I can’t believe I’m going to make comparisons to a Steinbeck novel. Not a bad episode, we learn about Streseman’s background and why a character like him is in Japan and teaching of all things. While it appears that Streseman is out to impress an old flame, it is a little more deeper than that. I think the interesting point in this episode is when the school president makes the comment how its nice to hear the S orchestra play with passion. Considering that all of the members of the S Oke were underachievers until Streseman picked them, plus each member’s realization that they hadn’t played in an orchestra, it’s no wonder that they would have passion for music. If the school president feels that way about the S Oke, what about the A Oke? Could it be filled with overachievers who expected to get into A Oke and are playing with less evident passion than the S Oke? That’s not to say they don’t have any passion for music, but if she’s making a comment like that about the S Oke, then I wonder what she would think about the A Oke.
As the episode moves along, we finally find out why a “vibrant” character like Streseman is teaching. It is interesting to see that the school president managed to do what no one else hasn’t been able to do before in asking Streseman to take Chiaki on as a student (and sweep the sidewalks). It speaks to Chiaki’s talents in conducting and playing music that a heavy weight conductor like Streseman is teaching Chiaki. Plus it does set up far more interesting drama than if Viera was teaching. The school president seems to be aware that Chiaki has some personal demons (fear of flying and ships) that are crippling enough to keep in Japan and hinder his potential career.
As I was watching this episode, I kept think of Lenny from Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. So far, I don’t find a lot of redeemable qualities in Chiaki. I’ve mentioned before that I think the times he abuses Nodame borders on domestic abuse. Now I like physical comedy, but it is getting old with Chiaki and Nodame. Emotionally, Lenny (from what I remember of Steinbeck’s book) is more mature than Chiaki, whose emotional level is about the same as Lenny’s mental acuity. Talent wise, Chiaki is on his way to becoming a true master. Once he gets the management of humans down, then it isn’t hard to imagine that he’ll equal, if not surpass, Streseman (even his beloved Viera) as a conductor. In addition to his musical skills, his one really strong quality is an underlying sense of compassion towards Nodame, for the most part. He recognizes that she has strong natural talent for music, but his lacking ability to deal with her, and people in general, seems to cause his impatience and irritation with Nodame.
Nodame does seem to bring out some irritation, even from me. Nodame, well Nodame is Lenny. At first, her puppy dog enthusiasm was cute, but as the show has progressed, I’m starting to think that she showing some strong dependency issues. She’s changing the fonts on Chiaki’s computer, clinging on to him quite frequently, almost to the point of appearing to take control over Chiaki’s life. When Streseman basically compels Chiaki, as his student, to go with him to the Pink Garden Club, its Chiaki who gets the complete brunt of Nodame’s death glare. She just demonstrates little comprehension/awareness.
Seriously, just how can she not tell the difference of wearing a dress and a bikini with the likes of Streseman with alcohol in a restaurant? I seriously wonder just if she is lacking in, oh I don’t know, common sense.
I suppose it really isn’t Nodame’s fault that she wound up with a bikini instead of a dress. After all, Streseman did promise to buy her a “new one”. Everyone just assumed that he meant a dress. What no one was aware of, is Streseman’s mastery of equivocation. He did promise to buy her a new item of clothing - we just assumed it to be a dress. While what Streseman said and did wasn’t a lie, it just wasn’t intentionaly clear that when he said “new one”, he was thinking “bikini” while everyone else was thinking “dress”.
Not that I’m complaining about Streseman’s bikini purchase. But let’s admit it. Streseman’s a letch. Excluding his musical talent and his “teaching” of Chiaki, there’s nothing commendable about him. Emotionally, he’s just as stunted as Chiaki. Despite all this, there is something likable, almost lovable, with these three characters. I do want to see Chiaki achieve his dreams. As well as Nodame, once she figures out what they are. Teaching kindergarten and being married to Chiaki just doesn’t seem a viable set of dreams for her. As for Streseman, there is something likable about him. He does have a passion that I envy. Well, his passion and ability to get away with everything is enviable.