Stars in My Eyes: Nodame Cantabile Eps 5-11

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This drama just pulled a 49 Days on me. I wasn’t feeling it at first but these seven episodes changed my mind, so much so that I ended up marathoning the SPs and movies. Also, I am now officially an Ueno Juri fan. Chiaki may be the one everybody wants to jump but it’s Nodame who’s the heart and soul of this drama. 

Picking up from where we left off, Chiaki is still smoking hot…

…and a danger to all the things that society values, such as order, harmony and good sense.

Think of this as a public service, Chiaki. These people are never going to get another chance to grope someone as beautiful as you without being arrested

There’s still the mission to get him to lose his shirt…and pants.

Oh please. Like you wouldn’t be grinning like this ^___________^ if you were undressing Chiaki

Speaking of undressing, you’d think Chiaki would know better than to undress in front of anyone.

I know you’re also wondering what else he can do with his fingers.

Unfortunately this is a prime time J-drama, which means that all you can do is lust from a distance instead of giving him a hand XD

I don’t know why you’re still so surprised everyone wants to see you naked, Chiaki. Haven’t you been manhandled enough?

Despite whipping all the girls and boys around him into a hormonal frenzy, Herr Stressemann still thinks he can do better.

You might want to have a fire extinguisher and some smelling salts by your side while watching this drama from now on.

Meanwhile, on the relationship front, Chiaki is learning that to know Nodame is to experience a wide range of extreme emotions, like fear:

It also pretty much means kissing his dignity goodbye.

You’d think he’d make a break for the hills or at least invest in a high-tech security system but for some strange, inexplicable reason, he keeps encouraging her to take over his life. Granted, it doesn’t take much with Nodame. The way to this girl’s heart is obviously through her stomach and let’s just say he feeds her very very well.

No point denying it, Chiaki. You’re already behaving like her mother. You might as well be her wife XD

***

Thoughts

Okay, time for me to eat crow.

When I watched the first few episodes of Nodame Cantabile, I was under the impression that a) it was a romantic comedy and b) Nodame was one of those dumb, gluttonous heroines whose sole mission in life is to love the poor unsuspecting object of her affections into submission.

As it progressed, I realised that it wasn’t so much a rom-com as it was a character drama. Romance is one aspect of Nodame Cantabile but at its heart, it’s a story about personal growth and self-actualisation, and this is what resonated with me the most.

I used to play the piano when I was younger. For years, I dreaded Saturdays because it would mean having to spend the better part of the afternoon at my piano teacher’s home labouring through drills and classical pieces by dead people I (thought) I had no interest in. I took the exams required of me, did reasonably well in them, and when I passed the final one, I was overjoyed because it meant I’d never have to touch the piano or see my teacher ever again.

I didn’t, as you can probably guess, like my teacher very much but it took me a while to realise how stupid it was to stop playing just because of one person. And that’s why I found myself relating to this drama – and Nodame – on such a personal level.

When we first see Nodame, she’s more or less made up her mind to be a kindergarten teacher but as her backstory is gradually revealed, we learn that her decision stems in part from a childhood incident that’s left her shying away from anything that requires her to play by the rules, so to speak. No one else in her family is musically inclined, so she’s been left to shoulder this experience on her own. As a result, her performances are undisciplined and erratic. She is content to play solely for pleasure’s sake and has all but turned her back on the idea that she’s capable of doing more with herself.

Some people might wonder, ‘What’s wrong with playing for pleasure?’ There’s nothing wrong with this but the fact is that anyone can play for pleasure. Not everyone has the talent to move people with their music, as Nodame can, and it’s heartbreaking when you see someone with a real gift frittering away their talent without anyone to nudge them in the right direction.

I have no problems with Nodame becoming a kindergarten teacher – and I know she’d make a fantastic one – but I didn’t want her to choose this path thinking that teaching children meant she’d never have to read a musical score. I also didn’t want her to limit herself and make up her mind about her future without considering the options that she had. I wanted her to take the opportunity to go to Europe, see the world and become a better pianist, and after that, if she still wanted to be a kindergarten teacher, so be it. In this regard, both the drama and Nodame did not disappoint me.

This is the first time I’ve seen Ueno Juri in anything and she truly deserves all the awards that she’s won for her role. Nodame isn’t an easy character to play, being the oddball of contradictions that she is and had she been played by a weaker actress, I’m pretty sure the character would have been of the teeth-gratingly annoying variety but Juri portrays Nodame’s eccentricities with such a deft charm that even when she’s being silly and flighty, she’s not unlikeable (ETA: though it did take me a while to get used to how unhinged her character is.) Also, though she worships the ground Chiaki walks on, she isn’t one of those I’ll-die-if-I-can’t-be-with-you girls. When push comes to shove, she’s totally capable of putting him in his place, and after watching the movies, I have no doubt that should their relationship head for the rocks, Chiaki won’t be the one doing the dumping.

I’m glad I gave this drama a chance. It’s a whimsical, heartfelt story with a colourful cast of characters (Stressemann and the long-suffering Eto Kozo are my favourite secondary guys, and I especially love the relationship the latter has with Nodame.) Well-written and well-acted, with a cracking soundtrack to boot, it’ll leave you with a newfound appreciation of classical music (if not that, you’ll be able to identify Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 when you hear it at the very least.)

Omake

Tamaki Hiroshi is now hosting his own radio talk show and hilariously enough, it’s called Naked. His first guest last year was Ueno Juri, who he described as “a bit like a girlfriend and a bit like a younger sister.” Get the transcripts here: Part 1Part 2Part 3 and Part 4. [credit:「Naked」 玉木 宏 (Tamaki Hiroshi) Facebook community]

I do think Tamaki was taking care to be on his best behavior with Juri though. You have to read the transcripts from the other sessions to get an idea of the kind of hentai oddball he can be. Apparently, he likes drawing on people’s faces and dropping ice down their clothes. Oh, and he’s a “total pervert” (so says his good friend, Eiki Kitamura) and his manager thinks he needs a sexbot…XD

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4 comments

  1. Began this drama a week ago, and like you was super surprised as how much it pulled me in. I finished the specials and the movie yesterday at like 4 AM and suffered from Nodame Withdrawal until an hour ago (though the fact that I’m on here may mean that the withdrawal continues). Just wanted to say that I can really relate to your post about piano lessons. I actually quit after passing the Grade 8 exam, unable to take playing by the rules and using this finger and not that one. And this drama actually inspired me to take it up again!
    Love, love, loved Nodame and Chiaki, played by the beautiful and talented Ueno Juri and Tamaki Hiroshi.

    1. Hello! Thanks for dropping by and I’m glad to know that my post resonated with you :) Aww, and it’s fantastic that Nodame Cantabile inspired you to play the piano again. The power of this drama! :DDD

      Yeah, this is one of those classics — you either fall in love with the characters or you don’t. That said, my ardour for Tamaki Hiroshi has since ebbed but I still believe that Ueno Juri is one of the best actresses of her generation.

  2. Ahhh Nodame and Chiaki… so many feels, so much awesome. Love what you wrote and all the yummy screencaps. I still love Tamaki Hiroshi and hope he’ll do another drama with Ueno Juri again, but I guess it’s not looking very likely at the moment.

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