Nodame Cantabile

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An anime, manga, and live-action TV series centered around the two protagonists, Shinichi Chiaki and Megumi Noda (more commonly referred to by the whole cast as Nodame). The show begins at Momogaoka College of Music where both protagonists attend. Chiaki is a talented violinist and pianist, considered one of the top students at the school, who dreams of becoming a conductor. He is extremely handsome and popular, an excellent cook, very neat and stuck-up. Nodame is an extremely talented but wild piano player whose ambition is to become a kindergarten teacher. She is a complete slob, a terrible cook, and generally acts extremely strange. The two first meet when Chiaki is thrown out by his piano teacher after an argument, and winds up being taught under the same teacher as Nodame. They later discover that their apartments are next door to each other.

The show follows the musical careers of both characters as Chiaki eventually decides to follow his dream and pursue conducting. At the same time, the relationship between him and Nodame goes through numerous highs and lows, growing ever stronger in the process. Chiaki eventually assumes control of Orchestra S, assembled by Franz Stresemann, a conductor-in-residence from abroad.

Nodame Cantabile is a sweet Slice of Life drama, and both the anime and live action drama have strengths. It has some striking similarities with Honey and Clover, another show produced by J.C. Staff about quirky young people who pursue creative studies at college (art school, in that case). 2 sequel seasons have been released, "Paris Chapters" and "Finale", both of which detail the manga chapters that take place in Europe, mostly Paris, France. The anime in general follows the manga very closely, so much so that the season titled "Finale" isn't really a finale at all because the anime leaves the story open much like the manga did in those parallel chapters. The manga is still ongoing with a new arc called "Opera-Hen".

The show is highlighted by its beautiful performances of classical music, as well as its seamless blending of said music into the creative lives of its characters. Season 1 available in English on Crackle.

Gyabo!

Tropes used in Nodame Cantabile include:
  • Adult Child: Nodame. During the Paris seasons, her teacher nicknames her "Bebe-chan".
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Nodame likes Chiaki, but so do the violinist who took Kiyora's place, Chiaki's ex-girlfriend Saiko and timpanist Okuyama. Oboe player Yasunori, in turn, has a crush on Nodame.
  • All Work vs. All Play: Chiaki is usually seen engaged in his studies, advancing his musical career, while saving an orchestra or two along the way. He's even pondering beauty and meaning of music in his life on his spare time. Nodame is a talented but unmotivated music student, often preoccupied with her favorite anime Puri Gorota and generally being a Cloudcuckoolander. She gets better in Seasons 2 and 3 as she finds her motivation to strive for greatness, with the help Chiaki, her mentors, and her friends at the Conservatoire.
  • Always Someone Better: Famed Chinese pianist Rui, a Child Prodigy who joins the cast in seasons 2 and 3.
  • Awesome Music: With a Public Domain Soundtrack featuring music from Beethoven to Ravel, that is performed by the Real Life Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, this trope is a given if you are a fan of classical music. Notable performances include the concerts of the in-universe S-Orchestra/Rising Star Orchestra from Season 1, and any pieces played by Chiaki or Nodame (when she is properly motivated). Also of note is the anime's first OP theme: 'Allegro Cantabile' by SUEMITSU & THE SUEMITH; the lyrics of which are about the joys devoting one's life to playing music. The first ED theme: 'Konna ni Chikaku de' by Crystal Kay is also beautiful, in this tropers opinion. If there were a theme song for the tropes Cannot Spit It Out, and All Love Is Unrequited, it would be this.
  • Beach Episode: The DVD special. Yes, Nodame is wearing a bikini in it.
    • "D-Cup Devil!"
  • Beautiful All Along: Nodame, when she's not making silly faces or dressing like a slob. Season 2's Yasunori Kuroki develops a crush on Nodame, though she does manage to destroy her image of her because she's Nodame. Also see Chapter 11's cover. Hubba-hubba.
  • Bishie Sparkle: Usually for remarking a well performed music (both around the performers and the audience). Played semi-straight around Professor Auclair (perhaps to emphasize his different way to teach?)
  • Blank White Eyes: Used pretty frequently, especially for Nodame
  • Blue with Shock: Happens a lot to Nodame--and everyone who gets involved with her.
  • Book Ends: The first anime season uses these expertly, with the first scene of episode one, a flashback, running alongside a "narration" (words appearing an otherwise blank screen) about memories, and the final scene of the last episode continuing the thought to reflect one of the series' big themes and the development of the characters. Makes an already touching finale so damn-near perfect, that this troper is convinced it is impossible to watch it without feeling happy.
