Chiaki and Nodame are still in Paris, ready to take their music-making to the next level. Nodame especially begins to display an unprecedented motivation for the piano, but she learns that with newfound progress comes newfound obstacles. Continuing to taste both frustration and triumph, she slowly realizes that the road to pianistic stardom seems more arduous and distant now than ever before. Everything is rising to a feverish pitch -- will her maturing relationship with Chiaki help or hurt her?
StoryFor those expecting something akin to Mahler’s Symphony of a Thousand, look for a different concert program. And before I stop using these weird music metaphors, let me say that Nodame Cantabile: Finale should more aptly be titled Nodame Cantabile: The Movement That Never Resolves Its Leading Tone. Or perhaps The Movement That Never Ends With a Perfect Authentic Cadence. Or even better, The Movement That Ends Up Only Being a Cadenza. (<It's awesome, but unsatisfying by itself.) (I would apologize for the jargon, but I’m figuring that anyone who has gone through the first two movements of the Nodame Cantabile Symphony and plans on continuing to the third probably knows what I’m talking about anyway.) Okay, I do apologize. But for those music lovers who’ve not had their musical appreciation sullied by the calculations of over-analytical theory teachers (like me), this final season may seem a bit like the mumbo-jumbo I’ve written up above. Think of Nodame Cantabile: “Finale” as an extension of Paris. The story picks up without a hitch where the previous installment left off, takes on a slightly episodic feel, lacks strong thematic material, and contains a lot of the dialogue suddenly tailored for music majors. It avoids the jargon, but I still get the feeling that many of the viewers who started loving classical music in the first season would be scratching their heads over a language they suddenly cannot understand. In many ways, it makes sense. Playtime is over for our beloved couple – particularly for Nodame. Music becomes serious business; it’s not something she can just feel anymore. For people who can relate to her situation (like me), the show blossoms with maturity. But for people like my anthropology-major friend, the music doesn’t exalt like it used to, and the meandering plotline is unable to make up for it. Perhaps my assertion is unfounded (after all, I can’t really understand from a non-musician perspective). I still have to say, though, that much of the magic from the original Nodame Cantabile, while sparking a couple times, never unfurled again in its fully glory. Hope is not lost, however! While Finale’s story lacked the type of intrigue that makes one devour every episode in one sitting, its sentiment and integrity are immensely rewarding, especially for me personally, who at the time had been undergoing a lot of the same struggles and transformations as the titular heroine. One can feel the urgency, the drive, the ambition. On the surface it looks like the story hasn’t really changed, but the charge makes a heartwarming return. (Not to mention that the humor makes a comeback too, albeit in a subtler way). Bottom line: Finale would have been a fine work, if only it wasn’t the last.AnimationIf the unique animation style of Nodame has bothered you in the past, don’t expect a dramatic change. However, the effects are stunning: Ranging from profuse sparkles to ethereal dream sequences to vivid strokes of color, they heighten the comedy and enliven the music to boot. I always used to cringe whenever the original installment panned over certain performing scenes with still frames, but this season’s broader use of CGI, while a bit obvious, gives the orchestral concerts much more visual appeal.SoundA thing you can always count on with the Nodame franchise is its outstanding opening and closing themes, and Finale has outdone itself with two impossibly catchy tunes and some nicely done choreography. In addition, its soundtrack (apart from the classical music selection) reprises a few upbeat ditties from the original season and mixes them in with the evocative, sultry sounds of Paris. Revolving around the piano, the classical music selection features those areas of the standard repertoire in which French musicians particularly excel: Ravel, Chopin, and Bach. This season is truly a pianist’s season, and while the variety of the classical music library is compromised, the show focuses on each piece with a little more care. Excepting moments of brilliance by Ayako Kawasumi's Nodame, the voice actors never get their verve back, but they do their jobs sufficiently. Their performances are naturally forgettable when placed next to the brilliance of the Ravel Piano Concerto or the complexity of a Beethoven sonata. I’m not one to judge, but the seiyuu probably didn’t understand half of what they were saying.CharactersOoh. This section