Nitaro's mother passed before he was old enough to remember her, and after smallpox leaves him blind at a young age he finds a connection to her through music and her shamisen guitar. Happily, Nitaro finds out that he has an aptitude for the shamisen and his skills are soon recognized by a goze (a traveling female bard) who takes it upon herself to teach him the traditional style of play. However he quickly realizes how restrictive this style can be and, frustrated, he begins the long journey to find and perfect his own style of play.
Goshu is a small-town musician with a passion for playing the cello, and is a dedicated member of the local orchestra. With an important performance in a matter of weeks, the group practices daily to hone their skills. But lately, Goshu's musical ability has been lacking, and to get it back, he must accept help from the unlikeliest of kin -- the furry and feathered friends who dwell on his land...
The studious and uptight Chiaki is well-known as the top pianist of his school, and dreams of becoming a world-class conductor like his idol, Viera; but his fear of flying (which makes studying abroad impossible) combined with a recent break-up and dismissal from his piano instructor causes that future to seem both bleak and unlikely. After collapsing outside of his apartment, drunk, Chiaki inadvertently meets a young woman named Nodame who, while quite talented at the piano, is unclean, clumsy, and haphazard. Despite being almost polar opposites, the two begin to grow closer and work, together, to overcome the obstacles in their careers.
Both of these series deal with classical music, Nodame Cantabile with the European style and Nitaboh with the traditional Japanese style. They are about accomplishing your dreams of music through hard work and dedication, and never deviating from the course that you have chosen no matter how difficult it is.
Born into the wealthy family of a famous musician, Shu Amamiya feels it is his fate to become a professional pianist. But when he transfers to a new elementary school, his goal is threatened by an obnoxious classmate, Ichinose Kai, who has the ability to produce beautiful sound from a piano that was thought to be broken. The two quickly become friends; however, their friendship is tested when they face off in a competition to determine who has the better skill, greatest ambition, and the strongest love for the piano.