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Manga Monday- An Incurable Case of Love

Manga Monday- An Incurable Case of Love

An Incurable Case of Love is a comedy romance manga series created by Maki Enjōji that was originally released on March 8, 2016. It is published by Shogakkan and the serialization is by Petit Comic in Japan. VIZ is the publisher of the manga in English. The series currently consists of seven volumes in Japanese, with two in English. A live action series is planned in January 2020.

Plot

Nanase Sakura is a 23-year-old rookie nurse. She met Doctor Kairi Tendo several years ago and fell in love with him. To meet him again, she studied hard and became a nurse. After 5 years, she finally meets Kairi Tendo again, but he has a totally different personality than what she imagined. Kairi Tendo, who is 31-years-old, is commonly referred to as the “Devil” at work. He is a level-headed perfectionist and often makes biting remarks to doctors and nurses. Nanase Sakura works hard to receive recognition from Kairi Tendo and she also expresses her feelings honestly to him. Due to her persistence, Nanase Sakura becomes well known at the hospital and she picks up the nickname of the “Warrior.” Meanwhile, Kairi Tendo becomes attracted to Nanase Sakura.

Characters

Nanase Sakura is a main character in the An Incurable Case of Love manga and live action series. She is portrayed by Moe Shiroishi. Sakura is a hopeless romantic for her colleague Tendo. Despite him being spiteful, pejorative, and chastising towards her, Sakura earnestly wishes to continue being a nurse.

Kairi Tendo is a main character in the An Incurable Case of Love manga and live action series. He is portrayed by Takeru Sato. Tendo is a serious and candid person. He’s said to have a nasty personality and doesn’t treat people well, aside from a small fraction of nurses that get along with him. Because of his personality, people always try and transfer to another doctor that goes through his department.

 

Film Friday- Wotakoi: Love Is Hard For Otaku

Film Friday- Wotakoi: Love Is Hard For Otaku

Wotakoi: Love Is Hard for Otaku is a Japanese webmanga series written and illustrated by Fujita. It was first posted on Pixiv on April 17, 2014. It began serialization in Comic Pool (a joint web manga publication project by Ichijinsha and Pixiv) on November 6, 2015. Ichijinsha began publishing the manga in print on April 30, 2015 and nine volumes had been published, with over 10 million copies printed (including digital edition) as of August 2020. An anime adaptation by A-1 Pictures aired from April to June 2018 on the Noitamina programming block.

Anime

An anime television series by A-1 Pictures aired from April 13 to June 22, 2018 on Fuji TV. Produced by Aniplex, Fuji Television, Ichijinsha, Dentsu, Christmas Holly and Kanetsu Investment, the series was directed by Yoshimasa Hiraike, who also handled series composition. Takahiro Yasuda designed the characters, while Akimitsu Honma composed the music. The opening theme titled “Fiction” by Sumika and the first and second ending themes titled “Kimi no Tonari” and “Ashita mo Mata” (ep 9) respectively were performed by halca. Amazon streamed the series on their Amazon Video service. The series ran for 11 episodes. An OVA entitled “It Appeared Suddenly=Love” was released on March 29, 2019 to coincide with the release of the seventh volume of the manga. A second OVA will be released in February 26, 2021 to coincide with the release of the tenth volume of the manga.

Characters

Narumi Momose
is a fujoshi otaku, who also likes otome games, and idols. She blames being an otaku for difficulties in her life and attempts to keep it a secret, especially at work. She is also the childhood friend and girlfriend of Hirotaka Nifuji.

 

 

 

Hirotaka Nifuji
is Narumi Momose’s otaku friend and boyfriend, who has been in love with her ever since childhood. Hirotaka is a gamer otaku who spends most of his free time gaming and unlike Narumi, he does not care if everyone knows that he is an otaku. He is also considered to be very attractive by the ladies, although he doesn’t seem to care.

 

 

Hanako Koyanagi
is Narumi Momose’s senpai at the office, she is secretly a famous cosplayer otaku who usually cosplays as male characters. She also plays games and reads yaoi manga. Hanako is dating Tarou Kabakura.

 

 

Tarō Kabakura
is Hirotaka Nifuji’s coworker at the office and a less intense otaku; he likes heroes and bishojo. Tarou is dating Hanako Koyanagi.

 

 

 

 

Naoya Nifuji 
is Hirotaka’s cheery younger brother; a university student. Naoya cares very deeply for his brother, and quietly worries about him and his introverted nature. Unlike his brother, Naoya is not an otaku, and is very bad at video games.

 

 

Kō Sakuragi
is a socially anxious solo gamer from Naoya’s university with a habit of saying “I’m sorry”. Kō’s reclusive nature initially reminds Naoya of his brother and thus decided to become Kō’s gamer friend. Naoya brings her into his group of friends – not realizing she’s not a guy until later.

 

 

Manga Monday- Wotakoi: Love Is Hard For Otaku

Manga Monday- Wotakoi: Love Is Hard For Otaku

Wotakoi: Love Is Hard for Otaku is a Japanese webmanga series written and illustrated by Fujita. It was first posted on Pixiv on April 17, 2014. It began serialization in Comic Pool (a joint web manga publication project by Ichijinsha and Pixiv) on November 6, 2015. Ichijinsha began publishing the manga in print on April 30, 2015 and nine volumes had been published, with over 10 million copies printed (including digital edition) as of August 2020. An anime adaptation by A-1 Pictures aired from April to June 2018 on the Noitamina programming block.

