Nodame Cantabile Finale – 1
I’m a recent entrant into the Nodame Cantabile fandom. I love the first season for being both funny and a good deal deeper than I expected it to be, and while the second season feels like a step back from that, it nonetheless retained a good portion of the charm that makes the first season so fun. So while I entered this episode a bit nervous about whether the series could climb back to the heights of the first season, and about how the manga apparently did not have such a great ending, that charm quickly took hold of me again.
To make a good romantic comedy, you need a certain level of energy and fun. All romantic comedies have at least some energy and fun, just because it is difficult to have a story centered around love and comedy and not be a bit energized, but there’s a difference between going through the motions and showing that genuine sense of passion. That’s a big reason why someone like Nodame — who by all rights would be annoying as hell in reality — is someone who can charm me instantly onscreen. She has that passion. It’s not just that she’s insanely energetic or lives in her own world with the things she likes and talks about, but it’s also that she has something to live for. Something to drive her — and it’s not just Chiaki.
While this first episode definitely has some flaws (RP accurately points out that the series is skimping a bit on the musical performances, for one), I take this episode as a sign that the series may get back to the complexities of the first season. Chiaki and Nodame are at odds again — they both have passion for what they do, and neither certainly wants to abandon their dreams, but it’s tough including time for someone else when you’re so focused on your own goals. Now there is of course a danger that this could be just a regression that Chiaki and Nodame have to work through again (after all, it’s not the first time that either of them has faced this conflict). However, I like Nodame so much that I am willing to give it the benefit of the doubt here.
Something else I appreciate about Nodame that separates it from a lot of anime is that it has a certain classiness to it. This is not really so much about the series revolving around classical music so much as it is about the whole feel of the series. As silly as Nodame often is, it nonetheless retains a sense of class that doesn’t exist in many series. It has an adult feel to it, even though it is not always that complex. Part of that is due to that trademark J.C. Staff watercolor look shared by Honey and Clover, Aoi Hana and Hatsukoi Limited. It looks refined, classy.
Weirdly enough, I think Nodame herself actually contributes, in a way, to that classiness. She at once feels like a classic sort of character (the ditzy dame who cannot keep her head on straight for more than a few seconds at a time) and an advancement (while she supports and loves Chiaki, she has her own goals that she absolutely will not abandon — especially not now that she has been pushed so far). She gets into absurd situations and yet carries herself with the dignity that she is who she is without any shame. Dial down the silliness and pervertedness just a tad, and I could actually see Katharine Hepburn playing someone similar to Nodame. Now that’s class.
Not a perfect episode by any means, but hell, more Nodame is good Nodame. I’m excited to see where things go from here.