Despite his errors, Chiaki makes it to the finals, but the real competition comes later.
Writer/Artist: Tomoko Ninomiya
Translation: David and Eriko Walsh
Adaptation: David and Eriko Walsh
What They Say
Nodame and Chiaki are studying music in Paris but the real drama is happening outside the classroom! As Chiaki's life is about to take a surprising turn, Nodame makes a new friend, a homesick Chinese exchange student. And it's not long before Nodame and her buddy land in a heap of trouble at the local Italian restaurant.
While Chiaki made some fairly serious errors during the competition, his performance was still credible enough for him to make it as one of three finalists, along with Jean and Hajime. With both a randomly selected piece to play and a piece from earlier in the competition, the three finalists put forth their best effort, and Chiaki manages to win a victory despite the earlier marks against him.
Through Jean, Chiaki learns that his former teacher hasn't forgotten him after all, which may or may not be a good thing. On his way to visit him, Chiaki is kidnapped by Stresemann's manager, who takes some extreme steps in her attempt to sign Chiaki to their agency. He eventually capitulates. In the meantime, Nodame has run into another familiar face - Stresemann himself, who's just as much of an eccentric pervert as ever.
Thanks to his win, Chiaki now has a three month tour to look forward to, but Nodame is left feeling more behind and abandoned than ever, and the pictures that Stresemann selects to send to her don't do anything to help. Despite her efforts she doesn't feel like she's actually making any progress at all, and now an unexpected rival has appeared as well, and her new teacher is blunt to the point of rudeness.
The contrast between Chiaki's budding career and Nodame's faltering attempts as a student are stark, and it becomes pretty clear in this volume that for all of her peculiarities, Nodame is very much aware of the gap between them. There's not as much of the humor here as there was in earlier volumes, although it does show up. But the character drama really comes to the forefront here, making it clear why this series is so well-loved.