A die hard otaku friend from Germany was full of praise about a certain shoujo anime, which was odd considering the guy loved blood and gore on his platter. So I was left with two options; either my friend has gone mad, or the anime is exceptional. But before passing a verdict, here's a little plot overview.

Born into a musical family, Shinichi Chiaki is a talented pianist with a desire to become a conductor, and happens to be the top student of his music school in Japan. But due to his fear of airplanes and the sea, this arrogant perfectionist is now 'trapped' in Japan, unable to pursue his musical dreams abroad. 'Musician extraordinaire' had almost taken it for granted that his entire career was going down the drain. But one fine evening he discovers a girl playing the piano with natural finesse - and that too in a junk-cluttered apartment (how romantic). The girl Nodame is the polar opposite of Chiaki - impulsive, candid and fickle in her enthusiasm. Chiaki wonders, what will this uncanny encounter imply - a musical mismatch? Or perfect harmony?

The artwork in Nodame very refreshing: simple, uncluttered and relatable characters. The characters are also eased into the show, steady and relatively subtle. It's really the interactions between them characters that drive the story; hence everyone is important in Nodame's world.

Since the show revolves around music, it's no surprise that it contains a lot of auditory treats. Fans of classical music are definitely going to love this, with the music of Rachmaninov, Liszt, Brahms, Gershwin, Beethoven and Chopin. Musical sequences are the dramatic high points of the story, complete with all the details about what the students went through to prepare for them, and what they mean to each individual.

Perhaps the greatest strength of the anime is Nodame herself. She is hyperactive, unkempt and just plain dumb at first glance, but she grows on you. A lot.

Nodame Cantabile walks the line between refreshingly simple and boring; it could fall to either side, depending on how severe your personal case of ADD is. Don't look here for fast-paced action or heart-wrenching drama, but if interesting characters and a complex, realistic story are what drives your interest, then you can't help falling in love with the quirky cast of this series. And yes, there are three seasons - you'll love them all the same.


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