The first volume was released on April 30, 2015 and eight volumes have been published as of December 2019. The manga is released in English by Kodansha Comics with each English volume containing two of the Japanese volumes.

Reception

The manga’s compiled book volumes have frequently ranked on Oricon. Volume 2 was ranked first, and sold up to 208,765 copies in its first week. Volume 3 was ranked fourth, and sold up to 209,102 copies in its first week. Volume 4 was ranked first, and sold up to 283,523 copies in its first week. The manga had up to 4.2 million copies in print as of July 20, 2017. The manga was ranked first in the 2016 edition of Kono Manga ga Sugoi! (This Manga Is Amazing!) guidebook. The manga was ranked ninth in the Zenkoku Shotenin ga Eranda Osusume Comic 2017 (Nationwide Bookstore Employees’ Recommended Comics of 2017) poll on February 1, 2017. It was nominated for the 41st Kodansha Manga Award in the Best General Manga category. In September 2017, it won the Web Manga General Election.

Shiro Sagisu, the music composer for the 2020 live-action film adaptation, was awarded the Sandro Forte Award For Best Motion Picture Score by Montreal’s 24th Fantasia International Film Festival.

Plot

The main characters are Narumi, an office working woman who hides her fujoshi lifestyle, and Hirotaka, a handsome and capable company man who is a game otaku. The two seem perfect for each other, but love is difficult for otaku.

Manga Monday- Midnight Secretary

Manga Monday- Midnight Secretary

Midnight Secretary is a supernatural romance manga series by Ohmi Tomu that was serialized in the manga magazine Petit Comic since 2006, with the 34th and final chapter published in the May 2009 issue. The serial chapters were collected in seven shinshobon volumes by Shogakukan. Viz Media licensed the series and released the first volume on September 3, 2013.

Midnight Secretary follows the relationship between Kaya Satozuka, a private secretary, and her boss, Director Kyouhei Touma of the Touma Company, who is a vampire.

Plot

Considered to be the “perfect secretary” yet constantly criticized for her ultra-conservative dress style by her boss, Director Kyouhei Touma of the Touma Company, Kaya lives a normal life until she finds out that her employer is actually a vampire. Despite uncovering his identity, she dedicates herself to serving the Director to the best of her abilities. The early part of the story focuses on the trials and tribulations of Kaya’s increasingly hectic workload, then shifts to the developing personal relationship between her and the Director.

Characters

Kaya Satozuka
The main character of the story, Kaya starts her position as private secretary to the Director at the beginning of the manga. She dresses in a very sophisticated style when at work, citing her professionalism, yet does so mainly because of her insecurity about her child-like looks. Due to her plainness, she is initially rejected by the Director for the job, yet she proves to be an invaluable worker and succeeds in gaining his acknowledgment. Despite discovering that the Director is a vampire, Kaya remains loyal to him and does everything in her power to protect his health and secret. Over the course of the story, she starts developing feelings for the Director, and becomes torn between her responsibilities and personal life. Her blood is considered to be a special rarity, which is able to quench the Director’s thirst with just a single drop. She eventually develops a sexual relationship with the director and leaves her official position as his secretary to work for a subsidiary company. Later on, she becomes the director’s “midnight secretary”, doing his office work at night in his mansion after she leaves her other job. She falls in love with the director, but is stubborn to the point where she insists it’s only because she’s his secretary that she risks so much for him. Kaya continues to be the perfect secretary, always trying to put business before her feelings, because she thinks that if she lets her “cowardice as a woman” get in the way of their relationship, she’ll only trouble Kyouhei. Later she confesses to the director that if she were not a perfect secretary, then he would want nothing to do with her, and that scares her. After that, everything goes normally, and Kaya, thinking the director wants to break it off with her, decides to “…break the wall between vampires and humans…” and goes to Kyouhei not as a secretary or food, but as a woman. At a time where the climax of whether she was with a baby or not was being distributed among the vampire clan, Kaya was flooded with numerous engagement proposals and wedding interviews – due to Hiraoka claiming she, as a human was a hindrance to the pride-taking clan. Kyouhei eventually proposes to her casually so they can live together, offering her mother to live with them also. The two confront her mother with their engagement, and after some reluctance she accepts it and agrees to come live with them. Shortly after Kaya finds that she is unable to have Kyouhei touch her without breaking out in shivers and after attempting to feed from her, Kyouhei finds that her blood has turned to poison. After speaking with an ally in the vampire clan, they find the reason for this problem is that Kaya is pregnant, with a powerful vampire baby. (To ‘protect’ the mother the baby somehow makes her blood poisonous to vampires to discourage being fed upon and uncomfortable feelings at touching vampires.) After Kaya reaches an ‘understanding’ with the baby, Kyouhei is able to touch her, but has to restrain himself as he’s under ‘probation’. The vampire clan wants to kidnap Kaya as powerful vampires are rare, only another vampire could resist being controlled by the baby, and to have the child become part of the clan ‘properly’. Thanks to some plans and hard work, (most of which he deliberately didn’t tell Kaya what it was for to tease her) Kyouhei is able to get the clan to stop trying to kidnap her for the time being. At the end of the series, Kaya and Kyouhei are married in a small, private ceremony and await the birth of their child.
Kyouhei Touma
The Director of the Touma Company, Kyouhei is known for his capability and strictness in the business world, which is preceded by his reputation with women and his ability to charm them for his own pleasures. Soon after being appointed a new secretary, he is discovered to be a vampire after one of his “meals”. Despite being a vampire, he states that they avoid killing humans and their bite doesn’t turn a human into a vampire. He’s very cold towards his family, seemingly not caring for their welfare or concern. However, he works behind the scenes to protect his family such as during negotiations for a merger with another company he used his resources to uncover evidence of wrongdoing by several individuals which would’ve badly harmed his family’s company. The women whom he sleeps with are his “meals” whenever he needs blood to quench his thirst. Because of seeing them as a mere necessity, he shows no particular interest or love for any woman. However, this attitude becomes shaken with the introduction of Kaya in his life. He eventually becomes attached to her, despite his stated insistence that she is nothing more than food to him. At one point, he refuses to drink any other blood than Kaya’s, and jumps into the midday sun to save her life. He is frustrated with his growing love for Kaya, and is even more frustrated at Kaya’s constant distance, as she is often telling him that she does the things she does because of her position as a secretary and nothing more. He confesses to Kaya through a fit of anger and after she confesses her fear of him leaving her, that even if she were not food nor his secretary that he’d, “continue to torment you. Because I want you!” After he admits to himself he may love her, Kaya comes one night and he openly admits to her that he loves her. After Kyouhei is banished from the clan, (he refused to give up Kaya despite the vampire clan reminding him that she wasn’t worthy enough by their standards) he proposes to Kaya so that they can live together without her mother worrying. Although she finds out he’s a vampire thanks to a dirty trick from the vampire clan, she reluctantly agrees to them seeing each other. Despite the fact that Kaya is now pregnant with a powerful vampire baby, which is preventing him from feeding on her blood, Kyouhei marries her and now waits for his child to be born.

