Nodame Cantabile Review (All Seasons)

Hey everyone! So, as always, I’ve been devouring anime. I actually have a few to write about, but since Nodame Cantabile is the most recent one I’ve watched, I’m writing about it first. I watched all three seasons, and overall, I would give this anime a 7/10. I found it to be rather cute, and it handled classical music really well. But we’ll talk about that later. For now, let’s have a synopsis.

Synopsis

Nodame Cantabile follows two main characters: Chiaki Shinichi and Noda Megumi (aka Nodame) as they pursue their musical careers. Chiaki’s dream is to be a world renowned conductor, just like his idol, Viera. Along the way, he meets Nodame, an eccentric girl with incredible talent for the piano. However, Nodame doesn’t seem to be very enthusiastic about pursuing a musical career, despite her talent. She plays the piano because it’s fun, and dislikes the strictness of musical scores. Almost immediately, she falls for Chiaki. This leads her to become more interested in music, as his own love of it inspires her. Nodame Cantabile is the story of a young couple growing together through music as they develop their skills and pursue their dreams.

The Good, the Bad, and the In-Between

The Good

As I stated before, I really enjoyed this anime for the most part. Nodame was often a humorous character, but she also had her own goals that she pursued whole-heartedly. I’m not a fan of classical music, but this anime was able to include it without boring me to death (sorry, classical fans!).  It did so by keeping the pieces short, and showing the audience’s reaction to the music, often zooming in on specific characters’ thoughts.  To be honest, I could never really tell a difference in any of the performances (aside from the fact that, you know, the melodies were different), yet you had some performances being considered bad, and some, incredible. I thought it was kind of funny that I had to really rely on the characters’ reactions to the music to understand what was considered amazing and what was sub-par.

Another interesting facet of this anime is that you will learn a bit about music. Often times, there are little tidbits of information given about the composers’ lives, and little history lessons about what was going on when a song was written. Don’t worry though, I say little because these moments are short and sweet so as not to become boring. Aside from this, there is a lot of talk about the intent of the composer and how he wanted his music to sound. I actually found this pretty interesting. I have a bit of musical background myself; I played the flute for roughly five years as I was growing up, but I had never thought much about the composer’s intent. I either followed my conductor’s instructions, or just did whatever I wanted. Of course, I did note things like the time stamps or how loud/soft something was supposed to be, but other than that I just played for fun. I didn’t think too deeply about a piece. So for me, it was interesting to think about the fact that music goes much deeper than just playing the notes properly. The anime treats it a lot like literature; the characters are often analyzing pieces of music, trying to understand the composer’s meaning.

The Bad

I actually found this anime in a list of top romance anime, but surprisingly enough, the romance was not at the forefront of the show. It was far more concerned with following the characters’ stories as they strove to become recognized musicians (or conductors, in Chiaki’s case, but you get my drift). The romance was still there, but it wasn’t given a lot of importance. This is probably a bad thing if you’re looking for a lovey-dovey romance anime, but a good thing if you like your romance on the side. As for me, I didn’t mind it too much, though occasionally I did wish there was more of it, or that the romance that was there was more, well, romantic. I felt that, at times, the romance was kind of stale. Before I continue, I’ll say sort of spoiler alert; I’ll be saying things I don’t deem super spoilery because you can pretty much guess from the first episode that these things will happen, but I’m including this warning just in case. The romance can be really cute at times, but often it confuses me. The characters, by the last season, have been essentially dating for perhaps four years. Yet, their relationship is similar to that of high school students. But they met in college. Emotionally they seem to be pretty mature, but not physically. It’s very strange to see two characters nearing their mid 20s still blushing about a single kiss. Furthermore, they’ve been dating for so long, but they aren’t past kissing? I’m not saying the anime should be showing them having sex or something, but they show so little physical attraction and have issues with simple things like sleeping in the same bed. It’s a wonder that they lasted so long. This anime does have cute little romantic moments, but it’s not very realistic.

Aside from the romance being unrealistic, there were brief moments when the show moved a bit too slowly for my tastes. However, almost every anime will have a slow moment or two, so I won’t fault it too much.

Conclusion

If you have a musical background or wouldn’t mind learning more about music, then Nodame Cantabile might be a good fit for you. It wasn’t the best anime I’ve ever seen, but I did happily watch it all the way through. It’s pretty chill throughout, but does have a few enjoyably dramatic moments in regards to the main characters’ relationship with one another and their performances. Hopefully this review has helped you decide whether or not you’d like to watch it!

The Cliff Notes Version

Rating: 7/10
Strong points: 

  • You learn a lot about music: the history behind it, the composers’ intents, the meaning of certain pieces
  • Though there is a lot of classical music, it is executed in a way that usually is not boring
  • The plot of the anime is strong in that it is consistent, clear, and overall makes sense

Weak points:

  • A few dull moments, but no fillers
  • The romance sometimes lacks the maturity you would see in couples above the age of 20, so it’s a bit unrealistic; furthermore, for die-hard romance fans, there’s really not many lovey-dovey moments

 

 

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