I am seeing a lot of music animes popping up, and it’s not just folks wanting to be the latest idol band or boy group, but real musical dedication. After having seen “Your Lie in April” and bumbled through two season of “Hibike! Euphonium”, I decided that I would try out “Piano no Mori”, (“Piano’s Forest”) although it is a strange confabulation of events. Also, it’s an anime movie and you know my stance on them. I will watch it and decide later if it was worth it, as they get such a limited to no release at all in the US
We start out with Shuhei Amamiya, who is a piano prodigy (that’s the back of his head there). He has dedicated himself to the piano and does it really well. He moved out of Tokyo to this smaller community and enrolls in Moriwaki Elementary, but this is a ruse. There is some massive National Competition going on and you get your chance by where you live. Well, Tokyo is up to its sake bottles in talent and Shuhei might not get a chance to compete. If, however, he comes to an area with thin numbers and thinner talents, he would have a better shot of getting into the National Competition from here, than butting heads up there. He then runs into Kai Ichinose, a bit of a wild child (him of the wild hair).
As with all nerds, Shuhei gets picked on by bullies, but is kind of rescued by Kai. He then learns of a mysterious piano in the middle of the forest. I mean, you know what forests are like with the leaves and branches and nature and dirt and everything that is dangerous and debilitating to the care and feeding of a piano. Some other people try to play the piano, but no sound comes out. Then Kai gets onto it and can make music. How is this possible? How can future juvenile delinquent get this instrument to play?
With the help of teacher Sosuke Ajino (who has a secret or two to hide), both of them try to educate Kai to take proper piano lessons to bring out both the talents of this tyro and the sonic qualities of this magical instrument.
This is a conditional review, as I may not be in the best frame of mind. Look, I have just come off of two (or three) music animes, so I felt that I was a bit tainted by all of that. If you haven’t seen a music anime in a while, or at all, then this would be a grand time to see it (Grand? Like grand piano? Ha ha ha ha….sorry.) and you can revel in how the abilities are brought forth. It is an intriguing offering, although I found myself really enjoying the visuals, as the forest is both sinister and inviting at the same time.
We also see the complete opposites of our young hero’s lives. It really got down to whatever Shuhei was, Kai is not. They are not acid and water, more like oil and vinegar, especially considering Kai’s mother and her line of work (let that unfold) and the odd and distant Sosuke. Plus, the piano gets her own back story (yup, that is a female piano and don’t argue that point). The conclusion is just what I thought it would be, but it is done in such an involving manner, you really don’t mind that you tumbled to it early.
I feel that I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t plunged into so many music animes, but I was still able to enjoy it, even if I cannot tell the difference between good Chopin and bad Chopin. It is a small movie, but one with a lot going for it and worth trying to hunt down.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 7 (Standard characters, great backgrounds)
Plot 7 (Just enough twists)
Pacing 7 (Sometimes too languid)
Effectiveness 8 (Builds better in the second half)
Conclusion 5 (It hasn’t ended, but we are done)
Fan Service 0 (A similar show would be “Honey and Clover”)
Overall 3 stars
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. I want to play like you!