Monday, September 10, 2007

I am absolutely and totally in love with Nodame Cantabile

Nodame Cantabile is a Japanese drama based on a similarly titled manga. From what I understand, the drama only spans the first 9 volumes of the manga so I suppose there's a lot more story left. Apparently, there are 18 volumes and it's yet to be completed.

The drama is set in a music academy where the title character, Noda Megumi, is a 3rd year student and her love interest and the love of my life, Chiaki Shinichi is a 4th year student.

So why do I love this drama so much? It's freaking adorable. Like the other dramas based on mangas I've seen (It Started With A Kiss, Hana Kimi), the male lead is very straightlaced while the female is quite psycho. In many respects, I found this drama to be quite similar to ISWAK although they tell entirely different stories.

Chiaki is a genius pianist who follows the rules but not his heart. He's got the technique down and is quite a brilliant player but doesn't add much 'life' to it. Even though he's talented in both the piano and the violin, his dream is to be a conductor. This character is played by Tamaki Hiroshi and I must stay that he makes my heart flutter. I ended up watching another movie of his (Heavenly Forest) because I just needed more and even though he was cute in that, it was nothing like he was in Nodame Cantabile. I think it was a combination of his haircut, lighting and just the character he played. Yum.

Technically, he isn't as good looking as say, Wu Chun or Won Bin. Plus I think he looks at least 5 years older than his actual age of 27, but there's something so damn HOT and sexy about him. Plus his lips are just to die for.

Nodame is also a genius pianist but she lacks organization. She plays her piano with feeling but no technique in the sense that she never follows the sheet music but instead, lets her emotions rule. So in the end, she plays very sloppily. Anyone listening to her can tell that she's extremely talented but lacks discipline. In addition, she isn't ambitious and even though she attends a music academy, dreams of becoming a kindergarten teacher. I found her character quite sweet and not as annoying as I would have expected. She wears her heart on her sleeve and makes her feelings known like most of these characters normally do but it was quite endearing in her case.

So the story is pretty much about how these two different characters meet, interact and change each other for the better. Yeah, typical but it works.

I remember trying to watch Devil Beside You but I found it so animated that I got turned off. This drama is also very animated but for some reason, all the exaggerations really worked here.

I don't know why but I think a lot of it had to do with the actors and how much they appeared to enjoy playing these over the top characters. For example, the lead female character in My Girl was technically less over the top than Nodame was, yet, she appeared less natural to me. It might have a lot to do with the fact that the characters in My Girl were regular people unlike the all around craziness in Nodame.

In addition, even though Chiaki was the most normal of the main characters, he was also quite crazy. In shows like Hana Kimi or even in a story like David Copperfield, the male protagonist is pretty much boring while all the surrounding crazy characters make the story alive. In this drama, Chiaki also brought a lot of life to the storyline. The actor, Tamaki Hiroshi, as I already mentioned was beyond gorgeous on screen but in addition to this, the anime features like the way he twitched his cheek when something was awry, the way his eyes rolled back and he started to shake whenever he remembered his near-plane crash from childhood and even the way he tilted his head and 'fainted' when something nuts happened, cracked me up endlessly. And boy, did I mention he was so cute? From their NGs, they seemed to really enjoy their roles. I really loved how the entire crew would burst into a chorus of "aye" whenever an actor messed up.

Other characters in the drama cracked me up. Stresemann who was supposedly German but obviously played by a Japanese actor was beyond hilarious. I don't even know how the other actors managed to keep a straight face around him. His accent and manner of speech were beyond hilarious and his dialogues were virtually priceless. Even though he was such a creepy, dirty old man, I found his character the most memorable. I just loved his NGs:

Ryutaro was a character I grew to love. He started off as the stereotypical bleach blonde rocker dude uninterested in classical music but turned out to be one of the most responsible and caring characters in the entire drama. It was cliche in the sense that he eventually grew to respect classical music but his storyline was very well done. His was the character I would love to be friends with in real life.

Masumi, the gay guy with an afro and a freakishly weird moustache was also a sight for sore eyes. Other than his 70s clothing and platforms, he was so hilarious in his quest for Chiaki's love. One of my favorite scenes was when Chiaki walked into Nodame's apartment while Ryutaro and Masumi were there. This was early in the series when Nodame and Masumi agreed to a duel for Chiaki's love (lol) and when he (Chiaki) walked in, Ryutaro informed him of their fight. Chiaki said, "I can never be attracted to a woman like Nodame (whose face had been badly painted by her opponent)." Then he pointed at Masumi and said, "And... and, isn't this one a man?" Masumi's reaction to that comment was killer.

I thoroughly enjoyed the music (even though I have no ear for it) and orchestra (created by Stresemann featuring all the misfit underachievers at the academy) and the storylines about friendship were great. If I could change anything, I would add a lot more romance between Chiaki and Nodame. Even though their hug was touching, I would have loved to see more romance than this:

In addition, even though it was quite obvious that Ryutaro was going to hook up with fellow violinist, Kiyora, their storyline wasn't very well developed. It went from sexual tension to him saying he loved her to them waking up in bed together. Yes, there were other scenes in between but it would have been nice to see some real development between them.

There will be a two-hour sequel airing in January 08 and even though I doubt Ryutaro/Kiyora will appear, I hope it focuses on Chiaki and Nodame's romance.

All in all, I loved Nodame Cantabile :) I love this so much that I seriously considered writing a fic sequel like I did for MNIKSS but since this is a manga, I guess there already is a continuation to the story. But hey, I might still do it.

People often ask me why I enjoy Asian Dramas so much and Nodame Cantabile is a very good example why: they can be so delightful.

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