Nodame Cantabile Season 1, The Live Action Version

I finished watching the first season of the live action version of “Nodame Cantabile” a couple of days ago. Portions of it I downloaded from d-addicts via bittorent and portions of it I downloaded from crunchyroll.com (after I got tired of waiting for the bittorrorrent to trickle down). The version on d-addicts is very high-quality (widescreen and high resolution) compared to what’s available on Crunchyroll. However, if you can’t wait, then crunchyroll is a good way to get your fix and then you can archive the high-quality version once it’s downloaded (that’s what I plan to do).

Back the show … I am currently reading the manga (half-way through volume 10 in Japanese) and watching the fansubbed anime. So far I think the manga is the best version of this story, followed by the anime and then the live action version. All of them are good, actually, so if you like the story a lot, then you should view all three versions and appeciate each one’s take on the story and the characters.

The live action version is not as close to the manga as the anime is. Chiaki’s uncle’s family is not introduced, rather Saiko takes on some of the actions of the family and Chiaki’s mother. I felt this was awkard since she was romantically involved with Chiaki and ended up quite jealous (violently so) of Nodame’s relationship with Chiaki. I really liked the way Saiko disappeared from the story after abusing Nodame in the restroom in the manga. This version also skips the music “camp” in Nakano, making it necessary to have Kiyora be the concert mistress of the A-orchesta. I didn’t mind this so much. I liked that Sakura the, contrabass girl, was given a larger role in the story. She was really cute, just like I imagined her to be. I also liked the portrayal of Masumi, who also was acted just as I imagined him to be and better. His hair is a sight to behold and his unabashed happy-friendly gayness is just too adorable. Mine was pretty good too. I didn’t like the way they did his hair, though, because I thought it was too long and wild. The way he was portrayed reminded me of how I imagine Nakatsu from Hana-Kimi to be. Again, this was okay, but in my mind he’s a lot cooler than the goof they made him to be in the live action version (the anime is more representative of what I imagine).

Onto the main characters. I will start with Nodame. I think the actress they chose to play Nodame was just about perfect — pouty lips and all. I wish, though, that she was a little bit younger. The actress seems to have control over her Nodame; expressing Nodame’s childlike nature, her unfettered love for Chiaki and her quick temper nicely. She is quite authentic.

I’m still not quite sure I like this Chiaki. The actor looks a little too old and very effeminant. I think the actor handled the dramatic parts well, but he sucked at the comedic elements. It seems as though he could not flow back and forth between the serious and the rediculous as well as the other actors and his discomfort with the comedy broke the illusion for me. I think if had been directed to be the “Straight Man” all the way through and had expressed Chiaki’s frustrations in more subtle and “humanlike” fashions it would have worked better.

The creators of the the live action version of “Nodame Cantabile” decided to leave in some of the elements of comic rediculousness in the story, at times, making some scenes appear as though they were pulled directly from “Looney Tunes.” Sometimes this worked for me and other times it did not. The times it did not work for me were when Chiaki abuses Nodame. In the manga we accept this because I think we as readers don’t really think he’s hitting or actually abusing Nodame. It is more like what he imagines he could do to her, like we all imagine when people get on our nerves. To see the abuse happen on live people was actually quite disturbing. I don’t know if this a cultural thing though, since to an American, abusing women and children is not acceptable and to many Americans abhorrent. Outside of that, the fanciful visions of Nodame being pampered by Chiaki on a tropical island and of her as cat are nice and add a lot of flavor to the execution of the story.

In conclusion, if you like “Nodame Cantabile” and haven’t seen the live action version, then you should see it because it is enjoyable.

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