A friend of mine who knew me when I was still a comic book addict had, for years, been trying to introduce me to the manga culture. He had repeatedly failed simply because I had associated those Filbar’s-scouring days with a particular person, whom I wanted to remain part of the past, and thus buried that version of me, together with the memories. It had become hard to tell that I was that same person who used to blow her allowance on Marvel subscriptions, and who read special edition halogen-covered comic books with tissue paper so as not to affect their mint condition.
Oh, that was a lifetime ago.
Sometime last year, this same friend asked me if I played Mozart. I reminded him that my recital piece when we were in college, for which he saw me practice long hours, was a Mozart Sonata, although it was not my favorite. He said he thought I might like an anime series, Nodame Cantabile, that featured classical music. He downloaded them (hence, he shall not be named here, hehe), burned them on DVDs, and gave them to me for Christmas.
Busy bee that I was, and since I was not really into anime and all that, I did not have the time to watch a full episode until after I had submitted my final grades. Then I saw what he meant. For I AM Nodame. Let me give the plot from Wiki, to explain the previous statement.
Megumi Noda, or “Nodame” is a piano student at Momogaoka College of Music. An extremely talented pianist who wants to be a preschool teacher, she prefers playing by ear rather than reading the music score. She is messy and disorganized, takes baths several days apart and loves to eat, sometimes stealing her friend’s lunchbox when it is filled with delicacies.
Shinichi Chiaki is Momogaoka’s top student. Born into a musical family, he is talented in piano and violin and has secret ambitions to become a conductor. An arrogant multi-lingual perfectionist who once lived abroad in the music capitals of the world as a young boy (namely Prague), he is trapped in Japan because of his childhood phobia of airplanes and the ocean.
They meet by accident. Nodame quickly falls in love, but it takes much longer for Chiaki to even begin to appreciate Nodame’s unusual qualities. Their relationship causes them both to develop and grow. Along the way, they meet some crazy people (like Masumi, Mine, and Stresemann) and make lasting friendships. Because of Nodame, Chiaki gets the opportunity to lead a student orchestra and begins to have a broader appreciation of people’s musical abilities. Because of Chiaki, Nodame faces her fears and enters a piano competition. Opportunities open up as both begin taking risks, stretching themselves far more than they ever thought possible.
After graduation, Nodame succeeds in curing Chiaki from his phobia and they both move to Paris where Nodame continues her piano studies at the Conservatoire de Paris while Chiaki starts a professional career as a conductor. xxx (Highlighting entirely mine.)
I would like to state, at this point, that unlike Nodame, I love taking baths, even more than once a day. :) That had to be said.
I did not realize at first all the reasons why I was hooked, but I found myself staying up late even on weekdays just to finish several episodes. I got frustrated when the Quicktime player on my Mac refused to play some of the video files, so I told my friend, who said I could not afford to skip episodes, especially the pilot where Nodame and Chiaki played a Mozart duet on two pianos. He advised me to download a VLC viewer, which I did last weekend.
After finishing the series, as well as Nodame Paris, I was hungry for more. I repeated my favorite episodes many times. I Googled them and shared some videos from YouTube. I read about everything Nodame. Perhaps this friend did not know that his gift would release my inner Nodame – the passionate, emotional, crazy, sometimes talented and funny, child in me. But that’s what the series did.
When I think about some scenes, especially the ones featuring Puri Gorota, I would burst into laughter, and it does not matter if I was alone or with company. I looked up the music that was featured in the series, revived my dream of visiting Paris and “that land of classical music”, as Chiaki puts it: Europe, and stopped acting like a wise old woman.
Most of all, Nodame had showed me how to be myself, how to have fun, and how to play the piano from the heart. I let my mother, who’s a piano teacher, listen to Nodame’s version of Beethoven’s Sonata Pathetique (Adagio Cantabile*), Mama cringed at her extra notes and fast tempo. She allowed me to learn the modified version but asked me never to play it in her presence. :) She is happy though that I started playing the piano again.
This is my first post about her, and most likely will not be the last. I am excited to watch the live-action version, which another friend would lend me, take up a crash course in Japanese from yet another friend, and ask someone (anyone) to buy the official soundtrack for me.
Perhaps there will be a post about Chiaki soon. Gyabo!
* This was the first piece that Chiaki heard Nodame play. He said that her piano-playing, and her approach to life, was Cantabile, which means “like a song”. Hence the title of the series. This slice of Beethoven heaven happens to be part of the soundtrack of my life since my mother plays it well, and I love to play it too.