    • In the live-drama, the first song that the group together as an orchestra was Beethoven Symphony No. 7, as well as being the first time Chiaki conducted. At the end of the series, they played this song again, being the last time Chiaki would conduct in Japan with this orchestra, since they were all graduating and going their separate ways.
  • The Cameo: Hige Danshaku in season two during Nodame's recital at a French castle. Hige Danshaku is a manzai duo whose theme is that of a French-born Japanese nobleman (Louis Yamada LIII) and his butler (Higuchi-kun). In the manga, the microbes from Moyasimon make an appearance in Nodame's curry!
  • The Capital of Brazil Is Buenos Aires: When Chiaki goes to Sao Paulo, in Brazil, the guy that caught him in the airport takes him to the beach. Almost anyone knows that city has no beaches so near.
    • Some other related stereotypes are shown, played straight and Lampshaded.
  • Catch Phrase: GYABOOOOOOO~
  • Child Prodigy: Season 2's Son Rui started performing internationally at age 10. Luca is a child also accepted into the same conservatory as Nodame. Of course, neither compares to the real life child prodigy in season 2, Mozart!
    • Nodame herself used to be one as a little girl.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Played straight for laughs most of the time by Nodame, rarely played for drama. In fact there are quite a number of instances where Nodame is reasonable and understanding toward Chiaki's relationships with other people, especially when it involves his musical career.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Nodame and Yadovika, the Hungarian composer and Theremin player girl.
  • Compressed Adaptation: The first series had 23 episodes to cover the first nine volumes of the manga. The next series had 11 episodes to cover the next seven. Yes, people noticed. The third season drops a storyline completely to fit the rest of the material in.
  • Conspicuous CG: Close-ups of musical instruments are clearly computer-rendered.
    • Same goes for the characters playing those instruments. Sometimes it can make a concert scene look realistic in ways that normal animation just can't pull off, but others...
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: After taking first place during his first conducting competition in France, Chiaki is kidnapped by Elise, Franz Stresemann's agent and manager, with the goal of forcing him to sign on with her publicity agency. When he refuses even after being beaten up by one of her bodyguards, she resorts to tickling him with backscratchers until he submits.
  • Covers Always Lie: Most of the manga covers show Nodame playing instruments she does not play.
  • Covert Pervert: Nodame has shades of this towards Chiaki. Though it's mostly played for laughs.
  • Demoted to Extra: Almost the entire supporting cast of season one less Kuroki the Oboe player don't come back to season 2-3. Some of them return in Finale's episode 0 DVD special as well as a few cameos in the season itself. Justified by the setting change from Japan to Europe.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Or, in this case, girl. Guess who...
  • Dojikko: Nodame's clumsiness is often quite over the top.
  • Elegant Classical Musician: Almost every female character.
    • And almost all of the guys, too.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Okuyama > Chiaki < Nodame. Nuff said.
  • Flamboyant Gay: Okuyama Masumi, who is the embodiment of most every stereotype of homosexual males.
  • Flower Motifs: The usual emotional changing of the background to flowers, feathers, or what have you. Do mongooses and fake anime characters count?
  • Friend to All Children: Nodame has a very easy time making friends with children. Maybe because she can understand and relate to them very well.
  • Funny Afro: Okuyama Masumi again.
  • Genius Ditz: Nodame, of course. She can even learn French just by listening to it. (It helps that she was watching her favorite anime dubbed in French for several hours.)
  • Hard-Drinking Tropes: Chiaki in seasons 2 and 3, at least relative to the other characters.
  • Hidden Buxom: Nodame usually wears extremely loose fitting shirts and sweaters. That's why it comes as a surprise to Chiaki that she's actually quite well endowed.
  • Homage Shot: the reference to Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind in Finale series of the anime, episode 10.
  • Ho Yay: One-sided from Okuyama towards Chiaki.
    • Mine always seems awfully happy when Chiaki is around, he is also very concerned with getting his "radar".
    • Also the violinist who takes Kiyora's place as the concertmaster showed some signs, staring intently as Chiaki was unbuttoning his shirt and following Chiaki around.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: In the 1st Season, episodes are numbered "Lesson". In the latter 2 seasons, they are numbered "Leçon" (Lesson on French)
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Chiaki may seem to be an aloof and arrogant Jerkass, but his utter love of music is only matched by the admiration he feels for those who can create and appreciate it. This love of music draws him to Nodame, and helps him to believe in the abilities of the people around him.
  • Josei
  • Just Friends / Better as Friends: Stresemann and the school's principal decided to be this after the principal had an illness that stopped her from playing the piano when she was younger. Stresemann's assistant Elise mentioned that if not for this illness, the two of them may have become lovers.
