Nodame Cantabile: Paris Chapter – 01
So now I’m back revisiting the series that helped give this site it’s name; it’s Nodame Cantabile: Paris Chapter!
Thankfully the show doesn’t waste time getting Nodame and Chiaki out of Japan; most viewers that pick up this show will have already been familiarized with how the two got the opportunity to land in their new European environs. And if you’re not one of these people? Well, really it’s not hard to pick up the pieces of backstory you’ve missed. A quick read at the wiki entry for the series should be more than enough to fill in any blanks if you really want to dive into this series without taking a look at either the manga, first anime, or the live-action drama adaptation.
So after some brief sight-seeing on the taxi cab ride over, Nodame and Chiaki get themselves settled into their apartments. Nodame, being a complete spaz, falls head over heels with her room (with the exception of the out-of-tune piano).
However her joy is unceremoniously cutoff when they take a look at Chiaki’s much more upscale abode; since he’s a relative of the landlord it’s expected he gets a better room. Nodame saunters over to Chiaki’s finely-tuned grand piano and plays her rendition of Ravel’s “Mirrors” which in turn gets the attention of the other tenants in the complex. Two of these tenants, Frank and Tanya, meet up in the stairwell to try and get a glimpse at the piano player(s).
They both spy Nodame jamming away on the keys when Frank comes to recognize Nodame. The two of them are friends, having both been baptized in the fires of a listening examination they both took a couple of months ago at the Conservatoire.
Amusingly, the two immediately start to speak each other in their native tongues (Japanese and French) but the conversation goes nowhere fast as they’re unable to comprehend one another.
Later, Sebastiano Vieira, Chiaki’s mentor and idol in conducting, is busy holding a show which Nodame and Chiaki happen to be attending together. As per usual, the performance is stirring and rouses much applause, but Chiaki refuses to make himself known to his old teacher. Even though Chiaki’s reputation is enough to get him backstage to Vieira’s dressing room, he decides to validate doing so by first entering the conductor’s concour to test his ability. The concour is a kind of contest between various capable junior conductors that gives a great boost to the winner’s prestige.
The couple then heads off to dinner at a French restaurant where Chiaki dazzles Nodame with his command of the language. But when he heads off to the restroom and leaves her to fend for herself with the waiter, Nodame inadvertantly orders some snails!
Nodame immediately saves face and works through the snails; as Chiaki expected, Nodame had skirted her French studies and has been trying to get by with a mere phrase book. Chiaki chides Nodame for her barely understanding any French and gets fairly pompous in his condescending words. This earns him some spite from a tipsy Nodame who then throws a fit on the walk back to the apartments. She’s a bit homesick, and the stress of having to move overseas for the first time’s been getting to her, Chiaki soon realizes. He lets up and tucks her into bed for the night.
The next morning, Frank wrestles with his feelings of inviting Nodame over and hiding his otaku lifestyle from her when Tanya barges in just as he’s watching Purigorota (Remember? It’s Nodame’s favorite show too!).
The two get on each other’s case for their lack of a love life like cats and dogs when Nodame enters the fray. She’s here to try and get Frank to help her learn some conversational French, but before she gets an answer Tanya’s quick to point out that Frank’s watching some kind of anime. However, Tanya doesn’t know that Nodame is religiously in love with Purigorota and pointing out that it’s on in the room prompts our favorite piano player to plop down in front of the TV set.
Tanya rushes up to Chiaki’s room to try her luck on the conducting student. Flaunting her feminine charms unabashedly, Tanya eventually learns that Chiaki and Nodame aren’t exactly an official item and goes on to put on a sob story about never having gotten to take a nice vacation to get Chiaki to sympathize with her. Chiaki, curious at her story of being a lonely Russian exchange student, decides to give her a chance to show him her piano playing.
Meanwhile Frank comes to the realization that Nodame’s rapidly learning French by listening to the dub of Purigorota; her fantastic hearing ability’s apparently for more than just merely quickly picking up a piece of music!
So it looks like Tanya, with her poor piano skills, and Frank, with his inability to get Nodame to leave his TV, have gotten more than their fair fill of the two Japanese students for the day. Tanya realizes that Japan is such an economic powerhouse because they tons of people like Chiaki who don’t take vacations and Frank realizes that calling himself an otaku is a sham when there are real heavyweights like Nodame running around.
Jeez, this is my THIRD time going through this part of Nodame Cantabile, thanks to having been exposed to both the manga and drama renditions of the Paris arc. And well… the thing is the gags are still pretty funny even though by all indications the material should be getting stale. I don’t know, I’m not even that hardcore a fan of the story since I haven’t really picked up the manga past the point where the drama specials ended, but something about Ninomiya’s writing has this certain charm to it that just remains novel even after repeated exposure to it. Nodame’s a complete quackball of a character, but at the same time it’s this quality that makes her timeless; sorta like Osaka from Azumanga Daioh!. Okay, Nodame’s actually got some talent and Osaka’s can at least take care of her own hygiene, but you know what I mean.