Amamiya Shuuhei moves from Tokyo to the country side due to his grandmother's bad health. His father is a famous pianist and Shuuhei has taken strict piano lessons since he was very young, aspiring to follow in his footsteps. In school, he is teased by his classmates and is dared to play the piano in the forest. This piano is said to be cursed: if you play it, no sound will come. After school, Ichinose Kai, a boy in the same class, takes Shuuhei to the forest. When Shuuhei tries to play he fails, but Kai plays a wonderful song.
This is the beginning of a strong friendship, and a story of two very different boys developing their skills as musicians.
When I first heard of Piano no Mori I thought it was a bit of an odd concept. I expected something fantasy based, and while there are some nudges in that direction they mainly stem from the imagination of the characters. The film itself remains rooted in reality.
The story takes place in a small town in the countryside, and revolves around the friendship and rivalry between Amamiya Shuuhei and Ichinose Kai. Shuuhei is an accomplished child pianist, and has studied hard for years to uphold the family tradition of producing outstanding musical talent. He and his family move to the countryside for a short time
to help nurse his sick grandmother, and because of the duration of their stay, he must attend the school there. It is while he is at school that he first hears of the mysterious piano in the forest (which is rumoured to be cursed as no sound will be heard if you play it), and where he first encounters the scruffy and enigmatic Kai, who claims the piano belongs to him and only he can play it.
The artwork for this movie is excellent. The town and forest backdrops are very well realised, and the characters are nicely depicted as unique individuals. The animation is generally very smooth, especially during the piano scenes.
The sound is one area where this movie excels, especially during the scenes involving music. The sound effects throughout the movie are generally very good, from the hum of the car, to the sound of a restless crowd.
I found both Kai and Shuuhei to be very likeable characters, and the interaction between them is quite realistic. The side characters are also very well done, but as this is a movie, the only real development is given to the main characters, with a little devoted to some of the side characters. This should not be considered a limiting factor though, as the movie doesn't really suffer for it.
I enjoyed this movie immensely, not simply because I'm a fan of classical music (and anime), but because it's a very nice story that has been very well animated with some good characters and excellent sound.
I would recommend this movie to anyone who is a fan of classical music. I'd also recommend it to fans of shows such as Nodame Cantabile and La Corda D'Oro.
If you're after action, adventure, fanservice, etc, then this movie is probably one you should avoid. If what you're looking for however, is a heartwarming movie about friendship and rivalry then you should definitely check this out.
Well, today, I was radomly scrolling through watchanimeon.com looking for an anime that would catch my interest. I came across Piano no Mori thinking, "Oh, I have a piano lesson in two days, maybe it will motivate me to practice." And it sure did. Piano no Mori, although unrealistic and strange at many times, is a very touching and pleasurable story. I think this movie is really a movie made for musicians. As a music LOVER, I saw a lot of myself in these characters. I am a vocalist over a pianist. When I sing, I have fun. It comes naturally. Kai, the young prodigy
who can play the broken piano in this forest, is this part of all musicians. The fun. The feeling. The pure PURE feeling of music. On the other hand, Shuuhei is pretty much everything else. The hardwork, the nervousness, the pain... I'll say it. I love the piano, but right now, I stink at it. I listen to Kai play and I think, "Wow, I wanna play like that someday!" But I never want to sit and practice for that long. Shuuhei brought my own goal more into focus. After this movie, I really just wanted to go downstairs and start playing my piano. To get better and better.
To conclude this review, I would reccomend this movie to musicians. Without these factors, the movie was just cute. Nothing special. But for a musician or a musician in the making this movie is beautiful simply beautiful.
Ever since I watched "Nodame Cantabile", I can't help but compare all anime about classical music with it - it's insightful in its explorations of the topic, yet remained remarkably accessible and entertaining to those not into it. In an admittedly small sub-genre, it has become the benchmark for greatness, and as a result has an unfortunate eclipsing effect over lesser but otherwise good shows like "Kiniro no Corda" that shares its domain.
To be honest, I hadn't really expected to find other classical music anime that could compare to "Nodame Cantabile", but enter "Piano no Mori", a quiet film that, in less than two hours,
captured what was at the heart of "Nodame Cantabile" surprisingly well - its passion for music.
"Piano no Mori" revolves around two boys, Shuuhei and Kai, who both have piano as one of the central aspects of their lives. Shuuhei comes from a family of pianists, is forced to practice piano day in day out in order to become a pianist himself. On the other end of the spectrum, Kai found a broken piano in the forest which only he can play; it enthralled him and he has grown up playing it without any formal training. The story starts off with Shuuhei moving to a new town with his family and meeting Kai, who attends the same school. The two soon become good friends, and the story focuses on how their attitudes towards playing piano is changed by one another.
