Thursday, November 13, 2014

Recap:// Nodame Cantabile in Europe Part 1

It's spring and everyone is celebrating graduation. Tamaki points out that since they will all be together in R.S-Oke, it's not really goodbye. Mine congratulates Nodame on passing her exam to enter the Conservatory in Paris. She declines the invitation to drink with the others because although she doesn't have to be in Europe until the fall, Chiaki asked her to come with him that week. Masumi is overcome with jealousy.

Chiaki arrives surrounded by his many fans. Mine asks why he's not going ahead of Nodame, and Chiaki recalls his childhood trauma; the emergency landing that left him afraid of flying. Mine comments that he's leaving already; Chiaki says it's not "already", but "finally". The crowd throws Chiaki into the air and Nodame wants to get in there and touch him too, however she ends up thrown to the side.

Chiaki and Nodame go to see Vieira perform in Prague. Chiaki remembers the first time he saw Vieira, and how his fear of flying kept him from coming back to Europe to be his apprentice. Nodame recalls hypnotizing Chiaki so he could fly again.

After the concert, Nodame asks Chiaki if he's really okay with leaving without meeting with Vieira. Chiaki doesn't expect Vieira to take him as his pupil right away. He wants to enter a competition first and go to him with good results.

When they get to Paris, Chiaki takes Nodame to a fancy restaurant. She's impressed when he orders in French. But after he goes to the restroom, the waiter comes back to ask Nodame to replace one of the items that they are out of. She ends up with snails for five, which she pretends to have ordered on purpose and proceeds to eat the entire platter.

Chiaki knows that Nodame hasn't studied French at all. He tells her to study hard before school starts. Then he proceeds to get drunk, laughing at Nodame, saying it's amazing she even got into the Conservatory and that compared with her Okawa dialect, French should be a breeze.

On the way home, Chiaki sings and urges Nodame to enjoy the sights. Nodame complains that he's acting strange and Chiaki guesses that she's already homesick. She points out that he's comfortable with the lifestyle in Europe, knowing the language and liking wine and bread. She vents about how he made fun of her even though he was clinging to her and shaking like a puppy on the flight over. As soon as they landed, though, he started acting like some kind of lord. Chiaki asks Nodame if she's drunk.

Chiaki tucks Nodame in at the hotel and reflects upon how quickly she had decided to study abroad. She had only time to study for her entrance exam, not learn the language. And she came earlier than planned to accompany him. He knows she worked hard to get that far. Chiaki apologizes to the sleeping Nodame before going to his own room.

Nodame wakes Chiaki up at 6am to go sightseeing. She's excited to see all the famous landmarks. Chiaki wonders what happened to her being homesick. At the Eiffel Tower, Nodame gets distracted by roasted chestnuts. At Notre Dame, it's macaroons. She enjoys gelato at the Arc de Triomphe. During a bus tour, Nodame's too busy eating croissants to notice the attractions Chiaki is pointing out. Finally when she's absorbed in gateau chocolat, Chiaki reaches his limit and flips her over.

Chiaki and Nodame leave the hotel to move into their apartments. Nodame is so impressed at the gate that reminds her of Lord of the Rings. It's an apartment complex owned by Chiaki's maternal grandparents that gives preferential leasing to music students. They meet Anna, the landlady who shows them to their rooms.

Nodame is happy that they are next door to each other again. She is excited about her room, but amazed at the suite Chiaki has. When she tests his piano, she marvels at the tone and atmosphere, and comments on how Chiaki was raised hearing this sound. He asks her to play something and threatens to kill her when she suggests the Fart Exercise. Instead, Nodame decides to play something French.

The sound of Nodame's playing attracts the other tenants. Frank recognizes the song that Ravel dedicated to his young artist friends in Paris. He wonders if it's a greeting to them. Tanya meets him on the staircase and reveals that it's Madame Seiko's son who is aiming to be a conductor. And he's rich. When they get to the room, however, they are surprised to see that it's Nodame at the piano.

