to visit Nodame but without seeing her. He can’t believe that girl studying under Etou when Etou’s wife, Kaori, spots him and invites him in. Chiaki just wanted to hand over the crabs and souvenirs before leaving when Kaori tells her about Nodame’s participation in the Maradona competition, which surprises Chiaki. He thinks that Nodame’s style of playing isn’t suitable for such competition and wonders how Etou will fix her weaknesses. Soon Chiaki decides to leave so as not to disturb Nodame’s practice. Later Nodame finds out that Chiaki did indeed went to Hokkaido to get the crabs during dinner time. Also, Chiaki’s family celebrates his cure of his flying phobia.
 
Nodame starts her Maradona preliminary competition in episode 20 and even wonders if there’s a way to cheat here like bribing the judges. Don’t worry, she won’t stoop that low. Meanwhile Chiaki is busy with another rehearsal when Kai comes in and joins them as their concert master. Kai is telling everyone how to play! So Chiaki, how does it feel to have a taste of your own medicine. Chiaki finds out that Kai has been invited by their college directors just like Stresemann’s case. The R-S Orchestra does another wonderful concert so much there is a guy who comes to them and decides to join them. He is Noriyuki Takahashi, a handsome looking guy enough to be Chiaki’s rival in terms of girls swooning over him. Noriyuki too has a sharp tongue in the sense that he openly says how he’s better than Kiyora and can even replace her because he listed his outstanding results of competitions he participated. Kiyora is gonna kill him only to be restrained by Mine. I think this Noriyuki is gay because he got distracted and fantasizes when he sees Chiaki changing his top. Must be. He even asks Chiaki to strip down! I suppose they got enough of Noriyuki as Kiyora and Masumi violently tie this gay guy down.
 
Meanwhile Nodame herself has passed her preliminaries and is on to the next round. Though she has trouble with some pieces, it’s enough to captivate 1 of the judges and sends her qualifying to the next. Etou must be having a roller coaster ride. Later, Kaori and Etou mentions Nodame’s next rival which is Segawa Yuuto, which somehow brings shivers to Nodame whenever she hears that name. I think it’s her childhood friend or something (perhaps bully). I like the funny part whereby Kaori is putting make-up on Nodame and giving her some advice on her next piece. Something to do with love. Kaori goes on to mention "Sometimes I see Kouzou-san surrounded in roses" and a picture of Etou’s face appears being surrounded by the red flowers. Nodame replies "That’s scary". Hehehe. But Nodame receives an SMS from Chiaki telling her to do her best and that he’ll come to attend her final. With that, Nodame is happy and starts playing her next piece on stage.
 
Episode 21 starts off with Yuuto giving an astounding performance while Noriyuki demonstrates his violin skills to the other R-S Orchestra members. Noriyuki tells them that he’s here to be the concert master and is sure he’ll get even though he has an offer to work in some entertainment industry but turn it down. Noriyuki explains his reasons of wanting to join this orchestra so much so it touched Mine as he tells Kiyora to got to Vienna like she wanted so that when she comes back, she can show off her several awards to be better than Noriyuki. Kiyora agrees. Mine even says she won’t cheat on her while she’s away because he’ll be practicing his violin so hard. Then it dawned to Chiaki that Mine and Kiyori are in a relationship. I too didn’t know they’re seeing each other. Chiaki soon gets an SMS from Nodame saying that she’s got into the finals. But because Nodame is practicing too hard, she falls ill. Kaori sensed that Nodame was acting strange so much so Etou didn’t believe her at first. Uh huh. He said something like this "She always act weird. So I didn’t even notice when she was really acting weird". Hahaha.
 
While Nodame’s resting in bed, she’s restless and has a weird dream about her mongoose suit (it’s been some time I’ve seen that outfit), Puri Gorota and Yuuto. She eventually wakes up and reflects on Yuuto’s words what would happen if she make mistakes. On the performance day, since Nodame is better and has no time to learn the score, Etou gives her a CD to listen. Then a funny thing happen on the train. As Nodame and Etou are riding it, Nodame is practicing the song in her mind while listening to it in order to memorize. Then some guy’s handphone’s ringtone starts ringing and disrupts her concentration. At the stage, Nodame dresses like Scarlett O’Hara of Gone With The Wind fame and starts playing and impressing the audience as usual. Suddenly she stops halfway and goes blank. What happened? Remember that ringtone part in the train? It seems Nodame can only remember the ringtone after this part. Oh oh.
 
Nodame tries to be innovative in episode 22 as she tries adapting and playing that ringtone on the piano, shocking everyone and even Chiaki who’s there. Not only she goes back and forth with that earlier piece and ringtone, she even create her own lines during the play! Though the audience are still happy with her performance, the judges decide to set aside Nodame even though her performance was amazing. In the end, that Yuuto guy got second and nobody got first place? What the? Shouldn’t the 2nd placed guy get first. Perhaps that place is for Nodame who could’ve won. Chiaki manages to catch Nodame who has left the hall. So the 2 had a little chat like how Chiaki wants to invite her to go study in Europe with him but she declines. But in the end, Nodame gets a little mad at Chiaki as she questions him what’s wrong with playing the piano freely.
 
