The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Nodame Cantabile

Title: Nodame Cantabile
Genre: Comedy/Romance
Directors: Takeuchi Hideki, Kawamura Yasuhiro, Tanimura Masaki
Format: 11 episodes
Dates: 16 Oct 2006 – 25 Dec 2006

Synopsis: Noda Megumi, or “Nodame” is a piano student at Momogaoka College of Music. An extremely talented pianist who wants to be a kindergarten teacher, she prefers playing by ear rather than reading the music score. She is messy and disorganized, takes baths several days apart and loves to eat, sometimes stealing her friend’s lunchbox. Chiaki Shinichi is Momogaoka’s top student. Born into a musical family, he is talented in piano and violin and has secret ambitions to become a conductor. They meet by accident, and Nodame quickly falls in love, but it takes much longer for Chiaki to even begin to appreciate Nodame’s unusual qualities. Their relationship causes them both to develop and grow.

The Highlights
Characters: Better characterized than even their already-excellent anime counterparts.
Music: You just can’t go wrong with classical masterpieces.
Actors: Ueno Juri and Tamaki Hiroshi truly makes the lead roles their own.
Ending: Slightly changed from the anime, and all for the better.

During the broadcast run of J.C. Staff‘s anime adaptation, the live-action version of Nodame Cantabile that finished its run just before it was already winning multiple Television Drama Academy Awards. And for very good reason; although the anime version should already be considered a gem, this live-action was even better in so many ways.

Despite supposedly being a live-action, this rendition of the Nodame Cantabile world can be even more outrageously theatrical than its anime counterpart; a simple “Jimi Hendrix” pose by the violins of the S-Oke in the latter can be, and is, taken to a cello/contrabass-twirling, strings/winds/brass-raising extreme in the former. It makes for excellent comedy, and yet when the time comes for serious drama, the live-action world can just as easily adapt. Of course, if we’re talking about the BGM department, the live-action Nodame Cantabile shares the same absolutely unfair advantage over its peers as its anime counterpart does; how can anything beat the combination of Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, Bach, Schubert, Mozart and Debussy, just to name a few?

Where the storyline is concerned, the live-action drama is mostly similar to that of the anime; of course, there are several changes made to fit the 11 1-hour episodes format, but they do not take away very much from the original story at all. In fact, these changes tighten up the story efficiently, and make the comedy or drama (whichever applies) even more effective as a result. Moreover, the live-action also makes an attempt at addressing the problem of side characters dropping out halfway; Saku Sakura being the best example. The biggest difference probably comes at the very ending of the live-action series, with a switch in scenes in the timeline, but I would wholeheartedly argue that, if anything, the switch only makes for a much more impactful, memorable ending than the anime adaptation.

However, where the live-action adaptation stands out most from its anime counterpart is in the characters, and the actors who play them; Seki Tomokazu and Kawasumi Ayako may have brought the characters of Chiaki and Nodame to life in the anime version, but Ueno Juri and Tamaki Hiroshi have respectively made the roles their very own in the live-action version. It has to be said that Ueno‘s portrayal was even more intimately Nodame than Kawasumi‘s effort, and Tamaki‘s Chiaki exudes even more of the “rich bastard” vibe than Seki‘s. The character development of the two lead roles is just as good as in the anime, but it works even better with the outstandingly intimate portrayals by Ueno and Tamaki; not that I wish to take anything away from the anime versions. And I’m not even going into the side characters yet; Eita‘s Mine Ryutaro, Koide Keisuke‘s Okuyama Masumi, Takenaka Naoto‘s Franz Stresemann, and even Saeko‘s Saku Sakura matches and even outmatches the richness of their anime counterparts.

To finish off, the live-action adaptation of Nodame Cantabile does the story just as well as, and sometimes even better than, the anime adaptation. Although there is a lot more I could say, and many more gushing labels I could pin on this, in the end everything can easily be summed up in one word, one which can be heard quite often in the series. Now that I’m done, everyone, please rise and say it together with me.


The Rating: 10

Reviewed by: Ascaloth

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