Today I review volume sixteen of Nodame Cantabile for Manga Recon’s Manga Minis column. It is, you’ll notice, a very positive review. I must confess that I have a deep and abiding love for this series and I would be quite surprised if it ever let me down in any significant way. Even my early misgivings about lecherous conductor Stresemann and stereotypically presented Masumi have long been quelled. I could write many paragraphs describing the various charms of each character (just in this volume alone), my general adoration of Nodame, and my long-standing crush on Chiaki–and perhaps someday I will. Today you are spared this long-winded treatise.
Admittedly, much of my love for this series has to do with my own experience as a music (performance) major in college and how nostalgic I become whenever I sit down to read it. I said recently that I thought I was most like Mine–determined to rebel against my strict classical surroundings, but swept up with love for the music in spite of myself. Now that I’m entering a period of my life where I’ve begun singing classically again, I suppose the nostalgia is even closer to my heart.
Whatever the reason, Nodame Cantabile touches me in a very personal way, with its humor, its drama, its cast of wonderfully idiosyncratic characters, and its unusually insightful look into the lives of young performers as they struggle to find balance between insecurity, ambition, and simple love of their art. Though this kind of struggle is not limited to music students (and, in fact, probably describes any person attempting to make a career out of their true vocation), the raw vulnerability required of performers simply to do their work provides the ideal vehicle for expressing these feelings on paper. It is this, I believe, that is Nodame Cantabile‘s great success. Read my review here.