23 October 2007

Review:: Nodame Cantabile (manga)

If you're in the mood for love, music, and references to farts, then I say you can't go wrong with Nodame Cantabile. This one won the Kodansha Manga of the Year Award (shoujo category) back in 2004, and I think I can see why. Though the illustrations are not exactly top-notch, they are somewhat elegant and accessible-- that is, no big buggy flashy eyes. My favorite drawings involve hands on the piano. The music that is played by the characters, though not heard by the reader through the page, is definitely felt.

The characters also really make this story. In Chiaki-kun, you have talent and arrogance, and a desire to be more than he is. In Mine-kun, you have engineered rebellion and... well, a comfort with women's cosmetics-- at least when he tries to help Nodame. In Nodame, you have inspired piano-playing, puckered-up lips and an abysmal living arrangement. Nodame is one of the most interesting female characters I've seen in manga because she is not your average girly-girl. She is fragile and a bit love-obsessed but also a bit gross. She is definitely not above making fart jokes. That's right. It's a girl making the gas reference, not a group of jocks as you might expect.

Is this an improvement on a social scale? Maybe not, but at least she is more human than the frilly paper dolls that litter most manga, which is SOOOOO refreshing!

8.15 out of 9
They really propel the story. I love how Nodame "keeps it real." Oh, and as a side note, I really have known someone who reminded me of a sausage.
Moderate or fast, depending on how much you like music that you can only see
From early teens on
Like it? Try this!::
I know it makes little sense to recommend an adult New Zealand film in conjunction with a Japanese manga for teens, but I really love the piano pieces in (surprise!) The Piano with Holly Hunter and Anna Paquin.
Further Notes::
This one has been turned into both an anime (watch the glorious beginning here) and a live action series-- both quite decent. Normally, I'm not into live action, but face it, it couldn't be as bad as the Sailor Moon live action series. Here is a wonderful piano scene and the obligatory karaoke scene. Ah, the nostalgia of karaoke! Natsukashii!

Nodame Cantabile, Vol. 1. By Tomoko Ninomiya. Del Rey Manga, 2005. 208 pages. $10.95