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Watanabe Masako   Mizuno Hideko   Chiba Tetsuya  

Nodame Cantabile

(by Ninomiya Tomoko, serialized in Kiss)


Chiaki Shinichi is a music student who majors in piano, but he's been thinking of becoming a conductor since he watched an opera conducted by Sebastiano Viera. Chiaki's father is a famous pianist. He lived in Vienna with his parents until his parents divorced. On his return to Japan, the plane he was in made a belly landing, and it made him scared of flying. He can't go back to Europe even though he wants to study music and become a musician there. He has a falling-out with Professor Eto, who is a piano teacher with a brilliant reputation.. Eto tells Chiaki to find another teacher. When he's walking near a practice room, he hears someone playing Beethoven's "Pathetique". At first he finds the performance poor, but soon he finds it excellent. When he's wondering who is playing., his ex-gerlfriend, Saiko, calls out to him. She encourages him to make an apology to Eto. Chiaki has no intention of apologizing to him. He says he might be better off if he gives up becoming a musian and works for the musical instrument company run by Saiko's family. He invites Saiko to stay a night with him. Saiko says they've broken up and she hates losers. "You can't be successful anywhere. " says Saiko.

Noda Nodame sees a man being drunk and sleeping in front of the door of her flat. Chiaki hears again the piano performance that he heard near the practice room in his dream. He wakes up in a messy room and sees a woman playing the piano. This is Chiaki's first encounter with Nodame(Noda Nodame).

Chiaki can't tell where he is and who is playing the piano. He gets dizzy. When he touches the floor, a can falls down on the floor and some flies start flying.. Turning to Chiaki, Nodame says "Chiaki-sempai, do you remember what you did last night?" Chiaki runs out of the room and finds out that he is in his apartment and his flat is next to hers. He's aware that his arms are dusty. He goes into the bathroom to take a shower. He doesn't remember what he did last night.

On the college campus, Nodame calls out to Chiaki. Showing him a belt, she says to him, "You left it in my room yesterday." Chiaki says it's not his. Nodame says she's sure it's his because she took it off from him. Chiaki says it wasn't him. Nodame insists that it was him and chases him.

Chiaki looks into Professor Tanioka's room to see what he is like since Tanioka is his new piano teacher. He sees Tanioka and Nodame laughing. They are composing a comical song for kids. Chiaki gets shocked to hear students aound him saying that Tanioka's students are dropouts. He gets shocked again to hear that Saiko goes out with Hayakawa, who is going to Germany to study conducting.
When Chiaki is wondering if he should give up studying music on the balcony, he takes notice that Nodame's balcony is full of garbage bags and some ants are walking on his balcony.. He rushes out of his flat and visits Nodame. Nodame asks him if he comes to take back his belt. Chiaki asks her where the vacuum cleaner is. Though she says it's on the bed, the room is too messy for Chiaki to find the bed. Chiaki throws away all the rubbish around there and cleans the room.
Wiping the washed dishes in the kitchen, he thinks it foolish of him to do housework for someone else in self-abandonment. Nodame begins to play the piano. The melody sounds original. Nodame says it's a piano sonata titiled "Cleaning", which is a prelude of love between Chiaki and her. Chiaki tells her to play it again. He's been interested in her performance. He finds her performance impressive again. She has big hands and she can play any difficult part without difficulty. "Wrong note! Play the same melody as before." shouts Chiaki. "I don't remember the melody." says Nodame. Saying, "You played like this! You can't remember it because you didn't compose it according to music theory", Chiaki replays the melody. "Out of theory, but interesting." Chiaki thinks.
Nodame plays the melody again folloing Chiaki's instructions.
"You're great, sempai! You memorized the melody after you heartd it only once." says Nodame. "I get tired, but I had fun.. The tone sounds totally different in a clean room! "