Chiaki notices that Nodame is producing varied sounds to express herself and thinks that she's amazing.

Nodame and Frank greet each other enthusiastically as "Dame" and "Franz". Nodame wants to know where he bought the snacks that he shared with her when they took their entrance exam. Frank tells her that he wants her to play his piano too. He's never forgotten her since the exam and feels this reunion is fate. Does she understand? Nodame turns to Chiaki to ask what this conversation is about, which causes his eyes to roll back into his head.

Nodame introduces Frank/Franz to Chiaki, and presents Chiaki as her sweetheart. She goes on to say that he's a bit too perfect and looks down on people sometimes, but he's actually really good at taking care of people. She asks Chiaki to translate and he tells her to stop messing around and study French.

Frank reads about otaku who stay at home and specialize in one thing. They are supreme beings who receive respect from people, but have little chance of getting women. He cleans up to impress Nodame, planning to ask her to tea.

Chiaki jogs through the streets thinking about how Paris is full of world heritage sites. He's truly happy. When he returns home, Nodame forces her way into his room with her laundry. Frank sees them from the staircase and looks crushed.

While having breakfast at a nearby cafe, Chiaki tells Nodame to be independent because he'll be gone for long stretches of time. She gets out her French book and introduces herself as his wife. He tells her not to start off with lies, but to focus on daily conversation. Nodame promptly begins with nagging him to take out the garbage and help with cleaning. Then she yells for help, to call the police because he beat her. The waiter misunderstands and Chiaki leaps up to explain that Nodame is studying the language. Nodame doesn't notice and keeps practicing, asking for her money back and calling him a horrible man.

Chiaki tells Nodame to study the basics from a normal book. Nodame requests personal lessons, but Chiaki has to prepare for an upcoming competition and can't spare the time.

The Platini International Conductor's Competition is held every four years. It's a gateway to success for young conductors. This will be his first conducting competition so although he feels bad for Nodame, Chiaki has to concentrate on it.

Frank weeps as he watches the ending to Dog of Flanders, when Tanya comes in complaining that he hasn't hooked her computer up to the net like he promised. She calls him an otaku and tells him he'll surely get rejected by Nodame just like what happened with Naoko, and remarks that he really likes the Japanese. He points out that she herself just got rejected because of her thick makeup and horrible clothes.

They argue until Nodame comes over to ask Frank to teach her French. She's distracted by the French dubbed Puri Gorota video that Frank has playing.

Tanya interrupts Chiaki's studies and somehow manages to get him into her apartment to connect her computer to the net. Afterall, the Japanese are good with electronics.

Chiaki doesn't have time so he quickly starts to configure her computer. Tanya explains that Frank was supposed to do it, but he's a total otaku. She says that he and Chiaki's girlfriend are engrossed in anime in Frank's room. Chiaki denies Nodame is his girlfriend which leads Tanya to believe that Frank actually has a chance. She sets her sights on Chiaki, telling him that she just broke up with her boyfriend, so her heart and body are both available. Chiaki ignores her, finishes with the computer, and leaves.

Meanwhile, Frank is amazed when Nodame recites the entire Puri Gorota movie in French, then rewinds it to do it all again.

The next morning, Chiaki stops by Nodame's room after shopping, but she's not there. He gets worried that she hasn't been home all night, afterall Frank might be dangerous. Tanya catches him at Frank's door, so Chiaki pretends to have been looking for her to give her groceries. He gets dragged into her apartment where she serves him borsch. 

Tanya tells Chiaki that she's been lonely since breaking up with her boyfriend who she'd been with since she moved to Paris at age 17. Although she flirts heavily and hints at not having anything to do for her vacation, Chiaki just thinks about the sacrifice she's made for music and asks to hear her play. Once she starts, though, he wonders if she's really a Conservatory student.

Meanwhile Frank tells Nodame that he's at his limit and asks her to please leave. Tanya isn't having any better luck with Chiaki as he gives her a strict tutoring session culminating in him hitting her with the score.