 

Film Friday- Chihayafuru

Film Friday- Chihayafuru

Chihayafuru is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Yuki Suetsugu. It has been serialized in Kodansha’s Be Love magazine since December 2007. It is about a school girl, Chihaya Ayase, who is inspired by a new classmate to take up Hyakunin Isshu karuta competitively. A 25-episode anime television series adaptation aired from October 2011 to March 2012. A 25-episode second season aired from January to June 2013. A 24-episode third season premiered in October 2019. Three live action film adaptations were released from 2016 to 2018.

The manga has won the Manga Taishō and the Kodansha Manga Award. Since its fourth volume was released in March 2009, it has regularly appeared on the Japanese Comic Ranking chart, and in 2016 was estimated to have over 16 million copies in print. Its popularity has boosted the profile of competitive karuta in Japan.

Anime

A 25-episode anime television series adaptation, produced by the studio Madhouse under the direction of Morio Asaka, aired on Nippon Television from 4 October 2011 to 27 March 2012. The screenplay was written by Naoya Takayama and character designs were by Kunihiko Hamada. The music was composed by Kousuke Yamashita, and the sound director is Masafumi Mima of Techno Sound. The series was simulcast by Crunchyroll. Animax Asia aired an English version of the anime from 13 February to 18 March 2013. The series was released in nine DVD and Blu-ray Disc volumes from 21 December 2011 to 22 August 2012. A Blu-ray Disc box set was released on 18 July 2013.

A second 25-episode season, Chihayafuru 2, aired on Nippon Television between 11 January and 28 June 2013, and was simulcast by Crunchyroll. An original video animation episode was released on DVD bundled with the special edition of the 22nd manga volume on 13 September 2013.

A 24-episode third season was originally announced to premiere on Nippon Television’s AnichU block in April 2019, with the main cast and staff reprising their roles, but was delayed and aired from 22 October 2019 to 24 March 2020.

Sentai Filmworks licensed the first two seasons of the anime series for home video release in North America. The series’ first episode premiered with English subtitles on the Hidive streaming service on 15 June 2017. Sentai Filmworks’ dub is streamed by Hidive starting from 29 August 2017. The first season was released on DVD and Blu-ray on 12 September 2017. In December 2019, Sentai Filmworks announced that they had licensed the series’ third season.

The first season’s opening and ending themes are “Youthful” by 99RadioService and “Soshite Ima” by Asami Seto respectively. 99RadioService released “Youthful” as a single on 30 November 2011. The original soundtrack with character song albums was released in two volumes on 18 January and 28 March 2012. The second season’s opening and ending themes are “Star” by 99RadioService and “Akane Sora” by Seto. The third season’s opening and ending themes are “Colorful” by 99RadioService and “Hitomebore” by Band Harassment.

Other

Kodansha released several guidebooks for the series, with the first released on 9 November 2011. It provided a study guide for the poetry and background for the story.

A 4-volume novel series, Chihayafuru: Chūgakusei-hen, was published by Kodansha under their KC Deluxe imprint between 9 September 2012, and 13 December 2013. The books were written by Yui Tokiumi and illustrated by Yuki Suetsugu and follow the middle-school years of the three protagonists. A manga adapting the novels, written by Tokiumi and illustrated by Oto Tooda, was published in Be Love from 13 October 2017 to 1 November 2018 and compiled into three volumes.

On 11 April 2015, it was reported that the series would be adapted into a live-action film. A live action film adaptation titled Chihayafuru: Kami no Ku was released on 19 March 2016, with a second film, Chihayafuru: Shimo no Ku, released on 29 April 2016. Starting on 20 February 2018, five webisodes titled Chihayafuru: Tsunagu were aired on Hulu Japan. Chihayafuru: Musubi, a third and final feature length film in the trilogy, was released on 17 March 2018.

