Nodame Cantabile is less about the realities of classical music than its romance, but it's firmly rooted in its manga roots - and it's more enjoyable for this. Although it takes place in Europe, the film playfully apologizes for the fact that nearly all of the non-Japanese dialog will be dubbed. The film still manages to work.
A handsome young conductor (Hiroshi Tamaki) and cute pianist girlfriend (Juri Ueno) live in Paris, and personal dramas take precedence in their daily lives. The conductor finds he's stuck trying to revive a dying orchestra with disinterested members; and his girlfriend is torn between loving her boyfriend and love for music. Of course, there's considerable room for jealousy and over-ambitiousness to poison their relationship, too.
There are picture-perfect vistas of stately locales, beefed up with a sweeping soundtrack of classical war-horses (1812 Overture, etc.). How interesting it is that the film's standout moments come with its CGI-inspired overstatement; Nodame, always in love with love, floats over the rooftops with an army of teddy bears, or blushes crimson with love or ire (depending on the context). This movie is light romance dressed with classical touches for credibility, but the charm shines through.
With this, part one, we watch as a conductor tries to revive a sputtering orchestra that has seen its best days; part two concentrates on Nodame's career as a pianist - and her hope to further her dream of being part of a "golden couple." To the film's credit, long musical sequences are included, largely uncut, without losing the narrative thread.
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