I have previously reviewed here its anime version, so today I’m covering the drama version!
Nodame Cantabile (のだめカンタービレ) has been adapted as a live-action television drama broadcasted in 11 one-hour-long episodes from October 16, to December 25, 2006. This was followed by a four-hour sequel television special, Nodame Cantabile New Year’s Special in Europe, broadcasted on January 4 and 5, 2008. These were directed by Takeuchi Hideki with scripts by Etou Rin, and starred Tamaki Hiroshi as Chiaki Shinichi and Ueno Juri as Nodame.
Music direction was by Mogi Daisuke with original music by Hattori Takayuki, with several works of classical music featured in each episode. The orchestral music was performed by Nodame Orchestra, which consisted of members specially selected for the live-action drama with professional support from the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra. The Orchestra was conducted by James DePriest, Permanent Conductor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Orchestra, who would later have his name and likeness used in the Nodame storyline as the musical director of the fictional Roux-Marlet Orchestra. The opening theme for both the drama series and special was the First movement (“Andante Cantabile”) from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, and the ending theme was Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, both performed by the Nodame Orchestra conducted by Umeda Toshiaki.
Two live-action movie sequels to the television drama, with the same actors, were released in December 2009 and April 2010. Filming began in May 2009 and lasted for five months, and included location filming in Vienna.
As for the plot, Nodame Cantabile tells a fun-filled quirky romantic story of the two protagonists, Chiaki Shinichi and Nodame.
Nodame (real name Noda Megumi) is a piano student at Momogaoka College of Music. An extremely talented pianist who wants to be a kindergarten teacher, she prefers playing by ear rather than reading the music score. She is messy and disorganized, takes baths several days apart and loves to eat, sometimes stealing her friend’s lunchbox when it is filled with delicacies.
Chiaki Shinichi is Momogaoka’s top student. Born into a musical family, he is talented in piano and violin and has secret ambitions to become a conductor. An arrogant multilingual perfectionist who once lived abroad in the music capitals of the world as a young boy, but is now stuck in Japan because of a childhood phobia.
Both of them meet by accident. Nodame quickly falls in love, but it takes much longer for Chiaki to even begin to appreciate Nodame’s unusual qualities. Their relationship causes them both to develop and grow. Because of Nodame, Chiaki got the opportunity to lead a student orchestra and begins to have a broader appreciation of people’s musical abilities. Because of Chiaki, Nodame faces her fears and enters a piano competition. Opportunities open up as both begin taking risks, stretching themselves far more than they ever thought possible.
I honestly have to add a personal note to this one, as this drama (as well as the anime) is one of the reasons why I started liking classical music so much.
Making a little spoiler, Tchaikovsky’s “1812” Overture is one of the best moments in the whole series (won’t say when it happens though!), and it became my favorite classical piece ever.
To put things even better, recently I went to the concert of my friend’s orchestra here in Tokyo, and among the absolutely great program they had, they also interpreted this piece. And I just faced the beauty of music in that day.
I really recommend you to watch it, either if you like classical music or not. I wasn’t that big a fan before, but I learned to like it, and now I love it enough to think that no contemporary music can match the beauty of the pieces from before.