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.
The music genre hasn't been very rewarding in the recent years. Moeblobs playing instruments within school club and some melodrama series aimed for teenage boys. It's been nearly 6 years since Sakamichi no Apollon came out, and over a decade from the peak of music series when we were lucky to get ridiculously high quality series such as Nana, Beck and even Nodame Cantabile -- not to leave the comedy masterpiece, Detroit Metal City unmentioned. Now, Piano no Mori has landed, and based to the first 6 episodes, we are as close to these mentioned series in terms of quality as we can realistically expect.
Perfect World of Kai (aka Piano Forest) follows two youngsters whose life and past are pretty much the opposites, but they still share somewhat similar personalities and similar love for piano. They are friends, not foes. The driving motion of the show is chasing after the dream of being a professional piano player. The approach to this is very light-heart and slice of life. At this point, it looks like the series mainly aims to capture the life of its main characters with its ups and downs. Character development, good and bad moments, creating realistic life story similar to other career-focusing series such as Uchuu Kyoudai and Glass Mask.
The drama is giving me vibes from series such as 3-Gatsu no Lion (e.g. compare Sousuke Ajino to Kai Shimada), as well as from Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu. The young age of our main characters may make this comparison seem rather weird, but I am mainly referring to the side character adults whose legacy our kids are following. Lines such as "the abandoned piano is as broken as I am" is a sentence similar to what we hear in both of the examples. The comedy on the other hand lies within the shared good moments in the slice of life setup.
So far, the biggest problem with this series are the piano playing scenes which are CGI. Our mc's movements seem to be the combination of waddling and clock's pendulum. It's so hideous I often find myself in gringe. I can forgive most of this, but not unsee. The seiyuu work is really favoring the seinen demographics and the music in the series is pleasing myself as a guy who hates the emotional sad piano shite which every drama series seems to love these days. This one has better piano songs, and the OP and ED are just glorious, not only to listen to but to look at.
This series has surprised me big time. Originally I didn't even plan on watching it because the movie was already dragging and too long. I expected this TV adaptation to be more the same but even worse paced, only capturing a fraction of the manga story. After the series' production was re-planned and they announced midway thru 1st cour that this would be 24 episodes instead the original 12, I got interested enough to try it and am currently more impressed than disappointed.
Review MOD (As of Episode 7):
As someone whom has watch Madhouse's rendition of Piano no Mori back in 2007, it was a visual masterpiece in its time, covering the first few chapters of the manga right up to the competition before Shuuhei Amamiya and Kai Ichinose realized that they're leagues the same, but different. I'm grateful for that as music anime and movies (at that time) were hard to come by, and this proved a no-brainer.
Fast forward to 2018 where we've already seen high praises for series like Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie In April), Shelter (Music OVA), KyoAni's hits like K-On! and
Hibike! Euphonium, bringing back this classic, and with help from Gainax (no, NOT their main branch but the smaller Fukushima division), this anime is looking brighter than usual...so to speak. So what's good and what's not?
An introductory into the series:
Two child leads:
Kai Ichinose, the poor boy which his only interest from learning the piano (and playing for fun) was through the piano in the forest (hence the title name), the piano which "magically" plays only to his accord.
Shuuhei Amamiya, the talented boy from a family of prestigious and well-known pianists whose legacy is borne with his talents of playing the piano as a serious game. --> Not much changed here.
For now, the storytelling is REALLY, REALLY a leopard's speed because I have no idea what the production committee's change from the usual 1-cour to 2-cours is needed just to flesh the maximum or best of the completed manga series, or is just that they wanted to speed up the slow storytelling and unimportant scenes in the manga...? Granted, manga readers like myself, having known what's to come will definitely NOT appreciate the speed at which it's playing and showcasing right now, and yes, covering 24 episodes within 241 chapters sounds like it's just equal (if you do the math), and taking it at face value, I can give Gainax slack for what it is.
For Gainax being Gainax, their prowess in animation doesn't disappoint: stunning, beautiful and impressive 2D background graphics with CGI that's a HUGE turn-off (CGI? Yes, you've heard me right). I really don't understand the motivation for using CGI for various scenes (mostly the piano playing), but it really makes me cringe (like a lot of people do) to the point where I wished the scenes could be skipped right ahead.
Where I do believe that this anime adaptation has held up is in its OST. The OP and ED are best for what it is, being a musical score piece and the usual typical ED song (well, who cares?), but one thing I do want to clarify is what they bring home with, the feeling of serendipity of the music and feelings that are contained within it.
Alas, for all its worth, I'm STILL glad that this is NOW became a 2-cour anime...but let's see how well this adaptation holds up to the end.
I was looking forward to the anime, however I noticed a slight change in the art until I realized the anime was made by an another studio from the movie. I recommend you watch the movie first to get full understanding. At first I thought this anime was a season 2, eg the boy goes on to be a famous pianist etc. Though I have only watched one episode, the art is awful compared to the movie. Honestly, there is nothing I like about this anime at all, except the story, but really it's like a downgraded version
of the movie.