A 3-volume novelization of the films, Eiga Chihayafuru, was published by Kodansha under their KC Deluxe imprint. The first two volumes were released on 11 March 2016 and the third on 13 February 2018. The books were written by Yui Tokiumi, based on screenplay by Norihiro Koizumi.

Another 3-volume novelization of the films by Yūki Arisawa, Shōsetsu Chihayafuru, was published by Kodansha under their Kodansha Bunko imprint in 2018. The first two volumes were released on 16 January and the third on 15 February.

Chihaya Ayase 
A determined high school girl who was inspired by Arata in elementary school to play karuta and to dream of becoming the “Queen” of karuta. She begins a karuta club at her high school with Taichi. She is first introduced to competitive karuta by her childhood friend, Arata. Karuta has remained as Chihaya’s passion despite being separated from Arata. She has an exceptional hearing ability that gives her an advantage in playing karuta. While she is beautiful, she is considered too weird, her classmates referring to her as a “beauty in vain”. She is crazy about karuta (her friends calls her “karuta baka”), to the point that she can be oblivious to other people’s feelings. Chihaya is the captain of Mizusawa Karuta Club. She works very hard at improving her karuta skills, and reaches Class A near the beginning of the series. She is a strong, passionate person who loves karuta and is dedicated to her teammates and friends. Chihaya shares a strong bond of trust and friendship with Taichi and appreciates his skill in leading the club, though oblivious towards his feelings for her. Chihaya cares deeply for Arata, despite their long-distance relationship. While on the telephone with Arata, she realizes that she will always love him and karuta.
Taichi Mashima 
A good-looking, all-rounded sportsman and Chihaya’s childhood best friend. His mother is very strict with him, telling him that he should stick to activities he can win at. He seems to have feelings for Chihaya although he had a girlfriend at the beginning, and is jealous of her feelings for Arata. Taichi is the president of Mizusawa Karuta Club. He is a talented student and an athlete, at the beginning of the series he claims to have outgrown ‘karuta’, but then, after watching Chihaya excelling and obviously having fun, he decides to help her form a karuta club. He has good analytical skills and a good memory when playing karuta, but he has very bad luck. Due to this, he ends up staying in Class B longer than supposed to. He has been in love with Chihaya ever since childhood (and eventually realizes his feelings) but never confessed to her. When Sumire tried to confess to Taichi, he tells her that he would rather have a relationship with the girl he loves than with a girl who loves him, indirectly indicating Chihaya. He cares for her very deeply, being there for her every time Chihaya gets upset or sad. He has serious character to make up for Chihaya’s comical character. As a child, Taichi was a rich, spoiled child and disliked Arata, making fun of him for being poor, but as soon as he, Chihaya, and Arata started to play Karuta together, they became friends. In love, Taichi still views Arata as his enemy.
Arata Wataya 
was a transfer student to Chihaya’s elementary school, grandchild of an eternal master karuta player, Arata inspires Chihaya to take up karuta. He has difficulty fitting in at Chihaya’s elementary school because of his Fukui dialect and passion for karuta, but Chihaya befriends him. His dream is to become a karuta Meijin. After graduating elementary school, he returns to Fukui to care for his grandfather. After returning to Fukui, he quits karuta because his grandfather died while Arata was competing in a karuta tournament to rise to A-rank. However, after Chihaya and Taichi visit him in Fukui, he regains his resolve to play competitive karuta again. He has beaten “The Queen” Shinobu Wakamiya and is aiming to beat “Master” Hishashi Suo to claim the position of “Master”. Arata cherishes his friendship with both Chihaya and Taichi, albeit romantically to Chihaya. Later in the manga, Arata confesses his love to Chihaya, also informing her of his move back to Tokyo. Arata then excuses himself, leaving Chihaya flustered and speechless.

Manga Monday- Chihayafuru

Manga Monday- Chihayafuru

Chihayafuru is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Yuki Suetsugu. It has been serialized in Kodansha’s Be Love magazine since December 2007. It is about a school girl, Chihaya Ayase, who is inspired by a new classmate to take up Hyakunin Isshu karuta competitively. A 25-episode anime television series adaptation aired from October 2011 to March 2012. A 25-episode second season aired from January to June 2013. A 24-episode third season premiered in October 2019. Three live action film adaptations were released from 2016 to 2018.

The manga has won the Manga Taishō and the Kodansha Manga Award. Since its fourth volume was released in March 2009, it has regularly appeared on the Japanese Comic Ranking chart, and in 2016 was estimated to have over 16 million copies in print. Its popularity has boosted the profile of competitive karuta in Japan.

Manga

The manga has been serialized in Be Love since 2007, and has been collected by Kodansha into 44 tankōbon volumes as of May 2020. According to the author, the manga was close to ending in late 2019. Kodansha has also published the first three volumes in a two-volume bilingual edition, with English translations by Stuart Varnam Atkin and Yōko Toyozaki. On 14 February 2017, Kodansha Comics began publishing a digital edition of the series in English; 20 volumes have been released as of June 2020. The manga is licensed in French by Pika Édition, in Korean by Haksan Culture Company, in Taiwanese by Tong Li Publishing, and in Thai by Bongkoch Publishing.

