Thursday, February 07, 2008

Episode 1 (Nodame Cantabile)

Nodame Cantabile > Episode 1

The beginning of the episode we get a flashback of Shinichi Chiaki in Praha, Prague. Here it shows how a younger version Chiaki was inspired to be a conductor when he saw a conductor named Sebastiano Viera performing inside Dvorak Hall. In the next scene, a grown out Chiaki in a dark gloomy room lamenting that he’s stuck in Japan, and wondering when would he ever get to visit the conductor Viera in Prague.

After lamenting, Chiaki goes back into flashback mode and we get to know that as a child, being the son of a famous pianist, he was privileged enough to attend musical performances all over the world. This was when he first encountered Sebastiano Viera and was in awe, he wanted to grow up to be a conductor just like Sebastiano Viera. However, as Chiaki’s mother has divorced his father he was forced to move back to Japan with her. Before he went back to Japan, he told the Maestro to accept him as a pupil when he grew up and was able to come back to Prague.

Fast-forward to the present time, Chiaki is attending Momogaoka College of Music and, as he is one of the talented students’, has become the school’s idol adored by almost all the students of the school (especially females). Chiaki, on the other hand, couldn’t be bothered with the attention he receives as he does not have regard for people in general; having a superior complex. He even gets jealous of a guy called Hayakawa Yukio, who receives a scholarship to study abroad.
As Chiaki is walking to his class for the day, we got to met Nodame. There are two girls talking about Chiaki and deciding to have lunch before they continue. Just as they are about to start their lunch (they bring packed lunches to school), it turns out that one of the lunchboxes was eaten clean. Here we see the back view of a very full Nodame running away, with her friend yelling at her in the background.

During Chiaki’s piano lesson, as he was frustrated that Hayakawa Yukio has the opportunity to study abroad, starts to play the piano faster than the tempo and in the process angering his teacher. Chiaki immediately gets smacked with a paper fan and subsequently gets scolded by said teacher. The teacher reminds Chiaki that he was selected to participate in Maradona Piano Contest in December, and the teacher was not impressed when he discovered Chiaki’s Conductor's score sheet as he couldn’t play the piece before very well. In retaliation, Chiaki tells his teacher that he's fed up of hearing "Forte" repetitively and sick the lack of originality of students playing.

Upon hearing his remark, the teacher becomes upset and informs Chiaki not to come to his lesson anymore; another student would be replacing Chiaki in the contest. The teacher storms out of the room leaving Chiaki muttering to himself that it was always his dream to become a conductor. While thinking about this and walking out of the school, he suddenly hears someone playing Beethoven's Piano Sonata, pathétique.

Initially he assumed that the playing was sloppy and the tempo was messy, however upon further listening Chiaki became impressed by the player because the pianist did not make a mistake although the tempo was irregular. Captivated by the sound, he runs to the direction of the music hoping to catch a glimpse of the one playing. He manages to locate the room, but before he was able to open the door to take a look at the person, he gets interrupted by a girl called Saiko. She instantly asks him if he got kicked out of Eto-sensei's class, suggests that Chiaki apologise to Eto-sensei - a famous teacher in the college – mentioning that she thinks he's fortunate to be selected in the student competition and that he should not throw away the opportunity. Chiaki, however is unaffected by her words as he interest does not lie with the piano. When Saiko suggests that he switch to the Conducting course, he retorts that he all he wants for a teacher is Sebastiano Viera.

Upon hearing his reply, Saiko is incensed and tells Chiaki that since he wants Sebastiano Viera for a teacher he should stop wasting his time and just go aboard to study. This is where we learn why Chiaki is unable to leave Japan: he has a phobia of flying; he starts to hyperventilate, hallucinating images of an airplane crashing.

Chiaki ponders if he should just quit music altogether since he will not be satisfied unless he can perform in Europe, wondering if the company Saiko's parents set up will accept him. Saiko is disgusted to see Chiaki sounding like a loser. Chiaki tries to stop her when she tries to leave, and in retaliation, Saiko informs him that he had lost the right to stop her when they broke up and to top it off, she hates losers. A drunken Chiaki eventually makes his way back to his apartment but ends up sleeping in the hallway instead. This is where the female protagonist, Megumi "Nodame" Noda, sees and instantly falls head over heels for him. When she blows into Chiaki's ear, Chiaki feels as if he's in an open field enjoying the cool breeze with Beethoven's Sonata playing in the background. Chiaki opens his eyes and finds himself amongst junks in a room other than his own; with a girl playing an improvised Cantabile.

Chiaki's beautiful illusion comes to an abrupt end when he accidentally hits an empty can of coffee and a mess of flies get unleashed. In the meanwhile, Nodame finally remembers that the guy she brought into her room is her upper classman, Chiaki. She than gives Chiaki a creepy grin and asks him if he remembers what happened last night. Chiaki freaks out to hear and runs out of the room. He comes to the realization that he's still in his apartment block but was in the room next door. He becomes disgusted when he notices dust and spider webs on his shirt and dashes to his bathroom. When he realizes that he lost his belt, he starts to freak out when he remembers that Nodame asked him if he remembered what happened the night before. He immediately takes a shower in a desperate attempt to get rid of the bad memories, all the while he screaming that he doesn't remember.

