If you like classical music, you should watch Nodame Cantabile. Actually if you like music at all, you should watch this series, but if you’re a classical music buff, you REALLY should watch it.
Nodame Cantabile is about a mismatched love affair, but it’s anything but your typical mismatched love affair. The story follows two music students, Chiaki Shinichi and Noda Megumi (Nodame). Chiaki is a supremely talented musician whose talent is only surpassed by his arrogance. He plays the violin and the piano like a virtuoso, but what he dreams of becoming is an orchestra conductor. Nodame is an extraordinarily talented musician on the piano, who doesn’t care that she’s exceptional. Due to scars early in her life (which you don’t discover until late in the series) she plays because she enjoys it, but doesn’t take it seriously. She improvises additions to classical pieces and otherwise goes her own way, although her talent is undeniable. She also is almost terminally unable to take care of herself, especially when she gets obsessed with a piece of music.
Early in the story Chiaki and Nodame meet (live next door to each other) and Chiaki takes it upon himself to keep Nodame fed and clean and basically treats her like a pet. Nodame adores Chiaki. The story follows their interactions as Chiaki takes on a group of misfit musicians and turns them into a decent orchestra which he directs. He dreams of going to Paris to study. At the same time, for Chiaki’s sake Nodame begins to take music seriously, begins studying under a strict master and enters a music competition. Their interactions are quite fun and help make this a great series. Nodame often drives Chiaki to distraction.
Nodame melts down at her competition, but is seen at her best by a French music instructor. She confronts Chiaki with not understanding why it’s so important to play classical music as written, why it’s wrong to play it the way she wants for her own enjoyment. The two of them part and Nodame leaves school to return home. While at home Nodame comes to terms with her past and her passion for music and comes to understand classical music as she didn’t before. She calls Chiaki to tell him that he’s right and she’s ready to pursue a future in classical music in Paris with him. In the meantime Chiaki has realized he doesn’t want a future without Nodame and comes to get her as she’s calling him.
This series is awesome from a lot of standpoints. The classical music in it is wonderful and interwoven with the plot wonderfully. The story and characters are unique so that it’s not your average love story. The series ended up adding two more seasons following Nodame and Chiaki’s future. While the next two seasons are good, the first season is by far my favorite. I recommend it HIGHLY.