To Play Chopin’s Pieces
What Mozart has Left
The Best Piano
God Of Competition
Forest of Piano
A Letter Of Challenge
New Signs in Warsaw
The Chopin Competition
New Wind from Poland
Based on the manga Piano No Mori, Netflix anime Forest Of Piano is a well written series, dripping in gorgeous visuals with an exquisite eye for colour and graced with some of the best classical music ever composed. Although the series has a tendency to fall into melodramatic tones and bursts of slapstick humour are a little misplaced, Forest Of Piano does well to stick to its solid theme running throughout – finding beauty in music.
The story follows a young boy called Kai (Sôma Saitô) who transfers to a new elementary school and has a tough time with bullies and doing school work. Finding refuge in an old piano in the forest, Shuhei Amamiya’s father Ajino (You Taichi) happens upon his talent and decides to mentor Kai to help hone his skill. What follows is a journey into the world of music as Kai grapples with his own inner demons and carving out his own sound. Midway through the series the story jumps forward 5 years after a tragic incident involving the piano in the forest, picking up with Shuhei (You Taichi) as he tracks down Kai. From here the story then ends on a triumphant high and a beautiful solo piano piece to close out this 13 episode anime.
Thematically, Forest Of Piano does well, playing on a lot of the same concepts and ideas fellow Netflix anime Violet Evergarden had in abundance when it dropped earlier this year. Unlike Violet Evergarden, Forest Of Piano’s tone falls a little too far into melodramatic waters, undermining some of the drama that plays throughout the series. There are pockets of comedy nestled within the 13 episodes and some of the acting is a little over-the-top but Forest Of Piano does well not to lose sight of its overarching story and tone.
It’s worth noting that those not keen on classical music, and in particular the piano, will certainly be left wanting here. From reading sheet music to the basics of playing the piano, Forest Of Piano is an anime that revels in its music and compositions. Unlike other animes that feature big action pieces and tension, Forest Of Piano uses its music to tell a story, transporting its audiences to a fantastical world of audible joy. As a nice touch, text fades in during big compositions to show the name of the music piece and whether it be Mozart, Chopin or Beethoven, there’s a whole range of classical pieces showcased.
Whether you’ll take to Forest Of Piano will be entirely dependent on your level of appreciation for classical music and whether you take to the characters. Echoes of Violet Evergarden ring through the 13 episodes here but the melodrama is a little overwhelming at times, undermining the otherwise well-told story. Kai’s masterful piano playing early on doesn’t necessarily stick to the conventional rags-to-riches story though and at times his character is a little difficult to take to but the plot is well told and ends on a triumphant high, reminding us all the real beauty of music.
Verdict - 7.5/10