An anime, manga, and live-action TV series centered around the two protagonists, Shinichi Chiaki and Megumi Noda (more commonly referred to by the whole cast as Nodame). The show begins at Momogaoka College of Music where both protagonists attend. Chiaki is a talented violinist and pianist, considered one of the top students at the school, who dreams of becoming a conductor. He is extremely handsome and popular, an excellent cook, very neat and stuck-up. Nodame is an extremely talented but wild piano player whose ambition is to become a kindergarten teacher. She is a complete slob, a terrible cook, and generally acts extremely strange. The two first meet when Chiaki is thrown out by his piano teacher after an argument, and winds up being taught under the same teacher as Nodame. They later discover that their apartments are next door to each other.The show follows the musical careers of both characters as Chiaki eventually decides to follow his dream and pursue conducting. At the same time, the relationship between him and Nodame goes through numerous highs and lows, growing ever stronger in the process. Chiaki eventually assumes control of Orchestra S, assembled by Franz von Stresemann, a conductor-in-residence from abroad.Nodame Cantabile is a sweet slice of life drama, and both the anime and live action drama have strengths. It has some striking similarities with Honey and Clover, another show produced by J.C. Staff about quirky young people who pursue creative studies at college (art school, in that case). 2 sequel seasons have been released, "Paris Chapters" and "Finale", both of which detail the manga chapters that take place in Europe, mostly Paris, France. The anime in general follows the manga very closely, so much so that the season titled "Finale" isn't really a finale at all because the anime leaves the story open much like the manga did in those parallel chapters. The manga ended in September 2010 with a two-volume sequel collectively known as "Opera-hen", bringing the total volume count to 25.The show is highlighted by its beautiful performances of classical music, as well as its seamless blending of said music into the creative lives of its characters. Season 1 available in English on Crackle.Gyabo!
Beautiful All Along: Nodame, when she's not making silly faces or dressing like a slob. Season 2's Yasunori Kuroki develops a crush on Nodame, though she does manage to destroy her image of her because she's Nodame. Also see Chapter 11's cover. Hubba-hubba.
Beauty Is Never Tarnished: In the live action adaptation, Nodame always has perfect makeup on even though she's supposed to be a total slob.
Bilingual Bonus: The live-action drama features English, German, and French lines with Japanese subtitles.
Bishie Sparkle: Usually for remarking a well performed music (both around the performers and the audience). Played semi-straight around Professor Auclair (perhaps to emphasize his different way to teach?)
Blue with Shock: Happens a lot to Nodame—and everyone who gets involved with her.
Book Ends: The first anime season uses these expertly, with the first scene of episode one, a flashback, running alongside a "narration" (words appearing an otherwise blank screen) about memories, and the final scene of the last episode continuing the thought to reflect one of the series' big themes and the development of the characters. Makes an already touching finale so damn-near perfect.
In the live-action drama, the first song that the group together as an orchestra was Beethoven Symphony No. 7, as well as being the first time Chiaki conducted. At the end of the series, they played this song again, being the last time Chiaki would conduct in Japan with this orchestra, since they were all graduating and going their separate ways.
In one of the final events of the story, Chiaki encourages Nodame out of her slump by getting them to play the piece they first performed together, Mozart's Sonata for Two Pianos in D major.
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Most of the maestros featured in the series are like that, such as Stresemann with his pervertedness and Viera with his obsession for toys. Even Nodame's teacher in Paris, Professor Auclair, is pretty quirky too.
The Cameo: Hige Danshaku in season two during Nodame's recital at a French castle. Hige Danshaku is a manzai duo whose theme is that of a French-born Japanese nobleman (Louis Yamada LIII) and his butler (Higuchi-kun). In the manga, the microbes from Moyashimon make an appearance in Nodame's curry!
Chain Letter: Masumi sends one to Nodame when he first hears about her closeness to Chiaki, and orchestrates several bad luck pranks on her.
