Nodame Cantabile: it’s otaku power that rules the world!

This year, sadly, saw the end of one of my favourite series. After almost 10 years of bewitchment, Ninomiya-sensei finally drew the curtain on her window into the lives of Nodame, Chiaki and friends. If I were to pick out exactly what it was that wove its spell around me, I’d have to say it was Tamaki Hiroshi’s Chiaki conducting that final concert at the end of the Japan arc. Rousing and majestic, I’ll never again forget Beethoven’s Symphony no. 7. But going deeper, I would say that it was the rich feelings of love that this story is steeped in, a demonstration of how ardent love is key to so much in life. Whilst it is sad to say goodbye, I will never forgot the important lessons that I learned from this wonderful story of life, love and music.


The first of two points that remains in my mind even now, several months after I finished the anime, is a scene early in the Paris arc, where Frank and Tanya realise the secret behind both Nodame and Chiaki. Otaku power. Yup, you heard right. Not anime otaku power – though Nodame is indeed an anime fan – but rather that ardent love for something that drives you to perfection in your appreciation of it. That’s how Nodame learned French. And that’s why Chiaki is so accomplished in piano, violin AND conducting. To succeed at something, you need to love it so much that you willingly spend countless hours on it, many hours above and beyond the time recommended by anyone you care to consult. I’ve done it with Japanese – now to drop anime and turn to Chinese!

The second thing that stays in my mind is how the relationships are handled. Kiyora and Mine and the trials of separation; Kurokin and Tanya overcoming some bad first impressions; and of course, the ups and downs of the love between Nodame and Chiaki. Music is a third party in each of these relationships, but as the instrument that brought each pair together, after which it became the glue connecting them. And subtlety is the key word: there is no doubt whatsoever how involved each couple is with each other (er…Kurokin and Tanya only start dating AFTER that competition though…), but it is made clear time and time again that they support and derive support from each other. Mutual support – that’s the most important thing about a relationship, is it not?

Nodame Cantabile has been a great love of mine for the last three years. I was a relative latecomer, having picked up the drama in 2007 just before I went to Japan. Starting with the drama, which got me through two months without internet, I soon moved onto the manga and then the anime when that came out. Each version has its draws and its flaws: the drama is camp in parts but absolutely wonderful at conveying the powerful music that Nodame and co. are weaved into; the anime has the charm of the brilliant (and potty-mouthed) Seki Tomokazu; whilst the manga is the unrushed full story, albeit without the accompanying music. Out of these, it looks like the anime is the one I’m not going to own after all, and the manga might just go as soon as I have to move again. But you can bet that’ll I’ll keep playing the music, either through the drama DVDs or perhaps the CDs I’ve purchased, for many many years to come.

In parting then: Ninomiya-sensei, for reawakening my love for music, THANK YOU!!

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

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