Graphic Content – Nodame Cantabile

We appear to be in the home stretch here. The pain is not as it once was, but it still means I can not type for longer than a few minutes without my wrist hurting or my fingers from going numb. So the dictated reviews and a ridiculous posting schedule continues on.

List Item:  Read half of the 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die
20/501Title: Nodame Cantabile
Creator: Tomoko Ninomiya
Year: 2001-2010
Country: Japan

As per what was agreed between hub and myself I have finished reading more than enough of this manga to be able to cross it off. At the moment of “writing this” I have read 17 of the 23 volumes that make up Nodame Cantabile and will continue until it’s finished and then read the two volume sequel. I am writing this up now how in order to make a gap between all the film posts. I would have done an album and waited longer, but I like to write as the album’s playing which makes it impossible to do at the moment.

The reason that I chose to read Nodame Cantabile is because it is one of the manga to have an anime featuring on my other list. This means that I now feel able to pick this to watch next (Gintama is massive so I need others to watch in between) and will probably do so just to hear the voices assigned to these characters.

This series starts off in a Japanese music school (in later volumes the main characters move to France) where the musically talented Chiaki and the unique Nodame are in attendance. The bulk of the story follows his quest to become a world famous conductor and Nodame in her journey to become an accomplished concert pianist. Nodame also wishes to become Chiaki’s wife in the classic obsessive manga fashion.

The character of Nodame is adorable. The idea that she is, in many ways, an amazing pianist who can memorise musical scores by ear and yet cannot sight read to save her life. She also has a bizarre look on the world and is in possession of a homemade mongoose costume. She is the character that brings the bulk of the comedy as well as a lot of the more human moments because of her self doubt. She made me laugh out loud in a doctor’s waiting room, that’s how much I fell for Nodame.


Chiaki is a very focused character. He obviously comes from a rich background and so has been afforded the chance to explore his natural talents. This does get investigated in this series when he has to realise there are others less often him, like the cello player in the first orchestra he conducts. When Nodame has the journey to become more self secure and (on some level) serious he needs to loosen up. Thanks to his in world good looks he’s able to get away with some things, but he does rub a lot of people the wrong way as he tries to seek perfection. Paired with Nodame there is that tension between her more laissez faire attitude and his way of being. It makes for that tension required to make you support the pairing.

I did not think that a manga centred on classical music would work so well as you cannot hear the music, but the artist more than makes up for it. The descriptions of pieces have taught me more about classical music than three years in secondary school (for example I did not know that the choice of bassoon would vary depending on whether you are playing French or German music). Similarly I am now far more interested in it than I ever have been before. I have asked hub if he would help me find a classical list for the blog as I want to learn a whole lot more.

It’s not just that the language of music is used in this series, but also more evocative language is used when describing pieces (as well as some dynamic pictorial representations). I do not know how most of the mentioned pieces are meant to sound, but you get the gist. The passion that she infuses her characters with really rubbed off on me.

The series has spun off into many different platforms. There is still a Nodame orchestra as well as life action versions of the story. It really appears to have struck a chord in Japan and yet I’ve never heard of it before finding my anime list. Just goes to show what there is that there to enjoy if you just look for it.

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