Chekhov's Gift: The pocket watch Stresemann left with Nodame turns out to be instrumental in helping Chiaki to overcome his phobia of flying.
Child Prodigy: Season 2's Sun Rui started performing internationally at age 10. Luca is a child also accepted into the same conservatory as Nodame. Of course, neither compares to the real life child prodigy in season 2, Mozart!
Nodame herself used to be one as a little girl.
Clingy Jealous Girl: Played straight for laughs most of the time by Nodame, rarely played for drama. In fact there are quite a number of instances where Nodame is reasonable and understanding toward Chiaki's relationships with other people, especially when it involves his musical career.
The only time she is genuinely a bit jealous is when Son Rui is concerned - and not because of potential romance but because she got to play piano in the first few piano concertos (or a pieces that involves piano/keyboard instruments) Chiaki conducted, which was what Nodame wanted to.
Contrived Coincidence: Nodame hears Ravel's Piano Concerto in G Major for the first time and is inspired to perform it with Chiaki. However, that is also the same piece Chiaki is to perform with Rui. It absolutely breaks both of them when they find out separately.
Also earlier when Chiaki had initially decided to live in Prague when he learned Nodame was going to Paris. Then it's revealed that his father is relocating to Prague, and his mother knows that Shinichi would not want to make contact with him.
Covert Pervert: Nodame has shades of this towards Chiaki. Though it’s mostly played for laughs.
Chiaki surprisingly exhibits some aspects of this too, such as his reaction when he discovered Nodame is actually a Hidden Buxom.
Compressed Adaptation: The first series had 23 episodes to cover the first nine volumes of the manga. The next series had 11 episodes to cover the next seven. Yes, people noticed. The third season drops a storyline completely to fit the rest of the material in.
Concert Climax: Many episodes culminate with these, especially milestone concerts for orchestras and its performers.
Conspicuous CG: Close-ups of musical instruments are clearly computer-rendered.
Same goes for the characters playing those instruments. Sometimes it can make a concert scene look realistic in ways that normal animation just can't pull off, but others...
Covers Always Lie: Most of the manga covers show Nodame playing instruments she does not play.
Demoted to Extra: Almost the entire supporting cast of season one less Kuroki the Oboe player don't come back to season 2-3. Some of them return in Finale's episode 0 DVD special as well as a few cameos in the season itself. Justified by the setting change from Japan to Europe.
Nodame: "Do you remember what happened last night?"
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Chiaki may seem to be an aloof and arrogant Jerk Ass, but his utter love of music is only matched by the admiration he feels for those who can create and appreciate it. This love of music draws him to Nodame, and helps him to believe in the abilities of the people around him.
Just Friends / Better as Friends: Stresemann and the school's principal decided to be this after the principal had an illness that stopped her from playing the piano when she was younger. Stresemann's assistant Elise mentioned that if not for this illness, the two of them may have become lovers.
Kotatsu: Proves to be the bane of Chiaki's existence. IT TURNS PEOPLE INTO LAZY SLOBS! He has Nodame to thank for introducing it to him, and almost ruining his life there and then. When he finally gets the chance to clean up his apartment and throw the table away, Nodame takes it from the trash and mentions how someone threw out a perfectly good Kotatsu. Chiaki was less than thrilled about it.
Ladykiller in Love: Stresemann, who is a borderline Dirty Old Man, genuinely loved the school's principal when they were younger and decided to remain Just Friends. It's implied his feelings for her had never changed.
Mistaken Identity: A non-comical example when the Roux-Marlet Orchestra is lacking members for a concert, so Chiaki calls up Nodame to play the celesta. Nodame is incredibly overjoyed, but when she arrives at the theater, Rui takes her to the entrance—and Theo recognizes the world-famous concert pianist instead, assuming that Rui was the one Chiaki called in.
My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: Subverted. As Nodame learns French, she's taught "everyday phrases" that are anything but everyday. Nodame being Nodame, however, is fully aware of the translation of these phrases and is confident that they will be useful.
