Lonely Kaoru Nishimi has lost count of how many times he has moved schools thanks to his father's naval career. Newly landed in Kyushu, he finds most of his classmates instantly antagonistic towards him and suspicious of his elite background. Only two other students seem not to mind who he is – the infamously abrasive Sentarou and the gentle Ritsuko. Unbeknownst to Kaoru they have a passion for jazz, and they're about to pull him out of his stiff, joyless world into theirs of loose, swinging self-expression. Through friendship and frustration, love and despair, Kaoru will learn that life has a wealth of experiences in store for him!
In the world of classical music, Chiaki Shinichi is a stellar talent in the making; yet with everything going for him, he is nevertheless tied down by his own phobias. Unable to leave Japan because of his fears of flying and sailing, he finds himself in the company of another naturally-talented person, the very weird girl Noda "Nodame" Megumi. Together, the two find themselves in a slowly more intimate relationship, as they struggle to develop their talents and overcome their shortcomings.
Another josei drama/romance about music and musicians, though you can enjoy both without prior knowledge of jazz or classical music. Both have very likeable casts, and a similar art style and flow.
I would definitely recommend that you keep your music player handy (or at least youtube), so you can listen to all the songs mentioned- it makes both way more enjoyable.
Both Nodame Cantabile and Sakamichi no Apollon are based around people discovering and refining their own musical prowess. As another user said, both of these stories work a treat if you play the tracks mentioned whilst reading. Although Sakamichi no Apollon is more of a drama whereas Nodame Cantabile is more of a comedy, both are also similar in that they are heavily character-focused.
When Asumi was just a baby, Japan's first manned space rocket, the Lion, malfunctioned and crashed into her hometown of Yuigahama. The impact killed many of the townspeople and critically wounded the girl's mother, who lay in a coma for several years before passing away, having never regained consciousness. With the help and friendship of Lion-san, a mask-wearing ghost who claims to have come from the rocket, Asumi grew up focusing on her dream – to someday travel to space. Now a young adult, she is determined to beat the odds and attend the newly-formed Tokyo National Space School to achieve her lifelong goal. Alongside Lion-san's guidance and several new, dear friends, Asumi will try her hardest to touch the stars.
Yeah, one of these is about outer space and the other is about jazz, but despite that they have very similar themes and atmosphere. Both are mainly about a character that used to be a loner making lasting friendships, and throwing themselves wholeheartedly into their dreams. Both also feel very nostalgic and wistful.