Reception

Chihayafuru won the second Manga Taishō award, and the 35th Kodansha Manga Award in the shōjo manga category. When Chihayafuru won the Manga Taishō award, it was commented that the series combines elements of the sport genre and literary elements with a discerning eye on the subject matter. The manga had sold over 16 million copies in Japan as the first half of 2016, and its popularity has boosted the popularity of competitive karuta. The manga has regularly appeared on Oricon’s Japanese Comic Ranking chart. Between March 2009 and September 2011, the fourth through fourteenth volumes all appeared in the top 25 during the week of their release and the week after.

Among North American reviewers, Gia Manry, writing about the first episode of Chihayafuru, felt that despite the animators’ efforts, karuta seemed boring, and criticised the overuse of CG sakura, describing it as a “mixed bag” of an anime. Bamboo Dong says that Chihaya’s passion and characterisation make karuta interesting. Carlo Santos felt that the series was the “first genuinely good show of the season”, citing its characterisation, unusual subject, and polish of the first episode. Marcus Speer enjoyed the production values of the first episode, but felt that the theme songs were “standard fare”. He was intrigued by how the characters’ childhood impacted on their present interactions. Theron Martin appreciated the focus on the characters rather than the game, feeling that while the teenage Chihaya seemed “gimmicky”, her younger self was “quite likable”. Chris Beveridge praised the tension shown between Arata and Taichi in the second episode’s karuta match. Theron Martin felt the second episode’s karuta tournament was tense and compelling, and that despite the plot unfolding in a predictable fashion, the execution made this forgivable.

Crunchyroll’s editorial team chose Chihayafuru as one of the best anime of the 2010s decade and writer Humberto Saabedra commented, “You might expect such a series to be dry and uninteresting, but Chihaya’s journey from bright-eyed freshman player to wiser and well-practiced is why the series shines”. Writing for Forbes, Lauren Orsini considered it to be one of the five best anime of 2011; she wrote, “Even Western viewers will quickly become invested in the fast-paced drama of competitive karuta“.

Development

An Edo period karuta card with the Kami no Ku, or “upper phrase” from the Chihayaburu Tanka and the attribution to “Ariwara no Narihira Ason” written on it. The name of the series comes from this Heian Era poem.

Yuki Suetsugu belonged to a karuta club in high school and feels that the school years are a period of a person’s life where “you can dedicate the most genuine part of yourself to something.” The name of the series is a poetic Makurakotoba, or pillow word, and comes from the first five syllables of the seventeenth poem in the Hyakunin Isshu poetry anthology, a collection of 100 poems which are printed on the karuta cards. In this poem chihayaburu is used as an epithet to kami and can be translated into English as “shaken in fury” and “swift in fury”, according to Edwin A. Cranston, or “awesome”, as offered by Joshua S. Mostow.

Plot

Chihaya Ayase is a girl who has spent most of her life simply supporting her sister in her model career. That changes when she meets a boy named Arata Wataya, a talented karuta player. After becoming friends, he believes that Chihaya has potential to become a great player. As Chihaya takes on a new dream of becoming Japan’s best karuta player, she is soon separated from her karuta playing friends as they grow up. Now in high school, Chihaya is reunited with her childhood friend, Taichi Mashima. Together, they form the Mizusawa Karuta Club. With her teammates and friends supporting her, Chihaya strives to become the best karuta player in the world and to one day be with Arata again.

 

Film Friday- Nodame Cantabile

Film Friday- Nodame Cantabile

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.

Live-action drama

Nodame Cantabile has been adapted as a live-action television drama broadcast in 11 hour-long episodes from 16 October – 25 December 2006, on Fuji TV, covering events up to volume 9 of the manga. This was followed by a four-hour sequel television special, Nodame Cantabile New Year’s Special in Europe, adapting further events in the manga after Chiaki and Nodame move to Paris, broadcast on Fuji TV on 4 and 5 January 2008. These were directed by Hideki Takeuchi from scripts by Rin Etou, and starred Hiroshi Tamaki as Shinichi Chiaki and Juri Ueno as Megumi “Nodame” Noda.

Music direction was by Daisuke Mogi with original music by Takayuki Hattori, with several works of classical music featured in each episode. The orchestral music was performed by Nodame Orchestra, which consisted of members specially selected for the live-action drama with professional support from the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra. The Orchestra was conducted by James DePriest, Permanent Conductor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Orchestra, who would later have his name and likeness used in the Nodame storyline as the musical director of the fictional Roux-Marlet Orchestra. The opening theme for both the drama series and special was the First movement from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, and the ending theme was Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, both performed by the Nodame Orchestra conducted by Toshiaki Umeda.

An episode of PuriGorota: Uchū no Yūjō Daibōken, the fictional anime series that Nodame watches, was created by J.C.Staff for the drama. The anime was written and directed by Ken’ichi Kasai, the director of the first season of the Nodame Cantabile anime. Segments of the PuriGorota anime were shown during episode 4 of the Nodame Cantabile drama, with the complete anime released as a DVD extra with the Nodame Cantabile anime series.

Two live-action movie sequels to the television drama with the same actors were produced, with the first film being released in December 2009, while the second film was released in April 2010. Filming began in May 2009 and lasted for five months, and included location filming in Vienna. On 4 May 2009, the drama began airing in the Philippines on the GMA Network. In South Korea the drama aired on MBC’s cable channel where it achieved peak ratings of 2%, which is a record high for a foreign cable drama.

A South Korean adaptation titled Naeil’s Cantabile starring Joo Won, Shim Eun-kyung and Park Bo-gum aired on KBS2 in 2014.

