Nodame Cantabile Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
By:Eduardo M. Chavez
Review Date: Friday, May 20, 2005
Release Date: Friday, April 15, 2005
Translated by:David Walsh/Eriko Walsh
What They Say
Every Good Boy Deserves Fame
The son of a famous pianist, music student Shinichi Chiaki dreams of studying abroad and becoming a conductor like his mentor. Unfortunately his fear of flying grounds his lofty plans! As he watches other classmates achieve what he has always wanted, Shinichi wonders if he should quit music altogether.
Then one day he meets fellow student Megumi Noda, also known as Nodame. This oddball girl cannot cook or clean, and she can't even read a music score, but she can play the piano in incomparable Cantabile style. And she teaches Shinichi something he has forgotten: to enjoy his music, no matter where he is.
This has to be the best presentation I have seen from Del Rey. Once again they use the original cover art, but the little things the have done have won me over. First as I said before they use the original cover art. This cover has a close up of Noda Megumi (NoDame) playing her crazy improv piano. This really does a good job presenting her loose, laid-back personality. The logo is placed on some music bars just like the Japanese logo. Very nice. The opposite cover has a long volume description on a green background. There is an image of Nodame playing again, but this time in a dress (which is a rare occurrence).
I am not a fan of the arch use Del Rey. Upon further inspection, this presentation has the cover art creeping over the archs; instead of the other way around which was the case on early Del Rey releases. The spine has two half ellipses, each containing the studio name - one in kana, the other containing Del Rey's studio logo. Hideous..
Inside the printing looks sharp. I did not notice any tone issues and the alignment looked fine. This volume also includes translation notes and a preview for volume three along with an ads for: Genshiken, Wallflower, and Tsubasa.
Ninomiya's art is perfect for this series. I have seen her art in her other title GREEN (by Kodansha), and she seems to use thicker lines and much more detailing in this series. This is an appropriate move when considering how this title has so much potential crossover appeal. Ninomiya uses good shape and form to make her characters stand out. On top of that she also has a good sense of style, which adds to the individual characteristics. The strongest aspect of her art is how she draws the expressions of her cast. With so little detail in her faces, she still is able to put in a good amount of emotion in them. Shading and extreme looks make her characters stand out, and who can forget Nodame’s make-up incident… classic!
Her backgrounds are pretty good for shojo. They can be stale, but she uses them more often than most shojo artists so I applaud her for that. The layout is surprisingly good. I thought it would be hyper, considering how fast the humor is. But she paces the story well and uses good perspective.
As is Del Rey's policy, SFX are subbed. Their subs tend to be of a small font usually placed below the original SFX. Because of the font size original art is not compromised, but with the lack of SFX in this series (which is common for a shojo title) one might not notice them at times. Still, I appreciate the effort and the more I see this done the more I find myself liking it (font size and placement can make a big difference).
The translation is great. This title is a little tricky considering how there are so many music references. The character personalities are almost perfect. Maybe that was because of how the Walshes worked together on this title, but whatever it was it really made the experience very enjoyable and easy to read. I did notice one little thing in the notes, however. They did mention Koshien there and it is not a baseball team, it is the stadium where the Hanshin Tigers play in the Osaka/Kobe suburbs. Koshien is also where the national high school baseball tournament takes place twice a year.
Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
People play music for different reasons - money, prestige, fun or even love. A person with a good ear for music can usually tell which is which, for one's music can easily contain the emotions and personality of an artist. Many of us might not notice especially if we only experience music through our CD or .mp3 players. Sometimes the best way to differentiate is by listening to it in person, hearing the mistakes and the nuance that is often covered up by recording editors and sound engineers.
Chiaki Shinichi knows all about this. His father was a renowned concert pianist. Chiaki-kun has been able to see and hear music made by the best symphonies of Europe. He knows what music sounds like; he knows how good music is created; and his goal in life is to conduct great music much like that he heard in Europe when he was younger. He is not sure if he can attain those sounds in Japan. He is not confident he can expand his own talents here either, but if he is going to succeed with his goals, he is forced to do so... cause he is afraid of flying!!
Well, that all changed after he met Noda Megumi (NodaMe). Nodame is not a highly skilled pianist; she does not have the focus to even read music well. Who knows what her music aspirations are? Currently, she was working theme song about farts! She is in the flunky potential dropout class, where she works on her dance routines just as much as her classical piano. But Nodame has an amazing ear for music. She can hear music a couple times and then improvise it on her piano. Nodame can feel the emotions and she can feel the motivations. She does this for fun and she can care less about almost everything else (except food or love).
Chiaki can see the lack of skill and knowledge, but he can also hear the talent. Chiaki can see that through Nodame and her uncontrolled very honest music, he can find inspiration to continue conducting by teaching and practicing until he can hear the music he dreams of hearing. Nodame can do that with him.
Why do you listen to music? How does it make you feel? What does it mean to you?
Simple questions, but when considering a topic such as music, which can mean so much to so many the answers are not simple.
Now imagine being a musician. Music might be work and play. One's livelihood could be dependent on music. Do you just make music sound like it is "supposed" to sound? Do you make music how you think it should? Do you go by the book or do you improvise? Who do you make music for? What does music mean then?
In Nodame Cantabile Chiaki has an idea about his music. He knows what he wants, but he does not know if he can achieve it. Noda has an idea as well. What she is not sure about is how best to get there. Together these two make beautiful music. One gets closer to conducting his music and the other gets closer to creating music that brings out the feelings she wants to experience from music. It is improvised but taught and nurtured that way. It is selfish but it is something they share together.
Their relationship is also growing, albeit this is not entirely mutual. Their friendship has grown from something intellectual to something else (still don't know what). But relationships can mean different things to different people as well. Maybe their friendship is a learning tool for a future job as a conductor? Maybe, their friendship is a hot musical romance that burns members out after each passionate jam session.
What does Nodame Cantabile mean to me? It's a romance comedy that stimulates me and inspires me. Ninomiya uses sitcom techniques to make the boring simple life of aspiring musicians and has created a product that finds humor in the little things. Mooching off of friends, hot and heavy practice sessions, jealousy and drunken idiocy sounds like my own days of college, and they are as memorable now as it was then. Ninomiya started with a few typical characters with reasonable problems and then arranged them together in an orchestra of hilarity and amusement. Great pick up by Del Rey and deserving of all the accolades it gets.
Mania Grade: A-
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: A
Text/Translatin Rating: A
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: Del Rey
Orientation: Right to Left