It’s hard to believe that just two weeks ago I was sitting on my ass doing nothing as usual. And then on Monday 21st, I randomly thought of seeing a drama that Korea had decided to remake, a decision which was causing quite a bit of furor online. So I did. And I was blindsided, utterly caught by surprise. I fell in love.
Nodame Cantabile is one of those things that sneaks up on you. At first it’s just super fun, then it’s sweet, and then it becomes soul-shattering, earth-shakingly beautiful.
The plot overview has been covered by dozens of other blogs in ways way better than I ever can, screencaps and all.
I’ve put some links down below which I really, really, think that ANYONE interested in seeing the drama should check out. (There may be a few spoilers so watch out!)
I haven’t read the manga (though I have a really, really good idea of what’s in it now, and I sure as hell haven’t seen the anime, though from everything I’ve heard, I really don’t need to) but for some reason that made it all the more beautiful as I didn’t have a set of ideals on how Chiaki and Nodame should be, before going into the drama.
Let me tell you, it was glorious.
On the outside, this is a story of love and friendship. Going deeper, it’s so much more. Folks this isn’t about the romance, though that is wonderful as is. It’s about a group of people who grow together and achieve so much more than they could alone.
Chiaki Shinichi, a talented pianist, violinist and would-be-conductor has a fear of planes and boats and due to having experienced an emergency landing in his youth. Problem? He wants to become a conductor and re-unite with his beloved teacher Vieira-Sensei and lead orchestras all over Europe.
Too bad he’s confined to Japan.
Highly critical of himself and others, he has all but given up hope on ever achieving his dreams when a chance encounter rocks his world. He hears the most beautiful playing in a music room. Sloppy, yes, but emotionally breathtaking. Long story short, he misses the chance to see the person playing.
But the person in question, Noda Megumi (who refers to herself as Nodame) finds him drunk and passed out outside her apartment upon returning home.
Why you as? Well they’re neighbours (though she’d no idea) and he was sitting outside the wrong door.
Chiaki wakes up in her trash-filled room (which she though he’d sleep better in) and freaks out. The following episodes are progressively hilarious and poignant.
And then the magic begins.
It creeps up on you, honestly. Other blogs will no doubt have more in-depth summaries of this beautiful work. (Hell I just can’t seem to do it justice) so I recommend reading those.
Now I don’t want to get your expectations sky-high and have them fall to the floor when you watch the drama because my words over-inflated how it was, so I recommend that all who want to see the drama stop reading here and skip to the first and third link at the bottom and then head off to see the series instantly. And then comeback and read the rest of this and see the rest of the links.
But dear heaven was it beautiful.
You could call this story many things:
When Nodame met Chiaki
Why Chiaki met Nodame
When Chiaki fell in love
How Nodame changed Chiaki
Why Chiaki loves Nodame
When Chiaki realized that there was more to a band than playing by the score
When Chiaki realized just how beautiful playing from the heart can be
When Chiaki realized that there was more than one kind of genius
When Nodame realized just how much she could do and just what music and Chiaki meant to her
When Chiaki found his other half
When Nodame found the person who completed her
When Chiaki realized that there was more he could do than he’d ever imagined.
When Chiaki and Nodame decided to pursue their dreams and love together
When Chiaki and Nodame realized that they would always put each other before their dreams
When Chiaki and Nodame realized that they were each other’s dreams
When Kiyora realized that maybe competing wasn’t all that
When Mine realized that he wasn’t meant to be a rocker
When Masumi realized that true love can mean that you let him go
When Tanya realized that there was more in life than finding a boyfriend
When Frank realized that there were otakus worse than him
When Chiaki realized that being Kazuo wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.
When Nodame realized that she had to face things head on if she was to truly become Chiaki’s other half
When Chiaki gave up on concert practice to go on that journey with Nodame just this once
When they played Mozart’s Concerto for Two Pianos for the first time
When they played Rachmanioff together for the first time
When they played Mozart’s Concerto for the last time
When Chiaki and Nodame finally played a piano concerto together
When they all realized that a future with music and with each other was their most important thing imaginable
I could go on and on and on. And the titles would get more and similar with me being unable to convey the essence of this tale’s beauty. I have no words. Tamaki Hiroshi WAS Chiaki Shinichi and Ueno Juri WAS Nodame.
