The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Nodame Cantabile ~Finale~

Title: Nodame Cantabile ~Finale~
Genre: Comedy/Drama
Company: J.C.Staff
Format: 11 episodes
Dates: 14 Jan 2010 – 25 Mar 2010

Synopsis: As Nodame continues to pursue her goal of eventually being good enough to perform a concerto with Chiaki, the latter continues to make a name for himself after the first successful performance of the Roux-Marlet Orchestra in many years. But as the couple go from strength to strength in their individual pursuits, the effort takes an increasing toll on their relationship. With Nodame entering her final year and feeling no closer to her goal, how will the two negotiate their relationship with each other, and with their music, so as to make it all last in the face of great odds?

The Highlights
Characters: Still focused on the main couple, but the cast as a whole is better developed this time round.
Music: Rediscovers the old respect for its classical gems that was lost in ~Paris~.
Episode 9: As good as the best the excellent first season can offer.
Ending: More like a rushed, inconclusive, non-example of; and only Nodame can make such a non-ending look so apt.

Given that this finale season of the Nodame Cantabile anime franchise was being helmed by Kon Chiaki, the very same director who presided over the ~Paris~ sequel I previously panned, one might expect that I would have a scarcity of kind words to offer for this third season as well; in fact, I started with much the same mindset at the beginning of this series. I will get to the review of this series in good time, but suffice to say for the moment that I’m glad to be eating my previous words.

Although Kon only had eleven episodes to work with for ~Finale~ just like in ~Paris~, and while this lack of space does make itself felt from time to time, I have otherwise few complaints about the pacing; remarkable considering how badly the second series turned out, and probably a testament to the lessons she must have learnt during the trial by fire of the Paris Chapter. And not only was the pacing much better than before, but the same can also be said of the handling of the cast of characters; although still Chiaki/Nodame-centric, especially at the end, most of the supporting characters get their share of time in the limelight as well, fleshing them out a lot better than the peripheral entities they used to be. And that’s not mentioning the aforementioned main couple; by the end of the series, both Chiaki and Nodame have grown a great deal as characters, but remain essentially true to themselves. Now that’s character development.

Another thing which the final series does much better than its predecessor has to be the music; Kon appears to have remembered that the music is just as integral, if not more, to the thematic experience as much as the plot and characters are in this kind of story, and while the limited time still generally precludes the kind of long concert sequences prevalent in the first season, much attention is evident in how the music is worked into the scenes this time around. Bach underlines the increasing strain between Chiaki and Nodame, Ravel highlights the perceived distance between them, and Chopin brings out the true potential and effort Nodame put in during her time in Paris; the music drives the themes forward just as of old, and it finally gets the respect the director should have given it from the start, just like Kasai Kenichi did for the first season.

And speaking of Chopin, mention must be made of Episode 9, the climax of the series; it was about as good as the best that the first season had to offer, with the music and the characters developing along with the story in a smooth narrative. It could have easily passed for one of the best of Kasai‘s Nodame portfolio, and while I’d have loved to see more of this kind of episodes, I have to give kudos to Kon, who finally seemed to have gotten a grasp on the Nodame franchise, even as it is coming to an end.

It is slightly unfortunate then, that the final episodes of ~Finale~ were anything but final; rushed and inconclusive, the ending of the series didn’t come off as much of one, which considering the source material ended much the same way, probably couldn’t be helped. In fact, it’s rather ironic that the last series of the franchise ended up looking like something the titular Nodame herself could have came up with; a messy beginning, a beautiful and even sublime middle, and finally a wreck of an ending. The more things change, the more they somehow stay the same, and somehow it still fits.

The finale of Nodame Cantabile may not be something to give a ‘Bravo!’ for, but I would gladly offer it a standing ovation. Although the First Movement is still the one to remember, at least the Third Movement ends the performance on a high note, as it should be.

The Rating: 8

Reviewed by: Ascaloth

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