Nodame Cantabile Vol. 1, by Tomoko Ninomiya

Smart, weird, and irresistibly funny, Tomoko Ninomiya’s Nodame Cantabile is one of our all-time favorite mangas. This coming-of-age story about a group of budding classical musicians will have particular charm for readers who’ve had some musical instruction, but Nodame Cantabile is worth reading even if you’ve never so much as plonked out Chopsticks on your neighbor’s piano.

Shinichi Chiaki is a talented (and arrogant) music student, with frustrated dreams of becoming a world-famous conductor. He’s the best musician at the Momogaoka Music University, but his fear of airplanes and boats means he’s unable to leave Japan for a serious musical career in Europe. Megumi Noda, a.k.a. “Nodame”, is a gifted pianist, but her playing is careless and undisciplined. When their paths cross, Chiaki is intrigued by Nodame’s emotive musical style... and totally appalled by the rest of her: she lives in squalor, she rarely bathes, and she's hard at work on a heartfelt musical tribute to cat droppings.

Music plays a vital role in Ninomiya’s story, and it’s worth hunting down the classical pieces featured in each volume of the manga. (Most public libraries have excellent classical music sections, so please don’t go out and buy anything.) Nodame Cantabile has been made into an anime and a live-action J-drama, and the music in both of these productions did an outstanding job of underscoring the characters’ emotional maturation.

Ninomiya’s story isn’t just a soap opera for orchestra geeks—it’s also a coming-of-age tale, a fish-out-of-water story, and a delightfully unconventional romance. We’re confident that Nodame Cantabile will knock the socks off of pre-established manga fans, and it’s entertaining and intelligent enough to tempt even non-manga readers over to the dark side.
Posted by: Julia, Last edit by: Julianka


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