Archive for November 23rd, 2008

Nodame Cantabile: Paris Chapter: Nodame “MUKYA” Kick

Nodame is full of surprises. Or else, this is just the power of love. At any rate, Nodame spin-kick was amazing.

I wasn’t quite aware how I’d missed the classical-music antics of Nodame and Chiaki until I started up the second season last night (after a suitably moving re-watching of Toki o Kakeru Shoujo, which was only after an agonizingly irritating three hours of wanting to smash DVD players) and found myself wrapped, once again, in Nodame love. Gyabo, indeed.

It’s been ages since I’ve seen the first season (at least a year, and over a year and a half since I started watching it, I believe), and the Paris Chapter seems to be like the first season, except with the zaniness kicked up another notch. That can be a good or bad thing, I suppose, and from the looks of pacing they might be trying to put a bit too much manga into their allotted 11 episodes, but I’ve not really seen anything to complain about. Not even the breaking of the suspension of disbelief regarding the magical television translation of French into Japanese.*

It also reminded me (read: forced me to actively think about) what, exactly, is going on in Nodame Cantabile under all the madness and spin-kicks. The basic gist of the series is, essentially, about Nodame trying very, very hard to catch up with the rising star of Chiaki’s career as a skilled conductor, yet always failing because with her eccentric personality, she’s not exactly cut out for the Bach-eat-Bach** world of classical music. What I don’t necessarily think jumped out at me–and this might be due to several reasons, such as a change of mental perspective between season 1 and season 2, or, more likely, the explicit spelling out in episode 5–is that at the same time that Nodame is trying to catch up to Chiaki, Chiaki himself is, in some way, trying to (or supposed to be trying to, more later) catch up with Nodame herself.

The difference in their personalities is remarkable: Nodame perpetually seems happy-go-lucky and does what she wants to do, when she feels like doing it, and isn’t afraid to look at things in a direction far askew from the normal perspective (a trait that Charles Auclair–yes, that guy with the utterly terrifying character design that will probably give me nightmares tonight–saw when he offered to teach Nodame at the conservatory), while Chiaki is solely focused upon working towards his career as a conductor. What happens, then, is that Nodame’s eccentric personality and general friendliness causes people to befreind her almost at first glance (it takes nearly zero time for the tenants of the apartment in Paris to develop a fondness for her), Chiaki seems to have admirers more than he has friends.

Behold, my favorite scene from the Paris Chapter OP. I miss SUEMITSU & the SUEMITH already, though, as Suemitsu proves that piano rock isn’t dead, you just have to be Japanese and channeling Jerry Lee Lewis. With less pedophilic incest.
The ED, however, is amazing.

It’s also clear he has serious issues relating to love and affection, considering whatever mysterious trauma his father forced him through (did his father die? Do we know what happened between him and his father? I can’t really remember…) has had massively negative effects on his relationship with Nodame. It’s almost as if his inability to acknowledge Nodame as his girlfriend (which everyone else but him recognizes between the two of them) stems from a deep reluctance to love (or be loved) by another, or, more generally, a deep reluctance to commit any kind of meaningful trust to anyone. Hence Chiaki the tsundere: a lonely person who desperately wants someone else, but psychologically cannot afford the trust that implies.

Similarly, Nodame lacks the drive and self-discipline necessary to acheive the heights that Chiaki has accorded himself, yet has something perhaps more important: friends who care about her. And, although she seems flighty and disconnected with the world, this, too, gives her her unusual way of looking at the world, and her talent that, if properly developed, would allow her to attain or even surpass the success accorded to Chiaki. And, yet, despite her own inherent quirkiness, she’s dead-set on attaining success in the music world the “normal” way, the way she’s not cut out for. Because of her attachment to Chiaki, though, she feels compelled to turn herself into the perfect wife for Chiaki, as she sees it, never supposing all the while that nearly every other character has had the unspoken realization that the two fit well together.

Nodame Cantabile is, perhaps, more than a love story between Nodame and Chiaki, and more about the two of them learning to accept themselves for who they are. I can already see that Chiaki’s pursuit of conductorship and fame is going to have devestating effects upon him (we saw this in episode 6, when Chiaki finds out he’s just a “young and cheap conductor,” ill-prepared for the international stage), and as long as Nodame refuses to hone her talents in her own particular way (rather than conform them to a specific “standard,” as noted when her “favorite piece” was the same piece played by Rui at Chiaki’s debut concert, to Auclair’s dismay), neither of them will ever really be “happy” in the sense than many know it. Nodame chases after Chiaki’s happiness, never suspecting that she already has it, and that Chiaki himself is in dire need of it.

There have been entirely too many serious words in this post, so here’s a MUKYA and a GYABO for you:

(yes I did just learn how to make the cute little tiny kana in the Japanese IME, why do you ask?)


* I’m of the opinion here that the insertion of random, easy, familiar French (Je t’aime!) is intended to remind the viewer that the characters are speaking French, not Japanese, as they only do this once or twice an episode. Cute, yes, funny, yes, but it’ s also a reminder that they’re supposed to be speaking French. It’s kind of like how, in the Azumanga Daioh dub, ADV switched Yukari from an English teacher to a Spanish teacher, because it doesn’t make sense to have bad English jokes in an English dub. Disbelief-breaker? Possible, but only the hardest of hardcore people really attempt to film movies or TV series in the language the characters are allegedly speaking. And Mel Gibson. I want him to do a version of Jesus Christ Superstar in Aramaic now. Not sure how that would turn out, but an Aramaic musical would be awesome.

Also learning French through having memorized Purigorota in Japanese and linking the French with the Japanese is a very Nodame way to learn French. Nodame: genius savant?

** J.S. and P.D.Q., respectively.


I cannot understand those that take anime seriously, but I can love them, and I do. Out of my love I warn them to keep clear of this blog.

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November 2008