My new favorite manga that’s floating in publishing limbo. SADTIMES. Kodansha USA, please get back on board with this manga.
Megumi Noda (or Nodame, as she makes people call her, as in Japanese her name is NODA MEgumi) is an incredibly gifted piano student. She can play anything she hears once. However, her problem is she can’t sight read and she tends to put her own flair on everything she plays, even if it’s not written that way. She plays what she feels. Shinichi Chiaki is another gifted music student and plays both the piano and violin, but he really wants to be a conductor. He is an extreme perfectionist, and Nodame’s carefree playing ways both intrigue and annoy him.
So naturally, as this is a manga, these two obviously end up together. But it’s the way that they go about it that is so fun for me. Nodame immediately falls in love after meeting him, and Chiaki is horrified that he has this slovenly, weird girl (she has the funniest vocal outbursts) suddenly stalking him. However a part of him can’t help but reach out to her, especially after hearing her play (although sometimes her playing drives him mad since she always adds her own touches). He ends up feeding her and cleaning up after her and sort of treats her like an annoying stray cat he picked up.
There’s also their kooky friends that Nodame starts gathering: the wanna-be rock star violinist, the gay timpani musician who’s madly in love with Chiaki, and the perverted famous conductor who spends most of his time at host club bars or hitting on the music students. I like how the manga makes both of the main characters grow: Chiaki has to learn patience and empathy when he conducts (musicians can be a temperamental bunch), and Nodame has to buckle down and focus on her studies if she wants to follow her love, Chiaki.
This is a josei manga (manga for older women), so this follows them out of school (we meet them in college) so we can see what happens to them.
Or at least it WOULD if Del Rey hadn’t stopped publishing it, and when Kodansha took back their titles, it did not start publishing this one again. So Nodame Cantabile is on hiatus until Kodansha figures out what it wants to do with this title (along with another favorite title of mine, Moyashimon). There are 16 out of 23 volumes published in the US, and it seems like it’ll stay that way. There hasn’t been a new US volume published since 2009.
It’s really too bad, because for part of the manga, they are in Paris, and it’s fun to read a manga not set in Japan or some fantasy/futurisitic setting. It’s especially fun to see Nodame try to learn French.
So I am wistfully hopeful, although depressingly realistic, about ever getting to finish reading Nodame Cantabile. At least there is an anime out that covers the entire series, although that also has not been released in the US. We really need more josei over here, people! Your manga/anime fans are growing up!
(Ok, so I’ve been grown up for a very long while. Shut up.)