Saturday, 5 December 2009

Not recommended: Nodame Cantabile

Just so this blog doesn't turn into a list of things I like, I'm going to occasionally focus on my less favoured programmes. I have mixed feelings towards Nodame Cantabile. Odd that, since everywhere else I look people heap praise upon it. It’s won awards, has now got two more TV specials being made for it and its soundtrack is Japan’s biggest selling classical music CD or something. So why am I so apathetic towards it?

I get the feeling that it helps a lot if you’ve read the original manga series. That way the characters won’t seem like a bunch of hysteric stereotypes and are in fact accurate portrayals of the comic. Certainly, the first episode had me scratching my head over some of the acting. What works on the page doesn’t necessarily work on screen (see also: the end of No Country For Old Men) but I suppose a less faithful rendition wouldn’t have been as well received. For me, who had never seen the manga at all, it was a bit like being thrown in at the deep end, and I simply had to accept their weird quirks without thinking about it too much.

The comedy, like the acting, is very broad and physical, which brings me to a dilemma. Both male and female characters are on the receiving end of comedy knocks which I should approve of, but I found it unsettling to see a woman punched in the face for not playing a piano just right, even if it was done in a cartoon-y style. Should I, in this post-post-feminist world be okay with such slapstick being given out to both men and women alike? Meh, perhaps I’m behind the times, but it bothered me.

On the plus side, the music’s good, with a nice version of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue in episode four or five (I forget), the acting (once you get used to it) is fine especially from the two leads, Ueno Juri and Tamaki Hiroshi, and the storyline does become more interesting and involved as you go. But that’s about it. I enjoyed it for what it was, but it’s not a title that’d spring to mind when talking about the best in Japanese TV.

1 comment:

  1. Funny thing, Nodame was my second jdrama after Last Friend. My experience is different...

    I watched the first episode, and was taken off guard with the comedy aspect of Nodame, I actually had to get used to it... and the over-the-top acting. I thought to myself... oh, another silly Japanese show. However, by episode 3 or 4, I was already hooked and used to the physical comedy. Naoto Takenaka's "German teacher" was just... so weird over-the-top, and it turned into those laugh-out-loud things from the show.

    And just like you, seeing the hitting of Juri was bothering me, until about the time we see that Juri-doll being thrown out... LOL

    One of the moments I most remember is when Mizukawa Asami and Eita are on the group date, they discover their love for a piece of music or something, and they immediately say "kekkon!" and then when they find out they want the same spot, Asami punches Eita in the face saying "divorce!" LOL