Proceeding on to the next day, Chiaki is horrified when Nodame shows up with his belt. He pretends not to know her and fakes ignorance that the belt belongs to him. When Nodame continues to follow him, Chiaki has no choice but to throw the belt away in an attempt to divert Nodame’s attention, causing her to chase after it. Nodame's friend refuses to believe that she picked Chiaki up last night, but Nodame insists that Chiaki was the one who asked her to help him. During this time, Chiaki finds out that his teacher has been changed from Eto Kozo to Tanioka Hajime. He is more than shocked when he finds out that Nodame will be sharing the same teacher as him.

On to the next scene inside an auditorium: Eto-sensei brings a reporter to an orchestra rehearsal and informs her that Momogaoka Music Academy has an elite orchestra comprising of the most talented students. However, before the reporter can listen to the rehearsal, the Chairwoman complains about how everything always sounds the same. In the meanwhile, Chiaki is asked to play a two-piano Sonata with Nodame by Tanioka-sensei.

Chiaki initially tries to refuse saying that he can't play with someone as messy as Nodame, nevertheless Tanioka tells Chiaki that even if he is unable to, he should at least just try advising his underclassman. Chiaki finally relents when he sees the song they are about to play, Mozart Sonata Duet, demanding Nodame to get the song right. After only 2 sections, Nodame is already making mistakes and seems to be playing the song in a chaotic manner. This causes Chiaki to hurl the piano sheets at her. Chiaki soon realises the problem, Nodame is not looking at the music sheets (she has her eyes closed throughout). Nodame replies that she's just enjoying the song. Tanioka-sensei explains that Nodame has a good ear and not used to play a piano using the music sheets, often learning by listening to a song.

Tanioka-sensei thinks they should just take it easy but Chiaki disagrees, wanting to conclude the lesson within 3 days. After practice, Chiaki meets Saiko again and is surprised when she seems to be waving at him. It turns out that she was waving at the scholarship student, Hayakawa Yukio, and he become upset. In order to calm himself down, Chiaki goes to his balcony to enjoy the view.

Upon reaching the balcony, he smells an unpleasant odor emitting from Nodame's apartment next door. In his curisousity, he takes a peek at her balcony, and is horrified to see piles of rubbish bags piled. There’s even a disgusting purple liquid oozing out of her apartment, making its slow descend to his balcony....along with swarms of ants. Chiaki immediately goes over and rings Nodame's doorbell, wanting to reprimand her. In her attempt to answer the door, Nodame opens the door violently, hitting him right in the face. Nodame assumes that Chiaki has come for his belt but he actually wants to clean up her room.

Chiaki starts getting rid of Nodame’s stuff, starting with the things that he assumes she doesn't need, but Nodame keeps protesting that she needs wants to keep everything and its precious to her. He then proceeds to clean up her room; he finds a pot containing some black sludge inside of it. Nodame claims that it was actually cream stew.... made one year ago. Over the next few hours Chiaki find more gross objects (e.g.mushroom growing on her laundry). It takes a while before Nodame’s room is cleaned and tidy. At the end of it, Chiaki wonders out loud why he is doing this in the first place.

To express her gratitude to Chiaki for his help, Nodame decides to cook him a charcoal like fish she claims to be 'Salted horse mackerel with mayo’. Chiaki decides to whip up a hard-to-pronounce pasta dish for both of them, as he is afraid of getting food poisoning. Nodame praises Chiaki's cooking skill, igniting his ego, and he promises her that next time he'll cook tastier foods for her.

We then get introduced to one of the supporting characters, Ryuutarou. Ryuutarou complains that his father didn't wake him up, thinking that he was late for school. However, it turns out that he still has enough time to make his way to the academy. As a result, Ryuutarou has a slight conversation a man, a foreigner, who praised his father's cooking. (His father owns a Chinese restaurant) Ryuutarou ends up giving the old man a tour of his academy and in the process somehow manages to lose track of the guy. We get shown that the old man has been taking pictures of several seemingly untalented students in the academy. This old man soon becomes the talk of the academy and they start to wonder if he's stalking Chiaki. A guy comments that stalking Chiaki would something Masumi(another supporting character who behaves a little femininely) would do. As soon as he finished his sentence, a guy with a big afro hair materializes and strangles him, insisting he's not a stalker and that he has been looking at 'Chiaki-sama' for the past 4 years, nothing more.

Speaking of Chiaki, he arrives for practice and notices a history book on Mozart's two piano Sonata. This composition apparently was created by Mozart with the intention to be performed with a friend's gifted daughter. Chiaki thinks that that Tanioka-sensei is being harsh for forcing him and Nodame to accomplish something so difficult. He even admits that it would be a challenge to accomplish within 3 day, a timeframe he set himself.

