Nodame Cantabile – 23 (END)
The Rising Star Orchestra’s final piece for the night is Beethoven‘s Symphony No. 7 – the same piece Chiaki first tried to conduct the S Orchestra to play two years ago. Chiaki had failed then, and he feels now that everything starts over again with this piece. As he conducts, Chiaki also thinks about what the Rising Star Orchestra means and decides that he’ll definitely be changing the name. During the party afterwards, Moe and Kaoru make it a point to thank Chiaki for letting them into the orchestra. He wants to tell everyone about his leaving for Europe, but as it turns out, they all already know from Mine. It is also Mine who insists on him finding them a good replacement conductor, so Chiaki reveals that fame young conductor Matsuda Yukihisa will be taking his place. Everyone is overjoyed to hear this, and Chiaki feels that he finally completed his work. However, when he returns home, he notices the pocket watch that Nodame gave him and thinks about how he may never hear her play again. Nodame isn’t responding to calls or text messages, leaving Chiaki with no choice but to try to track down her parent’s telephone number. Failing to do that, Chiaki remembers what Sakuma said about famous musicians being remembered because they met important people. Although frustrated, Chiaki decides to go to Nodame’s parent’s home in Fukuoka, but he feels that if she turns him down again, he’ll never forgive her.
Nodame meanwhile approaches the piano in her parent’s home and starts to play it again, attracting the attention of her family and neighbors. Her grandmother claps for her once she’s done, reminding Nodame of the applause she once got, so she explains how she had been playing Schubert and how she had participated in a competition. On the train heading in her direction, Chiaki is thinking about how she had rejected his offer to go abroad with him. He eventually arrives at his destination only to find that there’s not another train directly to Nodame’s hometown, so he takes a taxi instead. Along the way, he finds out from the driver that Nodame had lied about Ookawa being a large city. This reminds him of how Nodame turns her eyes away when she’s lying, just like she did when she rejected his offer. Right then, he gets a call from her telling him that she’s going abroad. Earlier, she had gotten a message from Etou explaining that the judge named Auclair had recommended her for a school in France, so Etou had sent in the application. Chiaki’s taxi now – by coincidence – passes Nodame on the road, so he gets the driver to stop so that he can get out. Having not realized that he’s so close to her, Nodame continues to talk on the phone about how she wants to play a piano concerto with him just like he did with Stresemann. She dreams about them performing together around the world, and to her surprise, Chiaki suddenly hugs her from behind. He feels that she can say those kinds of things after she passes the exam to get into the French school. Nodame is embarrassed at first, but she soon calms down enough to wish him a happy new year. The two of them get broken up, however, when Nodame’s father spots them together from onboard his nearby boat.
In the aftermath, Nodame’s family accepts Chiaki as her boyfriend, much to his dismay. Chiaki’s mother meanwhile has decided to send him to Paris instead of Vienna because of living arrangement complications, meaning that he’s going to France after all. In a conversation later with Nodame’s father, Chiaki feels that Nodame will be okay going abroad and admits that he really likes her piano playing. Memories sometimes tie up the heart. However, the heart is set free by meeting a new person. And now, it flies away towards the future.
Well they ended the story in what I thought was a pretty good spot and then went through some extra manga material (end of volume nine and prelude to volume ten) during the credits before finally concluding with the conversation Chiaki has with Nodame’s father. I had been worried that they wouldn’t be able to give this a good enough finish, but I rather like how it ended, even with them racing through those non-animated parts in the credits with the opening song playing in the background. I would have preferred to hear Crystal Kay’s Konna ni Chikaku de… again, but oh well. Anyway, Chiaki and Nodame’s relationship had advanced to the point where he could hug her like that, but any more and it’d feel unnatural given the development of their respective characters. Since Chiaki is going to France with Nodame and they’ll both be pursuing their music (as well as perhaps their relationship), I think this was as good as any place to stop, leaving enough open for another series if they should ever make it, a la Honey and Clover II.
Final Thoughts: It’s hard for me not to compare this with Honey and Clover since the two series had so many stylistic similarities courtesy of Kasai Kenichi. I admit that I’m not a huge classical music buff, so I’d actually give the edge to Honey and Clover in terms of music for all its wonderful insert songs. Nevertheless, Nodame Cantabile was still a lot of fun to watch, particularly since it covers the development of the characters over a fairly long period of time, with Chiaki’s steady rise as a conductor and his growing attachment to Nodame in the period of over two years. I don’t know if they will make a sequel to cover the rest of the manga, but if they do eventually, it’ll have to wait until at least after this next season, which will feature the new Mononoke show in the noitaminA programming block.