An exhausted Frank and Tanya watch as Nodame asks Chiaki to make her a steak in French. Chiaki wonders if they should make rice too. He praises her for her progress, which prompts her to ask what he just said. Frank tells Tanya he understands why otakus aren't popular. Although he respects Nodame, there's no way she would do as a lover. Tanya now understands why Japan is an economic powerhouse. They don't take vacations.

Back in Japan, Masumi, Takahashi and Kimura arrive at Uraken exhausted from rehearsals; they all hold positions in professional orchestras. Kimura remarks that they can't lose to those who went to Europe. Takahashi wonders what Chiaki and Nodame could be doing amongst all the naked statues, which elicits an attack from Masumi. Mine reminds them that if Chiaki does well, their Rising Star (R.S-Oke) will rise in value. Masumi says that's true love.

At the mention of love, Mine looks troubled and pulls out his phone. His father explains that Kiyora hasn't contacted him from Vienna lately. Mine insists that their hearts are connected. Ookouchi tries to eat discreetly unnoticed in the background.

Nodame sends a text to Masumi informing him that Chiaki passed the competition preliminaries with flying colors. Masumi gets fired up at the unrelated photo she sends of her hugging Chiaki. Takahashi quickly grabs the phone and transfers it to his own.

September arrives and Chiaki prepares to leave for the competition in Prague the following day. Frank tells Nodame about an annual anime festival being held that week. This year Hara Hiroshi, creator of Puri Gorota, will be attending. Chiaki wants them to leave so he can prepare, and Frank tells him that he wanted to come and support him, but the anime festival is happening at the same time. Chiaki says they don't need to come.

Nodame reasons that since the competition is ten days long, she'll definitely come. Chiaki informs her that he first round isn't open to the public, and the second round starts on the 17th. Frank cries that it's on the day of the Puri Gorota party being held in an old castle. Nodame asks when the third round will be and Chiaki tells her not to come since anime is more important than his competition. Nodame assures him that she'll come to the third round and encourages him to stay in the running.

At Lyons Station, a crowd of costumed characters flood the platform. Nodame informs Chiaki that they are going to an event before the festival, and remarks that people cosplay all over the world. Chiaki reminds her that classes will be starting soon, so she should seriously study piano.

Chiaki and Nodame bicker and the Japanese woman next to them (Yuko) complains that they're loud. She asks Jean if he's able to concentrate, but he says he's enjoying the score he's studying. Nodame points out that they seem to be going to the competition as well.

Nodame gives Chiaki a good luck charm. Chiaki notices that it's a finger puppet that you get in a snack box. Nodame grabs his baton and affixes the Kazuo puppet to it, saying he's sure to win. Chiaki doesn't want it, but can't get it off the baton no matter how hard he pulls it.

Yuko laughs loudly asking if that's Kazuo on the baton. She says it's fine for them to take part in the competition, but urges them not to make total fools of themselves. Nodame insists that Chiaki will have a magnificent win; he's the pride of Japan. Yuko argues that Jean will win.

The girls call each other rude. Yuko brags that Jean won last year's competition in Belgium and that he's the pride of France. Nodame asserts that Chiaki won a violin competition a long time ago. Yuko brags that Jean is the best among Sebastiano Vieira's apprentices. She wonders who Chiaki studied under. Nodame boldly tells her that his teacher is Milch Holstein, leaving Yuko wondering if she's talking about a cow. 

Nodame wants to accompany Chiaki as his attendant, but he says that pets aren't allowed and throws her off the train. He tells himself that it's his fight from here on and he can't take a woman along. Then he sees Yuko fawning over Jean; he's taking a woman along! Chiaki goes to the window and tells Nodame to practice.

