Blogging the Live-Action Nodame Cantabile: Episode 1

Mukya! Why’d I Deprive Myself of This Masterpiece For So Long? Gyabo!

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Been meaning to get into some live-action manga adaptations for a while, but the trick was deciding which ones to go into. Whilst I’m a fan of Japanese theatrical stuff and all, the serialized TV shows do about as much for me as live-action American TV shows aka I don’t care about them for the most part. It also doesn’t help that whilst live-action Japanese stuff is pretty animated by itself with the overacting, cheap special effects, and campy atmosphere, they can’t exactly recreate Evangelion. Plus, I’ve seen some of the Higurashi live-action and the hair colors are just stupid to look at, amongst other things.

Basically, what I’m saying is that it’s easier to stomach this kind of stuff when it’s an adaptation of something more down-to-earth like josei manga. And I’ve heard great things about the live-action version of Nodame Cantabile that came out a year prior to the anime adaptation, so I figured why not start with that one since I’ve been planning to revisit that franchise for a while now? And also, since I stopped doing episodic blogging of all the summer shows, why not try some retro episodics instead?

Yeah, I know I take on more projects than Shinbo does. A bunch of my friends in real life compare me to to the guy already, so don’t you guys do that too.

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One thing I like about this show already is how much of a strong first impression it made, beyond what happened when I saw the first episode of the anime. Now to be fair, I went into that anime trying to hate it for reasons I won’t elaborate on and it’s true that whilst the live-action adaptation will probably go in different directions, I still have a basic idea of what’s going to go down, which tends to add to my enjoyment. With that said, I love the afro guy and the guy with dyed hair far more than I did in the anime in just this episode alone when they haven’t really been established too much as of yet. I’m a little weirded out that the afro guy is rubbing a wall with his middle finger, but if Alec Baldwin can get away with it in the Thomas the Tank Engine movie, then meh.

Another thing I like is the hour-long length of these episodes. Not just the length mind you, as I really hated Fate/Zero’s and Katanagatari’s first episodes, which were also an hour-long. But one problem with most first episodes of anime is that they rarely impress straight away, mostly only giving you a promise of what’s to come will be good (if that) rather than actually being good. Part of the reason for that can be seen in regards to Fate/Zero’s first episode itself: they devote the entire length of the intro to establish things without anything actually happening rather than the ideal method of 50% establishment and 50% things happening. Alternatively, they’ll be like Jormungand’s first episode where they (amongst other things) just throw you into the entire mess and have stuff happen without any weight to back things up. It’s not the sole contributing factor and there are exceptions, but a big reason for this is that the 22 minute length usually isn’t enough time to fulfill that ideal first episode, and so when a bunch of shows do try to go 50/50 rather than 100/0 or 0/100, it tends to end up as rushed and insubstantial as Pale Cocoon. Whilst I don’t remember the exact first episode of the anime, the live-action Nodame Cantabile is very akin to the first episode of Giant Robo in regards to the 50/50 rule. And Giant Robo’s intro was epic (try to pretend that I didn’t like Giant Robo the first two times I tried it, okay?).

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We are introduced to the characters of Nodame and Chiaki and the episode does a good job of establishing their personality quirks whilst making it clear that the plot will be about their interactions whilst Chiaki aspires to become a great conductor. In order to further this plotline, Nodame runs into a homeless old man one day and Chiaki pretty much dismisses him, only to become dismayed when he realizes that the dude is Stresseman, a famous conductor. Whilst all of this is going on, we learn about Chiaki’s past girlfriend, Stresseman’s unique quirks, and a bunch of other details that give weight or will give weight to what’s being established. I’m sure that Nodame Cantabile being one of the good live-action dramas is part of the reason for why this episode worked so well as an introduction, but watching this really made me aware of how when it came to developing a good first impression, some extra time would do a world of good in getting me more invested. Sure I’d rather be missing the big picture as opposed to being bored, but at least in regards to first episodes, you want to have some picture to help you progress, right?

I’m definitely looking forward to blogging this series. It’s fun, it’s campy, it’s colorful, and it’s just the first episode. Unless these live-action dramas have the same problem most anime do in that they blow their budget on making a good first impression and the rest is less than stellar, I can’t see myself hating this down the road. All in all, this episode reminded me why I loved the anime adaptation and if it keeps up this quality, I’ll probably like it even more. Although to be fair, the Chiaki Kon adaptations aren’t that hard to surpass.

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Oh, and the music scenes are not done in crap CG or still frames whilst music plays over them. Yeah, this is already shaping up to be better than the anime.

PS: Also, if the Moyashimon live-action series is really as better than the first season (I easily believe it’s better than the second) as people say it is, then I can’t wait to watch that.

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