  • Ladykiller in Love: Stresemann, who is a borderline Dirty Old Man, genuinely loved the school's principal when they were younger and decided to remain Just Friends. It's implied his feelings for her had never changed.
  • Last-Minute Hookup
  • Les Yay: Nodame and Saiko have an ... interesting encounter in a karaoke-bar. It's rather short-lived though, since Nodame is very drunk and Saiko clearly not interested.
  • Lethal Chef: Nodame displays all the usual traits, although she can at least manage rice balls. Chiaki, on the other hand, is a Supreme Chef.
  • Level Scaling: Chiaki's competitions and Nodame's exams. They overcome their challenges in Japan, move to France, and find out everyone in France is ten levels higher.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: There's a full orchestra to deal with, so naturally, there are a lot of characters.
  • Lovable Sex Maniac: Stresemann (almost a Dirty Old Man, indeed)
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Nodame to Chiaki. Chiaki takes a while to warm to Nodame, though.
  • Manly Tears: Everyone, including Chiaki and Kiyora, get a bit teary as they realize this may be their last concert together before they all go their separate ways.
    • This is also the response that the music critic in Season 1 gives for one of Chiaki's performances.
  • Megane: Chiaki went undercover and got to wear glasses. Needless to say, he looks more hotter. [dead link] Fetish Fuel galore.
  • Meddling Parents: Season 2's Rui's mother, even more so in season 3.
  • Messy Hair: Chiaki.
  • Misfit Mobilization Moment: The S Orchestra's performance at the school festival.
  • My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: Semi-subverted. As Nodame learns French, she's taught "everyday phrases" that are anything but everyday. Nodame being Nodame, however, is fully aware of the translation of these phrases and is confident that they will be useful.
  • Narm: In the live-action version, the scenes where Chiaki flashes back to his childhood traumas can be extremely Narmy due to the low production values involved.
  • Noblewoman's Laugh: Chiaki's agent from the second season. Amusingly, in the anime's second season, Nodame adopts this laugh (as well as a new voice) as she passes herself off as Chiaki's wife to the orchestra staff.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Nodame encounters Saiko and Chiaki in what appears to be a compromising situation at one point. Subverted later when Saiko wants to turn it into exactly what it looks like.
  • Occidental Otaku: Frank.
  • Odd Couple: Ambitious perfectionist Chiaki with the wild and uncontrollable Nodame.
  • Official Couple: Not hard to figure out that it's Chiaki and Nodame. For starters, they appear together in every anime opening and every credit sequence. And during the course of the show, not one of the other suitors that appear, for either character, pose any serious romantic challenge. Furthermore the main premise and appeal of the show revolves around the evolving relationship between them. Opposites Attract indeed...
  • Ojou: Saiko, especially at the beginning.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Megumi "Nodame" Noda.
  • Opposites Attract: And how!
  • Otaku: Nodame is a big fan of PuriGorota.
    • Frank, although soon after he admits he's nothing compared to Nodame
  • Paper Fan of Doom: Harisen-sensei is named after his paper fan, which was instrumental in causing the rift between him and Chiaki. He later gives it up in order to convince Nodame to take lessons from him.
  • Pastel-Chalked Freeze-Frame: The anime uses these a lot during concerts.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Masumi wears one - which he made himself - for the S Orchestra's performance of "Rhapsody in Blue" in episode 10.
  • Product Placement: The show is sponsored by Yamaha. Guess what brand every piano is. Yes, also in France, which is not that surprising, a lot of music-school pianos are Yamahas, even in France.
  • Save Our Orchestra: Of the musical variety. Starring Chiaki in his first full-time conducting job with Paris' Roux-Marlet Orchestra. The orchestra itself has a storied and prestigious 150 year long history, and was conducted in the past by Chiaki's famous mentor, Franz Stresemann. But when Chiaki becomes it's regular conductor, he finds it has fallen on harder times. Its short on members, and those who remain are unmotivated and demoralized by a recent streak of lackluster performances. After an absolutely dismal concert with Chiaki conducting, he vows bring the orchestra back to its former glory. He did it before with the S Orchestra in Season 1, and he'll do it again.
  • School Festival: Which leads to an absolutely brilliant performance by Nodame and the "S Orchestra".
  • Sequel Escalation: In the second season, Chiaki and Nodame move to Paris. Yes, it's harder than Tokyo.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: Even when she is, Chiaki still treats Nodame this way. He still has trouble saying it on a whim, but eventually he stops correcting people who refer to her as his girlfriend in the Paris seasons.
