Nodame Cantabile is a 23-episode anime produced by J.C. Staff based off of the manga by Tomoko Ninomiya. It is directed by Kenichi Kasai who also did Honey and Clover. Nodame Cantabile is about Shinichi Chiaki and an odd woman named Noda “Nodame” Megumi, both of whom are talented piano players. Shinichi is studying at Japan's top music university and has aspirations to become a world famous conductor. Shortly after meeting Nodame, Shinichi has a chance encounter with other students at the university and watch them grow and tackle obstacles as musicians. Some might just write this off as a shojo romance, but the Shojo tones are light. The romance between the characters isn't nearly as important as their personal growth as musicians and human beings. Nodame Cantabile hits a wide range of genres, from comedy and drama to coming of age. It is a show that is very difficult to label. To those who are curious, this review will be spoiler free.
Nodame Cantabile conveys its story well and expresses the music on a level that everyone can understand. Even though the show uses music references which to some may be very obscure, it is done in a way in which the knowledge of music is not dependent on the enjoyment of the show. Anyone who has ever wielded an instrument can understand the way in which the wide range of characters act and perform together. The group of characters must learn to play while adapting to one another’s traits, ranging from egotistical to hesitant artists. The execution is top-notch, and it appeals very well towards both musicians and non-musicians alike. Some people might put the show aside because of the classical music, but the show is more focused on the growth of the characters through their music and dreams.
The characters are expressed very well through their imperfections. Because of this, the characters can be respected as human beings, filled with desires and ambitions to become better. Unlike other music-based shows, they actually have real experiences as music performers. One positive point about the show is that the characters grow and learn from each other through practice and performances. Though not perfect, the character development between Chiaki and Nodame is done very well. Some of the side characters seem a bit empty, but one shouldn't worry about it since they don’t impact the show too much. I think the pacing is perfect for the story the show is trying to tell. There are some serious moments that are spoiled by a character making a ridiculous face, but it doesn’t take away too much from the story.
On the technical level, the animation is a lot left to be desired. The show switches back from average CG techniques to still frame panning of people playing instruments. More energy could be communicated through more expressive movements. The character designs lack any real standout elements, so there are times when it’s hard to tell the difference between one another. Even the color can be a bit limited and bland at times. Of course, Nodame isn’t meant to be visually impressive but captivate the viewers through outstanding music. It takes pieces from both well-known and esoteric composers across time. Exclusive songs to the anime are excellent as well.
To summarize, Nodame Cantabile is an excellent show whose positives far outweigh the negatives. It is a show one should definitely pick up. It’s obviously not an action show, so action-gurus probably won’t enjoy this. There is a second season, and I plan to watch and review soon. I’m done talking for now so until next time folks!