There were some laugh out loud moments in this episode, but they were mostly overshadowed by most of the dramatic breakthroughs. Oh nothing terribly melodramatic, but definitely some major events.
Chiaki and Son Rui meet for dinner at Rui’s behest to discuss life, love and overbearing moms. Son Rui’s getting a fair amount of screen time for someone who I didn’t think was a big deal, but I suppose it’s her meeting with Chiaki that set the dominoes to fall for Chiaki’s random encounter with his former sensei, Viera.
Rui bares her heart out (and becomes smitten by others) and remembers the reasons why she loved playing piano in the first place. It’s pretty interesting to watch Chiaki’s response. I suppose he’s always been sort of a cool and calm kind of character, but there’s a nonchalance and confidence he displays when reminiscing with Rui that didn’t exist before. Even the way he thinks about Nodame has grown. It’s almost as if they’re like a married couple. Sadly for Rui, her seduction skills are mucho fail compared to her piano skills. Stick with your day job… which she does. After hearing her play with some passion, Rui’s mom decides to leave the next day, content that her daughter is playing because she still has the heart for it. But before she leaves, Rui agrees to play one performance – but with Chiaki conducting the orchestra.
Meanwhile, Stresseman is bummed out after he learns that a former rival, Lippi, has died. I don’t know who Lippi is and I don’t think it’s supposed to matter. Even if it was a blatant plot device, anything to give Stresseman some screen time is a good thing in my book.
With Son Rui’s life problems all patched up, we move onto a resplendent Nodame who puts her d-cup wares and horrendous makeup skills on full display for her new best-friend, shitsuji-san. While I think Ayako Kawasumi’s crazy Nodame voice is hilarious, I really loved hearing her using her soft voice during these scenes. Something about that word "gyabon" is very cute when it’s said quietly and matter of factly.
Nodame’s salon concert goes brilliantly, although I wish they dragged out the Chopin piece longer than they did. As soon as it was getting interesting, there was no music. Actually, all of the songs were like that. They started and stopped so quickly that I never really got to appreciate them. While Nodame’s performance is going well, there’s some concern when it gets later and later and Chiaki still doesn’t show. One reason for that would be that a metro strike and a dearth of taxis has left Chiaki stranded. Of course, the bigger reason is that Chiaki by happenstance has a sudden reunion with his idol and former sensei, Sebastiano Viera, and decides to join him for a practice. For an event that was built up so much over the past two-and-a-half seasons, the reunion itself is pretty anticlimactic. I don’t know if this is how it happened in the manga… but I expected more fireworks. I suppose this might be more realistic than the grand ballroom Disney type of reunion, but man… You would’ve thought that Viera was just some old chum of Chiaki’s. To be fair, Chiaki seems pretty stunned by the random encounter, which is what I would expect from him. At least they got his reaction right.
During the intermission, Nodame gets a message from Chiaki telling her that she can’t make it. But Nodame shows off her newfound maturity by brushing it off and vowing to play as if he was still there. Between that and the sudden explosion of her dress, she has a pretty eventful second half, but gets through the performance just fine – even when the safety pin pops loose and disappears during her performance. Surprisingly no one seemed to notice it. To be honest, I’m not sure why they even bothered to show the dress pop a second time.
After saying goodbye to her new best friend, shitsuji-san, Nodame heads off into the night with a violent Mukya! That last scene where she runs off was framed really well IMO. Was Nodame’s final mukya! a mukya of triumph, a mukya of excitement, a mukya of despair, or a mukya of determination? Because I interpreted as all of the above.
I don’t blame Chiaki too much for missing Nodame’s performance. Realistically, I don’t think he would’ve made it on time even if he had tried to get there. So he has a nice built-in excuse if he wants to cover it up, but eventually he’ll have to pony up the real reason. And I guess we’ll see how upset Nodame will be. I think she’ll be understanding as long as he makes up for it. But that mukya made me wonder.
I’m also starting to worry that Nodame and Chiaki won’t be together with each other at the end of the show. Although their relationship seems to have reached a new level of acceptance (at least on Chiaki’s part), I can’t help but feel like the two are drifting further apart (Nodame’s shirt huffing notwithstanding). Both of them clearly feel the same based on their conversation in the last episode, but neither seem to be doing much about it. Look, Son Rui’s all well and good, but let’s be honest. Nobody gives a crap about her problems. NEED MOAR Chiaki x Nodame scenes! We only have 8 episodes left for God’s sake!