Anime

Nodame Cantabile was also adapted as an anime television series, produced by Fuji TV and animated by J.C.Staff. The series was broadcast on Fuji and associated stations in the Noitamina time slot. The first season, titled Nodame Cantabile, was broadcast in 23 episodes from 11 January – 28 June 2007, and the second season, called Nodame Cantabile: Paris Chapter, was broadcast in 11 episodes from 8 October – 18 December 2008. Both seasons were also later aired in Japan on the satellite television network Animax. The first season was directed by Ken’ichi Kasai and the second season by Chiaki Kon, and starred Ayako Kawasumi as Megumi “Nodame” Noda and Tomokazu Seki as Shin’ichi Chiaki. An original video animation episode was included with the limited edition volume 22 of the manga when it was published in Japan on 10 August 2009, and a third and final anime season, called Nodame Cantabile: Finale began airing in January 2010.

On 6 February 2009, the series received its English language television premiere on Animax Asia across its networks in Southeast Asia and South Asia, airing the series with its original Japanese audio and English subtitles. and later its air in English Dubbed on 12 June 2009.

The music director for both seasons was Suguru Matsutani. As with the live-action drama, several works of classical music were featured in each episode, performed by the Nodame Orchestra. The opening theme of season one was “Allegro Cantabile” by Suemitsu & The Suemith, and the ending themes were “Konna ni Chikaku de…” by Crystal Kay (episodes 1–12), “Sagittarius” by Suemitsu & the Nodame Orchestra (episodes 13–22), and “Allegro Cantabile” by Suemitsu & The Suemith (episode 23). The opening theme for the second season was “Sky High” by The Gospellers (with melody taken from the Third movement of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2, and the ending theme was “Tokyo et Paris” by Emiri Miyamoto x solita. The opening theme for the final season is “Manazashi Daydream” by Yuu Sakai and the ending theme is “Kaze to Oka no Ballad ” by Real Paradis with Nodame Orchestra.

The first season was released on 8 DVDs between April and November 2007. A box set was released in February 2008 with an additional 15-minute original video animation, taking place between episodes 8 and 9. The series has been licensed in Russia and South Korea. The first DVD of the second season was released on 24 December 2008.

Plot

Shinichi Chiaki, an arrogant, multilingual perfectionist, is the top student at Momogaoka College of Music and has secret ambitions to become a conductor. Born into a musical family, he is talented in piano and violin and once lived abroad in the music capitals of the world as a young boy (namely Prague), but is trapped in Japan because of his childhood phobia of airplanes and the ocean. In contrast, Megumi Noda, or “Nodame”, is a piano student at Momogaoka, notorious for messiness and eccentric behavior. Despite being very talented, Nodame prefers to play by ear rather than according to the musical score; thus, she is regarded as sloppy and playful.

When they meet by accident, Nodame quickly falls in love, but it takes much longer for Chiaki to even begin to appreciate Nodame’s unusual qualities. Their relationship causes them both to develop and grow. Along the way, they meet some crazy people (like Masumi, Mine, and Stresemann) and make lasting friendships. Because of Nodame, Chiaki gets the opportunity to lead a student orchestra and begins to have a broader appreciation of people’s musical abilities. Because of Chiaki, Nodame faces her fears and enters a piano competition. Opportunities open up as both begin taking risks, stretching themselves far more than they ever thought possible.

After graduation, Nodame succeeds in curing Chiaki from his phobias and they both move to Paris, where Nodame continues her piano studies at the Conservatoire de Paris while Chiaki starts a professional career as a conductor. In Europe, they encounter new friends and rivals, as well as keep in touch with their friends from Japan.

 

Manga Monday- Nodame Cantabile

Manga Monday- Nodame Cantabile

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.

Manga

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.

Reception

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.

Film Friday- The Twelve Kingdoms

Film Friday- The Twelve Kingdoms

The Twelve Kingdoms is a Japanese series of fantasy novels written by Fuyumi Ono and illustrated by Akihiro Yamada. The first entry in the series called The Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Shadow was published by Kodansha in Japan in 1992; the last Kodansha volume was released in 2001. In 2012 the series was resumed under the Shinchō Bunko line from Shinchosha. Shinchosha has also begun reprinting the older volumes with new cover and interior art from Akihiro Yamada. The first new publication of the series in six years was announced for a 2019 release date.

The Chinese mythology-influenced books were adapted into an anime television series by Pierrot in 2002. It aired on Japan’s NHK from April 9, 2002 to August 30, 2003, and totaled 45 episodes.

The novels were licensed in the United States by Tokyopop and the first four volumes were released between March 2007 and November 2010 as part of their Pop Fiction line. Subsequently, the English license reverted to Kodansha. The entire anime series has been released on DVD and Blu-ray in the United States by Media Blasters, which are now out of print. Now, the license is transferred to Discotek Media for a complete series Blu-ray released in 2019.

Overview

The Twelve Kingdoms is a series of novels that focus on a world inspired by Chinese mythology, where twelve different kingdoms exist under the rule of an individual chosen by the Tians. The series does not exclusively focus on one character, though the stories of Youko Nakajima, the protagonist of the first novel, and Taiki, the protagonist of the second book, are most prevalent in the series.

Characters

One of the major stories of the series centers around a red-haired girl named Youko Nakajima from Japan who is suddenly transported to the world of the Twelve Kingdoms and searches for her destiny. However, neither the series nor the anime concentrates solely on Youko and they do tell stories of other characters. The anime uses Youko as a framing device for telling other stories while the novels do not.

