Nodame Cantabile Vol. #02 (Mania.com)

By:Eduardo M. Chavez
Review Date: Tuesday, August 02, 2005
Release Date: Friday, July 15, 2005



Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Ninomiya Tomoko
Translated by:David & Eriko Walsh
Adapted by:

What They Say
THE COMPETITION HEATS UP

There’s a new kid in town, and Nodame had better be on guard. Her new rival plays timpani like a dream - and he has the hots for Nodame's crush, Shinichi Chiaki. Plus, a wretched old man has his eyes (and hands) on Nodame. It's a lot to handle, for a girl who has trouble just keeping her room clean...

Shinichi has his own problems. A famous conductor starts a new orchestra at school, and Shinichi finally gets his chance to conduct. But he soon discovers there's more to the craft than just following notes on a page. Could this hard lesson unexpectedly turn his life around and change his destiny? Take a look into Nodame's world and find out!

The Review
Rivals are here. Timpani players, etchi conductors and even kotatsu, each one is more formidable a threat than the next. Will Megumi and Chiaki be able to survive them all or will they end up buried in Nodame’s apartment?

Packaging:
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) fooling around with a violin. The image is a little misleading considering how she does not play string instruments, but that is really irrelevant for it does a decent job presenting her loose, laid-back personality as well as her unique talent for improve. 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 hanging out listening to music with Chiaki.

I am not a fan of the arch use Del Rey. Upon further inspection, this presentation has the cover art creeping over the arches, 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.

Artwork:
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 josei. They can be stale, but she uses them more often than most josei 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. Manpu is kept to a minimum, but that is pretty standard for mature titles.

SFX/Text:
s 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.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Poor Nodame, she is working so hard to do well - at here piano playing and at winning Chiaki's heart. Sometimes she just does not get the breaks. Whether it is just a bout of bad luck or it is an unexpected hunger attack, things have just been piling up on each other. This might come as a surprise considering how carefree and good-spirited she is, but Nodame's life is a mess. With enough to deal with already as a college student on her own, she really does not have time to deal with any more in her life (as is apparent by the biohazard situation her apartment was in.) And she is just about to reach her boiling point.

Keeping up on studies and working on a love life is hard enough when they are both dependent on one person - the dreamy Chiaki-sempai. With his lack of patience and numerous neuroses, it is astonishing that Nodame still seems to have hold on a piece of his heart (albeit the piece that is curious about music, but it is a piece nonetheless). She does not need anyone coming around and messing up that relationship. Her grades depend on it for he is teaching her new perspectives on music that she once ignored. Her heart will reel if he would not be there, and her stomach would suffer without his cooking!

So when a talented timpani specialist tries to wedge in between her and Chiaki she takes it very personal. And when a perverted conductor tries to steal her from Chiaki, not even the most delicious high-grade toro could drive her away from Chiaki's side.

The duo is quite formidable, though. One has the ability to break Chiaki's career before it even begins. The other would like to drive Chiaki away from women altogether!! Nodame has never had to face competition like this before. Moreover now is not the time she would like to have to deal with this either.

She would rather be huddling under a kotatsu next to sempai! She would rather spend X-mas alone with her neighbor, hopefully in his bed (or in his bath because they are bigger and cleaner). She would rather be concerning herself over what kind of ingredients to buy for the sukiyaki, instead of worrying about two bearded men and their attempts to keep her from using Chiaki's apartment... I mean, keep her from being with her true love. (Even though he doesn't love her back!)

Comments
College life is not just stealing bentos from your friends and crashing at your classmate’s place. I am sure that everyone here that has been to college can attest to that. Actually, if college life was just taking classes and living in pigsties were all that was involved, most of us would possibly some where else right now… I would likely be working for Chiron or so maybe UCSF. Enough about me, though.

In this volume, Ninomiya-sensei has Nodame experiencing the downs of college life. Nodame has to deal with personal life issues. She then has to deal with school issues. All of a sudden they merge and she just had to deal with issues and the only way out of all this is possibly scarier than an empty bento box! What goes down in this volume threatened Nodame’s purpose for being in college (well, her current purpose, at least).

By adding a pair of new characters Ninomiya has completely changed the dynamic of what was originally a casual sitcom and turned it into a quirky romance comedy. There is some purpose to all of Nodame’s madness – its love! Seriously, it is the love of playing music. The love of hanging out doing what you love with someone you love; whether its music, romance or sukiyaki.

It is also about the love of what you do, trying hard to accomplish your dreams and accepting/improving on your short falls before dusting yourself off and trying again. Nodame has to do that; Chiaki is tested that way as well. But it goes past that. Even violinist and percussionist have their issues, but that is college. It is the start of adulthood that begins youth on the path to their future. There may be forks in the road but that prepares people for the changes that are found throughout adulthood.

Ninomiya seems to get that fact. That is why, she does not mind having the tough love instructors along with the laid back or perverted maestros. There will always be obstacles, but how we get through them is often based on how much we feel for what we desire.

There is a lot of love here, Del Rey seems to know that well. Great stuff.



Mania Grade: B+
Art Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: A
Text/Translatin Rating: A-
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: Del Rey
MSRP: 10.99
Pages: 196
ISBN: 0-345-48173-9
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left