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.

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11 Responses to “Nodame Cantabile Finale – 8”

  1. Hey! No problem.

    This was quite a shocker for me, as I had anticipated all along that the climax of the show was the fulfillment of Nodame’s dream to play in a piano concerto. I just always thought she would be sharing the stage with Chiaki. Now all of that is upended. Mad props to Tomoko Ninomiya (the mangaka, who I assume wrote the plot twist). This episode was both enjoyable and left me on the edge of my seat.

    @Shinmaru: “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”

    Yeah, the sad part for me was that she didn’t understand that they probably COULDN’T have achieved that performance without having known her. In some respects the performance was inspired by Nodame’s spirit. It wasn’t that she was unnecessary, as even Rui used her impressions of Nodame in her playing. Chiaki obviously had Nodame in mind while shaping the performance, as was revealed in the discussion the previous week with the concert master.

    Anyways, awesome episode. I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.

    • Yeah, definitely. The fact that Rui describes the piece as being like Nodame is evidence that her music during that performance was inspired by Nodame. She would not have been able to play like that without knowing Nodame.

  2. Great review. Completely agree about the proposal.

  3. vucubcaquix Says:

    ooohhhh what an excellent episode.

  4. Peter S Says:

    Found your post as a link to mine randomly appeared at the bottom. Nice review. I figured there had to be something to that weirdness at the end. I just didn’t know the music was from Faust! Now, a lot more makes sense.

    And come to think of it, they are concentrating a lot more on the music this time around, and the show is better for it.

    • If I didn’t learn the ending was a Faust reference, I would be just as confused as everyone else!

      The amount of awesome in Nodame Cantabile is directly proportional to how much the music is focused upon. If there is a good amount of musical focus in an episode, it is sure to be a great one.

  5. scarlet Says:

    I don’t think Chiaki was justified in his response whatsoever. He already knew that she was acting strangely and that she was trying to deal with something in her own way. Brushing her off like that was totally a jerk-move. He could have atleast tried to find out what would provoke her to ask that. That’s what a good boyfriend is supposed to do.

    Beyond that, I thought this was probably the best episode yet. The various states of confusion and distress were so poignant; the music is central to the plot again. I couldn’t help but become engrossed. I’ve got a bittersweet feeling about the next episode though.

    • Well, I wouldn’t say Chiaki is completely justified — the way he handles the situation obviously isn’t ideal, but he recoils from the confusing feelings Nodame suddenly brings up in him. Running away is not a terribly unexpected reaction; it’s not a GREAT reaction, mind, but it’s a human reaction.

      That said, the way I wrote this post probably comes off as blaming Nodame WAY more than is deserved. I don’t think there is any “blame” to be assessed in this situation — she’s dealing with confusing feelings just as much as Chiaki.

  6. [...] to comments The last episode of Nodame Cantabile confused the heck out of me, until I learned on this site what the music they used at the end was. Faust! Ah! A Faustian bargain with Stresemann! Now it [...]

  7. [...] if I could; however, I’m still on a high from Nodame’s wonderful performance. In my post for the previous episode, I wrote that being in attendance for the Chiaki/Rui concerto must have been an amazing experience. [...]

  8. OMG, they’ve made a cute Nodame Cantabile kids farting song sung by Juri Ueno… KAWAII!

    http://www.japansugoi.com/wordpress/japanese-kids-fart-and-poop-song/

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