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Nodame Cantabile: Spring

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In the first lesson we see Chiaki learn to recognize his own harshness as a tutor and accept, or tolerate, Nodame’s free-feeling of play. Lesson 2, in my opinion, functions as a slight extension or application of the first lesson, while modestly expanding on the humor and chemistry of the characters. My primary focus once again is on Chiaki and his distinct stroll through the episode, with his contractor-like being.

Early on, we see Chikai’s denial into the conductor division by Milch, and soon after, his persistence in writing requests. Nodame, already in her selfish wife-mode, is also against Chiaki’s transfer and instead suggests the two of them enjoy the night together. On his way home, Chiaki stops by a fish market for mackerel, and is perplexed by the notion that buying two fish is cheaper than buying one. While Chiaki has no need for two, it is his rational decision to purchase two fish in light of Nodame’s mention of dinner and the cheaper price. At this point, Chiaki’s “pulse” for Nodame functions strictly on rational terms, but it is the way which offers a second consideration for Nodame, almost fateful.

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Amusingly, Chiaki’s consideration for dinner is relinquished upon seeing Nodame eating at Mine’s restaurant. Frustrated by her whimsical attitude in “following the food” he throws out one of the fish he purchased. It is a good sign of Nodame’s early effect in that Chiaki’s brief jealousy is very human, but it does not last, as he soon finds comfort in the quiet of his apartment.

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An interesting point in I found in Chiaki’s peaceful meal was his enjoyment of such solitude, a contrast to his evenings energized by Nodame. With the orchestral piece playing in the room, he closes his eyes and begins to conduct, while memories of Vieria and practicing as a child are glimpsed. I feel this is rather robotic for the personality, for it is purely mechanical; going through the motions. Chiaki has the skill, yet conducting is not a solitary action. It is a bridge of delegation from one to many, conductor to performers, but for Chiaki, this is satisfying. With eyes closed, he sees his conducting and the music, perhaps the instruments, but does he see the human aspect, the performers? There is still much Chiaki must learn.

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Refreshing on the tolerance Chiaki showed Nodame in lesson 1, the focus of this lesson is Mine, a rocker from the violin division who is under pressure to retake an exam. We learn that Mine was originally partnered with Chiaki, but was quickly dismissed due to his livid playing style which Chiaki disliked. Instead, Nodame comes to pair with Mine for the exam, and the two mesh well for sharing a similar temperament in their styles.

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Nodame unfortunately catches a cold the day of the exam, and Chiaki takes initiative to play the part for Mine’s exam. Mine is well aware of Chiaki’s standards, but to his surprise, Chiaki informs him to play as he wishes under the condition he listen to Chiaki’s piano. This is Chiaki being considerate, yielding his preference for technical discipline to that of loose expression, and it is a kind act.

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While performing the piece, Beethoven’s Spring, Chiaki comes to a better understanding for Mine, realizing that he is much like Nodame, all the while showing his own competence and matching Mine’s loose extravagance. Mine continues his looseness but soon feels Chiaki’s direction and allows the guidance. His pressure evades knowing Chiaki is there, and I feel Mine’s complete perspective of Chiaki is lifted and reversed during this performance. Mine becomes a friend, whether Chiaki feels likewise or not.

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During the performance there is a moment of reflection in Chiaki about the piece, the theme of Spring and what comes before; the harshness of Winter. Though this was a day in Autumn, Chiaki wonders if Spring will ever come for him, and it is a wonderment towards the harsh darkness he wishes to one day leave. We can recognize here that Winter will follow Autumn, and Spring after Winter, perhaps a foreshadowing of Chiaki’s journey.

Afterthoughts

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Much of the enjoyment from Nodame Cantabile comes from the appreciation of the surrounding characters and their part in Nodame and Chiaki’s stories. Among the group, Kiyora is perhaps the most elite in her disposition and maturity, but I find the method of her initial interaction quite amusing (her prowess is also a character force to be reckoned with). Masumi feels the threat of Nodame’s infatuation with Chiaki, and Mine acts as a mediator between them, but in Masumi’s despair, it is his friend Kiyora, who addresses Chiaki in an attempt to help Masumi. The basic establishment of her character, though it could have been a direct relation with Chiaki, is indirect and intertwined through Nodame and Masumi. I find this kind of light character web one of the strength throughout the series, and it shows in the ability to use or reuse characters to a fuller extent; the introduction of character with sustainable value is a rarity in this story; the number of characters introduced, who operate within close range to Nodame and Chiaki is rather low [1].

Notes

1 – TBH, there is only one “important” character introduced after this episode, and that is Kuroki. (disregarding Paris)

Categories: Drama.

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4 Responses

  1. One thing I like about how Mine’s performance played out is that when Chiaki chose to help him, it didn’t feel like a compromise. Arguably, he’s still being a pompous, self-important man tortured by his own caged genius, but he did put in his effort and it was Mine’s day, not his.

    This is what makes the learning stick I think. It wasn’t all about Chiaki, and he knew it. This freed him up to reveal himself in a way that few people know him. This exposition now informs us of the size of the undertaking that leads to his ambition.

    • Very true, Chiaki manages to shed some of his elite persona for Mine, and it’s almost like opening up to the possibility of matching competence. Chiaki has to share the load when he is in this position, whether that brings him up or down, although I’m not sure he’s entirely aware of this balancing. Though he is quite aware that it’s not his performance.

      And entirely; there is much to undertake. :)

  2. I love the side cast as well. Mine is probably my favorite support character. I thought he provides a very nice contrast and reflection to Chiaki. They’re both proud/ arrogant in their own way but they do come to an understanding.

    • They’re both proud/ arrogant in their own way but they do come to an understanding.

      Awesome point, and also Mine is a nice contrast to Nodame; both have that freedom, yet Nodame lacks the drive.



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