In commemoration of the great conductor Platini, an international competition started in 1960 is held every four years. It lasts for ten days with performances by the famed Wiltford Symphony Orchestra. Among competitions for those under age 30, it is known for being harsh and difficult. The winner receives a monetary prize, a concert with the Wiltford Symphony Orchestra, and a one year contract with management and promotion. There are 18 finalists going into the first round. It begins with the lottery where each contestant picks out the piece they will perform.

Chiaki gets Haydn Symphony No. 104 in D major. Yuko's loud laughter rings out as she tells Jean she picked Rossini just as he wanted. He calls her his goddess of fortune. Katahira disapproves of Yuko and Jean's public display of affection, as they kiss passionately in front of everyone. He introduces himself to Chiaki, and when he finds out it's Chiaki's first time participating, he gives him encouragement. This is his fourth time, though he's never won.

Jean joins them and asks Chiaki if he's any relation to Chiaki Masayuki the pianist. Chiaki denies it.

Chiaki contemplates Hadyn, the father of symphony. He was a great composer who laid the cornerstone for classical music by establishing the four-movement format for the symphony including a minuet, and incorporating the sonata style and string quartet style. Chiaki considers being tested with Hadyn an honor.

Meanwhile at the anime event, Frank is glad Nodame is having fun. She seemed to be worried about Chiaki earlier. Nodame says there's no need to be worried and that Chiaki is probably having fun.

In the first round, participants have 15 minutes to rehearse and perform their piece once through. The judges mainly focus on the rehearsal to observe each conductor's talent and understanding of the music and expression.

Katahira has anxiety thinking about the other people in the competition and the fact that he's never won. Chiaki gives him his own advice, to focus on his own music without thinking of others.

When Chiaki enters the stage, the orchestra members comment on his bed head and wonder if he overslept. One of the judges remarks that the piece is textbook Hadyn. If played lightly, it'll end up being boring.

Elise sneaks in to watch from the balconey. When Chiaki starts, a judge notices that his interpretation is very heavy with a long fermata. Chiaki performs well and his aura explodes in black feathers that only Roland, the fagott player, can see. The judges deem Chiaki's expression profound, based on a good understanding of the piece. They are surprised that he's only 22.

Elise reports to Strezemann that there's no need for him to come watch the first round. She balks at orders to look for Nodame. Then she dreamily watches Jean's performance. His aura explodes in white roses, that again, only Roland can see.

Just as she's about to get a picture with Hara Hiroshi, Nodame receives a text from Chiaki saying that he passed the first round. Hara struggles with the selfie-taking Frank, and waits for Nodame to come back, but she's too distracted by the good news.

On day four, the second round begins. The assignment is to find mistakes. Participants are given a music score 15 minutes prior to their turn. The orchestra's score has been purposely rewritten in parts, and the conductor must call out all the differences. Chiaki and Jean both have a keen ear and catch errors one after another.

After the second round, the competition is opened to the public. The press crowds around Katahira thinking that he is Chiaki, asking him his thoughts on he and Jean receiving perfect scores. Katahira is surprised, but then someone points out that Chiaki is the other Japanese guy and the reporters run off to find him.

Meanwhile Chiaki is in his hotel room. He recalls that only six participants will be moving on. The third round will start the following day and he wonders if Nodame will come.

Tanya tells Frank that there is a restaurant nearby that she wants to go to for the hot chef who works there. Frank reminds her that they are there to cheer Chiaki on. Nodame hasn't gotten past the bulletin board, so enamoured is she of Chiaki's photo posted on it. Tanya runs over and joins her, obsessed with Jean's photo. Frank futiley tries to pull them both off.

The members discuss their thoughts on which conductor will win. The flutist leans towards the White Prince as he's what women desire. However, she concedes that Chiaki is great too, and stoic.

The concert master says that Jean is colorful and intuitive while Chiaki is philisophical and substantive. They are so different, and both amazing as well. Roland asserts that they both have great auras, magnificent and full of confidence. The flutist comments on Roland's tales of feathers and flowers that no one else can see. The French horn player says he likes the other Japanese guy - Katahira.

