Nodame Cantabile is a musical slice of life/romance story written by Tomoko Ninomiya. The story follows a young musical genius, Chiaki Shinchi, as he attends a musical University in Japan. After failing to succeed and being kicked from class Chiaki happens to meet Noda Megumi(Nodame). Her energetic behavior, lack of hygiene and incredible piano skills leave Chikai dumbfound. How could such a crude woman be so amazing at piano?
One of the best features of this manga is its maturity in characters and plot. Its very streamlined and really doesn’t require much thought but most importantly, its interesting. The story has a mixture of atmosphere ranging from Nodame’s bubbly personality to Chiaki’s stern and strict attitude. Another thing to take note is despite how long the series might be it still never sways from its topic, Music. However there is a downside to this story, and that’s how long it is. The reason being is that after a few volumes in it really loses momentum. The reason being is that its supposed to be a musical romance but you really don’t get any romance even 4 volumes in (I blame oblivious Chiaki).
Now as for characters in Nodame, they can be wonderful and somewhat realistic. Each character has their own goals, and aspirations. They all want to go somewhere, meet someone or be with someone. Their also not perfect, some suck at music, some are dense and others are just to nice. There’s a lot of variety on characters and for the most part no one feels too bland and boring. The main characters are also top notch. Nodame’s personality is really enjoyable, she makes funny gestures and always just tries to have fun. Next we have Chiaki, hes the star really. The spotlight never shines brighter than when hes on stage and he always proves worthy. Still he’s a real mess at the start but slowly he grows outward and begins to enjoy the people hes with. Even if he doesn’t show it, you can tell in his reactions when alone.
Lastly is the art, although not great, it still proves to be wonderful. Tomoko Ninomiya still comes through with showing some emotion in characters. Theres a variety of gestures and little quirks he adds to his characters. Its enough to draw attention from the somewhat okay art because it makes his characters feel alive. He also adds some effects to the backgrounds or pages to add some layer of depth and show the reader how the character might feel. As for the instruments, they are well designed and look good and even the scores are realistic. Still he has some problems drawing hands and feet and half the time the characters (mainly Chiaki and Nodame) look humongous.
I really enjoyed reading this series and despite its drawbacks I can’t get over the fact that I had a lot of fun with it. I guess I’m a sucker for bubbly personalities but Nodame was my favorite character. Shes cheerful and always a pleasure to see. Even the musical part of the series was intriguing and I really felt a lot of emotion coming from the characters. There was no suspense but just drama and simple drama, not serious enough to make you want to smash your head against the wall. It was plain, simple and pure enjoyment and I highly recommend reading this series.