Many years ago, Chiaki Shinichi had been watching as Sebastiano Viera rehearsed with his orchestra. He had wanted to become the conductor’s apprentice, but he had gotten kicked out at the time. Now, Chiaki is living in Japan and is a student at Momogaoka Music Academy, though he finds all the musicians around him to be sub-par. The son of famous pianist Chiaki Masayuki, Chiaki is in the piano program at school, but he is very frustrated that he’s stuck here while a conducting student named Hayakawa is going to Germany to study abroad. This affects his playing during his lesson, so his teacher yells at him and smacks him with a harisen. This teacher notices that Chiaki has a score, which he realizes means Chiaki wants to be a conductor. Chiaki ends up blowing up on his teacher and causes him to walk out. In truth, Chiaki does want to be a conductor. When he was young, his father took him to many places, and he got to see Sebastiano Viera’s conducting.
Walking down the hallway after this incident, Chiaki hears someone playing Beethoven‘s piano sonata Pathétique. At first he thinks it’s haphazard playing, but then realizes that it’s actually really good. Before he can go see who the musician is, his friend Saiko stops because she heard what happened with his teacher. She feels that he should apologize, but Chiaki claims that he doesn’t really want to be a pianist. Since Chiaki feels that his only teacher is Viera, Saiko suggests he go study abroad. She knows that he’s afraid of flying, but it turns out that he’s afraid of getting on a boat too. Saiko gets up to leave when Chiaki starts considering quitting music, but Chiaki stops her and asks her not to go home tonight. Unfortunately for him, Saiko says that they don’t have that type of relationship and that she hates losers.
That night, Chiaki’s next door neighbor arrives home and finds him sleeping outside. When Chiaki wakes up the next morning to the beautiful playing of a piano, he finds himself in a strange apartment with trash all around. Seeing that he woke up, girl at the piano remembers Chiaki’s name after having not been able to identify him earlier when she first found him. Chiaki runs out in fear and soon realizes that this girl lives next door to him. At school later, this girl – named Noda Megumi and called Nodame by everyone – finds him and tries to give back the belt he left in her apartment, but Chiaki runs away as if Nodame made a mistake. Once he gets away from her, Chiaki finds out that he’s been reassigned to a new teacher named Tanioka Hajime. As it turns out, this is the same teacher that Nodame has, and Chiaki learns that Tanioka handles all the students who have fallen behind. He goes back home, but soon detects a foul smell. He traces this odor to the garbage piling up next door that’s already trickling onto his side. At his limit, Chiaki decides to go to Nodame’s apartment and proceeds to clean the place for her. As Chiaki is finishing up the cleaning, he hears Nodame playing the piano again. Although she had huge hands, Nodame is actually really good at playing. However, Chiaki notices when she plays a wrong note and starts instructing her.
Sometime later, Chiaki finds out that Tanioka wants him to play together with Nodame. He is at first infuriated to have to play with her, but Tanioka convinces him that he’s a leader and that this is like guiding his kouhai. The song the pair are to play is Mozart‘s Sonata in D major, and since both Chiaki and Nodame are unfamiliar with it, Chiaki decides that they will read through it and then play it in eight minutes. Given that amount of time, Nodame tries her best, but she repeatedly screws up. Tanioka eventually reveals that Nodame can remember after hearing something, but she can’t read sheet music. That night, Chiaki heads over to her room – which has gotten dirty again – to practice. When Nodame says that she needs another week to memorize the piece, Chiaki decides to play it for her instead because her ears are supposed so good in helping her memorize. They continue practicing together until Chiaki takes a break when he notices that Nodame’s hair stinks. In response, he forcefully washes and dries it for her. Nodame feels like she’s being treated like a queen, but Chiaki feels like he’s grooming a dog.
When the time comes for the two to play the piece for their teacher, Chiaki tells Nodame to play it however she wants. He has recognized that she’s got something special and the only person who can match her is someone like himself. As they are playing the piece together without any problems, Chiaki remembers how he was separated from Viera when his parents divorced. At the time, he had told Viera that he’d definitely become a conductor and asked Viera to make him a student when he got older. Viera had said that he’d always be waiting and had called Chiaki his student. Chiaki recalls how Viera also once said that it is rare for a musician to be so moved by a performance that they tremble. Chiaki had almost given up on experiencing such a moment, but right now he can feel a small tremble. After they finish playing, Tanioka applauds Chiaki for breaking through the wall, which makes Chiaki realize that this was all a lesson directed at him. On the way home, Nodame expresses her feelings for him and wonders if she’s falling in love. Chiaki tries to deny it, but Nodame is already lost in her thoughts of love. Silently addressing his teacher Viera, Chiaki feels that there are still more things for him to do in Japan.
ED: 「こんなに近くで…」 (Konna ni Chikaku de…) by Crystal Kay
Watch the ED! Mirror 1 (64MB, XviD)
I originally thought that Allegro Cantabile would be a classical style song, but it actually turned out to be a rather upbeat song. I enjoyed both the opening and ending songs, and although I like the Crystal Kay song more, the opening animation is more fun to watch.
Even though I’ve read the manga and this episode follows the first three chapters fairly closely, it still had me laughing. In my book, that’s a really good sign. Granted, I still haven’t seen the drama version of Nodame Cantabile that everyone seems to love, so I can’t make comparisons to that (for better or worse). From the first episode, I thought that Kawasumi Ayako is perfect for Nodame – I love the way she does all of Nodame’s noises (like “gyabo”). Tomokazu Seki didn’t do a bad job either, though it wasn’t as noticeable.
Given the stylistic similarities to Honey and Clover, it was really apparent that Kasai Kenichi was directing this. That’s certainly not a bad thing, and it gives the show a certain flavor so to speak. They even threw the next episode preview into the ED, just like Honey and Clover. And since this is a classical music oriented series, there was plenty of piano playing, though the non-piano soundtrack felt slightly lacking at a few places. I can’t really say I was wowed by any of the pieces played, piano or otherwise, but it wasn’t bad either.
I enjoyed this enough to keep watching, though I make no promises to blog this on time since Thursday lineups are unfortunately always pretty overloaded.