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Nodame Cantabile: Intermission

Nodame 03

I’ve been writing about Nodame Cantabile episode 3 so long that I’m somewhere in the belief that I’ve been writing about episode 4. Episode 3 is Sakura’s episode, and I feel the issues is that my initial tactic was to dismiss Sakura’s story as mostly trivial. This is hardly the case due to Nodame and Mine’s reactions to the conflict surrounding her. Looking further into the situation, Sakura’s conflict is a stiff shove at Chiaki thrusting him into a more compassionate being, but there is a small bit more. Sakura’s conflict hints at a further exposition in Nodame and Chiaki’s characters. I wished to include this afterthought in the third episode entry, but it will do well here.

We see Nodame react in an interesting way this episode with regards to Sakura, and I feel it is revealing an invisible role-reversal between the primary couple. Examining how Nodame reacted in the situation, it’s clear she cared for Sakura’s immediate needs; general well-being. Though without a doubt she was also aware that Sakura needed to practice in order to fulfill the contrabass position, but unlike Chiaki, she doesn’t highlight the black side of the conflict. Nodame is well-aware that the situation is more complex than black and white, but her actions benefit the real Sakura, the Sakura who needs to eat and rest. Meanwhile Chiaki brutishly stresses the ideal Sakura, the Sakura who will sacrifice in order to become the best. If we let this simmer, one begins to wonder, “who is the realist among Chiaki and Nodame?” Could it be, that Nodame is quite the realist underneath her vibrant and lucid character, and Chiaki, despite his cool and grounded appearance is truly the dreamer, the one looking forward in order to perfect tomorrow.

Some may consider Nodame’s idiocy a hindrance to this assumption, but there are two important points to remember about her. First, she thrives emotionally, and because of this she may often magnify sides to a conflict which are not simply examined through logic. Second, she’s a woman, and a woman’s awareness and intuition should rarely be overlooked.

Stay tuned for an entry on episode three. ^ ^

Nodame Cantabile: Surrounded

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Leaving episode two, we witnessed signs of change in Chiaki’s persona regarding his perspective of those who are less than elite, and beyond his harshly critical tongue, there is a shimmer of hope, a pulse for those who have not been blessed with his genius or classy lifestyle. Yet deeper down the rabbit hole we must travel, for Chiaki’s blinding elitism is clearly on the agenda of his benefactor, Milch. As it was the case for Chiaki and Mine to inadvertently find agreeable ground, Mine was but a single soul, and in the course of the thrid episode, we realize Chiaki’s next challenge goes beyond that of a one-on-one relationship.

Surrounded, Chiaki is left to conduct the select orchestra after Milch was knocked unconscious by Nodame. There’s no way Milch would have known how well Chiaki was played into this position, but he took advantage of the situation, for it was an opportune time for Chiaki to rise into an observing light. In the moment, Chiaki flashes his technical brilliance alongside his utterly capsizing social disconnect. His failure is separable from his skill, and Chiaki’s immense capability, no matter how good, is dwarfed by the absence of compassion and social elegance outside his class. Milch shines a light, yet Chiaki cannot learn simply through verbal explanation as a true understanding of his vacancy is beyond Milch’s words.

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It is unquestionable that most of the S-oke are rough or unpolished, but given the Maestro’s guidance, they strike an alarming balance to which Chiaki takes note. Chiaki has much to learn, and Milch, for one reason or another, decides to take him as a pupil and at times, a scapegoat. Soon after Chiaki comes under Milch’s wing, he is left to stand-in as the practice conductor. This is the perfect combination of oil and water, and I’m sure Milch was quite pleased with this tasteful predicament1. I find the allegory of oil and water amusing in a sense that oil will never dissolve or ionize, but with Chiaki as oil surrounded by water, he will one day become water himself.

The friction between Chiaki and the oke is highlighted primarily by his fierce instructions, which may typically be accurate, but his words often instigate a defense causing the players to freeze or tuck away into their shells. Chiaki’s trouble comes with the lack of understanding in normalcy, perhaps driven by the wealthy padding he has experienced growing up, and through the oke he is forced to see this conflicting side of himself. Though the tension falls on everyone, Sakura’s story uniquely interacts with Chiaki through Nodame’s attentiveness to her, and it is because of Nodame’s defiance towards him that we begin to see Chiaki second-guess his understanding of status.

Sakura is a struggling contrabass student having a rough time matching the required time to practice with the growing financial issues at home. Even among these students, she is falling behind though as a viewer it is difficult to immediately pin the blame. Chiaki initially takes small note of her, and the friction between them stems from a discrepancy in perspective, for he can only understand from his own shoes.

Both Mine and Nodame bring an undermining pressure to Chiaki based on their view of his reaction to Sakura’s situation. Mine, with a new respect and friendship for Chiaki, makes a striking statement in lieu of Chiaki’s monochrome vision, and it is difficult to contest. Mine’s allegation is that Chiaki’s justification comes from a lack of understanding what it means to be on the outside, the underdog. It’s a beautifully frank assessment from Mine, and I feel it’s a well-planted seed coming from someone whom Chiaki is starting to befriend2.

Nodame’s place in the conflict is more integral than Mine’s, for she’s has advanced her position  in Chiaki’s life and coincidentally crosses paths with Sakura. Sakura’s woes instantly strike a sympathetic chord with Nodame, and soon we find this duo scrounging for food at Chiaki’s door.

A Thought of Nodame

We see Nodame react in an interesting way this episode with regards to Sakura, and I feel it is revealing of an invisible role-reversal between both Nodame and Chiaki. Examining how Nodame reacted in the situation, it’s clear she cared for Sakura’s immediate needs; general well-being. Though without a doubt she was also aware that Sakura needed to practice in order to fulfill the contrabass position, but unlike Chiaki, she doesn’t highlight the black side of the conflict. Nodame is well-aware that the situation is more complex than black and white, but her actions benefit the real Sakura, the Sakura who needs to eat and rest. Meanwhile Chiaki brutishly stresses the ideal Sakura, the Sakura who will sacrifice in order to become the best. If we let this simmer, one begins to wonder, “who is the realist among Chiaki and Nodame?” Could it be, that Nodame is quite the realist underneath her vibrant and lucid character, and Chiaki, despite his cool and grounded appearance is truly the dreamer, the one looking forward in order to perfect tomorrow.

Some may consider Nodame’s idiocy a hindrance to this assumption, but there are two important points to remember about her. First, she thrives emotionally, and because of this she may often magnify sides to a conflict which are not simply examined through logic. Second, she’s a woman, and a woman’s awareness and intuition should rarely be overlooked.

Categories: Drama.

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2 Responses

  1. “who is the realist among Chiaki and Nodame?”
    That’s an interesting reversal of expectations. Chiaki, in the earlier parts of the series, always seems a bit cynical to me. Perhaps that cynicism stems from a conflict between the idealist inside him and the real world outside. By contrast, Nodame’s bubbly will may come from her more perceptive looks on the situation.

    • Chiaki is very cynical, right from the start, and that may stem or drive his negativity. He’s a perfectionist no doubt, but being hampered in Japan is probably the main irritant to this negativity, I think.

      It’s funny to ponder on these because it bring a dissonance. Chiaki is very much a “glass half empty” person, and Nodame is the opposite, but it’s rather strange (amusing) to have a pessimistic idealist. Quite nice characterisation if that’s the case.

      Thanks for the comment Yi :)



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