Professor Tanioka encourages Chiaki to play Mozart's Sonata for Two Pianos with Nodame. Prof. Tanioka says he's heard about the piece of "Prelude of Love". "There's no such piece." Chiaki says.
Chiaki says he can't play with Nodame, who plays the piano in that terrible way. Prof. Tanioka says he's sure Chiaki can, because Nodame actually is an excellent pianist, Chiaki is the top piano student in this college, and he has such a great leadership that he made Nodame play a whole piece of music. Nodame says Chiaki is a love magician.
Prof. Tanioka gives them music sheets. Both Chiaki and Nodame sees it for the first time. Chaki tells Nodame to start playing immediately after they read it once. Chiaki gets angry because Nodame hits a wrong note in the second measure. Restarting from the beginning, Chiaki wonders why Nodame hits so many wrong notes and he realizes she doesn't look at the music sheet when playing. He gets furious. Even though Nodame says she's memorised the music, she hasn't. Prof. Tanioka says Nodame is always playing by ear and she doesn't get used to play the piano looking at the music sheet.
Chiaki visits Nodame that evening to practice with her. He gets shocked to see the messy room, which he cleaned only a week ago. Nodame apologizes to him for not memorising the music yet, and she asks him to give her another week. Chiaki says he can't wait for a week. He tells her to read the score while listening to his performance. Mozart's Sonata for Two Pianos was a piece of saloon music, which Mozarts composed in order to play with a chubby girl. Chiaki thinks Prof. Tanioka is a bit nasty because List and Brahms also composed a Sonata for two pianos, and they are far more popular and easier to play.
After the performance, Nodame gives him applause. "You're excellent! Really accurate! Your performance perfectly followed the score." says she. "Your performance is too inaccurate. Don't play the piano against composer's will." says Chiaki.
They practice together everyday. Chiaki gives Nodame a lot of instructions. Even though he knows all the instructions are right, it brings back the memory of Prof. Eto, and he gradually gets irritated.
One day, Chiaki says to Nodame, "Your hair stinks!". Nodame says she shampooed her hair only four days ago. She drags her to the bathroom and washes her hair. Blow-drying her hair, Chiaki wonders why he is always doing voluntary work like this when he is under a lot of stress. Nodame says she feels as if she were a queen. Chiaki feels as if he were a dog trimmer. Her childishness reminds him of Viera, who is a conductor that Chiaki respects the most.
Before they are to play again in front of Prof. Tanioka, Chiaki tells Nodame to play as she likes. He is sure she has something special and he's the only pianist that can play with her in harmony. Nodame plays freely, but Chiaki knows her style very well and he is confident to continue playing with her. Viera said to Chiaki that it would be absolutely rare that his own performance made his heart tremble with joy. Although Chiaki has been dreaming of the moment when his own performance touches his heart, he's almost given up hope for that. However, playing with Nodame now, he is certainly moved with their performance.
"Bravo!" shouts Prof. Tanioka after the performance. " Congratulations, Chiaki-kun. Apparently you've broken the wall." he says. Chiaki realises it wasn't for Nodame but for Chiaki that Prof. Tanioka told them to play together. He thinks he has something more to do in Japan.
On their way home, Nodame asks Chiaki if she's falling love with him. "No way." answers Chiaki.

Mine Ryuutarou's father owns a Chinese restaurant called "Uraken", which is located near the music college. Though he is a violin student, he's interested in rock music more than classical music. He wonders what his rock band should play at the college festival. Even though his friend introduced Chiaki to him as the pianist accompanying Mine at the examination, Chiaki gave up accompanying him since Mine's performance was not good enough. When Mine tells the friend to introduce a better pianist who is flexible and nice, and can understand Mine's music, the electric violin that he is playing suddenly becomes soundless. He opens the door to see who unplugged the extension cord, and he finds Nodame falling down on the corridoor. She's stumbled over the extension cord. Seeing her pretty face and Chopin's music sheet beside her, Mine asks her to accompany him at the exam.
Nodame visits Chiaki with her rice boul. They've had dinner together for two weeks. Two weeks ago, Nodame visits him with a grilled fish, which was almost burnt. He cooked and served Penne con i broccoli for her. She got excited to eat it and said Chiaki was a gifted cook. Being flattered, he promised her to make something more delicious the next day. After the dinner, Nodame asks if Chiaki knows of Beethoven's fifth violin sonata, "Spring". He tells her to play it. He gets upset because her performance is very different from the score.
Mine gets excited with joy since they were able to play together in harmony at their first practice. They even made a mistake in the same place. Nodame is puzzled. Mine says Nodame's performance has a soul and they are best partners for each other.. Mine is sure he'll be successful at the exam.
Prof. Tanioka says, 'What's the matter, Chiaki-kun? You don't seem to feel like playing the piano today." Chiaki asks him if he can play another piece and begins to play "Spring".
When Chiaki passes Uraken on his way home, he sees Nodame eating Chinese dishes in Uraken. Mine's father is a cook. Mine says Nodame can eat there for free any time. Chiaki eats food bought at a convenience store alone. Chiaki thinks Nodame could be a person similar to a cat that would love whoever feeds her. Listening to Beethoven's first symphony conducted by Viera, he goes into sleep. A knocking sound wakes him up. Being upset against Nodame, he opens the door violently uttering a swear word. He finds Saiko standing outside. She looks shocked. He notices Nodame looking at them from the corner of the passage, and tells Saiko to get into the room. Nodame, holding some Chinese dishes for Chiaki, gets shocked.

