Nodame Cantabile, Vol. 2
By Tomoko Ninomiya
Published by Del Rey
This volume opens with the introduction of new character Masumi Okuyama, a timpani player with massive crush on Chiaki who sees Nodame as his rival. His initial attack against her consists of various childish pranks, like sending her an ominous chain letter and taping a sign that reads “IDIOT” on her back. Eventually, the two of them become engaged in a competition to see who can procure a Christmas Eve date with Chiaki–a challenge they both lose (or both win, depending on how you look at it). Also introduced in this volume is a new professor of conducting, Maestro Franz von Stresemann–a notorious skirt-chaser who takes photographs of the female students’ underwear, and who creepily pursues Nodame from the first moment he appears. He later forms his own personal orchestra made up mainly of colorful characters and pretty girls chosen without regard to their actual musical talent.
All that said, there is still plenty here to draw me into this series. Nodame is still quite a mystery in many ways and I’m looking forward to finding some hidden depth in her, as well as seeing where her raw talent and uninhibited personality take her as the story goes on. Having been a music major in a pretty intense program, so much of this manga resonates very strongly with me, especially Chiaki’s personal struggles with perfectionism and the endless roller-coaster of self-esteem all artists are doomed to ride–from arrogance to humility and back again, chapter to chapter. Also, Stresemann’s lesson to Chiaki about treating students with good humor and respect as a conductor in order to get the best work from them made me laugh outright in a very good way. I can think of some conductors I worked with in school who could have benefited greatly from that lesson, and none of them were students.
I really don’t want to make too much of the elements I found disappointing in this volume. This is still a very charming series with engaging characters who have great potential for growth, and the mangaka’s research has given the music school setting a very realistic feel. I look forward to reading more.
Danielle Leigh saysMay 13, 2009 at 12:43 pm
I think there is something about this series makes it *good*, but not great (for me personally anyway), so I understand your reaction to the second volume. At some point there is a major scene shift in the series and I’m always wondering how that changes things….and if I should keep picking the title up.
Melinda Beasi saysMay 13, 2009 at 9:31 pm
I’ll be interested to see how I feel about it over the next couple of volumes or so. I *really* liked the first volume, after all. I guess we’ll see!
Oliver saysMay 14, 2009 at 4:01 pm
Please stick with this series!! 2nd volume is not an accurate portrayal of the series’ success! And the “sudden shift” in the series propels it further into “amazing manga territory” so stick with it! It’s not like what happened in death note.
I loved Masumi! Since I do “relate” to him if you know what I mean, it was nice to see a character like him. He is a pretty funny character and I didn’t dislike his portrayal at all (and c’mon, some gay guys truly do act like that, you should see him in the live drama! ten times funnier! live drama is subtitled on mysoju.com)
Recommended for the third volume: buy it AND volume 4 at the same time. ;)
Melinda Beasi saysMay 14, 2009 at 8:43 pm
Ah ha! Thank you for the purchasing advice! :D
Also, your charming comment makes me want to give the series the benefit of the doubt. I promise to keep going! :)
Grant saysMay 14, 2009 at 4:28 pm
“…the endless roller-coaster of self-esteem all artists are doomed to ride–from arrogance to humility and back again”
that sounds like a brutal series of ups and downs. my brother is in music school right now and this is exactly what it’s like for him.
Melinda Beasi saysMay 14, 2009 at 8:44 pm
I think there’s no way around that, really, though those who last in the business (which doesn’t include me, since I eventually left it) find ways to deal with it and not go crazy. :)