I watched Nodame Cantabile because TVXQ’s Shim Changmin said it is his favorite Japanese drama. Yes, my initial reason for watching it is shallow but I have a lot more reasons why I loved this drama. Despite the over the top acting which is expected for live-action dramas such as this, I can say that everything is very well polished. The choice of music is superb and I learned a lot about classical music. Even though you are not a lover of this type of music, you will, without a choice, learn something about it in a not so boring way. Plus, I loved the fact that whenever the actors play the instruments like the piano or violin, it seemed as if they were really the ones playing. The question crossed my mind a lot of times but I just told myself that whether or not they are the ones playing, it doesn’t matter as long as they look believable.
And even though Chiaki is such a snob, I can’t help but love him here. He is such a talented guy and I admittedly like geniuses. So there… I hope you will enjoy this drama as much as I did.
Chiaki Shinichi (Tamaki Hiroshi) sits in a darkened room, reminiscing the time when he was in Prague with Maestro Vieira, enjoying the beautiful music brought about by his excellent conducting.Being the son of a famous pianist, Chiaki had the chance to travel all over Europe, the haven of classical music where Mozart, Beethoven and other famous composers lived.
He first met Mestro Vieira when he attempted to sneak in into one of the concert halls. He was caught by the guards and was dragged out of the hall. However, Maestro Vieira saw the Tamagochi toy that he dropped and that started their friendship. Chiaki began studying music under Maestro Vieira and he decided that he wanted to become a conductor as well.
But all good things must come to an end. His parents soon divorced and he had to return to Japan.He promised to come back one day to study under his tutelage.
Ten years after, he is still in Japan, his memory of a rough plane landing stops him from riding an airplane once again to go to Europe and study.
The next day, Chiaki walks through the campus of Momogaoka Music Academy where he is a senior piano student.He is famous at school – girls talk about him while the guys envy him for his talent. He stops to read an announcement on the board, a “ham-looking” student from the conducting division is chosen to study in Germany and he feels frustrated once again.
During the piano lesson, he hits the keys hard and plays carelessly.Because of that, Eto-sensei, his piano teacher strikes him. He cannot play like that because he is being eyed to join the Maradona Piano competition.But Chiaki does not like that, he wants to play his own way and criticizes Eto’s way of teaching.
Eto sees a score and asks Chiaki why a piano student like him has a complete score like a conducting student. Does he want to be a conductor? Chiaki ignores him and he is kicked out of Eto’s class.
Still fuming, Chiaki walks out but suddenly hears Beethoven’s Pathetique being played. It is played messily but the sound is crisp and Chiaki became curious as to who is playing the piano. He goes looking and sees Nodame (Ueno Juri), a piano major, playing alone. He is about to open the door when he is stopped by Saiko, a voice student and Chiaki’s ex-girlfriend.
They went to a bar and Saiko says that Chiaki should apologize to Eto-sensei. Chiaki cannot see the need to do so and says that he wants to be a conductor. His only teacher is Vieira-sensei. Because of that, Saiko says that he should just go abroad to study. Chiaki trembles when he hears the world airplane and Saiko chastises him for being scared of flying. He even has a phobia of drowning that’s why he cannot go abroad through a ship either. Chiaki says that she never experienced it that’s why it seems so simple for her. He adds that maybe he should just quit music and work at Saiko’s music store. Saiko is disappointed with Chiaki and tells him that she hates losers.
Nodame goes home and sees Chiaki in front of her apartment, sleeping and obviously drunk. Nodame is quickly attracted to him and makes a move to kiss him. Chiaki, on the other hand, dreams about being in a field, feeling to wind and hearing Beethoven’s piano sonata. He slowly wakes up and sees himself amidst the garbage that fills Nodame’s room. He completely wakes up when Nodame asks him if he remembers something from last night. In panic, he goes out of Nodame’s apartment and takes a bath to remove the dirt he got from her room.
At school, Nodame runs over Chiaki and shows him the belt that she removed from him the night before because she feels that Chiaki was uncomfortable while sleeping. Chiaki denies it’s his and throws it towards a tree. Nodame quickly retrieves it.
Chiaki has a new teacher named Tanioka Hajime. Upon entering the classroom, he sees that Nodame is also his student. They were going to have a two piano lesson but Chiaki refuses to play with Nodame because she plays sloppily. However, the teacher insists that he should consider it as a senior student teaching a subordinate and gives him the Mozart Sonata for Two Pianos.
Nodame and Chiaki started practicing but because they have different manners of playing, Chiaki continuously bashes Nodame. Tanioka-sensei explains that Nodame learns playing by ear rather than reading the score which explains her messy technique.
After class, Chiaki sees Saiko who he thinks was waving at him. But as she walks to his direction, he realizes that he is not her target but the “ham-looking” guy. Chiaki goes home, furious that Saiko replaced him for the guy.
As he goes out of the balcony to smoke, he smells something weird and sees a lot of garbage stored at Nodame’s side of the balcony. There’s even some toxic waste seeping through their partition.
He quickly goes to Nodame’s apartment to clean it up. Nodame is so messy that he found a weird looking thing in the kitchen that she said was a stew. Mushrooms grew even on her clothes and her underclothing are scattered everywhere.
It is hard but Chiaki succeeded in cleaning her apartment. In gratitude, Nodame cooks mackerel with mayonnaise for Chiaki. However, it is burnt beyond recognition and Chiaki refuses to eat it. He quickly whips us an Italian sounding pasta recipe and Nodame eats it with gusto. Seeing her appreciative face, he tells her that he will cook more for her.
