A tranquil tale about two boys from very different upbringings. On one hand you have Kai, born as the son of a prostitute, who's been playing the abandoned piano in the forest near his home ever since he was young. And on the other you have Syuhei, practically breast-fed by the piano as the son of a family of prestigious pianists. Yet it is their common bond with the piano that eventually intertwines their paths in life.
I have no idea how to judge this, but do have a clear idea of it, so with the anime adaptation of both the Madhouse film and the completed manga itself, let's see what you get with the 1st half of this series while waiting for the 2nd cour to be set next Winter (at the time of this review).
As many would suggest, watching the film made by Madhouse in 2007 is a plus (or how I would interpret it as a MUST) because Gainax clearly rushed out of proportion, seeing that the manga made an extensive approach to cover the emotions felt by the
MCs-turned-rivals Kai Ichinose and Amamiya Shuuhei from children to grown-up, full-fledged pianists. And for manga readers like myself, it's a no-brainer with the most well-beloved pianist-turned-teacher, Sousuke Ajino, having an accident wreck his ability to play with teaching Kai to not surpass anyone, but to find his own voice, from the piano in the forest onto the big scene.
This 1st half covers pretty much the rushed film adaptation onwards to the Polish competition that came to an abrupt end with the 2nd cour left to go. And with music anime, it's a dime a dozen with hits (Your Lie In April etc.), and Piano no Mori falls few and far in between with these. It's a good adaptation, and pretty much still getting used to the CGI which helped in transition moments and such.
As of now, please watch Madhouse's film (which encompasses Episodes 1-4) and follow up on the rest when it comes soon, but for anime-onlys, this series is good if you want a music anime, only if it prefers to your tastes for competition-filled drama.
I've never been so bored binge-watching an anime before. I wanna get this review out of the way so I can ultimately forget about this show and move on with my life.
Story - 5
It's fine and leads to a few fun ideas throughout the show, but none of them are really developed interestingly. I think. Honestly, I don't remember. I literally am writing this review five minutes after binging the entirety of this show and its blandness has led me to forgetting everything about it. Also I'm still irritated about the fact that Kai is apparently "The Chosen One", but whatever.
Art - 7
Easily the most
interesting thing to talk about in this show is its blend of 2D with 3D animation, which I completely adored. The 3D animation was beautiful and worked amazingly into the story, but the big drawback was how stilted and awkward the 2D animation was. Points for trying to be different though.
Sound - 7
Plenty of beautiful piano pieces throughout the show, as one could assume. That being said the OST itself is rather bland and uninteresting. If you're a piano buff, you've probably heard most of the pieces in this show already, and if you're not, it'll all sound very same-y and it'll be hard to understand what the characters are getting so worked up about.
Character - 2
Kai is the only character that can even remotely be interesting, but most of the time he's boring along with the rest of the cast. The show continues to add more and more characters building up to a final piano showdown that falls completely flat, leaving the characters overall uninteresting and a total waste of time. Takako is especially shafted in this regard, which is disappointing because she had an actually interesting bond with Kai that's never brought to any sort of payoff. Easily the worst character in this entire show is Shuuhei, though. The show continuously tries to portray this self-centered and arrogant asshole as one of our main protagonists as he proves time and time again to be completely insufferable. He's either an extremely unlikeable protagonist, or an extremely boring antagonist, and the show can never seem to decide which.
Enjoyment - 4
Boring. This was very boring. I was interested for the first 3 or 4 episodes, but eventually it felt like the same five minute chunk of piano played over and over for the rest of the show. Every single episode feels like another shot of numbing novocaine injected straight into the wrist.
Overall - 4
I'm bored and wanna move on to more interesting projects. Watch the show if you want, but like, I can't say it'll be fun.
If you like learning about things then you will like this anime. I've learnt a lot about classical music, it's status in society, people's reaction to great talent, and an appreciation for the art of piano.
Nothing is confusing for people who don't know anything about classical music.
The story is told where we are introduced to the performer's background story/their motivations to compete in the grand stage of piano, before they play their piece. We aren't just listening to the music, but we get to hear the thoughts as they play. This brings an emotional element to the performance where we are able to
learn in more depth about what it's like to be that person performing.
The way the writer talks about the music has an artistic style that is impossible to not notice the passion for piano. And this what makes the anime so enjoyable, it's a passionate story that doesn't need the hype we see in shounen anime to make it great. And like anything that isn't mainstream, this anime won't sit well with a lot of people.
My one critique is that it's a short anime where time periods in the main character's life is missing. This can effect our ability to understand what the main character, kai, has been through to get where he ended up.
I really like the protagonist Kai, he's a very compassionate character and this doesn't change throughout. However, we don't see much challenges to Kai's character development.
Overall, there is plenty to get out from watching this anime and I defiantly recommend it.
Piano no Mori anime, like the homonimous film, tells the story of Kai Ichinose, an incredibly talented pianist child, whose free style however fails to convince the strict judges of the competitions. Sôsuke Ajino, a former master pianist, takes him as his pupil and vows to make the world appreciate his talent.
If you saw the film, you already saw the best part of it. The problem of this anime is that after the first arc (which was already covered in the film version) the story suddently stops moving forward and keeps moving in circles around the two same ideas: Amamiya (Kai's friend-rival) is frustrated
about not reaching Kai's level, and the competition judges are a close-minded bunch who can't appreciate Kai's talent. Competitions become the end of the story and not just plot drives, to the point that the last 4 episodes have been a single competition. On top of that, there're no other plot lines to bring some fresh breeze into the story (as, for example, there were in Your Lie in April).
Unless you want to see some anime version of a piano competition, I can't recommend to watch it further than the childhood arc.