The set up is not too dis-similar to "Nodame Cantabile", with Shuuhei being a bit like the serious, hard working Chiaki and Kai representing the unrefined genius type, blessed with vast, untamed talents just like Nodame. Unlike "Nodame Cantabile" though, the characters are more polarised: while Chiaki also had talent and passion for music in abundance, and Nodame is also (somewhat) classically trained, Shuuhei and Kai have less of an overlap.
This comparison also holds true in other common areas shared between the two anime: while they have a lot in common in terms of what they have to say about music, "Piano no Mori" explores the themes with less maturity, and presents its messages in a more black and white, more straight forward way. As an example, see how easy it is for Kai to play complex pieces by ear, and to play a challenging Chopin sonata after just practicing the scales for a bit. Even for a genius, to play like he does without formal training and proper practice is just impossible. And this is one of my main complaint for the film: while I acknowledge that "Piano no Mori" isn't meant to be well grounded in reality, at times it feels a tad too fairy-tale-esq in light of its generally earnest approach to music.
But because of its earnest approach, its faults are something I'm willing to forgive. The movie covers remarkable breadth and depth, emphasising amongst other things passion, hard work, as well as finding one's self within the music. Shuuhei impresses upon Kai the importance of taking piano more seriously and facing it head on. But while Shuuhei learnt the piano, Kai lived it, and the latter's infectious enthusiasm profoundly effects the former, for whom piano is mostly like a chore. To those who've watched "Nodame Cantabile", most of this will sound familiar.
Unlike "Nodame Cantabile" though, I would hesitate to recommend this to people not into classical music. I just can imagine non-enthusiasts yawning through the first half of the film, though the second half is somewhat more entertaining. Though Shuuhei is a bit dull, Kai makes for an interesting, spunky lead; he pretty much carries the entertainment factor of the show, and often drew chuckles from me with his outrageous antics.
The story of "Piano no Mori" is a bit loose. For one thing it feels incomplete - it's odd that the film introduces the mysterious piano in the forest that only Kai could play, only to ignore the mystery of its magical qualities almost completely. Also, the story is annoyingly inconsistent regarding the piano competition preliminaries that was featured. First they were saying the everyone had to play Mozart's piano sonata K. 311... but then in the competition, someone played a different Mozart piece, and that seemed okay too. Also there was one part of the film dedicated to a contestant whining about someone like Shuuhei being in the region ruining her chances in the preliminaries as though there's only one person who can qualify. In the end, about 10 people qualified, and I was left wondering what the big fuss was all about.
If you like classical music though, these problems will seem small compared to what the film does right. Unlike "Kiniro no Corda", which often seems more concerned about its bishies than the music, "Piano no Mori" focuses on the music, and is essentially a simplified emboddiment of the ideas at the core of "Nodame Cantabile". And THAT, is why it does not disappoint.
First of all: i cannot judge who was played well or badly - i do not know Musics well enough. As well i do not know how (un)realistic the explanations on "virtuoso piano playing" were. To me it seems unrealistic, but not impossible, tha Kai - never having had lessons - can play the piano very well. That he cannot even read notes looks like an allusion to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart who was said to be able to replay a composition from his hearing.
The whol drama about the "little children of prodigy", who nearly were defeated by a natural, competition and stage fright - and
the friendship being stressed by this - seems credible to me and is shown very emotionally. It has quite the intensity of Hayao Miyazaki, who shurely would not have shown it less dramatically - and maybe some more hokey.
All in all the movie does not really feel like an anime to me - the story matches Japan with the overdone focus on effort (which nevertheless is not finished consequently), but might as well happen in America or Europe. And although it is clearly said that bullheaded training and learning do not make you a good pianist, i am disappointed how the fate of these children is accepted without any criticism. You even learn only from a side note that Shuuhei is no prodigy child but is simply born into this destiny because of being the son of a famous pianist.
The piano in the forest - well, on one hand it is of course absolutely implausible that a piano should have been in the forest for years in all weathers and nevertheless should have remained playable. On the other hand, it can only be played by Kai; i did not really understand this point: shall all of this be unreal - like Kai being chased by the Mozart's ? But that would not to Kai and Shuuhei trying it together and wondering that only Kai can play the grand piano; even Ajino later hears Kai playing it in the forest and is enthusiastic about it.
The musics is purely aligned to the subject: apart from the ending only classical piano soli.
Concerning the graphics i was irritated by some reflections (mainly on the grand piano) which for sure were computer-generated - for me they did not match the cell-shading movie. But this is just my opinion.