Nodame Cantabile 7 pushes little plot pieces around while playing with a theme of challenges, not necessarily overcoming them, but getting prepared for the bigger ones that must follow.
For Nodame, newly motivated but still stung by Rui’s getting to do the Ravel with Chiaki (that sounds dirty), it’s a challenge that the Beethoven piece presents to her. She’s too happy at first to perform it effectively, but she takes her angst over Chiaki and begins to use it to fuel her playing—only to have her teacher start her working on some Debussy. We’ve seen her mature in this series, but she’s still easily affected by changes, good or bad. Oh, we learn that Auclair is indeed going to let her enter a concours, but she’s not to know.
For Chiaki, it’s the admonishment the concert master gives him when he suspects Chiaki wants to play it safe with the Ravel concerto. Chiaki realizes that he’s right. Chiaki needs to keep pushing himself to keep growing. The same goes for Rui, who wants to play it well, but is also becoming aware of her weaknesses and what she can or cannot do with them. “You’re so grown-up,” says Chiaki. And Tanya has scooped herself off the floor and intends to join a chamber music class and stay in Paris if she can get the funding. It’s all a good life-lesson. Look for new challenges if you’re to grow.
Which makes ep8 such a strange thing to watch. I suspected what would happen at first. The concert exceeds expectations, Rui is triumphant: “She has regained her love of music and a limitless future by acknowledging who she is,” says the review, just as the show hinted at last episode. But it flabbergasts Nodame, who never expected Rui could play so freely and with so much fun (not knowing that Rui’s performance was inspired by Nodame), and falls into desperation. So much so that the next morning:
Now, this is weird, even for Nodame, but not completely out of character. She later says she doesn’t know why she said it. Chiaki, whose turn it is to be flabbergasted, treats it as a joke and leaves for Italy, regretting his reaction the minute he closes the door. Okay, so now the show has veered (rather abruptly) back into relationship-mode. That’s not too strange.
No, what’s strange is the final few minutes. Stresemann returns to see Chiaki and finds a despondent Nodame. What looks to be a scene of reassurance suddenly goes all weird on us. While Chiaki watches an opera rehearsal (opera’s a possible next challenge) we see Streseman as you see above, in one of those cabalistic circles many anime shows overuse, tempting Nodame to go over to his side. What the hell is he talking about? Is he coming on to her (well, it’s hardwired in him to come on to women)? What else is he offering? This is so out of left field that I can’t even begin to think what it might mean. And so the episode ends. As good as it it so see Streseman back it’s rather disturbing to see what comes of it.