Wow, well this was a topsy, turvy episode of Nodame Cantabile. Some great moments and a totally head scratching ending.
Nodame’s "Just as Keikaku" face was worth the price of admission to this show.
But the main act stole the show. 2+ minutes of the Ravel piece, pretty much uninterrupted by dialogue (except for two short lines). It was awesome. It was magnificent. In a world of sound bites, quick cuts, and 5 seconds of fame, this felt like an eternity, in a good way. I was hoping it would go on forever.
But the effects of Chiaki and Rui’s masterful performance would go beyond just the two minutes of music. It’s funny how a side character such as Rui, who’s never really even talked to Nodame, has had such a big impact on Nodame’s relationship with Chiaki and her musical goals. Like Chiaki points out, from the moment Rui was introduced, she’s always managed to ignite a dangerous side to Nodame.
But for the first time Nodame doesn’t respond by losing herself in her playing – instead playing the perfect waifu role. All seems to be well, but this was probably the worst possible reaction Rui’s performance could’ve incited.
Nodame shying away… In the end, Nodame is remarkably similar to Chiaki. Opening up then pulling away at the worst possible moments. It’s what makes the relationship feel so real, but it’s also a big source of frustration.
So I have to admit, I’m pretty much always going to give Chiaki the benefit of the doubt, because he reminds me a lot of… well, me. Except I’m not as singularly focused (or talented) as he is. But personality-wise I get where he’s coming from. His reacts the way I’d react. And I’m not sure there was a good way for him to respond when Nodame spontaneously proposes to him (although boinking her probably wasn’t a good idea). Chiaki was getting a lot flack in the MAL forums for not accepting her proposal… but, c’mon! It’s the first thing in the morning. No one just happens to accept a proposal out of the blue like that. I don’t know what I would’ve done. Probably just laughed and joked it off similarly. It was a terribly awkward moment, Chiaki has no idea how to respond, and I think director Chiaki Kon did a really nice job of conveying that.
There were some great expressions in this episode. Many of which were from Nodame, but also some from the supporting characters as well. I was struck by Yoda’s expression, particularly. It’s hard to explain, I saw sadness, but there was something else to it. A sense of loneliness, not Yoda’s, but maybe something he was sensing from Nodame and her absence.
After the wonderful Ravel piece at the beginning of the show, it was stunning to hear Nodame’s version of Beethoven. Stresseman, who arrived in Paris to party with Chiaki, instead finds a disconsolate Nodame, bereft of all motivation after hearing Rui play. Stresseman implores her to show her what she’s learned at which point she breaks into the Beethoven. And although I wish it went on longer, seeing Stresseman’s dour expression (another excellent one), Nodame’s tortured face, and hearing his explanation of the piece ("lamentation, utter exhaustion, so you can’t even think") was weighed tremendously heavy on me. You hear about music impacting scenes, this would be a prime example.
Meanwhile, Chiaki’s in Italy, tortured by Nodame’s proposal. He calls himself an idiot. He wonders what if she was serious? What would he do? Then he dismisses that possibility, thinking that she was shying away again. And wonders why, after coming so far, is she seeming like she’d throw it all away. Really, an excellent internal battle.
I do love Stresseman, because he has a way of just taking over scenes. Stresseman seems to be making an offer to Nodame to see the world. But what in the world was with the magic circle at the end? I can’t tell if I liked it or not, it was just so… bizarre to see. Three episodes left and the plot continues to thicken. Why is this season so short!?