Nodame Cantabile Finale – 10

Potentially underrated part of this episode — that big plate of french fries sitting on the table while Chiaki and Stresemann drink wine. So random! I assume Stresemann ordered them, but still, that’s hilarious. I don’t drink much alcohol, so I’d probably be diving into the fries like the Philistine that I am. :p

This episode ups the ante again, drama-wise, and it has me totally raring for the final episode — once again, have to say that Nodame has made the most impressive turnaround this season. First few episodes are kind of plodding and lack the magic that makes this show memorable, but it has been on fire for a few weeks now. I dare say this stretch of episodes might even be better than anything else airing this season . . . [/potentially controversial statement]

Everyone aside from Nodame and Chiaki seems to be on an epic high after her wonderful performance in the previous episode. Nodame’s funk may seem weird at first, but the ending of ep8 actually does a solid job of foreshadowing it — with Stresemann offering the “deal with the Devil,” it should be apparent that although the results of the concert may seem pretty kickass (and it cannot be denied that Nodame touches many people with her music that evening), something about the whole thing won’t fit. And what does not fit is that Nodame is not entirely satisfied with her performance, and it goes beyond not being able to perform with Chiaki onstage (though that clearly is a big part of what bugs her).

What Auclair tells Stresemann makes a lot of sense. And, like RP, I felt a bit sheepish as well for not thinking more about Auclair’s goal while handling Nodame! Even though Nodame has many of the same drives as Chiaki — she wants to get better, she likes performing and she loves making people happy with her music — where she differs is her distaste for everything surrounding the music. Ironically enough, she is actually a lot like Stresemann in this way: It can be assumed that Stresemann still enjoys conducting music, or else he wouldn’t do it, but he would prefer to perform on his own terms. However, along the way, Stresemann has made some compromises to fit into the world of music — thus, Elise pushing him all the time to keep onto his schedule. (Else is on fire in this episode, by the way. Her terrible imitation of Nodame on the phone is one of the funniest things she has ever done.)

Nodame never wanted to make those compromises, and I doubt she ever will. It’s not that she lacks the necessary fire to make great music — it’s just that she lacks the fire to make the greatest music within the system of constant performances and hectic lifestyles. Nodame is a daffy woman, but there’s a limit to the craziness she wants in her life. The performance of her signature tune makes it clear that she wants no part of this world if it is going to chew her up and spit her out as another performing robot.

It’s that really interesting exploration of what exactly is the right thing to do with one’s talent that made the first season of Nodame Cantabile more than just a fun romantic comedy. This is not an easy question to answer. Exactly how much do the talented owe to the greater world? Should they strive to employ their talents for the greater enjoyment of the masses, even at the expense of themselves? Or should they use their talent purely on their terms? Or somewhere in between? What makes it particularly difficult is that society is always aching to see the absolute best of everything, even if it destroys the creator in the process. We just care about the end result; the means often do not come up in the process. Nodame might be robbing the world of a potentially great musician if she were to decide she no longer wants to play music publicly. But does society have a right to be angered because of that?

And then there’s Chiaki, who is worried and frustrated because he doesn’t have a clear idea of what Nodame wants (if only he had a mainline into her head and/or heart). While he says he will accept Nodame’s proposal, I hope Chiaki will have the sense to take a step back, clear his mind and speak to Nodame at length to make sure they’re both sure the direction they both would like to take before making a big decision like that. Nodame is clearly in a different frame of mind now than she was when she proposed to Chiaki — who is to say that proposal is still on? Don’t open your mouth before thinking and say something dumb, Chiaki. Listen to Nodame first.

I’m on edge waiting for the finale. Like most people, I’m hoping for a Chiaki x Nodame ending, but with the caveat that getting together does not squash Nodame’s musical ambitions. Nodame and music should never be separated. She could probably be a kickass composer of children’s tunes if she wants. Maybe pound out some classical tunes in a way to make kids more apt to appreciate them. Nodame can combine her love of kids and her love of music in myriad ways.

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4 Responses to “Nodame Cantabile Finale – 10”

  1. “that big plate of french fries sitting on the table while Chiaki and Stresemann drink wine. So random! I assume Stresemann ordered them”

    From the location of the plate of ketchup, I think you are right.

    I’m not sure Nodame is disappointed with her performance. It could be that she is satisfied with it, meaning, now that she played a concerto with an orchestra, she doesn’t feel the need to do that any more. That is similar to her reaction playing the Rachmaninoff duet with Chiaki (after which she is “satisfied”, and no longer has the drive to perform).

    I liked your comments about “the right thing to do with one’s talent”. Not much to add, but I think you are right, that was an issue, and quite interesting. I guess we have to wait a few days to see where this goes.

    • Well, I don’t think she is disappointed in the performance itself — it’s just that she doesn’t believe she can perform at that level ever again, and the one time she reaches that high, it isn’t with Chiaki. That is where the disappointment comes from.

      The issue of talent is a big part of what I liked about the first season; it fed into the development of the romance so well, because the romance didn’t have to be the main focus and carry the show — it could just develop naturally and uneventfully. It’s a fairly fresh taking on developing romance, at least as far as anime is concerned.

  2. It’s that really interesting exploration of what exactly is the right thing to do with one’s talent…

    Really nice paragraph. I was thinking the same when I was writing and couldn’t figure out a good way to put it into words. It’s a good question, with no good answer. Seems like in our world, not making the most of your talents is like a crime. But what if Nodame wants to be like a Derrick Coleman and just chill out and eat cheeseburgers? Who does she owe besides herself? (well, unless she’s getting paid to work, but that’s another story :-p)

    I also agree that Noda and Stresemann are very similar characters. I don’t think Stresemann’s any more motivated or disciplined than Nodame per se, but he’s clearly found that “joy of playing” that Nodame still seems to lack.

    The one thing I’d disagree with is that I don’t think it’s Nodame not willing to compromise to fit in the world of music. I do think she lacks the fire to make great music. I think she’s content with just making fun music like the Moja Moja Suite. Which is fine, it’s her life, but just not great in the typical sense.

    • lol Derrick Coleman. The classic waste of talent. (Though, yeah, Nodame is in a different situation considering she is under no contractual obligation to perform, despite Elise’s suspect methods. :p)

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