Nodame Cantabile is a manga by Tomoko Ninomiya. It was serialized in Japan by Kodansha in the magazine Kiss from July 2001 to October 2009 and collected in 23 tankōbon volumes. A two-volume sequel, called Nodame Cantabile: Encore Opera Chapter, which began serialization in the December 2009 issue of Kiss, was released in 2010. It is licensed in North America by Del Rey Manga. The series depicts the relationship between two aspiring classical musicians, Megumi “Nodame” Noda and Shinichi Chiaki, as university students and after graduation. It received the 2004 Kodansha Manga Award for best shōjo manga.
The series has been adapted as four different television series: as an award-winning Japanese live-action drama that aired in 2006 followed by a sequel television special that aired in January 2008, as an anime series spanning three seasons with the first broadcast in 2007, the second in 2008 and the third in 2010. Two live-action movie sequels to the Japanese television drama, with the same actors, were produced with release dates of 18 December 2009 and April 2010. In addition, several soundtrack albums of classical music have been released, as well as three video games. A South Korean drama live action adaptation aired on the KBS network in 2014.
In 2016 a one-shot epilogue chapter was published in the April edition of Kiss.
The Nodame Cantabile manga was written and illustrated by Tomoko Ninomiya. It was serialized by Kodansha in the biweekly josei (aimed at younger adult women) manga magazine Kiss from 10 July 2001, to 10 October 2009. The untitled chapters have been collected in 23 tankōbon volumes. It was licensed in North America by Del Rey Manga, which released 16 of the 23 volumes. In 2016 Kodansha USA announced that they received the rights to the series for digital release. It is licensed in France by Pika Édition, in South Korea by Daiwon C.I., in Thailand by NED Comics, in Indonesia by Elex Media Komputindo, and in Taiwan by Tong Li Comics. All volume covers feature Nodame with a musical instrument.
Starting in May 2008, Japanese serialization changed from biweekly to monthly because of Ninomiya’s pregnancy. Serialization went on hiatus starting October 2008 following the birth of her son and Ninomiya’s subsequent diagnosis of having carpal tunnel syndrome, but resumed again with the 10 March 2009 issue of Kiss on an irregular schedule depending on her continued recovery. In June 2009, the series went on hiatus again when Ninomiya was hospitalized with acute appendicitis, and resumed serialization in the 25 July issue. In July 2009, Asahi Shimbun reported that the manga was scheduled to end in the spring of 2010, coinciding with the release of the final live-action movie. However, the series ended with chapter 136 in the 10 October 2009 issue of the magazine.
Starting in late 2009, a sequel titled Nodame Cantabile – Encore Opera Chapter started running in the same magazine. It ended in September 2010. The numbering of the volumes follow right after the original series so they start at volume 24.
On 25 February 2016 in the April 2016 edition of Kiss, Ninomiya published, a one shot set five years after the last installment, it has been described as a final coda to Nodame and Chiaki’s story.
The manga of Nodame Cantabile received the 2004 Kodansha Manga Award for shōjo manga, and was a jury recommendation at both the 2005 and 2008 Japan Media Arts Festivals. It was a finalist for the Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize in 2005 and 2006, but did not win. In 2006, the English translation was named by the New York Public Library as one of the Books for the Teen Age. The series sold 2.8 million copies in 2008, making it the 8th best-selling manga series in Japan that year. Volume 17 was the third best-selling manga on the Oricon charts for 2007, and volumes 20 and 21 were the 6th and 7th best-selling manga on the Oricon charts for 2008, respectively, selling 1.2 million copies each. According to an Oricon survey men and women aged 10–40, Nodame Cantabile was the second “most interesting” manga series published during 2008. The series and its associated music albums are credited with increasing sales of classical music in Japan. As a whole, the series is a best-seller in Japan, having sold over 37 million copies as of March 2015.
The English translation of Nodame Cantabile has been praised for its quirky, interesting characters, sense of humor, and clean art. Dirk Deppey in The Comics Journal praised Ninomiya’s storytelling, saying she “has a solid sense of when to accentuate the highs and lows with just the right note, and understands that one can only do this by not hitting such notes very often”, resulting in “an understated soap opera” that is “a seamless and enjoyable storytelling experience.” Reviewers have called Ninomiya’s character development subtle, while noting it is the character interactions that drive the story, and that “each character has a real and lasting effect on others.” Reviewers also cite Ninomiya’s ability to depict “scenes of people playing music that no one can hear” and her sense of humor as factors in the series’ appeal. Ninomiya has been criticized for not handling transitions between storylines well, for sometimes letting the characters derail the story, and for art and backgrounds that are sometimes too plain. Matt Thorn criticized the English translation for inaccuracies of tone.
The live-action drama received the 2007 Japanese Drama Academy Awards for Best Drama, Best Lead Actress (Juri Ueno), Best Direction (Hideki Takeuchi), Best Music (Takayuki Hattori), and Best Title Song; the show was also recognized overseas as Best Miniseries at the 2nd Seoul Drama Festival. Juri Ueno also was named Best Newcomer at the Élan d’or Awards for her performance, and the next year was named Best Actress at the International Drama Festival in Tokyo Awards for reprising her role as Nodame in the television special. The New Year’s Special in Europe received an average household rating of 20.3% and 21.0% for the two nights it was broadcast in Japan, making it them the highest-rated drama episodes of the week. The first soundtrack album for the drama, Nodame Orchestra LIVE!, reached number seven on the Oricon album chart, breaking the record for highest ranked classical music album.
The opening episode of the anime series broke the record for audience share for its time-slot. The first DVD volume debuted at number 3 on the Oricon chart for anime the week it went on sale.
Although the anime has not been licensed in English, it has still received notice from English reviewers, who praised the character development and chemistry, the balance between drama and comedy, voice acting, and especially the music—both the performances and how it was presented. Reviewers did complain that the visual design of some secondary characters were too similar.
In 2006, a cafe based on Nodame Cantabile opened in Harajuku, Tokyo, including live music from the live-action drama and sets from the show.