Let me begin this review by stating that although I am not a musician, I have studied the arts, and do have a profound respect for instruments. My fiancé was lead violin, my parents played in highschool, and the majority of my friends played in band or orchestra as well. I was never strong-willed enough to take up an instrument, but I do have a love for them. That being said, i absolutely loved Nodame Cantabile.
Story: 9 out of 10
Nodame Cantabile (NoCa) is one of those shows that takes a simple premise, and through the help of brilliant characters, moving soundtracks, and hilarious scenes of racous laughter and tender moments of bittersweet angst, makes a truly marvelous anime.
It starts off with Chiaki, a hot shot student at a music school in Tokyo, who because of previous experiences in life cannot leave the island (fear of planes and boats). It doesn't help that his arrogance pushes everyone away, and he buts heads with all of his teachers. The story starts off fairly dull and slice-of-lifey until we are introduced to the show’s star, Nodame.
Nodame is a klutzy, eccentric, weird mess of a girl who instantly falls in love with Chiaki’s strong spirit, and hidden caring nature. Through a series of events, Chiaki ends up conducting an orchestra of "rejects" and finds his lifes true calling, as well as awakening the spirit of the poor students who joined the orchestra with him. The story follows his rise to becomming a well known composer, and ultimately his life goal.
Througought the series, MANY laughs are had (usually revolving around every characters interactions with Chiaki), but it isn't until the last 5 or so episode that this series really hits home. Nodame's troubled past flares up, Chiaki must examine not only his, but his orchestra's future, and most importantly, Nodame competes in a competition that ultimately breaks her. These last few episodes keep your heart in your throat, and your butt on the edge of your seat as you both shout for Nodame and Chiaki to get together, and as you try to support Nodame back into her old, cheery self. The very last episode is incredibly touching.
Animation: 5 out of 10
Animation was troublingly dull. Poorly painted landscapes, shoddy character design, and large amounts of budget shots. I honestly tried my best to ignore it, but the series rarely ever shows any character actually playing an instrument. They usually just show still pictures of the character moving slowly across the screen with their proposed music in the background (budget shot). However, the few moments they do show characters playing instruments, it is always fluid, and actually legitimate jobs of syncing movement to sound.
Sound: 10 out of 10
I won't go into this any further. How can oyu not like hearing Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms, Shubert, Chopin, Liszt, Ravel, and many, many others? It is a constant joy listening to this series.
Characters: 9 out of 10
Characters is what kept me watching the series. Whether it be Chiaki’s passionate attack to everything he does, or Nodame’s sweet, but stupid interference at every turn. Love is portrayed between characters in a realistic way. Drama is portrayed between characters in an un-melodramatic way. Anger is shown realistically, and so is forgiveness.
the biggest joy, however, is watching some of the comedic characters in their element. Certain characters like Mine and Masumi are almost 100% of the time doing something to make me laugh. There wasn't a single poorly created character in the entire series. (Side note: Even though quickly leaving the storyline, "Milch" was one of my favorite characters of the entire series.)
Overall: 8.5 out of 10
Overall, besides a shite animation department, this was one of the better series I've seen in a long time. It wasn't absurdly melodramatic, or bone-achingly hilarious. It was everything I could have asked for, wrapped up in a neatly-folded, well proportioned package. I cannot wait to start the sequel, and I hope all of you catch this series soon.