There’s no other way to say it.
The quality of the acting was magnificent with Tamaki Hiroshi giving his all. I have never seen a man conduct music so beautifully, powerfully and passionately. His eyes, oh dear heaven his eyes. He expressed the symphonies with his entire body. It truly is glorious to see. Man I wouldn’t have quit band myself if he’d been the instructor. The man is Fiiiiine.
Ueni Juri shines as the alternatingly carefree, wounded, insecure, talented genius Nodame. She’s absolutely beautiful as well (not in the Hollywood manner either). I swear she seems like a regular person until she starts playing and then she becomes this lovely ethereal creature, especially towards the end. I wish I could do justice to her portrayal in words, but I can’t think of any at the moment.
I’ll probably list a few blogs at the end of this that captured their essence better than myself.
Nodame and Chiaki weren’t just lovers but each other’s best friends, caretakers, encouragers, critics and family.
I have no words.
(Oh Nodame you creeper, you. And Chiaki you totally know she’s there.)
And I adored how moments of poignancy could just as easily switch to hilarity. Tamaki-kun and Juri-chan had quite the range of expressions, pulling off real-life versions of anime/manga features better than any I’ve ever seen.
Upon finishing the 11 episodes of the drama, I staved off watching the specials but ultimately couldn’t resist gobbling them. Then I held off watching the movies for as long as I could. Part 1 was stunningly, achingly lovely. Part 2 shattered my heart into a thousand pieces and regrouped it once more.
Beautiful. Poignant. Warm. Hilarious. Nodame. Chiaki.
I wish I had more words.
This has to be my favourite part at the end of the second movie, when they recreate that moment with Mozart’s Concerto for Two Pianos from the very first episode of the series. In real life, this is over four years later, in the movie it’s just about three. But the difference was remarkable, and poignancy of the moment was only enhanced by Tamaki Hiroshi and Ueno Juri’s brilliant performance.
And my heart ached for days. It ached before watching the movies when I realized I’d be done afterwards. That I wouldn’t be able to see these two again. And then it ached afterwards when I realized that we really had hit the end.
How could I have fallen so deep in a week?
And the tears, oh boy the tears. Buckets, I tell you, I wept buckets.
Because Nodame Cantabile hit me over the head as well. Seeing them chase after their dreams, and live, laugh and love caught by the heart – no by the soul.
Because there were still things I could do, because I too, like Nodame, had been hiding. I hated the rigidity of studying piano as well. The rules and regulations that Nodame so flippantly ignored grabbed my heartstrings because I’d always felt the same way. Her way of hiding by shying away from her talent and choosing simply to play for fun, when she was meant for so much more, broke my heart.
Because I understood so well. Not about being secretly talented, but about hiding because you aren’t sure whether any good will come of trying. I laughed, cried and cheered for her and with her and she progressed musically, and romantically.
And I decided to stop hiding as well.
I can’t explain how profound the moment was when I realized just how this drama had moved something inside of me, had changed me to the point where I could no longer stay still anymore. To the point where I decided to break my year and a bit-long hiatus from fleeing from people, the social world and studying piano. And I only have the good Lord and Nodame to thank for that.
Nodame, Nodame, Nodame. I wish I had the words to express my love for you and everything that you love and are. For how achingly beautiful your story and Chiaki’s was. But the best things in life don’t need words, as you very well know
Chiaki, Chiaki, Chiaki, how can I put in words how sweet, hilarious and bizarre your love for her was? how utterly and gloriously talented you are? and how perfect of a conductor and lover you are? I live in hopes of finding someone like you.
(Oh and Tamaki Hiroshi? You, sir, are fiiiine)
And once again, I have no words, so I’ll link you to people who do. It’s wonderful to know that I wasn’t the only person affected by it as well.
And Korea? I ain’t watching your remake.
BONUS: Our real life Nodame-Chiaki pair. The beautiful and talented Ueno Juri and Tamaki Hiroshi!
PS: The last picture really was from them to us!