  • Shout-Out: Live-action, end of third episode: "SIEG ZEON!!!". Also, in Nodame Cantabile Paris, the next door neighbor, Franc, is an otaku who collects merchandise of Shakogan no Shana, another JC Staff anime.
  • Show Within a Show: Type 2 (Nodame is a huge fan of Puri Gorota) and 3 (The very existence of that show made a difference).
  • Shy Finger-Twiddling: Done by Nodame when she asks Chiaki out.
  • Single-Issue Psychology: Chiaki had a bad experience on a plane as a kid and developed a crushing fear of non-land based travel as a result. It only takes one hypnotherapy session with Nodame and he's cured.
    • Well, she just makes him completely forget the incident, instead of curing the fear. We see afterwards that he's still comically afraid of non-land based travel, it's just that he can take it when there aren't any other options.
  • Sleep Cute: From the live-action drama, Nodame finds Chiaki asleep. Then sneaks a kiss on his cheek.
  • Slice of Life
  • Stalking Is Funny If It Is Female After Male: Nodame, of course. And, yes, in season two we find she does have those sort of photos of Chiaki and she does want to do that with Chiaki. You don't want to know how many times she sniffs him.
  • Supreme Chef: Chiaki.
  • Tall, Dark and Snarky: Chiaki embodies this.
  • Ten-Minute Retirement: There are several instances where Nodame loses focus and seriously considers quitting piano lessons. Sometimes she recovers herself, sometimes Chiaki needs to help her regain her focus.
  • Third Person Person: Nodame, this is among her quirky idiosyncrasies.
  • This and That: When Stresemann first meets Nodame, he attempts to seduce her, and refers to this when going to a love hotel. Nodame is oblivious as to his meaning, but Chiaki, still within earshot, gets it and steps in to intervene.
  • Through Her Stomach: Little does Chiaki realize what he gets himself into once he starts feeding Nodame.
  • Tomokazu Seki: Exercising the full extent of his ability to throw shouty hissyfits as Chiaki.
  • Translation Convention: Kai Dunn of the Berlin Philharmonic arrives in one episode, but has only a limited grasp of Japanese. While the episode renders everything in Japanese, handy notes appear whenever the characters are in fact speaking German. And, of course, the second season takes place in France, so all the characters in France, including Russians and Chinese, are speaking perfect Japanese in a fansub with English subtitles.
  • Trash of the Titans: Nodame's apartment. Chiaki just can't resist cleaning it up.
  • Trickster Mentor: Stresemann to Chiaki.
  • Tsundere: Chiaki is very much this toward Nodame, leaning very toward the tsuntsun (cranky) end, but with frequent, if short-lived, affectionate and sweet moments towards her.
  • Unsound Effect: Not exactly a sound effect, but, in the manga, you can't hear the actual music. The manga simply states the name of the song being played -- and if you aren't familiar with the song, you're stuck with just the pretty pictures. Another Unsound Effect is Nodame's badger, whose presence is seen in Nodame's emotional outbursts.
  • Verbal Tic: Nodame often uses nonsense exclamations like "Gyabo!" and "Mukya!"
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Awesome?: Every scene where there's an amazing performance going on. You could really feel the music.
  • When She Smiles: In the live-drama, Kiyora was already pretty. But you can see how when she changes from this to this, she's absolutely glowing.
    • Chiaki himself, also in the live-drama. He usually reserves his smiles. But when he generally pleased or happy, though they are small, he doesn't resist them.
  • Where Are They Now? Epilogue
  • Will They or Won't They?: Nodame and Chiaki. In the first season of the anime they seem to get together in the end. For the second season this apparently has been reset, since the issue has still not been resolved in the manga it is based on.
    • They're together in Paris-Hen, Chiaki's just an ass about it.
    • Partly averted in that Nodame obviously *would*, she tells him at the end of the very first episode and several times after that. So it's more of a Will He or Won't He.
  • Worthy Opponent: Despite displaying some traits of a musical Arrogant Kung Fu Guy, french conductor Jean Donnadieu is this during Chiaki's first conducting competition in France. Its actually his girlfriend Yuuko who does most of the trash talking, much to his chagrin.
  • Yandere: Nodame's a relatively mild case; in the Paris Chapter, when Chiaki wanted to break up with her, she beat the crap out of him (on a bridge overlooking the Seine!) until he changed his mind. At least she didn't bring out any sharp implements...
    • During the fight, Nodame also makes a valid point--every time she thinks they're getting closer, Chiaki pulls away from her. Chiaki knows she's right, and it's implied that it helps cause him to relent just as much as him wanting the pain to stop does.