And so it ends. Saying goodbye to Nodame feels like saying goodbye to an old friend. It’s a little hard to let go. Especially since there’s plenty more good times that could be had. But still, though it wasn’t the grand finale that I might’ve wished for, I thought it was a fitting end to the show.
The episode picks off basically where the last episode left off. Nodame’s still checked out after her performance with Stresemann, and coping with it by starting her own orphanage of Roux-Marlet children.
Meanwhile, all her friends remain distraught and confused about Nodame’s strange behavior, not quite understanding why she seems to be turning her back on a wonderful future.
While Nodame entertains the kids with a fanciful (and not well received) version of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, Chiaki returns to settle the relationship issue with Nodame.
But after the kids tease Nodame for screwing up Twinkle Star, Nodame gets all srs biz and unfurls Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 31 on them. Chiaki, who up that point, seemed to be willing to let Nodame squander her musical future in order to just be with her, is moved my the performance and realizes that it’s impossible for him to keep her talents hidden away. The animation during this episode was excellent, and I especially loved the way Nodame’s hair flowed during her playing. It just looked… beautiful.
Spurred by her playing, Chiaki busts in and instead of proposing marriage, proposes that Nodame play a concerto with him and Roux-Marlet or whichever orchestra she wants. But to Chiaki’s surprise, Nodame rejects him saying she already got to play with Stresemann. But more than that, she admits that she’s afraid she can’t top herself, which might ultimately lead to her not loving Chiaki (although I think that was a joke, Chiaki takes it pretty seriously).
Undeterred, Chiaki whisks Nodame away to some place (I can’t remember what the woman’s name was) to play Mozart’s sonata for two pianos – the first piece that the two played together – hoping that by doing so he can rekindle her love for playing. Chiaki’s voiceover during this scene was perfect, as he talks about the spark that can happen from one note and how it could change everything. Like the moment where he heard Nodame playing in her room, full of trash, that eventually changed their lives forever.
While the performance doesn’t go particularly well, Chiaki’s message seemingly got through. As the next scene shows Nodame going back to Yoda-sensei to continue learning with him. But I think the one thing this scene did do was seal the deal with Nodame and Chiaki. Although Nodame sort of plays it up for laughs (hearing Kawashima’s "fall in love" engrish is just too cute), I think the scene removed any question about whether Nodame and Chiaki would stay together or not, which is key, since it’s basically the last time we see the two together in this episode, before we get the epilogue montage.
Yun Long leaves and heads back home. While Frank gets to do a duet with Rui (otaku power!). Actually, I don’t remember ever seeing or hearing Frank play, so I completely forgot what instrument he played.
Roux-Marlet while improving its rep, still has financial issues, leading them to perform at an onion festival.
Again, Chiaki’s voiceover is fantastic, as it does a great job of summing up my feelings for the show.
Beyond the Nodame hijinks, and the awesome relationships, everyone on this show has been bound together by their love for music.
The story never forgets this. While the latter seasons may not have had the extended performances that the first season did. Music has always remained the centerpiece of which this show revolves around.
And by doing so, it gives an amazing amount of depth and feeling to the performances we hear, and to the characters we meet.
You know that often used trope in anime: the power of love conquers all! You know how it always feels cheesy? Well, Nodame is the one show where I think the power of love does conquer all. Utterly so. And I thought the scene between Nodame and Lucas was a fitting cap to that theme. Why do they do the things they do? To give back to society? To make the most of their talents? Maybe. A little bit. But more than anything, it’s their love for music that ties the binds.
From Elise to Milche…
To Chiaki and Nodame.
I was anxious about the ending, knowing that there was displeasure with the manga ending. But actually, I thought it was a fitting end to the show. I can understand why people were disappointed. There could’ve been things that were done better. I would’ve loved seeing a final grand performance with Nodame and Chiaki and Rising Star orchestra. I would’ve loved for Chiaki to not have forgotten about his marriage proposal. And a 12th episode would’ve helped the pacing, which was a bit quick.
But in the end, I got what I wanted. Nodame x Chiaki staying together, with both continuing to pursue their love for music. It’s the best of both worlds. It wasn’t the most closed loop of endings, but I’m ok with that. It leaves the door open for future stories, which I hope, hope, hope we’ll see (and will, since there’s at least one more OVA confirmed).
Like I said above, it’s hard to say goodbye. Especially to a show with characters that I’ve come to love. Even though it’s only been a short time, I feel like I’ve grown with the characters and they’ve grown with me. So it’s that much harder. But what a ride it’s been. And I can’t express my admiration enough for Tomoko Ninomiya in creating a masterpiece and for Chiaki Kon and Kasai Kenichi in really bringing it to life. Nodame Cantabile isn’t just a great anime, it’s a great story, period.