Each of the Twelve Kingdoms has a monarch and a Kirin, a mythological beast who first selects and then serves the monarch of his or her kingdom and can assume human form. Though only a few rulers and Kirin are in the main focus of the story, many are encountered in the series and play a significant role.

The novels focus on several characters other than Youko, including Taiki, a timid rare black Kirin who serves the ruler of Tai, and Enki and Shouryuu, the Kirin and King of En respectively. Other major characters include Keiki, the Kirin of Kei who brings Youko to the Twelve Kingdoms; Gyousou, a general chosen by Taiki to become King of Tai; Shushou, the Queen of Kyou; Shoukei, the disposed princess of Hou, and Suzu, a peasant girl who is unexpectedly transported from Japan to the Twelve Kingdoms.

Anime adaptation

Plot

The anime casts Yoko Nakajima, a Japanese girl who is suddenly transported to another world and eventually discovers that she is the empress of the kingdom of Kei, in the role of the main character; however, in the novels, Yoko is only one of many main characters and her story is focused upon in only two novels.

The anime focuses on the Kingdom of Kei and the events surrounding it. Several of the other countries are introduced, the most prominent being Kou, En and Tai, while Kyou, Hou, Sai and Ryuu play a minor role compared to the other three. The rest of the kingdoms are only introduced by name and a brief description of the current ruler and taiho. The anime also introduced the characters Asano and Sugimoto to accompany Yoko to the Twelve Kingdoms. Their role is to externalize some of Yoko’s problems that were internal in the novels.

Kingdom of Kei inhabitants

Youko Nakajima

is a sixteen-year-old honors student in Japan who lives an ordinary life. Her primary worries are her naturally red hair (it was speculated by some students and a teacher that Youko might’ve dyed her hair red) and an inexplicable recurring dream that haunts her. When a man named Keiki suddenly appears at her school, he bows at her feet, swearing loyalty to her and offering protection. The school is attacked by a giant bird and she reluctantly accepts his oath. He gives her a sword and transports her across the Void Sea to the Twelve Kingdoms, where she ends up in the Kingdom of Kou.

Youko is initially confused by the changes that have been brought onto her including a complete change in her appearance that she cannot see herself and being stranded in an unknown land with no means of returning home. These changes cause her to cry constantly, lapse into a state of helplessness, and complain about interfering in other beings’ lives no matter what the situation. As she searches for Keiki, she finds herself constantly battling against Youma and being betrayed by civilians of Kou many times. While Youko becomes wary of trusting others, she eventually comes to befriend and trust a hanjyu named Rakushun. They escape to the Kingdom of En where Youko learns that she is the heir to the throne of the kingdom of Kei. Although she is initially reluctant, Youko accepts the position through her growth in the story. In a later story arc as the newly appointed queen, Youko learns of several problems in her kingdom including a revolt in the Province of Wa. Subsequently, she is pulled into the search for Taiki when the Tai general Risai beseeches Youko’s help in finding him.

As the ruler of Kei, she is given the regnal name of Sekishi (Red Child), because of her bright red hair and because her councillors initially view her as a child. Despite being a weak character to begin with, appearing very withdrawn and not wanting to do anything that would bring attention to herself, Youko grows in strength and maturity, becomes empathetic towards the people around her, thinking articulately about her actions (especially as queen) and continues to do so until the end of the series.

Keiki

is a Kirin and the Saiho of Kei. Like all Kirin, Keiki abhors violence and prefers peaceful resolutions. Keiki appears as a very quiet and unemotional type, however does have caring qualities, especially seen towards the Kirin Taiki. In spite of being gruff and somewhat unapproachable, he is actually very sincere and loyal to Youko.

Before meeting Youko, Keiki had taken a long time before selecting Youko’s immediate predecessor, Joukaku, to become the ruler of Kei. However, she was an ineffective ruler and fell in love with Keiki; her jealousy resulted in irrational acts including expelling all the women from the country and executing those who remained. Keiki contracted Shitsudou and in order to save his life, Joukaku abdicated her throne and killed herself after a short reign of six years and was posthumously known as Yo-ou (the Prophet). Cured of his illness, Keiki set out immediately to find a new monarch for Kei.

He eventually finds Youko Nakajima, who had been living as a taika in Japan without any knowledge of the Twelve Kingdoms, and forcibly brings her back to the Twelve Kingdoms. They are separated on arrival and Keiki is captured and enchanted by Kourin, the kirin of Kou, so that he is unable to speak, summon his Shirei, or return to human form. Forced to appear before Joyei, Joukaku’s sister and pretender to the throne of Kei, Keiki remains a prisoner of the false ruler until Youko, aided by the King of En, rescues him and frees him from his enchantment. After liberating Kei, Keiki continues to advise Youko on statecraft and politics.

Aozaru

is the physical manifestation of the sentient spirit of the scabbard of the Suigūtō  (the Water Monkey Sword). The sword is a royal treasure to the kingdom of Kei and can only be wielded by the kingdom’s rightful ruler – as such, Youko is the only one who can draw the sword from its sheath. The sword was forged from a water demon that a previous great ruler of Kei had defeated while the scabbard was created from a long-tailed monkey demon. From the scabbard hangs a large jewel that can heal the one who holds it.

