Story: Chiaki Shinichi (Hiroshi Tamaki) is a talented student at a College of Music, he plays the piano and the violin superbly, but he actually wants
to become a conductor. For this he wants to go back to Prague where he lived as a child and was taken in as a student by the famous maestro Viera.
However, because of two traumatic experiences Chiaki can't leave Japan via air route or water way. The bigheaded student from a rich family is stuck
in Japan and is also ostracized from class by his piano teacher Eto (Kosuke Toyohara). By chance he runs into the girl Noda Megumi (Juri Ueno), who
likes to be called Nodame instead. Nodame is extremely strange but a genius when it comes to the piano. She doesn't just go to the same college as
Chiaki but she is also his neighbor next door. While the odd girl falls in love with Chiaki, he can't really stand her, yet he is fascinated by her
talent and wonders why her piano play is still so sloppy. Nodame doesn't want to max out her potential but simply wants to have fun when making music,
however. She is discovered by Eto eventually, who has some problems shaping her to his will. Meanwhile, Chiaki tries to become the pupil of the
famous conductor Stresemann (Takenaka Naoto) who is just visiting Japan. But he is a strange geezer who prefers to spend his time with beautiful
women and in the end lets Chiaki conduct an orchestra on his own. Lending him a helping hand is the talented violin player Mine (Eita) who is the
link to the orchestra. Along with some other people Mine is mainly responsible for Chiaki turning into a better person and starting to understand
music as the orchestra's success story begins.
Review: "Nodame Cantabile" is the live-adaption of a successful manga that also found its way to the screen as an anime. You can always
make out where the TV shows origin is located and you surely shouldn't have a problem with the fact that the characters are constantly making faces
as if they were actually trying to imitate an anime. This indeed constitutes a big part of the very well done humor of the show. But even apart from
that "Nodame Cantabile" proves in many respects to be an exceptionally well achieved show that skillfully connects comedy and drama. The special
thing about it is the music setting, naturally, which will win over classical music fans in an instant. The selection of classical pieces is very
good and since music as everyone knows can be quite moving the comedy drama makes use of this on several occasions in order to win us over for the
characters and their background stories. All in all this makes "Nodame Cantabile" a very entertaining TV show.
If you want to say a few words about the show you need to start with the characters. They are numerous and all very colorful. A few of them come off a bit shorter than what their role in the original was but the focus has been chosen very well, only towards the end there are more and more characters added to the orchestra without the viewer seeing much of them leading the show to running the risk of looking a bit overloaden. However, the main focus lies on Chiaki while towards the end Nodame is more and more coming to the foreground. Nodame without a doubt is like taken right out from a manga and with her facial expressions actress Ueno Juro manages perfectly to give her role the necessary charme. She is simply adorable even though she is a compulsive hoarder and acts like a child, but maybe we just love her because of the latter. Over and over again she gets a rude punch or is thrown through the air, which by no means looks brutal but is instead pretty funny thanks to the anime style implemented. Nodame has something pure and innocent about her that you can instantly fall in love with.
Chiaki on the other hand is a conceited pretty boy who is loved by everyone but pursues his goals rather egoistically. This changes when he is instructed by Stresemann, who shows him in his very own ways what it means to lead an orchestra. You have to understand the wishes and dreams of the players in order to be able to implement an individual into a greater whole. Chiaki grows with this assignment and understands what he is meant to learn since he isn't a bad person in his heart and moreover is also a very smart individual. Eventually, Nodame can win him over as well, even though Chiaki would never admit this until the very end. Also greatly responsible that Chiaki grows as an individual is the violin player Mine who at first has a very special attitude towards music and actually wants to work in the rock genre. Not only his charismatic appearance and the fact that he is the heart of the orchestra, as he stands as some sort of mediator between the orchestra and Chiaki, make him steal Chiaki's spotlight at times.
Many of the supporting characters are very colorful as is the case with Stresemann for example. The fact alone that a Japanese plays a German, who to make things worse is dressed like a pimp, is already funny. But the way Takenaka Naoto speaks is the actual funny thing about his character. Even if you are not proficient in Japanese it sounds pretty awkward. Apart from that the respected conductor is a perverse sensualist who rather prefers spending his time with escort ladies than with his orchestra. In the end, it becomes apparent, though, that his unusual teaching methods are in fact bearing fruits and that behind his manga-like extroverted nature he actually takes care of his students and looks after them. Also memorable in his role is the piano teacher Eto who isn't just very strict but who maybe would have been better off aiming for a career with the yakuza. Those likeable characters are what make the TV show so truely charming after all.
For fans of classical music or those who want to become such the show also offers quite a few pieces that you might not already know already. The show's highlights are the several orchestra concerts, of course, which are presented with proper power and manage to give you goose bumps. Aside from that there are also some piano pieces, though, in which Nodame can prove her talent for interpretation. Since all of these pieces are implemented very well into the context of the show I even liked Schubert's featured piece, although normally I find his works too complex. Moreover, it is fun to watch the characters grow. Things don't work any differently than in a manga series that centers around sword fighting. There is talk about the techniques utilized and why someone plays the way he does. We can become part of the expertise shown by the characters and during some more dramatic moments the music also depicts an image of the inner life of the individuals.
Apart from the great humor carried by the dazzling personalities there are also some subtle dramatic moments which revolve around that you sometimes have to go seperate ways than your friends which means that at some point you have to say goodbye. The orchestra has grown to be one huge family and therefore this is naturally an especially sad fact. In the end the overall mood of the show proves to be pretty positive, however, and can move you to tears in a pleasant way. This way "Nodame Cantabile" is different from so many similar Korean drama series and therefore can be recommended to male audiences as well. Thus, if you are interested in music resp. classical music and are into nicely drawn characters that you will grow fond of with time as well as a good amount of humor then you don't need to look any further.