The Queen of Asian Drama is Back with more Irreverent Reviews and Snarky Commentary.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Nodame Cantabile

2006, 11-episode Fuji-TV JDo that starred Ueno Juri as Noda Megumi aka Nodame (Piano) and Tamaki Hiroshi as Chiaki Shinichi (Piano/Conducting).

This is based on Manga of the same premise and characters, and the two leads did terrific jobs portraying the stressed-out, uppity conductor wonna-be Chiaki, and the flaky, unrealistic kindergarten teaching hopeful, Noda.

Tamaki Hiroshi as Chiaki Shinichi

This is the fourth time I've watched the drama and the movie that followed shortly after it ended. Not a waste of time at all, either.

The reason I gave it 4 instead of 5 is because while I enjoy reading Manga and don't mind too much that it becomes live-action, it still bugs me that there aren't more novels that become that way instead.

The second reason is because of the pretentiousness with which the entire story was presented. Classical music isn't and shouldn't be portrayed as something high-brow, upper class, and worth giving up your entire life to perfect, much less pursue. It's for everyone to enjoy as well as to play and participate in.

Someone always has to be god-like as well, and I've said all I can about the way that line of thinking makes me feel.

Until now, I mistook him for Ikuta Toma. They have similar facial features but not the same voice, I think. Still, they're both hot and worth spending hours staring at and admiring. Hiroshi-kun was amazing in this drama!

Nodame Cantabile is about Chiaki-kun's journey to self-discovery in the form of learning how to grow, let go of past notions about life and career, to get along well with others, and then accept the things that come to pass without fighting against it via self-will.

He's a child prodigy who grew up in the lap of luxury and never got rid of an initial desire to conduct orchestras rather than play in one like his estranged father, a concert pianist.

He attends a music academy in Japan but wants desperately to return to Europe and study with his old master. Unfortunately, after his parents divorced when he was young, he returned to Japan with his mother and experienced a bad plane landing which resulted in his fear of flying.

Stuck on land in Japan, he stomps his way through this academy, complaining about everything he hears being played by the other students. Naturally, the chicks dig him for his looks and size, but he isn't very receptive to their advances or even the fact that the guys there would like it if he were their friend.

He keeps attempting to get into the conducting division at the academy, even knowing it's pointless since he'll never be able to reach Europe without overcoming his fear of flying. Each time he applies, though, the request is turned down.

At the apartment, he meets his neighbor, Noda Megumi. She's the complete opposite of him, and when she drags him inside her apartment, he realizes what a slob she is. Later, on his balcony, he notices a nasty smell and then watches in horror as neon purple liquid begins oozing onto his side of the wall.

Upset, he marches into Nodame's apartment and insists that she clean the place. Chiaki-kun ends up doing all the work, though.

Then he is forced to have to play a piano duet with her in a classroom setting. He's reluctant at first, but he's already heard her play before and is overly curious about her lack of control yet ability to captivate.

He's crass and rude to Noda, always shouting at her to get her act together and do the right thing while she ignores it all and continues to smile, goof off, and do everything the way she sees fit.

Everything about Nodame annoys Chiaki, and yet he's still drawn to her. Because of his desire to conduct, it's natural for him to want to help draw out the natural talent he sees in her.

She's not there to become famous or travel the world as a member of an orchestra, though. Noda has aspirations of becoming a kindergarten teacher.

I didn't get that. I had no idea why she'd spend good money at this academy if that was her goal. Do music academy's teach education classes for kindergarten students?

Regardless, for the eleven episodes, we watch how these two opposites end up in a budding relationship, spend time together, and how their personalities end up having some type of effect one over the other here and there.

At the same time, though, their personalities are such that regardless of how the two end up being sucked into the other's world, they both always return to who they are naturally.

The kotatsu episode was a case in point and hilarious as well.

The more that Nodame ends up falling for Chiaki-kun, the harder she attempts to mold herself into his ideal, and sometimes it works, sometimes not.

Every time she upset Chiaki, he'd toss her aside like a rag doll, and every time this occurred, or when he said or did something to upset her, she'd let out this word.

Funny, cute, silly stuff completely in line with the Manga.

I had issues with the subs, too. At the beginning of each episode, it stated that this was beta and would be cleaned up later. Um ... not sure how that is possible, and this is 2014 now. I've yet to find another streaming website that uses cleaned up subs.

This can't be what she said, and regardless, it makes no sense.

Another of my favorite Japanese actors starred in this one:

Eita as Mine Ryutaro (Violin)

He started out as an electric violin player intent on restructuring classical music by adding a Rock & Roll flavor that would be a definite hit with kids his age and younger.

Early on, he ends up befriending Chiaki, and not long afterward the whole gang shows up at his father's tiny restaurant to meet, eat, and drink, chat, commiserate, and plan their next move.

Loved the rainbow hair clips.

His character was a little on the spaz side, but he didn't shout a whole lot or annoy. His passion was what ended up helping Chiaki-kun realize his dream of becoming a conductor. Mine made it to a second-string orchestra, and the conductor bailed, so he and Nodame enlisted Chiaki for the job.

Mine played the cheerleader, the go-to guy, and the referee in times of conflict. He fell in love as well, and he continued to cheer on the girl after she ended up leaving for Europe and further studies.

Then there was the guy with the interesting mustache. He also sported an afro, but it didn't stick out as much as the 'stache.

Koide Keisuke as Okuyama Masumi played timpani and had a huge crush on Chiaki-kun. Every time that Nodame entered the picture, his jealousy showed to the point of mild violence.

Masumi was always there whenever another girl (or guy) tried to wile their way into Chiaki's private time, and Chiaki-kun eventually learned to appreciate him while ignoring his one-sided affection.

He liked to wear 1970's apparel to include bright colors, paisley, bell-bottoms, vests, and white lifts.

Another aspect of Nodame Cantabile that I always enjoy is the music - of course.

Here's where the pretentiousness comes in, though.

It's great to learn new things, and I like finding out stuff I didn't know before, too, but still. The way it's presented is annoying and in-your-face, making me not appreciate the effort.

Again, the subs kept making the mistake of referring to a concert as a concerto.

Concert: [kon-surt] a public musical performance in which a number of singers or instrumentalists, or both, participate.

Concerto: [kuhn-cher-toh] a composition for one or more principal instruments, with orchestral accompaniment, now usually in symphonic form.

However, I'll give them a bit of credit since there were times when the actors themselves said concert-o, which might be habit rather than misconception. They can't end any word with a consonant, but the two words are pronounced much different, so the subber's should have known better.

Anyway, I liked watching this drama a lot and I loved hearing the music, too.

It's my understanding, too, that the Korean version will finally become reality this fall. Sources report Joo Won as being the Chiaki-kun, too.

Wait and see for me. It's still too early to get excited until all the pieces are put in place.


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