Noblewoman's Laugh: Chiaki's agent from the second season. Amusingly, in the anime's second season, Nodame adopts this laugh (as well as a new voice) as she passes herself off as Chiaki's wife to the orchestra staff.
No Export for You: Animax Asia produced a (rather good) dub for the series. It can be viewed in the U.S. via online streaming, but its only DVD release was for Region 3 (Hong Kong). Here's a sample.
Not What It Looks Like: Nodame encounters Saiko and Chiaki in what appears to be a compromising situation at one point. Subverted later when Saiko wants to turn it into exactly what it looks like.
Official Couple: Not hard to figure out that its Chiaki and Nodame. For starters, they appear together in every anime opening and every credit sequence. And during the course of the show, not one of the other suitors that appear, for either character, pose any serious romantic challenge. Furthermore the main premise and appeal of the show revolves around the evolving relationship between them. Opposites Attract indeed...
Official Couple Ordeal Syndrome: Even after they've achieved the goal of going to Europe together, Nodame and Chiaki still discover the importance of their relationship in addition to furthering their own goals and aspirations.
Once More with Clarity: It's established that Chiaki's fear of planes came from the sudden emergency landing he experienced returning to Japan. Then Nodame uses hypnotherapy to cure his phobia, and it's revealed that a young Chiaki was drawn to the elderly couple next to him because they had also attended a performance conducted by Vieira. During the landing, the husband started to suffer from a heart attack and Chiaki was the only one who saw his medicine bottle roll away out of his reach. The old man died shortly after and Chiaki believed he was guilty for being the only one who saw this and couldn't help.
Frank, although soon after he admits he's nothing compared to Nodame.
Paper Fan of Doom: Harisen-sensei is named after his paper fan, which was instrumental in causing the rift between him and Chiaki. He later gives it up in order to convince Nodame to take lessons from him.
Pimped-Out Dress: Masumi wears one, which he made himself, for the S Orchestra's performance of "Rhapsody in Blue" in Episode 10.
P.O.V. Boy, Poster Girl: Nodame is the titular character, but the story is mostly told through Chiaki's perspective and inner thoughts.
Product Placement: The show is sponsored by Yamaha. Guess what brand every piano is. Yes, also in France, which is not that surprising, a lot of music-school pianos are Yamahas, even in France.
Race for Your Love: Chiaki has two instances of this, although he is not in danger of losing Nodame forever—he just has important revelations regarding what she means to him.
The first one has him going all the way from Tokyo to Kyushu to find Nodame, who returned to her hometown.
Then later in the Europe story arc, after Nodame has had her own doubts about performing and goes to play with some local schoolkids, Chiaki runs over to see her.
Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The S-Orchestra is this. When they were recruited by Stresemann, many of the members were so-called underachievers, and Chiaki especially got frustrated during their practices. Their delivering smash-hit performances in concert is a classic Zero To Hero story.
Then there's the Roux-Marlet Orchestra, when Chiaki is to become their permanent conductor and finds that the members are in disarray.
School Festival: Which leads to an absolutely brilliant performance by Nodame and the "S Orchestra".
Screwed by the Network: Animax Latinamerica had the first six episodes dubbed in Spanish, but then never really has been followed up, thanks to Network Decay.
It was completed and finally started airing. Sadly, all anime that is left in the network (now known as Spin and dedicated to live-action series) was moved to a space ridiculously early in the morning.
Secret Test of Character: Tanioka's first assignment for Nodame and Chiaki is to perform Mozart's Sonata for Two Pianos. Chiaki thinks it is a lesson for the technically inept Nodame, but after the performance is a success, it's revealed that it was also a lesson for himself, in learning to cooperate and work with others.
Sequel Escalation: In the second season, Chiaki and Nodame move to Paris. Yes, it's harder than Tokyo.
