Reviews: Beautiful Life and Nodame Cantabile

And now we come to Beautiful Life – just read the review on the wiki page, it sums up exactly what I wanted to say!

….

I would sooo like to leave it at that, since I’ve another 16 reviews to go after this. But I’ll persevere, especially since this will probably be one of my favourite Kimura Takuya dramas, if not the one I like best (I’ve only ever seen one other, and I’m not sure how many more I want to see, to be honest). A chance encounter between Kyoko, a spirited but wheelchair-bound young woman, and up-and-coming hairdresser Shuji, together into a friendship that quickly develops into love. But the implications of Kyoko’s illness soon threaten their future.

Based on the first episode, I wasn’t particularly keen on keeping this series. And to be honest, it really is quite predictable, and several loose ends (such as Shuji’s family) aren’t really dealt with, making me wish they had never alluded to them in the first place. The other issue that plagued my thoughts was…is Kimura Takuya-san typecast? His character in Engine is quite similar – quite straitforward and blunt, but actually quite sensitive underneath. And of course, he’s extremely good at what he does. Kyoko was so fortunate, ne?

However, the messages the Beautiful Life aims to convey are quite meaningful. When dealing with people who can be considered disabled, there are many many issues that one has to consider. For example, efforts to get them to socialise with people with similar challenges might be seen as expression of pity. However, it is true that their disability often prevents them from fully interacting with the rest of society. How much of this should they (and we) accept? How much should they give up? It’s ironic really – they want to be seen as ‘normal’ individuals, yet require modifications that most people do not. It’s an important dilemma, but I doubt anyone has a satisfying answer to it.

Another question then arises: is it viable for absolutely everything to be made available to them? Who are we to determine that diabled people in first world countries take precedence over the suffering in developing nations? Are there limits to what we can do? These are questions which I have no answer to…perhaps there is no answer to them. Ultimately, it is those who are extremely wealthy that potentially have the greatest ability to change the world for the better…and surely there is something that the rest of us can do to contribute, but that is ultimately for each individual to determine for himself.

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And finally, we come to Nodame Cantabile, the last one of this watching block. Beautiful Life was the drama I started immediately upon completing all the assessment for the CELTA course – I finished it in three days and moved straight on to Nodame so as to decrease the backlog I would bring ‘home’.

Nodame Cantabile is somewhat challenging to summarise, largely because it’s difficult to convey the draw of this series with just a few words. Basically, it follows the trials and tribulations of Chiaki as his world changes, a change sparked by his meeting with the eccentric Noda Megumi (Nodame).

To be honest, a lot of this series was very melodramatic, particularly with regards to Chiaki’s major problem – his fear of flying. But Nodame Cantabile‘s strength is based around its characters – even the major supporting characters have their own character-development arcs. Ueno Juri is absolutely perfect as Nodame, and this is probably the first time I’ve liked Eita in a drama (he’s been in 3 of the 12 j-dorama’s I’ve seen; same number as Oguri Shun ^^;). I enjoyed watching Chiaki re-learn how to enjoy music, and subsequently bring that understanding to the members of his orchestra. But most of all, I loved seeing two contrasting personalities bringing the best out of each other.

I don’t like slapstick or melodrama – never have – and those alone were enough to have me extremely reluctant to keep this series. If it hadn’t become a bit more serious towards the end, I would have lamented the time I would never see again (c.f. Yakitate! Japan). However, because of the music and the character development, Nodame Cantabile was really really fun to watch. I admit that I have a softspot for series about classical music (such as Fujimi…) but this one really tries to convey how important it is for a performer to enjoying the music he/she is producing. More Nodame please?

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Speaking of Nodame, this is the only spring anime that I’ve picked up. For the most part, I love the seiyuu cast – I can’t think of anyone who would suit Chiaki quite as well as SekiTomo (although, based on his performance as Kouyu in Kokumono, Hiyama Nobuyuki might have worked as well. And he’s damn versatile – he’s also Madarame in Genshiken!) but I prefer Ueno-san’s version of Nodame. I had to laugh when I heard Masumi-chan – the seiyuu just suits him perfectly ^^. I’m highly anticipating the appearance of the other Host Club member in the cast, though I’m struggling not to find out who he’s voicing before he actually appears!

About karice
MAG fan, amateur translator and political scientist-in-training. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

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