When I was a child I was forced to take piano lessons for around 5 goddamn years of my young life. I hated them, I'd never practice, and then I'd get frustrated when I never improved. It was a vicious cycle. My point is that the anime series Nodame Cantabile actually made me wish I kept up with my lessons so that today I could tickle the ivories just like Noda Megumi or Chiaki Shinichi. But, fuck starting from scratch and trying to learn now — and I'd have to buy a goddamn piano on top of finding the time, and where the hell would I put the damn expensive thing once I got it? Nah, instead I might just watch Nodame again.
What is Nodame Cantabile about? Uuuuuuh, try fucking musicians, Brainiac. NC is all about maestro-in-training, Chiaki, and his quest to become a world-class conductor. Only problem is that ever since he was an itty-bitty (and lived through a crash landing on his way back from Europe) he just can't get on a plane, and therefore can't make a name for himself outside of Japan. Chiaki's a
dick perfectionist who can't stand failings and foibles in either himself or in others, but I'm sure you've guessed that soon enough he has to deal with somebody who's pretty much nothing BUT foibles. Foibles.
Enter NODA MEgumi: bizarreness with bad hair. Nodame is a piano student at the same music school as Chiaki, but she's far from driven. She's a fantastic pianist herself, but she tends to either add or delete notes to classical pieces when she feels like it (which tends to infuriate her teachers and Chiaki, whom she meets when he's forced to share her classroom with her). Oh, I just want to state this right from the beginning: Anybody who does not like, tolerate, or who cannot stand classical music, DO NOT EVEN GIVE THIS SHOW A TRY. This series will drive you fucking loco. There are minutes upon minutes per episode of nothing but Mozart, Bach and Stravinsky being played to still shots of the musicians in playing poses. Oh, and another thing, anybody who is NOT a classically trained musician, SHUT THE FUCK UP when you talk like you know precisely when Nodame excludes or exchanges a note or two from the songs she plays... You're not fooling anybody (you're just repeating what the characters are saying on-screen), and you look like an ass. Just zip it.
So, Nodame aggravates Chiaki with her grand abilities, but low willingness to play things as they were written by the masters, and she also bugs him with her lack of hygiene and household cleanliness (when she tunes into working on a project, everything else, including sleep and baths, is pushed to the side). But most of all she annoys the piss out of him by immediately claiming to be his girlfriend when they first meet.
Yes, yes, I know. This short description that I've just given you makes this show sound gay (Hard Gay in fact), but hear me out. Everything I've just told you takes place in just the first episode. From there, the series covers a period of time of well over a year, we meet dozens upon dozens of new (and non-sucky) characters who play important parts in both Chiaki's and Nodame's lives, and we get to listen to tons of pretty swanky concerts that everybody participates in. And the performances in this series... They're all spectacular. I myself listen to the classics all the time (Beeth-oven is perfect for looking up pr0n to online), and the stuff in Nodame matches all of the mega-conciertos that I have on CD. Top notch muzak.
The secondary characters are all fairly rugged themselves: The punk-wannabe violinist, the flaming timpanist, the over-the-top, perverted, German maestro, the hot concert master in the second half of the series... they all held my attention and didn't piss me off any (a major feat actually). Even Nodame's frequent Tourettes moments of "GYABO!" and "MUKI?!" — which by all means should have been lame and retarded — were actually kind of cute. When I looked up her seiyuu I was completely surprised to see just how many big name characters she'd done! I would have bet money that this was her breakout role since I'd never heard anything like Nodame's voice in the past. But I digress. Really. Let's just move on.
Okay, so the music and the characters were fun... Was there anything I didn't particularly like about Nodame Cantabile? Huh? Was there? The answer is yes, but nothing really huge. First of all, a good portion of the concert scenes are (as mentioned previously) just still frames. Yes, animating a 30+ piece orchestra would have been impossible on a stretched TV series budget, I understand that. But honestly I'd prefer still scenes to what the REST of the concert scenes were made up of: 3D CG. Let me rephrase that: Cheap 3D CG. It really took me out of the show to see rendered hands jumping around the piano keys or pressing the buttons on an oboe.
The second thing that I'd have preferred been done differently was the lack of any real danger or threat in the show. Chiaki (and his eventual orchestra) are near perfect. No, fuck it, they ARE perfect. They don't ever fuck up. I kept waiting for the cellist or the bleach-blonde violinist to screw up a note in the middle of a set... Or for Chiaki to get lost in his thoughts as he was waiving his baton around in front of a large audience. Nothing. Nodame, on the other hand, has tons of handicaps that she needs to overcome, but she's really not the lead in this show despite being the titular character. Strange that. No, not "strange" as in, "Strange, I don't remember actually killing that hooker from last night," but strange as in, "That's strange, I wonder what the fuck the original manga artist was thinking making the angry (almost assholic) perfectionist the lead when the goofy, funny, and loveable character the whole series is named for would have been much more suited for the role." And speaking of the original manga, just how the fuck did that happen? Nodame Cantabile is totally about music. How do you let your audience HEAR it when it's on paper? The anime did a brilliant job of mixing the story with melodies... How did that work in the manga? Anyway, despite the lack of suicide-inducing conflict, ND still kept me enraptured for its entire 23 episode run. It was just fun. That's all I got.
Which brings me to another version of NC: the live-action TV show (done before the anime). Holy cheeeeeziness, Batman. Who's brilliant idea was it to take a fun manga and then turn it into a program wherein everybody overacts to a degree that would make the cast of the live-action GTO series blush? I tried the live-action Nodame first months ago. In fact, my bad experience with that almost made me pass over the anime when it eventually came out... And sorry, but the voice (and just the voice) of Ayako Kawasumi (the anime Nodame) did such a much better job of making one like the character than the real face, body and voice of whoever the fuck the live-action actress was (with her knowing smiles, hyperly-exagerated eyebrow raises and all around OVER ACTING). Anybody who prefers the live-action version is a retard. That's right. You know it's true too.
Back to the plot of the anime. The entire point of everything is: "Is it better to strive higher or to have fun with what you do?" Quite honestly, that's the point of life, and the end result of the anime answers the question in a very pleasant way. At least I think so. And I am the absolute truth.
Seriously? You're not shitting me? There are THAT MANY really incredible and talented classically trained musicians in Japan, let alone the world? How come we're not drowning in out of work maestros on street corners with cardboard signs claiming "Will direct orchestras for a hotdog... If you know what I mean"?
There is no way that there are that many symphonies or even charity orchestras who need that many violinists or oboeists in their damn ranks. Who the fuck employs all these young, hopeful, about to get their dreams smashed into the goddamn rocks, wide-eyed, pathetic pukes? That conservatoire in Japan that this hard gay show takes place in was absolutely FILLED with wannabe musicians. And think about that, each year they probably crank out about 200+ graduates. Each year. And this is just ONE school in ONE city in Japan. Put all the numbers together for all the schools in all the cities in the world. Okay... you can remove any numbers you got from third world countries seeing as their citizens would just try to EAT their instruments if they ever got any, but that's still thousands of thousands of yahoos a goddamn year.
Now, how many actual orchestras or symphonies are there out there, and what the hell's the difference between the two? And how many people actually retire from any of them on any given year? Probably 4-5 at most. At most. Honestly, we don't need that many prostitutes flooding our streets each year, let alone wannabe musicians. Their degree looks to be more useless than mine, which I got signed by the Monkey of Madness after he killed the dean of my school for putting me on double-secret probation. Asscock!
Hmmmm, I honestly have nothing satanic or dark to say about this show. I know! I'm just as surprised as you! Hell, if Hard Gay supports this show, who am I to argue?