Nodame Cantabile Vol. #05 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A

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  • Art Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: Del Rey
  • MSRP: 10.99
  • Pages: 194
  • ISBN: 0-345-48269-7
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Nodame Cantabile Vol. #05

By Eduardo M. Chavez     June 10, 2006
Release Date: April 15, 2006

Nodame Cantabile Vol.#05
© Del Rey

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

What They Say
Chiaki is beyond ecstatic. Maestro Stresemann has decided to conduct the A orchestra and has asked Chiaki to join him. But who will lead the S orchestra? Drastic measures mean a hilarious concert, and a festival to remember.

From the student body to the faculty, the whole school is abuzz with anticipation. Nodame is playing a piano concerto, Chiaki is also tickling the ivories (and honored to be lead by the Great Master), and the S orchestra is just thrilled to be part of the program. Of course, the real excitement begins the night before the musical event...

The Review
One again a solid presentation from Del Rey. This time Ninomiya and Del Rey feature Nodame playing the cello (yet another instrument she does not play). The image is placed above the logo, which is simply the title on top of a music staff. I don't know what the cleft is but it looks fun. The opposite cover has Chiaki and Nodame working a yakisoba stand at the college festival. Very random, since neither were selling yakisoba this year but it works to show off Nodame's nature.

Inside the printing looks sharp. I did not notice any tone issues and the alignment looked fine (not as good as it has been but fine). This volume also includes translation notes and an side story chapter that focuses on Chiaki when he was living in Europe. This great side story really helped shed some light on some of Chiaki's stranger personality traits.

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 crazy mongoose costume... 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 hyperactive, 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.

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 (most of them they leave in Italian). This volume has it share of German dialogue as well. Both the Italian and German were left in, with their respective translations either left as a sub or mentioned in the translator noted. The strongest part of the translation is how the characters seem to standout as individuals. The character personalities are almost perfect. Maybe that was because of how the Welsh's worked together on this title, but whatever it was I felt the dialogue used made this reading experience very enjoyable and easy to follow.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
There was never any doubt to those who knew Chiaki and those who experienced his music that the young man has always been a talent. Unfortunately, for him rigid teachers and fangirl-fired rumors sent the genius towards the bottom of the ladder at the mid-rate music school he attends. With every new class and new instructor, his dreams of going to Europe to perform in its historical halls seemed to mover further away from reach. Can you imagine that he almost quit music around the start of this series?

Well after a trip to the mountains, all of that changed. Now, Chiaki is the talk of the classical scene in Japan; a young prodigy that is making waves for his powerful and clean music. They praise him for his work with Stressemann. They fondly remember his success with the S Orchestra. Nothing he does now can go wrong. So as Chiaki is recognized for his delicate and dynamic music, the nay sayers began to wonder what they might have missed before and how far Chiaki's star could rise. First a picture in a magazine, then an entire editorial in a leading journal; what is next performing along side a world-class conductor? Chiaki's star is rising fast and those who were with him when he was down might be left behind.

Megumi will not lose him, though. When she last saw him play, she got a fire inside her lit. She had to play as he did. She knew she had to play with him again. Furthermore, with a year left together she had to prove she was not a flake! Love will make this happen even if she has to starve herself. However, will anyone recognize Megumi as they did Chiaki?

Now with his talent recognized, Chiaki has begun to drift away from Nodame as Ninomiya-sensei uses this situation to create conflict in their already "difficult" relationship. After having both of her leads struggling to find themselves for so long, Ninomiya begins to move these two towards stardom. However as these two advance along diverging paths, Ninomiya also takes into account their unique personalities as each moves forward in accordance to their talent level and abilities. Nevertheless, despite all the changes that have occurred Ninomiya never forgets the strong points of this title - her brand of random humor, her talent for matching the music she spotlights with the mood of each arc and a quirky sense of romance that does not overwhelm the humor.

With this latest volume, we get to see that this manga is much more than just Nodame stealing bentos and Mine leading rock operas. There are those moments in here and that is a standard of Ninomiya's storytelling; however, in this volume she tries to have her readers doubt the future of these characters together. From the first chapter Ninomiya placed Chiaki and Nodame together. They are two complete opposites in style and personality but together they make great music (and great manga). Sequentially, Ninomiya built up a great orchestra behind these two that helped support the leads through each of their trails. Now, all that is about to change. Fame and recognition is about to rip them apart. This was bound to happen with graduation looming for Chiaki and Masumi but presently it seems as if the end is much closer than ever imaginable. Ninomiya brings back old flames. She continues to remind readers of the objectives of the school and Chiaki's mentor. There is a lot going on and all of it moving to break up Nodame from her dreamboat!

Ninomiya is not forcing the subject. She actually gives Chiaki a little more heart in this volume as she has the young man feel a little guilty for what he has done to Nodame. She even tries to cushion the blow by having the rest of the cast have fun on their own terms (there might some other romances budding among the supporting characters). Nevertheless, the focus remains on the actions of Chiaki and what crazy reaction Nodame will have for the big change. Moreover, even after five volumes of this series, that is not going old.

With each new volume of Nodame Cantabile Ninomiya opens a new score of music in her college opera. Each chapter is a different act of comedy or tragedy with its own music. Consequently through that music (quite often the music characters are playing), she is able to dictate mood and pacing. This manga is subtle on so many levels. It is obviously a coming of age story, but it is just as much a slice of life comedy. And when you are not paying attention this becomes a hardcore sophisticated music specialist manga. Each a critical part of the piece Ninomiya has composed; all coming together with a beat that is so light and amusing you almost forget Nodame's tragic life. But is the comedy moving this story or the music?

Few series are as entertaining as Nodame, but then again few titles are able to exude the rock opera attitude like Nodame can.


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