The next morning, Nodame sees Chiaki and Saiko leaving Chiaki's flat for school together. Even when Mine starts practicing, Nodame is too depressed to play the piano. Mine asks who Nodame was blown off by. Mine says he will help Nodame regain his love. He doesn't want Nodame to stay depressed at the exam, which he needs to take in a week. Mine drags her to the college campus to see who she was blown off by. "It's him." Nodame points to Chiaki. Mine wonders why Nodame is in love with Chiaki. Saiko shows up and talks to Chiaki. "Is she your rival?" Mine asks. Nodame nods. "You have no chance." says Mine, "She's Tagaya Saiko, a pretty woman and an excellent singer. In addition, her father owns Tagaya Musical Instrument . I don't think Chiaki would be in love with you as long as he goes out with her. Forget him. Let's go back to practice."

Saiko invites Chiaki to go drinking. Chiaki, being hung over, says he wants to go back and study music. Saiko says he should listen to her because she went drinking with him many times when Chiaki was down. Saiko has failed to get a role of the Night Queen in the opera "Magic Flute", which will be performed at the college festival. She's never considered a fat woman who will play the Night Queen as her rival. Saiko has made great efforts to stay the top student, but she's lost her goal in life. Listening to her complaint, Chiaki wants to go back home in order to practice and listen to music CDs. Seeing Saiko light a cigarette, he tells her that drinking and smoking are harmful to her voice. "Sex is harmful, too." she says. "Talk to your boyfriend." says Chiaki. Saiko says she doesn't have a boyfriend and suggests that they go out with each other again. "I hate bitch losers."says Chiaki. He leaves Saiko in the bar alone. He doesn't mean to get even with her, but he finds it quite annoying that someone gets in his way when he loses himfelf in something. He regrets he tried to get in Saiko's way earlier.
When Chiaki returns home, he hears Mine and Nodame playing together. Nodame is still moping. Mine tells her to get over the agony. Even though he suggests she go out with him, Nodame regects it. Mine encourages her to eat the Chinese dishes that he's brought. Nodame says she wants to eat what Chiaki cooks. Mine is surprised to hear Chiaki cooked for her. "You may have a chance." says Mine, "Nobody would cook for a woman who he doesn't like. You might be able to steal him from Saiko. " "How?" asks Nodame. "If I were you, I will sleep with him." says Mine. Mine helps Nodame do her face to make her look sexy. She ends up looking like a clown, but she says "I'm sure I can seduce Chiaki sempai!". Chiaki shows up from behind and says "What are you talking about, you guys?" Nodame dashes for him with joy and holds him. Chiaki, being surprised at her face, hits her head with a box. He says, "Your performance sounded terrible." Mine talks back to him angrily, "It's you that got her down!" Chiaki asks Mine if he seriously thinks himself a good violinist. "Of course, I was in the third place at a violin competition for children." says Mine. "People called you "prodigy" and you overestimated yourself, huh?. I know that kind of thing often happens." says Chiaki, "Let me use your violin." Chiaki plays a part of the Spring Sonata. Mine and Nodame find him genious. "I got the first prize at a children's competition in Vienna." says Chiaki, "I can give you some lessons."

