Kiss her now

September 29, 2006

Dirk Deppey takes a look at Nodame Cantabile 6 (Del Rey) in today’s review. While I agree with him generally about the book’s merits, reading the review made me realize that the potential for romance between Chiaki and Nodame was maybe the least compelling aspect of the book for me. As Deppey puts it:

“Its two ostensible romantic leads are so wrapped up in their own little worlds that they themselves become the obstacles. It’s a wonderful display of delayed expectations, as situation after situation that a lesser writer might have played for sentiment instead becomes another lost chance, advancing the story but not necessarily the leads’ would-be relationship.”

In other words, it’s the just-kiss-already complex, but handled much more deftly by Tomoko Ninomiya than is the norm. It isn’t that I have any objections to a love match between the two, which would be pointless anyways, given its inevitability. It’s just that other elements of the book are more engaging to me. Deppey succinctly identifies these as well:

“With the conclusion of exams and subsequent graduation, the students find themselves wondering what their next step will be. There’s a wistfulness in the presentation in these sequences, perfectly capturing the sense of a tight-knit group of students facing the end of an idyllic period in their lives.”

It’s the vibe of the school and the ability of the setting to believably accommodate such an appealing group of eccentrics that draws me back volume after volume. And maybe it’s the very inevitability of the Chiaki-Nodame relationship that makes me discount it as a draw. It’s such a given part of the landscape that my attention wanders to the parts that are unexpected.

And it isn’t as though I’m immune to the just-kiss-already. I’m an unrepentant ‘shipper when it comes to Kasukabe and Madarame in Genshiken (Del Rey). They’re opposites in obvious ways, but they click for me because of their similarities. Each has an ingrained prejudice against the other’s type, but they’re prejudiced in exactly the same way.

It isn’t a case of wanting them to see past their respective surfaces and find the wonderful person underneath, because I’m not convinced either of them is a wonderful person. I think they’re both hostile narcissists, prone to disappointment in the people around them but pleased that it presents them with the opportunity to be critical. They’re united in their virtually identical contempt. Swoon!

Genshiken also offers an element of suspense. It isn’t the kind of book that seems inclined to focus on anything as direct as will-they-won’t-they, so the Kasukabe-Madarame relationship could exist entirely in my head. That seems like the perfect side-effect for a book about obsessive, overly analytical fandom.