Nodame Cantabile Finale – 2

With this episode, I can actually feel the small shift toward the real end of Nodame Cantabile.

I didn’t really feel it in the first episode because the viewer is thrown right back into the story and gets reacquainted with everyone while everyone keeps charging ahead with their lives. But this episode says to me that the characters are nearly ready to take that next step in their lives, the one that takes them beyond the story of Nodame and into places of which the audience can only dream.

Of everyone, Rui is the least ready to take that tremulous step. I like the continued paralleling of Rui and Nodame — maybe it’s a bit strange at first to see that Rui, despite her cultured appearance, is just as sloppy at home as Nodame (not to mention an equally terrible cook), but it’s not really surprising due to how the focus in her life is all out of whack. And they both have a clear reluctance to keep going in the direction everyone pushes them in when it comes to the piano, although Nodame has come to terms with that because she has been working on that longer than Rui, who is really for the first time trying to overcome her pent-up frustrations.

What I like most, though, is what RP points out: How Auclair deftly works on Nodame and Rui in different ways because he senses there are vastly different things wrong with how they approach the piano. As RP writes, Nodame has the spirit and fire but not the discipline, while Rui has discipline in spades but not the passion to go with it. Rui is pissed because Auclair gives Nodame more technical lessons in a few seconds than he would ever give her in a million years, but she’s got the bias blinders in that respect. More technical training isn’t going to do much to change or improve Rui’s style of playing.

Rui has major frustrations about being paraded around like a piano-playing monkey, and she wants to actually experience life in Paris as much as she wants to play the piano, but she’s also annoyed that nothing is happening on that front either. Her most basic problem, I think, is that she just needs to relax. Her life is like one big Catch-22: Rui wants to improve on the piano, so she shuts herself in to practice as much as possible, but she wants to enjoy life, too . . . except she can’t because she’s shut in with the piano all the damn time. A lack of relaxation — slowing down and savoring things, as Auclair points out — is at the core of Rui’s troubles.

She’s like the pianist equivalent of a salaryman: Punch in, play technically sound (and undeniably good) music that lacks a bit of fire, and then punch out at the end of the day. Rui just cannot feel the music like Nodame can — it’s like the difference between writing with technical accuracy and intelligence, and writing with emotion that leaps out of every word. Maybe the latter is a bit more crude than the former, but people will remember it a hell of a lot longer. And if the two are combined, then all bets are off.

I think Rui has a slightly harder path ahead of her than Nodame — disciplining oneself is difficult and takes a crapton of work, but that is at least something that is simple to grasp, if not exactly easy. But teaching someone to feel something with passion can be tough. Passion isn’t something that can be learned; it has to be felt, and people have to recognize when to go along with it and see it through to the end. Nodame is a lucky woman to have been born with so much passion (and an outlet in Chiaki to dump it on every day :p).

Anyway, uh, circling back to the beginning: I see the end in both Chiaki and Nodame. Chiaki’s last major step toward independence is a big indicator of that. He’s been in his family’s shadow for a long time — often identified as the son of his mother or father instead of just Chiaki — but has made huge strides toward carving his own musical identity, and moving into his own place is his, “OK, my life is finally 100 percent my life!” moment. He’s changed a good deal, too; Nodame still drives him up the wall with her eccentricities, but he doesn’t seem to be withdrawing into himself like he might have done before. And great things are happening for Nodame: Her first salon concert, and while Auclair is as snippy with Nodame as ever, her growth is obvious. Everything feels as if it is lining up so that she too can be her own person.


2 Responses to “Nodame Cantabile Finale – 2”

  1. Bob (joojoobees) Says:

    Maybe, although I am at a bit of a loss as to what the core of this season is about. In the first season (admittedly brilliant, so a tough comparison), the story felt like it was about two things right away (Chiaki’s inability to leave Japan, and the possibility for a Chiaki x Nodame relationship). When those two issues (somewhat entangled at the end) were resolved, the series was over.

    What is the central question now that must be answered? The biggest questions in the air by the end of episode three seem to center on Rui. Nodame and Chiaki both seem pointed in the right direction professionally.

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