The sword is not only capable of killing demons and sages and breaking substances like metal chains, but is also capable of presenting visions of the past, future, and things in the distance. The sword and scabbard must be kept together, otherwise the phantasms of the sword appear unchecked while the spirit of the scabbard is free to act as it wishes. When Youko loses the scabbard during an attack by Kikis, it appears in the form of Aozaru, the blue monkey, and taunts her with her doubts while the sword presents her with visions of things she does not wish to see. Eventually, Youko, overcoming her own doubts, kills the monkey and picks up the dead scabbard. Because she has killed Aozaru, the sword can be drawn from the sheath by anyone, though it can be wielded effectively only by Youko.

Seikyou

has long served as the Chosai, the top administrator, of Kei. Seikyou works to convince Youko that Koukan, the leader of the province of Baku, is a threat to her. After an assassin plots to kill Youko, Seikyou advises Youko that Koukan planned it and that she should execute him, but Keiki advises her to listen to Koukan before acting. When Youko orders Koukan to report, Seikyou has him attacked, forcing him to flee. Seikyou continually seeks to confuse Youko, telling her that Gahou is corrupt but advising that no action be taken against him, even though Seikyou secretly supports Gahou. He repeatedly seeks meetings with her when Keiki is not present so that the kirin cannot advise her. Youko, citing Seikyou’s attempts to manipulate her and his failure to better safeguard her life, demotes Seikyou and appoints Keiki as chosai. When Youko leaves to study with Enho, Seikyou takes advantage of the situation to usurp Keiki’s authority. When the rebels become a threat to Gahou, Seikyou sends a royal army force under general Jinrai to Shisui to scare the rebels into surrendering, unaware of Youko’s presence in Wa because she told everyone in the court except Keiki that she was going to En. Seikyou’s plan fails because Youko appears to take control of the royal forces and she redirects them against Gahou. After Shoukei convinces Youko that Seikyou is the mastermind behind the plot, Youko has him arrested.

 

Novel Monday- The Twelve Kingdoms

Novel Monday- The Twelve Kingdoms

The Twelve Kingdoms is a Japanese series of fantasy novels written by Fuyumi Ono and illustrated by Akihiro Yamada. The first entry in the series called The Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Shadow was published by Kodansha in Japan in 1992; the last Kodansha volume was released in 2001. In 2012 the series was resumed under the Shinchō Bunko line from Shinchosha. Shinchosha has also begun reprinting the older volumes with new cover and interior art from Akihiro Yamada. The first new publication of the series in six years was announced for a 2019 release date.

The Chinese mythology-influenced books were adapted into an anime television series by Pierrot in 2002. It aired on Japan’s NHK from April 9, 2002 to August 30, 2003, and totaled 45 episodes.

The novels were licensed in the United States by Tokyopop and the first four volumes were released between March 2007 and November 2010 as part of their Pop Fiction line. Subsequently, the English license reverted to Kodansha. The entire anime series has been released on DVD and Blu-ray in the United States by Media Blasters, which are now out of print. Now, the license is transferred to Discotek Media for a complete series Blu-ray released in 2019.

There are nine novels in the Twelve Kingdoms series, including two short story collections. The novels are illustrated by Akihiro Yamada. Some of the novels have been published in two volume editions such that the total number of volumes consists of twelve books (as released in Japan).

U.S. release

On May 11, 2006, U.S. publisher Tokyopop said in an interview with comic book news website Newsarama that it would be publishing the novels under its “Pop Fiction” imprint. The first book was released in March 2007. The first four books have been released; after the licensing rights to the series reverted to Kodansha, the English publication status of the fifth book and onward will be dependent on Kodansha USA.

Setting

The Twelve Kingdoms tells several stories from the world of the Twelve Kingdoms, located on a group of several islands in another dimension accessible from our world through portals created from naturally-occurring magic (though the other way around is normally impossible). The portals occur in the ocean waters of Japan and China, and every so often will end up dragging someone from our world from those waters to the kingdoms’ islands, and/or on rare occasion, pulling an unborn child from the kingdoms into our world, causing them to be born there. On the islands, magic works and societies similar to those of classical Japan and China exist. While the inhabitants of the kingdoms are aware of the existence of our world as the lands of Hourai (Japan) and Kunlun (China), the reverse is not true for any inhabitants of our world. The inhabitants of the kingdoms speak a different language than the languages of our world, both of which can be learned by either side. Only by through extraordinary circumstances can the two worlds affect each other to a respective certain extent.

In this world, there are a total of thirteen lands. At the center of the world lies the Koukai (the Yellow Sea) and Five Mountains where the Gods communicate their will to the Twelve Kingdoms of the world. Each of the Twelve Kingdoms possess their own ruler and its own Kirin, a divine creature which embodies the will of heaven and is entrusted to choose a kingdom’s ruler by Tentei: Emperor of Heaven, and serve as the ruler’s aide. The ruler will have immortal life as long as they keep the kingdom healthy and their heads are not severed from their body. If the ruler’s Kirin dies or is killed, the ruler will die within a year.

The Koukai, known as the Yellow Sea, is surrounded by four inland seas: the Black Sea in the north, the Blue Sea to the east, the Red Sea in the south, and the White Sea to the west. Eight of the Twelve Kingdoms (Kei, En, Ryu, Kyou, Han, Sai, Sou, and Kou) border at least one of these four seas, extending from the center like the petals of a flower. The remaining four kingdoms (Tai, Hou, Ren, and Shun) are not part of the central mainland and are isolated by the Kyokai  (Void Sea) which surrounds the lands of the Twelve Kingdoms.