is a bit tough. If you want a bittersweet ending where each of the main cast enjoy their moment in the spotlight and you almost cry from the fact that you won’t see them again, don’t look for it here. The Finale looks at the characters sort of how a grad student bored by the flurry of social politics would look at his own friends – they come and go, dishing out their company when they’re there, but you’re busy with your own life. This happens to Nodame, with basically everyone – with her friends in Japan and Paris, and with her beloved Chiaki. (Gasp!) To tell you the truth, I witnessed the pinnacle of their relationship at the last episode of the first season. (I’m sure many of you know what I’m talking about.) After that climactic moment, Nodame and Chiaki seem to settle down, and their riotous bickering deflates into the stilted conversations of an awkward couple. They’re only maturing, but it makes for just a less entertaining viewing. One can catch snatches of that old raucous magic here, but in general, when Nodame isn’t driving Chiaki crazy, neither of them know exactly what to do. They can only turn to their music, the thing that connects them. As such, Nodame turns inward to herself, and her own pianistic goals. If you love to see a lot of personal development, where a struggling individual confronts difficulties, competition, and psychological problems, you will not be disappointed. Nodame is as emotionally fragile as ever, and as you root for her to succeed, she takes some mystifying turns in the road that continually keep you intrigued. Everyone else treks through their own lives. The show eventually becomes a series of snapshots, focusing primarily on Nodame but providing little glimpses into people loosely connected to her but otherwise concerned with their own problems (particularly Tanya and Rui). Chiaki flits in and out of Nodame’s life, and their relationship loses steam, turning into an unconvincing side story. Basically, this season is about personal development, not interaction. Look for one, not the other.Overall“When we know that there’s land on the other side of the ocean, we can’t help but to set sail.” Nodame’s right. She’s finally decided to set sail, with her eyes on the prize. The rough waters of musical immersion may not be to everyone’s taste, but for those who want to sail with her on her journey, hop aboard!
Story- The story was very engaging and kept me coming back waiting to see what would happen next. The growing romance between Nodame and Sinichi begins reach its final destination in this third season as Sinichi realises his true feelings for Nodame. The major issue comes in that the finale is not very far off from that of the first season where Sinichi searches tirelessly for Nodame and eventually invites her to Paris. Overall the love Sinichi expresses in this third installment is fundamentally the same as that in the first and second season and therefore was frustrating at times. Animation- Nothing really special about the animation although I much prefered the stills of the orchestra playing to the CG'd movements that are used in the third season. The movements looked a little weird and they didn't add much depth since the focus was the music and the audiences reactions. Sound- The sound is beautiful as always, I always look forward to the orchestral pieces they choose and each one just flows well with the emotions of the characters. Characters- This is where the anime loses its most points and the problem is mainly Sinichi. All three series the characters have the exact same feel which is fine, however the main character should atleast develop his outlooks. Sinichi does no such thing from the beginning to the end his relationship with Nodame doesn't change and he still places himself and his future before her while at the same time leading her on. If you invite someone to Paris with you after crossing Japan and embracing her from behind it stands to reason that your slightly more than friends. Yet in the second season they are barely friends and by the third season their standing remains the same. It seems too much like Sinichi begins and ends in the same place and it is frustrating to see how he looks down on Nodame at all times. Overall- Apart from Sinichi I thought the series pulled together all the other elements, story sound and animation, very well and so I ranked the series slightly above average. As a romance I find the series a little weak because when watching an Anime in this genre I expect the relationships to dominate the screen time and develop very strongly. As long as you don't expect too much development as far as the relationship between Sinichi and Nodame goes then this is an excellent finale to the series. PS- The entire series I was hoping the season finale was going to be Nodame playing her debut piano concerto with Sinichi, this is mainly why I was dissapointed.
