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.