Katahira tells Chiaki that he's going to watch Jean's performance and Chiaki decides to go with him instead of studying until his turn that afternoon as he had planned.

Nodame, Frank and Tanya finds seats that just happen to be right next to Yuko. Nodame and Yuko immediately start battling across Frank's lap.

In the third round, the music is decided by lottery and participants are given 30 minutes to deliver a complete performance. Jean performs Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks by Richard Strauss. Chiaki feels anxious because he will be performing the same piece, and Jean is good; his sound is radiant.

Chiaki is nervous and when he goes onstage he upsets the members with his demands. He stops and starts again twice, apologizing the second time as it was his error. The members stop looking at him and Chiaki feels the sound slipping out of his hands.

Frank and Tanya wonder if Chiaki is okay. Even though he rallied in the second half, the missteps in the first could not be forgotten. Nodame tells them to go on ahead to Frank's relative's house where they are staying. She checks on Chiaki at his hotel and finds him exuding defeat. Nodame tells him not to be so down, the members just didn't take to him. It was the same with S-Oke at first. His personality is more important than his music, and he's easy to misunderstand because he insists on perfection. Nodame adds that it's a good thing his feathers got cropped since people grow as they get over defeat.

Chiaki asks why she's there; she's rubbing salt in his wounds, not cheering him on. He admits that he lost to himself. Chiaki succumbed to the pressure he felt after hearing Jean's performance. He had wanted to do better, but became too intent on it.

Nodame drags Chiaki to a restaurant to get dinner and they happen to get seated right next to Yuko and Jean. Yuko laughs at Chiaki's performance, but Jean stops her. He tells Chiaki that he shouldn't feel down about what happened and leaves before dessert, claiming fatigue.

Yuko asks Jean why they had to leave in the middle of dinner and he tells her that he needs to study. Somehow leaving it until the following day doesn't seem to be enough anymore.

Chiaki wants to drink more, but Nodame says he's drinking too much and she has to get back to Frank's relative's house. The trains have stopped running, so Chiaki says she can stay with him in his room. She's ecstatic when he takes her hand as they walk. Nodame is worried, though, about her underwear not matching. In the end she finds herself taped up in a blanket on the sofa while Chiaki sleeps on the bed.

Nodame finally escapes her bonds in the morning and convinces Chiaki to go watch the rest of the third round, afterall, they are at a rare music festival. Chiaki wanted to see Katahira anyway. They are surprised by his playful jumping style that has everyone smiling. Chiaki reflects that he had wanted to make people happy as well. He should have enjoyed the music like that too.

The orchestra members discuss the competition. The concert master mentions that he thought Chiaki was full of himself at first, but he was wrong about him. Chiaki had the guts to apologize for his error, and he regrets how they treated him.

While waiting for the results to be announced, a man approaches Chiaki and wishes him luck in the final round. Although his efforts weren't working in the third, his passion made a good impression. The man explains that he's been a fan of this competition all his life and urges Chiaki to make it even more fun for him. He tells him to try to get along with the orchestra. When the man leaves, Nodame notices that Chiaki's eyes are red.

When it's revealed that Chiaki made it into the final round, Nodame runs to hug him. However, she is thwarted by Katahira who is so excited that he also got in. that he jumps into Chiaki's arms. It's his last chance as he's thirty and won't be able to enter this competition again.

Jean isn't surprised that Chiaki got into the finals. Yuko goes to where the sunlight is streaming into the room and gathers it into her hands for luck in choosing Jean's music in the lottery.

At the last moment, Jean decides to pick his own, hoping for a cheerful and brilliant piece. He gets Lalo, Symphonie espagnole, a super heavy piece.

Chiaki asks Nodame to choose for him, and she decides that a dark and insidious piece would be fitting. However, she picks Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D major, a meandering and brilliant piece. Jean offers to trade, but Chiaki declines. This concerto is his favorite, from when he studied it as a child.