Nodame Cantabile has always had a special place in my heart. I am a musician, too, and so, I have always felt a special connection to this series. As such, maybe I am slightly biased-but I will try my best to be fair! I will go through my review in each of the four categories: story, animation, sound, and characters.StoryThis series is the final chapter in Nodame Cantabile, following Nodame, Chiaki, and their friends and housemates in Paris as their time their starts to come to a close. In this series, Nodame finally begins to come into her own, making her own musical career and choices without Chiaki. She finally starts to "face the music," as Stresseman urged her to do back in the first season of the show. Chiaki's musical career also starts to speed up, but he begins to learn that sometimes he needs to put Nodame first, and he begins to really own up to how he feels about her. This season, to me, is more about their relationship than some of the other seasons. Of course, their relationship has always been important, but in this season, Nodame faces the music, and thus herself, and Chiaki begins to prioritize a little differently.One thing that I would have liked to see in this storyline is some kind of reunion with their friends back in Japan to make things really come full circle. There is an instance where Chiaki speaks with some of them on the phone, but that is really it. It is a small thing and perhaps just my personal opinion, but I think it would have made the series have more sense of closure.AnimationAas far as the style of this series goes, it is fantastic. It's just not as intricate and "shiny" as many popular animes. But the scenes are beautiful, and the details phenomonal. What really stands out, however, is the animation of musical instruments. It is SO accurate, and so realistic. While i am not a professional animator, I believe that the animation is somehow mixed with real instruments because it is 3-D and realistic every time. When playing piano, for instance, their hands move incredibly accurately over the keys, and all of the instruments are beautifully rendered. It's really incredible.SoundSound is such an integral part of Nodame. One thing I love in particular is the sounds of the pianos mingling together from outside the house where Nodame, Frank, Tanya, and Yun Long live. Similar to the treatment of instruments in the practice rooms, the sound is distorted to sound exactly like it sounds in real life. The music of Nodame is fantastic, and I couldn't ask for a better soundtrack.CharactersAll of the characters are fantastic, and in this season, they all grow and change and become truly different and evolved people. Many move from student to professional, or from student to very serious musician. It was great to see Nodame, especially, turn into the musician she really could be. I feel that this season in particular showed true character evolution, which is fitting since this is the finale.Nodame is still funny and cute, but has many more serious moments, now, and even goes on a journey by herself where she really has to come to terms with herself. Chiaki is still serious, but beginning to embrace his feelings for Nodame, rather than acting like she is not as important to him as she is. Even Tanya grows in this season, finally dropping many of her frivolous habits to become serious about piano so that she can stay in Paris. Kuroki-kun also grows, beginning to open up to Tanya and realize his feelings for her. Overall, the characters are well-developed, unique, and strong.OverallNodame Cantabile: Finale is, in my opinion, a great wrap-up to an even greater series. It just might be one of my favorite animes of all-time. I think that anyone who enjoyed other season of Nodame, or the live-action version, should give this one a try because it is heart-wrenching at times, light-hearted at times, and always everything that Nodame has always shown itself to be. I felt elated at the end of the final episode, and so proud of everything the characters accomplished, even though I of course had nothing to do with their achievements! Also, if you are a serious music student as I am, you will find yourself relating to these characters more than you've ever related to characters before. Their feelings going into competitions, and their feelings after losing them or winning them, and their fear of what will happen to them as musicians in the future, and the bond they have with each other that you only find with other musicians are SO real, and so relatable. I have shown this series to friends who are also musicians but who claim to hate anime, and they easily fall in love with the show and want to see more. And if you are not a musician, you will still relate to the growth the characters achieve, and the daring and courage they use to face new tasks and challenge, and the feelings they go through in their relationships with each other, and more importantly, themselves. And also, maybe you will begin to enjoy classical music!All in all-this is a fantastic anime, and I highly recommend it. Now quit reading this and go watch it! :D
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