Do you play an instrument? I’m sure many of us have dabbled in some kind of instrument at one point in our lives – but how many of us are actually capable of creating music?
When I started piano as a kid, it was only about hitting the correct notes at the right time – to me, playing music was no different than playing DDR or hitting those moles with the big rubber mallet at the arcade. But what happens when one learns perfect technique? Is the song finished?
At eight years old, I’d happily agree and run off to show my star sticker to my mom after I got home from lessons. More than a decade later, however, I’ve realized that technique isn’t even the half of it. It’s kind of a bunch of high school seniors applying to Harvard – almost everyone has flawless grades and test scores together with their long list of clubs and activities – so why do some get the nod over others? It’s because they’re not just able to play their instrument, they make that thing sing.
Which brings me to Nodame Cantabile – the new anime by the same studio that brought us Honey and Clover months before. There’s this guy named Chiaki who’s a stickler on technique, and this girl named Nodame, who’s got a cowabunga technique but a sort of chaotic genius to her – personally, I saw Nodame as the anime version of Beethoven, with the same Stevie Wonder jerkiness and the same crazy Einstein hair…but of course, female, and voiced by seiyuu empress Kawasumi Ayako. The rub on Chiaki is that he’s trying to be a conductor but thinks everyone’s technique sucks…but let me stop there.
At this point the show seems pretty predictable already – Nodame will probably continue to worm her way into Chiaki’s mind and eventually loosen him up enough until he’s able to appreciate everyone’s individual flair, and somehow mold them into one unit as the composer of an orchestra. Standard stuff…but why am I still so excited about this show?
To use Honey and Clover as an example, much of the first season was about this emo kid Takemoto and his self-discovery journey that he just randomly decided to take. It’s not like he ended up somewhere else – dude went right back to where he started – but the journey itself was the highlight (not to mention it took a good seven or eight episodes). Do you complain that a rollercoaster ride was stupid because it just goes in a loop? No way – why wasn’t the ride longer? It definitely takes one of “higher moral standards” than the typical Naruto-faring crowd (I’d say Bleach too but I hear Omni’s a fanboy) to enjoy shows like this, but to me, there’s just so much more substance when a show is driven by its characters and their relationships rather than the plot surrounding them.
And just like the start of a rollercoaster ride, we’re getting pulled up for that first big rush in these early episodes – I can only hope that Nodame lasts long enough to satisfy!