Katahira gets Dvorak's Cello Concerto. Nodame is glad that no one got a piano concerto. She says she's going to play Chiaki's next piano concerto.

Elise reports that Chiaki made it to the final. Strezemann says that if he doesn't win, he doesn't deserve to be his apprentice. Elise maintains that Jean will probably win. Strezemann is livid at the thought of one of Vieira's students winning.

Jean tells Vieira that Chiaki and Katahira have made it into the final round with him. Vieira is delighted and mentions that Chiaki was his apprentice when he was 11. He tells Jean not to let his guard down and wishes them both luck.

Nodame asks Chiaki to pick between two underwear sets and he slaps them away. His phone rings and he has to take it out from under a bra, but becomes momentarily distracted when he sees it's a D cup.

Mine and the rest of R.S-Oke give Chiaki words of encouragement over the phone. Kikuchi calls from Boston while his girlfriends fight in the background. Kiyora calls from Vienna. She's preparing for competitions herself while studying chamber music at school.

Chiaki starts studying with vigor. For the final round, participants not only pick a piece through the lottery system, but they also choose a piece that they've already played to perform again. Nodame is surprised that Chiaki has chosen Till since he had failed at it. Chiaki explains that he can't just leave it at that.

Nodame muses that she loves Till, it's fun and truly happy. Chiaki says Till is like her, causing mischief then running away. When he thinks she's gone, she reappears. In the end, though, Till is caught and killed. Nodame did not realize it was that type of story and thinks it's not fun at all.

The final round starts with a private rehearsal with the judges, then the formal performances are held that evening. No one is sure what to expect from Chiaki choosing Till again. The sound is much better, though, and the judges notice that he's smiling. Chiaki recalls the first time he conducted an orchestra. Strezemann5 had told him to respect music and people, and it'll come back to you.

On the way to the formal performance, Frank and Tanya wonder if Chiaki will be okay. Nodame assures them that it'll be fun. Chiaki performs well, impressing Roland with his black feathered aura. The judges reflect that while Jean's Till was elegant and pleasant, some parts of it weren't satisfying. Chiaki shows his strong will and intellect in trying to articulate the heart and spirit of the piece in a short amount of time.

As Chiaki performs Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D major, known as one of the four greatest concertos, he recalls that as a child he had always wanted to perform this piece with an orchestra.

In the end, Chiaki is happy that he had fun in the competition. The judges are impressed with his level of performance and he wins first place. Back home, everyone celebrates.

Yuko tells Nodame not to let this win go to Chiaki's head and that starts their rather physical bickering. Jean says that Chiaki's girlfriend is cute. Chiaki denies that Nodame is his girlfriend. Jean relates that everything has gone well for him since meeting Yuko. He goes on to say that he heard from Vieira that Chiaki has been his apprentice for a long time. He gives Chiaki the phone numbers of Vieira and his manager, adding that if he contacts the maestro now, Vieira might take him on his concert tour. Chiaki is just elated that Vieira remembered him.

Mine asks Kiyora if she called because she missed him, but Kiyora informs him that she is staying at her teacher's house until her upcoming competition and won't be able to contact him because of the lack of reception. Mine wants her to write, but she tells him that if he has that much free time, he should be practicing. Masumi wants to speak with her too, but she hangs up quickly, leaving Mine feeling dejected.

Nodame is drunk by the time they leave the party. Chiaki offers her a hug and thinks about how everything has gone well for him ever since he met her. They share a touching embrace until her bra size flashes through his mind to distract him.

Strezemann sitting in first class, orders Elise to execute Operation Prometheus of the Desert. It looks like he's done playing in Japan for now.

Frank and Tanya rush to get Nodame ready on the first day of school. They have to hurry, missing class three times results in expulsion. As they rush into the building, they pass under Kuroki who is on the second floor.

Chiaki bids Jean and Katahira farewell. He contemplates Vieira's phone number and is content that he will be calling him soon. As he makes his way down the street, a mysterious man grabs him from behind and warns him not to move.

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