Saturday, July 17, 2010

Nodame Cantabile: The Final Score - Part II (のだめカンタービレ 最終楽章 後編)

When Can We Play Together?

Continuing directly from where we last left off, I was expecting just as much fun I had from the first film in the second one, since it's only half the movie to be completed now, but unfortunately I was left none too impressed. While the earlier film had demonstrated it's more than possible to have a feature film showcasing classical music, thanks to its zany characters, insights for newbies like myself into the meaning and stories behind the many iconic classical pieces, and the charismatic duo of Juri Ueno and Hiroshi Tamaki as the lovers Nodame and Chiaki respectively, the finale chapter ultimately reminded me of another Hollywood franchise in the way things go for the two leads.

Twilight. Yes, and I mean it in a negative way. The end of the first film had left us with the hope that the supporting characters get to be more involved this time around, but sadly, after the first half hour, they get shelved aside as their story arcs get wrapped up, and the characters got the closure they are seeking. And everything that happened in the first film with Chiaki up against the challenge of trying to make a team out of his orchestra, gets totally put aside, not that it is in need of another mending, but all the characters back then, only warranted a cameo appearance in a throwaway scene toward the end.

So with all the distractions out of the way, Chiaki can focus on helping Nodame with her music, even though they have to live apart, with mutual agreement and consent. But this absence doesn't only make the heart grow fonder, but also put into the heart some doubts as to whether one is holding the other back by just being there and probably demanding attention and time. Nodame goes through this entire emo episode in self doubt with the realization that her fantasy of being a top notch classical pianist, may just be that fantasy unfulfilled, and wonder what was actually wrong with life as she knew as a pre-school teacher.

In a parallel to the Twilight movies, so begins that indecisiveness that crept into the film and set on it like the plague. Both Chiaki and Nodame cannot help to declare their affection openly and their emotions properly, and cannot decide if they're better off together, or alone. Worse, Nodame's career seems to suddenly take off when she's at her most vulnerable, and Chiaki being perturbed not to be at the centre of it all, as he was always. It's one thing being put on a pedestal by someone, then completely forgotten and you start wondering why you've been taking things for granted.

Under such circumstances and scenes, it eventually plodded its way to the finale complete with a much expected reconciliation, and somehow it hinted at not being a definitive end, since I believe another volume of the graphic novel is already out. I suppose it's always the smart thing to do to leave things open for the prospect of more, but seriously, the show should start to move on from concentrating on this dilemma of indecision.

But I still enjoyed what I had enjoyed from the previous film, with this one also showcasing a number, though less now, of classical musical pieces coming complete with explanations of the stories and theories behind the composers and the works themselves, which serves to be educational. I start to realize as well that the choice of the music pieces were deliberately considered to evoke and reflect the mood of the respective characters at the time of their playing, so how's that for that perfect drawing of parallels?

Like the earlier film there were moments of kitsch especially with Juri Ueno hamming it up as her sensitive, fun loving Nodame, but when drowned in plenty of emotional moments, she loses that much of charm. Still, fans of the predecessor or those who have watched that already shouldn't go without watching the second since it completes the adventures of The Final Score based primarily in Paris, but as an outsider to the well loved series, I'm still of the opinion that the first part is way more superior than the second.

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