Sequel Goes Foreign: The original story arc in Japan concludes with Nodame and Chiaki being set to go to Europe, and their adventures continue abroad.
She Is Not My Girlfriend: Even when she is, Chiaki still treats Nodame this way. He still has trouble saying it on a whim, but eventually he stops correcting people who refer to her as his girlfriend in the Paris seasons.
Shout-Out: Live-action, end of third episode: "SIEG ZEON!!!". Also, in Nodame Cantabile Paris, the next door neighbor, Franc, is an otaku who collects merchandise of Shakogan no Shana, another JC Staff anime.
Show Within a Show: Type 2 (Nodame is a huge fan of Puri Gorota) and 3 (The very existence of that show made a difference).
Single Issue Psychology: Chiaki had a bad experience on a plane as a kid and developed a crushing fear of non-land based travel as a result. It only takes one hypnotherapy session with Nodame and he's cured.
Well, she just makes him completely forget the incident, instead of curing the fear. We see afterwards that he's still comically afraid of non-land based travel, it's just that he can take it when there aren't any other options.
Stalking Is Funny If It Is Female After Male: Nodame, of course. And, yes, in season two we find she does have those sort of photos of Chiaki and she does want to do that with Chiaki. You don't want to know how many times she sniffs him.
10-Minute Retirement: There are several instances where Nodame loses focus and seriously considers quitting piano lessons. Sometimes she recovers herself, sometimes Chiaki needs to help her regain her focus.
This and That: When Stresemann first meets Nodame, he attempts to seduce her, and refers to this when going to a love hotel. Nodame is oblivious as to his meaning, but Chiaki, still within earshot, gets it and steps in to intervene.
Through Her Stomach: Little does Chiaki realize what he gets himself into once he starts feeding Nodame.
Train-Station Goodbye: A brief, accidental one when Nodame goes with Chiaki to the station intent on accompanying him to Prague. Chiaki kicks her off, only to realize his rival Jean is accompanied by his girlfriend Yuko. He is only able to share a last glance with Nodame as he leaves. Subverted because Nodame goes to Prague with Frank for an anime festival and she stays with Chiaki for the rest of his competition.
Translation Convention: Kai Dunn of the Berlin Philharmonic arrives in one episode, but has only a limited grasp of Japanese. While the episode renders everything in Japanese, handy notes appear whenever the characters are in fact speaking German. And, of course, the second season takes place in France, so all the characters in France, including Russians and Chinese, are speaking perfect Japanese in a fansub with English subtitles.
Lampshaded and justified when the live-action series shifts to Europe. It is explained a short way into the two-part special and the two films that the characters will speak or be dubbed in Japanese to reduce the need for subtitles on-screen.
Tsundere: Chiaki is very much this toward Nodame, leaning very toward the tsuntsun (cranky) end, but with frequent, if short-lived, affectionate and sweet moments towards her.
Unsound Effect: Not exactly a sound effect, but, in the manga, you can't hear the actual music. The manga simply states the name of the song being played — and if you aren't familiar with the song, you're stuck with just the pretty pictures. Another Unsound Effect is Nodame's badger, whose presence is seen in Nodame's emotional outbursts.
Will They or Won't They?: Nodame and Chiaki. In the first season of the anime they seem to get together in the end. For the second season this apparently has been reset, since the issue has still not been resolved in the manga it is based on.
Worthy Opponent: Despite displaying some traits of a musical Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy, french conductor Jean Donnadieu is this during Chiaki's first conducting competition in France. Its actually his girlfriend Yuuko who does most of the trash talking, much to his chagrin.
During the fight, Nodame also makes a valid point—every time she thinks they're getting closer, Chiaki pulls away from her. Chiaki knows she's right, and it's implied that it helps cause him to relent just as much as him wanting the pain to stop does.
This one is Played for Laughs, but still counts: in the first season, when they try to cure Chiaki with hypnosis, Nodame also tries to hypnotize him...into being her boyfriend. It fails.