Nodame Cantabile Finale – 8
Have to agree with my Nodame-watching pals: This episode is not only the best to air in this particular series, but also one of the most memorable to air in any of Nodame‘s three seasons. Great, great episode.
Is it a coincidence that the quality of Nodame Cantabile Finale has shot toward the heavens now that the music has received more of a focus? Or course it isn’t. Chiaki and Rui put on a hell of a show along with the orchestra. Beautiful, energetic and a ton of fun — being part of the audience watching that performance must have been a hell of an experience. Fantastic way to (seemingly) cap Rui’s story — she knows nothing can come of her feelings for Chiaki, but she’s able to have that one special moment with him and truly come alive through her music.
Just as this show is an intense experience for the performers, it is a particularly intense experience for Nodame, who probably didn’t know what to expect but received probably her worst nightmare — Chiaki and Rui had near-perfect chemistry onstage, and they played the hell out of the piece Nodame wanted to perform with Chiaki.
The key to Nodame’s feelings is the way Rui describes the Ravel piece — it’s just like Nodame. When Nodame sees Chiaki and Rui perform onstage, it’s as if they are channeling Nodame, replicating her in an instant for the audience to see. And they don’t need Nodame to do this. That feeling is the one that stings most. Given how Rui’s normal playing style differs so much from Nodame’s, it’s only natural that she expected a different interpretation of Ravel from the pair than what she herself would have played with Chiaki; however, apparently she cannot think of any possible way to top what she witnesses that night. I’d feel pretty crappy after that, too.
There seems to be a bit of controversy about Chiaki brushing off Nodame’s sincere proposal in the middle of the episode, but that seems more like diehard shippers grousing about not getting their way right now. (Note that I totally ship Nodame x Chiaki, but I’m also a realist about their development. :p) It’s easy to see why Nodame’s sudden proposal throws Chiaki off: She approaches him in one extreme mood when he returns home — the ol’ waifu!Nodame mood — and veers wildly in the other direction when they sit down together to eat. (Nodame even calls him “Shinichi-kun,” which probably makes him go more haywire than he already was.)
Before Nodame swings in the other direction, Chiaki tells her to not look away when she is discussing her feelings — and then the next day, the bombshell comes. It has to be admitted that even though Nodame is following Chiaki’s advice, this really is not the best timing for a proposal. This is more of a soap opera proposal than a genuine wish for two people who love each other to dedicate themselves to a complete, adult relationship. Nodame herself doesn’t even know why the hell she blurted that out all of a sudden — and people expect Chiaki to be completely understanding in that confusing situation? I’d probably be speechless, myself, and not in the good way, even if I truly cared about the person on the other side.
Really, I think Nodame is trying to hold onto Chiaki as best she can — she proposes as a desperate attempt to know that he will stick by her, because at that moment she believes she cannot push herself to the point where she can connect with him through music. And if she doesn’t have music, what else can she possibly use to be with Chiaki? She has no idea, and thus, the out-of-nowhere proposal from someone who has no idea how to deal with her feelings at the moment. (It sort of reminds me of when we watched the BBC Pride and Prejudice mini-series in my AP English Literature class in high school, and half the class “awwwwwww’d” at Darcy’s insulting confession to Elizabeth, and got confused when she pretty much stomped on his balls afterward.)
That sense of confusion and being lost in a swirling cavalcade of conflicting feelings perfectly sets up the final couple of minutes. Definitely must thank Joojoobees for pointing out in the comments to RP’s post that the visuals are a reference meant to complement the opera performance at the end of the episode, with Stresemann playing the part of Mephistopheles making a contract with Faust. Knowing that makes the ending much more definite to me — he seems to be offering Nodame the same chance Rui received from Chiaki. That is, to play the piano accompanying an orchestra, as a way for her to get back in touch with music.
Instead of the Ravel piece she wanted to play with Chiaki, however, it would be quite fitting if Nodame were to play that Beethoven piece with Stresemann — showing the evolution of her despair up until this episode, with the relief of the fugue allowing her to experience the joy of music once again.