This is my review of one of the best anime series of 2007, Nodame Cantabile. And yeah, this series definitely is much better than the overhyped Haruhi Suzumiya anime I reviewed a couple of days earlier. Apart of Naruto Shippuden, this is only the other series which I actively watched as the episodes was released week-by-week instead of waiting until the end of the run. Not only that, I also obtained the drama version and watched it (although this version will not be covered here) and the manga.
Shinichi Chiaki, a hugely talented classical musician who wished to become an orchestra conductor, found out that he hits the glass wall just because he is afraid of flying thus unable to go to Europe to further his education. Trapped in a local conservatory, Chiaki, a pianist at the top of his class, started to falter in his studies, loses his girlfriend and then sees a fellow student goes to Europe and become the student of his beloved conductor teacher. Down and out, he then meets Nodame….
This romantic comedy series revolves around Chiaki and Nodame whose platonic relationship helps each other to improve in their studies and love life. The beauty of this series is that you do not have to appreciate classical music to enjoy the story. The plotlines are excellent, even with some scenes from the manga being omitted. The story flows really well, and the ending is excellent, setting up the way for a second season very nicely. This series can easily be compared to the likes of GTO and hold its own. The comedies are top-notch, even surpassed the ones in Haruhi Suzumiya. And Nodame is much cooler than Suzumiya herself.
Being aimed at mature audiences, the character design is more realistic, with common occurrence of black hairs and smaller eyes. Thus exaggeration commonly found in titles aimed at younger audiences is nearly absent here. In general, there is nothing to complain about here.
If you think The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is excellent in this aspect, Nodame Cantabile is at least 5 times better. Tomokazu Seki is excellent as Chiaki, but Ayako Kawasumi is simply phenomenal. Her portrayal of Nodame is beyond awesome, even better than Megumi Hayashibara in Yamamoto Yohko. Watching this anime just to hear her voice as Nodame is worth it. Definitely her best gig I ever heard. Having 2 great voice actors at the top of their form playing the 2 central characters in this anime make a good story more appealing. Even if the others sucks (and they are not) these 2 alone can carry this series forward by themselves.
The OP and ED themes and also the OST are great. Now do you see at this point why this anime is my choice as the best in 2007? Plus, the classical music played throughout the series are good bonuses too even if you do not like it.
The animation is good, especially the scenes where they shows hands playing musical instruments (I think those are computer-generated). The directing is also good, except for the part where I have to hear Piano Concerto No.2 by Sergei Rachmaninoff at episode 11 for half of the episode.