After the epic highs of the last episode, I wondered how this episode would pick up. And while it felt a lot more schizophrenic, and even a bit frustrating, it was still powerful stuff.
Loved seeing the montages of all of Nodame’s friends coming across her performance online. But when Auclair and the other sensei express their disapproval, I couldn’t help but get a little upset at them. While I’ve understood what they’re trying to do with Nodame, even I’ve felt like Auclair was being too deliberate with her and treating her too much with kid gloves. I never quite understood why, but this episode did a great job answering that question for me.
Elise is just crazy funny. Between getting Nodame to "sign" her contract and become a giant slave girl, or calling Chiaki pretending to be Nodame, Elise delivers the goods.
There is a healthy dose of emo in this episode, as Chiaki sulks over Nodame ignoring him, and Nodame sulks over… well, I’m not sure exactly what. Perhaps it’s satisfaction at achieving a goal? Or the fear that she’ll never be able to perform as well as she’s did with Stresemann? For someone who comes across as spacy, Nodame internalizes her agony with music to a surprising degree. But with Nodame’s heart and future aflutter, she ditches Elise and Stresemann and disappears with her passport and wallet.
Ah, the showdown between Auclaire and Stresemann. To be honest, like Stresemann, I thought Auclair searched him out, but apparently he just happened to be in town. Auclair is not a fan of Stresemann, and not just because of Nodame. I really liked this scene because my questions about why Auclair seemed to hold Nodame back were answered. I thought he really explained Nodame’s struggles really well, and the challenge in getting her to enjoy music for the quality of the music. And with that, I understood why he’d been holding her back, why he’d had her study so many different composers. With that said, I don’t blame Stresemann for putting Nodame on stage. I think he meant for the best, and in the long run, I think it was good for Nodame. But after the Auclair’s argument, even I felt a little sheepish for cheering Nodame on last episode.
After ditching London, Nodame heads to Egypt of all places, where she finds that she has fans even there. Admittedly, I was a little frustrated with Nodame, because I had a hard time understanding why Nodame was so conflicted. She enjoys playing. She likes that other people enjoy her playing. What is there to think about beyond that? Auclair mentions her distaste for the "industry", but what of the industry does she need to agonize over? The politics? The grueling routine? The necessary ambition? But as I watched the episode and thought about it, it finally dawned on me that Nodame likes playing, but not as a career. It’s like I enjoy cooking and think I’m pretty good at it (ok, this is a patent lie, but just bear with my analogy), but I wouldn’t want to put in the effort it would take to become a professional chef. I think that’s where Nodame is. Every step she takes towards stardom is a step towards a life she may not want. But her talent seems to be taking her down that route, whether she likes it or not.
I can empathize with Chiaki, who’s stuck in a bad place. I’d be pulling my hair out if Nodame disappeared on me like that, so I applaud his patience. But I couldn’t help but feel that he was giving up on her too quickly. The way everyone talks about Nodame’s fragility and capriciousness, I keep thinking that she’s one step away from going off into the mountains to become a crazy hermit.
I laughed out loud at Stresemann’s translation. Kudos frostii, that "feeling ultra-good" line sounded so typically Stresemann. But Stresemann, perhaps feeling a little guilty, tracks down Chiaki and sort of tries to ease Chiaki’s concerns about Nodame saying she wouldn’t play again. I don’t know if he actually accomplished that, but he seemed to have sparked a little fire inside Chiaki.
Meanwhile, on her way back home, Nodame misses the Paris stop and ends in a completely different country (missing countries in Europe must be like missing a state in the US. I can’t imagine missing a stop and accidentally ending up in Canada for example). Unfortunately for Nodame has no more money and has to resort to sleeping in a hotel storage closet for the night. I’m surprised they even gave her that. All in all, a sad scene, as Nodame cries for Chiaki.
Nodame finally returns home to a barrage of congratulatory faxes and a message from her family, which serves to remind Nodame of the crossroads she’s in. In case you’re wondering what’s on the game board, here’s what was in the manga. Interestingly, there’s no Chiaki course. Meanwhile, Tanya, Yun Long, Kuroki and the gang blast in to find Nodame merrily playing her Moja Moja Suite. But Nodame is still unwilling to come back to reality, as she essentially ignores her friends, instead regaling with a couple kids that Kuroki was babysitting.
Kuroki sends Chiaki an MMS letting him know that Nodame’s back and seemingly in good spirits. Meanwhile, Chiaki wonders whether Nodame might’ve been better off staying in Japan, and as I watched her playing with the kids, I couldn’t help but think the same. Maybe Auclair would’ve gotten through to her one day. But Nodame just seems like she’d be so much more carefree if she’d gone on to become a Kindergarten teacher. Still, we get a huge breakthrough at the end when Chiaki decides that he’ll accept Nodame’s proposal.
I can’t believe there’s only one episode left. :emotion: I feel like they could still tell the story over another season. But where will we end up next week? Will Nodame accept Chiaki’s answer to her proposal? In doing so, will she quash her playing career? Or will she turn down Chiaki, to focus on her playing? In that game board, there was no Chiaki course, but two of the courses seem like anti-Chiaki courses to me (the Professional and back to Japan courses). But I don’t know if the School Course is a possibility anymore. Or, if so, it won’t be the same. So where will Chiaki fit in? It’s funny that all this time, we wondered how Nodame would fit into Chiaki’s ambitions. But now the table has completely turned.
Personally, I would prefer the Chiaki x Nodame ending, whether or not Nodame continues playing. After watching this episode, I just don’t think Nodame has it in her to be a "pro." It’s not about settling, but about choosing a path that would make her happiest. And I think accepting Chiaki’s answer would make her the happiest (and Chiaki too). But if that doesn’t happen. All I ask for is closure.