Next scene is about Mine and Kiyora and something about their upcoming Christmas performance. Just when Kiyora decides to take Mine as her student, her refuses and instead prefers Chiaki, which he got rejected as well. Then on New Years Day, Nodame is seen at her family’s home and a flashback of how she plays the piano her way. When she was young, she was hit by the piano teacher for not playing the way she is instructed to. As a result, Nodame hits the wall and ended up bleeding. She stopped playing piano for a long time and was traumatised. No wonder she’s such a rebel in piano. Other than that, Nodame’s familyt is just as wacky as her. It’s all in the genes. Meanwhile Chiaki and Sakuma meet up and the latter tells his reason why he’s being supportive of Chiaki all along. Something to do with music not only needing talent but an important partner as well if that musician is to go down in history as being famous. Furthermore, Chiaki and some of the members are leaving R-S Orchestra, thus he got this guy Matsuda as his replacement. Soon Matsuda conducts a performance with a few R-S Orchestra members which Noriyuki is in.
 
Chiaki begins his final performance for R-S Orchestra in episode 23, a piece which he was consider a failure by Stresemann 2 years ago. Later the R-S Orchestra are having a drinking party and 2 twin ladies are expressing their gratitude as they hug Chiaki. Masumi decides to join in, not wanting to be outdone by the duo. Just when Noriyuki decides the same thing too, Masumi does some submission move on him. Chiaki tries to contact Nodame but doesn’t have her handphone number and tries to search for it through a package Nodame’s send her but could only find her address. Etou is also looking for Nodame to tell her an urgent news but is also having a hard time locating her. Back at Nodame’s family, Nodame is impressing the neighbourhood with her piano. Her grandma praises her playing after she’s done. Later Nodame finds 23 SMS from Etou! Then there’s 1 which is from Puri Gorota which she excitedly opens. Actually it’s just a heading Etou disguises as in order for Nodame to read his message. Haha. Tricked. Etou informs that Nodame has been recommended to study in Paris. Since the exams are in February, she has to contact Etou as soon as possible if she wants to go.
 
Chiaki is taking a cab to Nodame’s family home when he receives an SMS from her saying that she’ll go study abroad. To his surprise, he also sees Nodame walking by as the cab passes by. Chiaki tells the driver to stop. Unexpectedly, as Nodame continues with her SMS, Chiaki hugs her from behind! Woah! Didn’t see that one coming. Though Nodame is a little embarrassed (finally her dream come true), she wishes him Happy New Year. However, it seems Nodame’s dad is watching them while sailing his boat along the river, much to Chiaki’s horror. And Nodame’s loving it. In the end credits, we see Nodame’s family welcoming Chiaki with their weird pranks. Yeah, it really does run in the family. Back at college, Nodame bids farewell to her friends and Mine, who promises to keep in touch. Also, Nodame decides to hug Tanioka instead of Etou, leaving that guy depressed. Chiaki even ignores that fellow. Then a short conversation with Chiaki and his dad about Nodame’s past and strict piano instructor. Chiaki says Nodame will be okay and that he loves her playing the piano.
 
Overall, I still find the whole series rather enjoyable. Though I have to admit that it started off quite interesting in the beginning then I kinda felt it was a little drag after that Nina Lutz’s festival. It gets a little serious after that though there are still some of their usual jokes here and there. The end came of a sudden surprise to me because I actually anticipated this to be a 26 episode anime, at least a 24 episode one. But still, it’s quite okay actually. I still like the parts whereby Nodame tries to win Chiaki’s affection but that sadistic jerk returns her efforts with abuses and things. Not that I’m a sadist too. But poor Nodame, it’s bloody hilarious. As because of so, Nodame still remains my favourite character as mentioned earlier. But I’m glad Chiaki is more receptive of Nodame of who she is and her playing style in the end.
 
The drawing, art and animation seems to remind me of the anime series Honey And Clover. Yup, it kinda feels ‘bleached’. Yeah, that’s because the producers, J.C. Staff are the same people behind that anime. It never ceases to make me smile everytime the character goes into their shock or surprise mode. With their mouths opened wide, their eyes will be totally white and blank. Still the best animation is when they animate those finger movements while playing the piano pieces.
 
Ayako Kawasumi does a great job voicing Nodame as she’s done famous roles before like Osaka in Azumanga Daioh, Aoi in Ai Yori Aoshi and Hime in Kaibutsu Oujo. Tomokazu Seki is the voice behind Chiaki who also did Sagara in Full Metal Panic, Kyo in Fruits Basket and Pierrot in Yakitate! Japan. Mamiko Noto too play a role here as Sakura. There are many other characters as well but somehow I don’t really seem to think of them as memorable. Not that they’re bad, it’s just that, in an orchestra, there’re too many members so it’s hard for me to keep track.
 
The first ending song, Konna Ni Chikaku De by Crystal Kay is still my favourite theme song for the series. Whereas the opening theme, Allegro Cantabile, sung by SUEMITSU & THE SUEMITH (not a typo error) has heavy piano pounding and is quite upbeat. They also did the second ending theme, Sagittarius, which is a much more slower ballad. If you like your opening and ending credits to be filled with orchestra instruments and music notes and symbols, then you should really enjoy this.
 
However each of the episode titles are only listed as Lesson 1, Lesson 2, Lesson 3, etc. It really doesn’t help me ring a bell what happened in that episode. I thought they could get creative by putting in some musical terms. The next episode preview too isn’t that much. It lasts around 2 seconds and shows some random picture of the next episode while some character say some short random lines, which I don’t think would give you a good idea what’s to come in the next episode. Besides, during the end credits, there’ll be clips of the next episode itself.
 
So whatever your taste in music is, I believe it’s best that you enjoy your kind of music. Since there are many kinds of music, I’m sure not everyone will have the same taste. Classical music is just another genre. And playing or creating music has to come from one’s heart and passion. It cannot be forced upon. Classical music enthusiasts should give this anime a go just for the pieces featured even if not so the storyline. Meanwhile, I’ll be sitting back and relax, listening to my anime songs. Now that’s music to my ears.
 
Nodame Cantabile