Posted by psgels on 24 August 2008 with categories: Anime Reviews



Ah, I managed to finish this one just in time for the second season that starts in October. Nodame Cantabile is a series about classical music: it follows the rise of a brilliant conductor named Chiaki, and how he spends his college years. If for some reason, you needed any more reasons as to why noitaminA rocks, then go and watch this series, because it’s among the best series that came from an already excellent timeslot.

Finally, an anime comes and pulls off an accurate portrayal of a genius. After all, it’s easier to write a stupid character than to write a smart one, let alone a brilliant one. You really need to be well-versed in the classical music-business to pull that one off, and the creators actually did it. Okay, I know hardly anything about good music, but I still could see that this “Chiaki”-guy was going to make it big someday. Through the series, you’ll get to see exactly what this guy’s thinking, and what’s pushing him forward, what he finds important and why he became so good with music in the first place. It’s for this reason that Nodame Cantabile is an incredibly inspirational anime that can motivate you in a slightly different way than most other motivational series (which are often about an underdog, rather than an already established genius).

The rest of the cast also shines in this series. Every major side-character (which are quite a few, actually) gets his or her time to shine. With the exceptions of the characters that only appear in one or two episodes or random orchestra-members, every character is interesting, and has a bit of depth. This really is a series that shines because of its characters.

The only oddball is the female lead: Nodame. She’s just about the polar opposite of Chiaki, and for the major part of this series, you’ll be wondering what she’s actually doing in this series. She feels like this series’ Yuki Cross (from Vampire Knight): she’s there, she gets admired, but she doesn’t do anything important for the story. Thankfully, as the series goes on, her purpose in this series becomes very clear. I’m not going to spoil anything but let’s just say that her character-growth is very admirable and the highlight of this series’ finale.

There’s also plenty to laugh at in this series. It’s not strictly a comedy, but that doesn’t stop the characters from having fun and providing laughs from the beginning to the end of this series. The creators know exactly when they need to be funny and when they need to be serious.

There’s a slight downside with the use of CG, though. Since this is a series about classical music, there are obviously lots of instruments being played, and the creators used a motion-capturing technique in order to show characters playing the piano/violin/oboe/whatever. This makes sure for lots of movement that would never have been possible with traditional animation techniques, but it also looks fake. The 3D hands and instruments just don’t mesh well with the 2D characters, which makes the visuals in this series rather sloppy. Thankfully, it’s able to make up for that with a downright excellent soundtrack. Not only were many classical pieces played throughout the series, but these pieces really felt like how the characters would play them, rather than a background piece that would just start on cue and sound the same everywhere.

Overall, noitaminA is a timeslot with two faces: post high-school antics and horror, all with some kind of experimental touch (save from Honey and Clover perhaps, but I haven’t seen that one yet). noitaminA is a very charming series about a bunch of conservatory-students. On paper, it’s one of the duller concepts that came from the timeslot, but it makes up for that with a number of downright awesome characters. I can understand why this series happily sat on top of AniDB’s ranking for more than half a year.

Storytelling: 9/10
Characters: 10/10
Production-Values: 8/10
Setting: 9/10

12 Responses

  1. Avatar Kim says:

    Honey and Clover takes place in an art college and is directed by the same person who did Nodame Cantabile so I would recommend it to you. :)

    As for Nodame I love the story and characters a lot but I was spoiled by the live action version which I think is quite a bit better.

  2. Avatar Eonir says:

    Kim, I would never dare watching the live action version. For Milch’s sake. They ruined him in the live version ~_~

  3. Avatar Doug Napoleone says:

    Have you seen the live action Jdrama version? (and if so, how does it stack up?)

    I quite enjoyed the HyD Drama though I wished they had dropped the ‘amnesia’ arc for one of the other arcs they went with. (have yet to see the movie which recently came out but is in the top 10 for all time sales for a movie in Japan already!)

    For some reason the really good character development stories seem to be better with the live action treatment.

  4. Avatar Doug Napoleone says:

    @Kim & Eonir,

    Thanks for the info. Need to decise it either or both are worth my limited time now…

  5. Avatar lbrevis says:

    Great review. I’m about halfway through right now and you mentioned pretty much everything I’ve been thinking about the show. I can’t wait for season 2, I’m hopeful that this time the CG will be seamless.

  6. Avatar Macros74 says:

    In the last few months I’ve been discovering quite some new (to me) animes, and I’ve often seen this series and H&C recommended as series one has to have seen. But yet, somehow, both these series never attracted me enough to actually go watch them (to much to see, not exactly my cup of tea going by the descriptions…), but your review has convinced me to give this a try. Who knows, maybe H&C will follow.

  7. Avatar BlueYoshi says:

    Nice review. Hopefully I’ll have time to watch this anime before the new season starts. I’m also trying to finish Clannad, since I put it on-hold after Ep 14 aired.

  8. Avatar Archer says:

    this was indeed a great anime but i think this is one of those anime series that i love as i watch them and some time after but as the time passes i kinda forget them
    anyway i had a lot of fun watching this anime i remember that i just finished Honey and Clover and started this one and i noticed the very similar visuals between H&C and Nodame and i don’t think it suits Nodame that good,in H&C the effect and visuals used are perfect for the series but here they really should have used something different,in rest there is nothing more to compare,Nodame is quite a light slice of life a few sad moments but still it does not have that many powerful and touching scenes that are meant to have a big impact on the viewer,there are many interesting characters Nodame is one of them mostly because i like her development and she is definitely the funniest character :D, Chiaki is nice to watch too it is interesting to see how he manages to follow his dream and to see how he gets closer and closer to Nodame

    it is a bit sad that this anime did not have a higher budget but still it remains a great anime that i would also recommend and i can’t wait to see the new season :D btw nice review

  9. Avatar Sapphire says:

    I haven’t seen Nodame Cantabile yet, it’s on my list (even though I’m afraid that it may be too much about music). But if it is directed by the same person who did Honey&Clover, I’ll definitely give it a try. I love Honey&Clover. I liked the first season, but the second is… amazingly good. I may be exaggerating, but I think that anyone would like to watch this anime. It’s almost impossible for you not to identify with any of its characters.

  10. Avatar mugi says:

    I know many recommend this and Honey & Clover but just be warned, Nodame Cantabile is not another H&C. Both share some similarities but feel very different. H&C is more about the drama and NC more about the comedy. You can still enjoy both but it’s a totally different experience.

    Can you imagine how awesome NC would be if it looked as good as H&C? I know everyone has their favorite genre but I feel it’s impossible to hate this anime. It’s not the best but it’s such an enjoyable show that just about anyone can watch and have a good laugh or sit back and enjoy the music.

    Unless you’re some kind of purist you should watch the L-A, too. It captures the emotions much better. The scene with Nodame, Chiaki and the watch was especially memorable.

  11. Avatar Lika says:

    NC was a quite enjoyable series though I grew bored in the middle of it – yeah, yeah, I’m sure people are going to kill me for saying that – and I had some issues with the messages that they were putting forth, it’s still a pretty good shoujo piece.

  12. Avatar kevin says:

    OMG, they’ve made a cute Nodame Cantabile kids farting song sung by Juri Ueno… KAWAII!
    http://www.japansugoi.com/wordpress/japanese-kids-fart-and-poop-song/

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