The scene shifts to a Chinese restaurant named Uraken where violinist Mine lives with his dad. He thinks he is already late for school and he could not fail this one particular test but his dad tells him that he is still early for school. He wants to wake him up 10 minutes before class time so he could sleep more.
At Uraken, an old man sits by himself and tells Mine’s dad that the food is the most delicious thing he has tasted. Mine and his dad was so happy that they offered more food to him. The old man goes with Mine instead to the music academy to observe the students.
He roams around the campus, taking pictures of some of the students including the timpani player with an afro hairstyle, a girl cellist, Mine and Nodame.
Chiaki goes to the piano room for his class. No one’s at the classroom but he sees a book on top of the piano telling the history of the sonata for two pianos. According to the book, it is the only piano duet piece written by Mozart. While reading, Tanioka-sensei arrives and informs Chiaki that Nodame is always late. He advises him to go out for tea first.
On his way out, he bumps into the guy who got a scholarship to Germany. His name is Hayakawa. He informs Chiaki that he will go to Gerhalm to attend a seminar by Vieira-sensei. Chiaki is about to brush him off when the information sinks in and he goes away in a huff.
Nodame finally arrives but Chiaki still has not returned. It turns out that Chiaki is in the conductor’s podium in the academy’s auditorium, brooding once again and thinking about a lot of things.
It’s already evening and Nodame is on her way home when she encounters the old man who is roaming the campus earlier. He asks for directions but being the perverted man that he is, he invites Nodame for dinner. Nodame refuses because she does not accept invitations from a stranger but the old man tells her that his name is Milch Holstein.
Instead of going to a restaurant, she drags Milch to Chiaki’s house to eat. Chiaki is still not yet sure about the reputation of the old man and is clearly irritated when she tells him that his name is Milch Holstein which literally means milk cow. He wants her to assure him that he is not a thief.
Meanwhile, Milch roams around Chiaki’s apartment and sees his picture with Vieira-sensei. His face tenses up and asks Chiaki if he knows the man. When Chiaki tells him not to touch the picture, Milch quickly walks out of Chiaki’s room and drags Nodame with him. He promises her fluffy bedsheets and pillows but Chiaki makes a counter-offer and tells Nodame that he also has a fluffy bedsheet and she could use his arm as a pillow. Of course, Nodame chooses Chiaki and Chiaki pushes Milch out of the apartment.
When Chiaki comes to his bedroom, he sees Nodame laying on his bed. He pulls her up saying that she should not sleep on someone else’s bed. Nodame complains that he promised her that she could but he hears nothing of it. Out of the room, Nodame sees a score and realizes that Chiaki wants to be a conductor. Chiaki says that there is no point in being the best in piano because he is still defeated by the ham-looking guy (Hayakawa). He tells Nodame that he cannot guide her and there’s no need to force themselves to do the piano duet.
Morning comes and Chiaki awakes hearing the sound of a piano. It is Nodame practicing the duet and he notices some mistakes in her playing. He goes to the room to teach her and is appalled to see that the room that he cleaned a few days ago looks like a garbage dump once again. Knowing that Nodame learns by listening, he tells her to listen carefully while he plays the piece perfectly. They continue practicing at school and whenever she makes a mistake, he hits Nodame in the same way that Eto-sensei hits him. He realizes that he is not different from his former piano teacher and he sees that Nodame is not happy during practice.
One night, they are again at Nodame’s room practicing and Chiaki is silent. Nodame thinks something is wrong about her playing but Chiaki tells her that her head smells weird. Nodame proudly announces that her room may look dirty but she likes to be clean. She baths every other day and shampoos once every three days.
Chiaki cannot believe what he heard and quickly drags Nodame to the bathroom to wash her hair. While drying her hair, Nodame imagines that she is like a queen. On the contrary, Chiaki imagines himself washing a dog-looking Nodame. He tells her that she is weird, just like Vieira-sensei.
The following day, it’s time to play the piano piece. Tanioka-sensei tells Chiaki that could give them more time if they are not yet ready but Chiaki insists that they could do it. They then look at Nodame who is busy memorizing and practicing the piece at her mind.
Chiaki, in a surprising decision, tells Nodame to play the piece as she likes. He knows that she has something special and should not be restricted when playing. He adds that she can play freely because he can keep up with her. After all, he knows her manners when playing.
Nodame and Chiaki played magnificently in harmony. Nodame skipped some notes but Chiaki covers it up. He is amused when he sees Nodame’s lips pursed as if she is in her own world. The piece ended perfectly and both of them are pleased. Tanioka-sensei congratulates Chiaki for being able to go over the wall. Chiaki is surprised. Tanioka-sensei tells him that it is a lesson for Chiaki. Tanioka-sensei explains that Mozart composed the duet for the sake of playing with a gifted pupil so that he can recall how to purely enjoy music. Chiaki then remembers what Vieira-sensei told him- performances should take people by the heart.
At the end of day, Chiaki feels a renewed hope. Meanwhile, Nodame feels her heart thumping and falling in love with Chiaki. Chiaki tells her that her technique in playing cannot be accepted during competitions. Nodame laughs at him when he said that. She could not imagine herself partaking in any competition because she just wanted to be a kindergarten teacher. When Nodame asks him what he will do next, Chiaki tells her that could do more things in Japan.
The following day, Chiaki walks through the campus again with the purpose of changing divisions. He is now determined to major in conducting.
But a word goes through the students that a famous conductor is coming to their school to teach. The students rushed over to the faculty center where they see Streseman and Chiaki realizes that it is Milch Holstein.
Streseman wants to have his own orchestra and he shows them the pictures of the students that he has chosen. One of them is Nodame.