Nodame 9, Letter Bee 22

The last episode of Nodame Cantabile confused the heck out of me, until I learned on this site what the music they used at the end was. Faust! Ah! A Faustian bargain with Stresemann! Now it makes sense! However, I’m not sure what the devil has to do with the events that unfolded in ep9. The whole thing is a breakthrough for Nodame, at least professionally.

Basically, Stresemann is going to conduct her debut in London, changing the music at the last minute. Why is he doing this? Because he has enormous respect for her abilities and feels she’s getting shafted the way things were going, I guess. But at that time we had no idea how Nodame is going to respond to all this. She goes around either looking confused or overly determined, woodenly walking out on stage to perform with her face pinched up. I worried she was going to freak out.

But I only worried a little. Nodame has matured since we first met her, and is more than ready to take on the Chopin. It’s a triumph, just as Rui’s performance with Chiaki last episode was. What’s more, in what is perhaps Nodame Cantabile’s longest and best performance scene yet, she does it in her own style, both baffling and delighting the audience and orchestra members, and exhausting poor Stresemann. Well, what did he expect?

Nodame is now officially on the musical map. What will this mean?

Chiaki is there, too, admiring her performance from the audience and also thinking how it could have come to this. No one knew where Nodame went. The first part of the episode has everyone frantically calling around asking about her. Chiaki even calls Japan, and we get some cameos from some of the original series’ characters. It’s Stresemann’s business manager who fills him in (and pointedly asks him how he didn’t know–he’s supposed to be her boyfriend). This is where the sadder side of the story appears. Nodame did this without Chiaki’s help, and after the concert refuses to see him. Chiaki, already stricken by all the events, says things can’t be like they were before, and now he gets a glimpse of what the new situation might be. It’s not good for either of them. Or is it? Nodame ran right past her Paris situation and got herself a new one. In a way, that’s great. But will she and Chiaki both wind up losing because of it? Maybe this is more of a faustian bargain than I had thought … Good episode.

Letter Bee 22 is out of sync, at least the story arcs are. We continue with Mana Jones’ story. The only way to save her job is to get a recommendation from the esteemed herbologist Dr. Hoytman, but they have only seven days to get it, and Hoytmann is ten days away, round trip. Nevertheless, Gauche takes the challenge to deliver a letter to him. And so he goes, up huge mountains, violent sandstorms, violent gaichuu …

... And then it gets a little ridiculous.

And he succeeds! Hoytman gives his recommendation and he returns in even less time (the sandstorm must have been at his back this time, or maybe another tornado blew him home), Mana’s job is saved, all is well. …and there’s still half an episode to go.

So, it’s straight into the next story arc. Thunderland announces they have a lead to Gauche’s current location, a city called Honey Waters. Lag and Connor go off to investigate. There a disgruntled woman and her husband are agitating the masses.

She holds a spirit amber which Lag recognizes as belonging to Gauche. And the episode ends. Now, the Mana Jones story was pretty much a snoozefest, apart from Gauche’s improbable trek, which was just one damn thing after another. This new story looks way more interesting. We got a mystery, angry rebels, that spirit amber, and for right now, potential. Recently Letter Bee has been in the doldrums. Here’s hoping that the return of the Gauche story gives it some life.

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