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Nodame Cantabile: Lifting Spirit

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Somber soldier, understanding the battle

Truly one of my favorites, episode four holds a lively and amusing atmosphere through antics which easily distract us from more significant direction of the story. At the onset, Chiaki is quick to ponder his new position as the S-oke conductor, for he has yet to digest the reasoning. Meanwhile, Nodame is ready to celebrate, as if a measure of success has been obtained. Chiaki is too refined to fall into the trap of early celebration, as the challenge is far from over.

Sadly, Chiaki is the only member of the S-oke to realize the urgency of the situation: strive fast or be eternally shamed by Milch and the A-oke. Chiaki carries quite a professional level of self-discipline, yet the S-oke is green. In the high of finding enjoyable terms with Chiaki, the musicians have become lax, losing sight of the art while focusing all their energies into the friendship. Chiaki does not approve [of the shirts], and though the players are giddy and flashy, Chiaki is quick to slap them with reality. He fears failure and the inability to prime the oke in time for the concert.

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There is so much space imagery this episode; here comes Space Kotatsu!

Back at the apartment, another challenge awaits the unsuspecting Chiaki, where Nodame being Nodame invites herself over for a nabe marathon. Then it happens, KOTATSU! Nodame pitches her kotatsu in Chiaki’s living room after realizing his apartment is less than hospitable for hotpot. And Chiaki, having no prior experience with a kotatsu, does not realize what kind of demon has entered his domain. Space kotatsu! It is so alien to him, but… “kotatsu… it’s hard to get out of it…”

Chiaki’s ambition is marvelous, and despite the comfort of food, alcohol, and the cordiality of a kotatsu, he is able to motivate, and we come upon a significant moment. He rises from the mess but finds Nodame snug asleep in his bed. I believe Nodame and Chiaki would have a great homelife together, but Nodame easily succumbs to the instant gratification of their ままごと antics (playing house). We see that Chiaki is struggling to pull Nodame from comfort, but he is soon called to the front door where Mine and Masumi are waiting. It is clear that the forces driving Nodame and Chiaki apart are taking hold; the immediancy of Chiaki’s conducting and Nodame’s supportive nature. Albeit, the forces are not fully realized.

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Actually, he ran out of cigarettes. Nicotine 1 – Chiaki 0
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Although Mine had good intention in visiting, he too becomes a victim of the kotatsu. It is a force of nature, a harbinger of entropy. Chiaki eventually pushes his visitors away and returns to his cold world, where the oke feels his harsh and critical nature. But Chiaki and the players have both wronged the oke through lack of practice and Chiaki’s disregard for delicacy, and his irritation with the oke is expected, but the means of expression are uncalled for. An interesting note about the scene containing Mine’s infamous “Chiaki no baka” is that we see the torment of the players, but not once do we see Chiaki. His abscence from the scene alludes to an invisible demon and a lack of “human character” (words of Ookouchi).

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While Chiaki and Mine are in opposing corners, we see Nodame and Kiyora take on crucial roles in the background of the conflict. Kiyora and Mine share a same position as concert master, but Kiyora is far more experienced than Mine and is able to push him in the right direction; Mine more than anyone needs to side with Chiaki, he needs to become the mediator between conductor and orchestra. Nodame, concerned with Ookouchi’s remarks, decides to try her hand at englightening Chiaki, and we return to space through Puri Gorota. I don’t believe Chiaki fully understands Nodame’s message at first, but the distance between Chiaki and Mine is bridged, just as it happened between Kazuo and Gorota.

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Space Candy Overdose

In the critical moment, Chiaki was at risk of being lost in space and being forever distant with the oke. The oke had practiced vigorously upon Mine’s request, but their dependency on the conductor was shed in the process, and it was apparent in the rehersal, as Chiaki lost the focus of each player; their eyes were only on the score. Just as Gorota was able to save Kazuo, Mine is there to catch Chiaki’s hand as he begins to falter on the podium. It’s all too perfect that Chiaki had ingested Nodame’s space candy onigiri, but I believe Chiaki needed to hit a wall, slightly life-threatening, in order to reach his epiphany.

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Mine to the rescue!
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The joys of success.

Chiaki can finally see their “uncalculating personality” and understood why they were chosen by Milch. Through acceptance of this fact, he is able to retune his expecation of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 to the most clarified interpretation. We witnessed the juvenile giddiness of the players early on, but Chiaki’s direction is able to channel their energy into divine music, filling the score with personality and uplifting spirit, attributes already innate to the oke. The significance of No. 7 is perhaps better understood through Tchakovsky’s words, in which he describes the Finale as “a whole sequence of scenes full of wholehearted merriness, happiness, and joy of life.” [1] Viewing the S-oke with a keen eye, especially Mine and Nodame, we see that Beethoven’s Seventh is not only a superb selection, but most definitely the intent of Milch [the world's most advanced pseudo-troll].

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And what would this miraculous moment of achievement be without seeing the satisfaction of the architect. Having played his hand properly, his genius as a mentor is crystal.


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Kiyora the lioness.

Isn’t it funny how Nodame channels the spirit of the oke? She is them in so many ways, and they are her, but not exactly. Also Kiyora and Nodame are awesome, they deserve an award for their marionette skills. I particularly love Kiyora’s dominance over Mine; she’s a force to reckon with.


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Categories: Drama.


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2 Responses

  1. didn’t realise Chiaki smokes Lucky Strike.. Best cigarette out there =P GTO(anime) on the other hand smokes Mild seven. =P

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