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Nodame Cantabile: Romance Plays 2nd Piano
Jul 07, 2007 by sensei joe
First of all, I really appreciate the work that Del Rey does in bringing manga stateside. They always seem to follow this pattern: leave the honorifics in (and explain them), translate the sound effects in a subtle manner (and leave the art untouched), include translator notes (in the margins and always in the back). Of course, this means that they sell their mangas at a higher price than other publishers. But you get what you pay for, a better product. Del Ray treats Tomoko Ninomiya’s work with the respect it deserves. She won the Kodansha Manga of the Year Award in 2004 for Nodame Cantabile. I can see why- it is fresh, addictive and funny. It must be popular in Japan as well: it has inspired a live-action TV series, an anime TV series, and its (live-action) soundtrack broke the Japanese classical music charts. The characters are more complex and the comedy is more sophisticated (sometimes) than your status quo romantic-comedy manga. Ninomiya has composed a wonderful duet: the comedy plays first piano and the romance plays second piano. Shinichi Chiaki is the most popular sempai (upperclassmen) at Momongaoka Music University. He aspires to be a conductor; however, he seems to make excuses for himself and ends up majoring in piano instead. One day he blows up at his piano instructor and quits the class. Later that day his ex-girlfriend, Tagaya Saiko, tracks him down. They go out for a drink, Chiaki reaches out to her for support, but she calls him a looser for a variety of reasons and walks out on him. Enter our heroine, Megumi “Nodame” Noda, another student at the university. She arrives at her apartment late that evening and stumbles upon Chiaki. He is apparently passed out from way too much alcohol and is sleeping on her doorstep. She recognizes Chiaki and takes him into her apartment for the night. The next morning he awakes to her wonderful piano playing and her apartment… UGG! Nodame and Chiaki are complete opposites in many ways which makes their pairing so comical and brilliant. This volume introduces us to many other characters in a well paced and endearing manner. The characters are easy to relate to and the comedy is a balanced variety of situations, sight gags, puns, sexual innuendo, parodies, and absurdity. The character’s designs and expressions are unique. The art work is simple but well crafted; it provides excellent comedic timing and delivers emotion and music with innovative motifs and expressions. If you are looking for a comedy-romance that isn’t sickeningly sweet and doesn’t play by sheet music, then you want to check out Nodame.
Sensei no Otaku says: “This is the first manga that, whenever I learn of a postponed release date for a new volume, I go into fits of irritability and feverish tremors - it’s that addictive.”
sensei joe also recommended: train_man: densha otako, Firefighter! Daigo of Fire Company M, Dramacon, BECK,
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