Chiaki finds out later on in the day that the scholarship student will actually study at Gerharm Academy, the institution where Viera will be. Later on that night, Nodame meets the strange old man and finds out that he comes from Germany and is in a foreign land all by hiself. Nodame decides to take him to Chiaki's house. Upon seeing Nodame bringing a stranger she just met on the street to his house, Chiaki is livid. And when she says that his name is Milch Holstein, Chiaki is angered even further because the name sounds “fake”.

The old man sees Chiaki's photo frame of a picture with Viera and asks Chiaki if he knows Viera. Chiaki is angered to see the old man touching his precious picture. This is when the old man realises that Chiaki does not want him around, so he tries to get Nodame out of Chiaki's apartment, conning her about a good Sushi restaurant near the hotel he's staying. Chiaki feels that the old man is a pervert and attempts to get Nodame away from him by asking her to practice in his room that night. The old man, retaliates by telling Nodame that he has something more fun to teach her inside his beautiful fluffy bed. Unwilling to be outdone, Chiaki informs Nodame that his room also has fluffy bed. Upon hearing this, Nodame instantly latches onto Chiaki's arm, much to the dismay of the old man. Chiaki uses this opportunity to kick the guy out of his room. When he returns to his room, Chiaki sees Nodame already in her pyjamas on his bed, asking him to have her.

Chiaki is annoyed uponing seeing this and orders Nodame to go back, Nodame tries to bargain saying she will practice properly as long as he doesn't kick her out. Chiaki loses his enthusiasm and doesn't care either way. He tells Nodame that he will tell Tanioka-sensei that he can no longer teacher her. An upset Nodame leaves Chiaki's room. The next day, Chiaki hears messily played piano tunes from Nodame’s room and decides to visit her.

When he enters Nodame's room, he is shocked to see it returning to the messy state that it was in previously. Nodame appearance does not help either as she apologises for the noise, saying that she still can't play the song well. Upon hearing this, Chiaki tells her that if she can't learn from score, then he wants her to learn by using her ear. He then proceeds to play the song and asks her to listen carefully.

Although Nodame improves, he still gets frustrated at her little mistakes. However, he remembers how Eto-sensei treated him and promises himself that he will never do likewise with treat Nodame, determined to move away from Eto-sensei’s footsteps. Nodame eventually manages to perfect the song but Chiaki is still not happy.... because her hair has not been washed in the last 3 days! Chiaki takes it upon himself to personally wash Nodame's hair and blow-dry it. In the process he muses to himself why he’s doing such a thing. He gets the feeling and imagines himself to be a dog groomer, with Nodame being the dog. On the other hand, Nodame is enjoying herself and has an imagination that she’s being served like a queen on a holiday. He mentions that he feels like a dog groomer and strangely enough Nodame is not offended and even asks him what kind of a dog is she. Chiaki thinks that Nodame is weird and in a way reminds him of Viera-sensei.

On the day both of them are to perform in front of Tanioka-sensei approaches, Chiaki notices Nodame trying hard to memorise the score and tells her she can play the song anyway she likes for that day. They begin to play in unison but Chiaki anticipates to the problem will come soon bwhen Nodame goes off into her own world when he told her she could play as she liked. Although Chiaki is bothered by Nodame's style, he remembers what Viera-sensei once told him that it is more important to create a performance that captivate people, and he adjusts to her style; complimenting as they play along.

When the performance ends, Tanioka-sensei praises Chiaki for being able to break 'the wall' and Chiaki realises that he was paired with Nodame not only to teach her but to learn as well. As Chiaki walks back with Nodame, she tells him that seeing his back makes her heart beat faster, murmuring to herself if she's in love with him. Chiaki is shocked and tries to stop Nodame from kissing him, reminding her that although her style was ok for that performance, it would never be allowed in a contest. Nodame replies that she has no interest in entering a contest and that her aspiration is to become a kindergarten teacher.

Through this encounter, Chiaki realises that there are more things he can accomplish and so he decides to change his course of study. Simultaneously, news travels rapidly that a world famous conductor, Franz Strezemann, will be coming to campus. Ryuutarou fails to understand the hype that Strezemann will teach the conducting division. While Chiaki, on the other hand, is glad as he just applied to study conducting. He and Ryuutarou follow the rest of the students to the teachers’ room and are surprised to see the perverted old man they encountered to be the famous Maestro mentioned.

Strezemann informs the teacher that he wants to form a new student orchestra using students that he selected. He then proceeds to show them the photos of these students; however he accidentally shows them some naughty photos instead. Eventually Strezemann manages to show them photos of the students that he selected (the ones which he took previously when Ryuutarou lost him on campus) - Masumi, a new female character, Ryuutarou, and Nodame. Chiaki, is dismayed to see this and decides contemplates about his change of study.


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