Chiaki Shin'ichi is the top piano student at his university and an excellent violinist, but Chiaki doesn't care about playing these instruments as much as he dreams of someday being a conductor. Chiaki, however, has several deeply rooted fears about traveling, and so finds himself trapped in Japan. Because he's trapped, Chiaki starts to question exactly how far he can possibly go in music, especially when he's passed over again and again for others he thinks are less worthy of musical scholarship and fame.
Recently dumped by his girlfriend for a sausage looking fellow, passed over for a chance to go overseas, removed from his star spot in the piano competition because he walked out on his piano instructor, Chiaki is at his limit. This is when he meets Nodame, or Noda Megumi. Nodame is a free — if filthy — spirit who reminds Chiaki that music can be fun. She reminds him what drew him to be a conductor in the first place and, in learning how to deal with Nodame, Chiaki learns how to deal with others. Chiaki begins to realize what is possible for him, even on the tiny island of Japan.
For Nodame, Chiaki is everything she isn't. Clean, neat, dedicated, studious and inherently arrogant about his accomplishments and capabilities, Chiaki constantly bullies her into being more serious about life. He sees potential in her and her abilities as a pianist that she doesn't care about. Nodame loves Chiaki and wants to be with him, but, because she's not serious about her piano studies nor her personal hygiene, Chiaki denies her affections again and again.
But Chiaki and Nodame complete each other in ways no other can, a musical complement that neither of them can completely escape entirely. Watching them grow as people and musicians, and even as a couple, is an interesting ride.