Mine tells Chiaki that he prefers pop music to classical music. Mine doesn't like classical music because teachers are always telling him to play accurately according to the score. Even when he tries to express himself, they would criticise him of making even one mistake. Nodame calls on Chiaki with a music sheet of the Spring Sonata and her rice bowl. She says to him, "I don't get how to play it." "Why wouldn't you listen to a CD if you don't get it?" says Chiaki.
Listening to a CD, Nodame says, "It sounds totally different from our performance." Chiaki says, "It is SPRING. Yours sounds like NEW YEAR CELEBRATION." Nodame asks him to play it. He begins to play thinking he's doing a voluntary work again. Nodame's performance has stunningly improved even though she listened to the CD only once. She says she felt great when she was playing with him. Chiaki says his performance was not very good since he's not played the violin recently. "Your performance was excellent!" says Nodame. "Maybe I can play the violin better than the piano even now." says Chiake, to Nodame's astonishment. Nodame says she wonders why Mine said he felt great after they'd played together even though he and Nodame hadn't played in harmony. "Probably because" Chiaki says, "his play is something like masturbation. He only thinks about himself. He doesn't know what ensemble is. He wouldn't listen to the accompanying piano. He shouldn't think the playing technique is the most important."
Nodame tells what Chiaki said to Mine as her advice. It reminds him of Chiaki's nasty face. He thinks Chiaki ridicules him. He hates the world of classical music when a genious like Chiaki shows up unexpectedly and gets him down even though he's made great efforts to be a good violinist. "Why is he such an excellent violinist even though he's a piano student?" says Mine. "Because he's a natural!" says Nodame. "I have no talent. I'm a poor violinist" says Mine. He starts sobbing. "Chiaki sempai didn't say you're a poor violinist." says Nodame, "He said your performance was very expressive and that you are poor at playing with someone else, but your solo performance is very good." It reminds Mine of Chiaki's smile. Nodame says "Spring sonata is a great piece if we can play it in harmony. It sounds like a flower field!" "Don't say flower field. It's too childish." says Mine. "What do you think of it?" asks Nodame. Mine says, "Shining pleasure of youth and the lightning!" "Why lightning?" says Nodame. "Shut up! Just play that way!" says Mine.
On the examination day, Nodame gets down with a flu. Chiaki takes her to college. Nodame whispers something to Mine. Mine says to Chiaki, "She says she might get better if her prince gives her a kiss." "All right. I understand." says Chiakil, "I will accompany you!" Mine is to play next to the top student of the violin class. Mine tells Chiaki the top student is going to Vienna next month to study. "We'll beat him." says Chiaki. "How can we?" says Mine. "I am the better pianist than his." says Chiaki. "I'm jealous of you, who are excellent at anything without efforts." says Mine. "I've practiced playing the violing and the piano since I was three. I played the violing every day, from morning till night. The teacher was absolutely strict. I chose the piano class at college because I wasn't able to play the piano very well compared to the violin. I tried so hard and I became the top student at the second year. I've never been practicing very seriously recently, though. What is the most important for me now is to study composing." says Chiaki. "What's you point?" asks Mine thinking he really hates Chiaki. "My point is" says Chiaki, "I want to become a conductor. So I've been studying a lot of things, but I've never rewarded yet."
Before they play, Chiaki tells Mine that he should play Chiaki's piano and that Mine can play as he likes. The examiners are surprised to listen to Mine's performance since he plays expressing the image of shining pleasure of youth and the lightning. Mine plays iaccurately as Nodame does. "I will play with him in harmony, though.." Chiaki thinks. Mine feels great being accompanied by Chiaki's piano.
.Mine declares to another member of his rock group that he'll disband the group and that he'll only play the classical music from now on.
Mine visits Chiaki with Chinese dishes, which he plans on eating with Chiaki and Nodame. "Why are you laying on my sofa?" asks Chiaki to Nodame. "Because my place isn't good for health." says Nodame, who's still suffering from flu.