Forest of Piano - Reviews

Alt title: Piano no Mori

Halex's avatar
Jun 3, 2020

If you are wondering if you should watch the movie or the TV Series? Then you should know that it's the same story. In fact, the TV Series follows the movie almost to a T. But the movie has better animation by MadHouse and featured performances by the renowned pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy (I'm not sure who does the performances for the TV Series, but they are also very good). However, the story starts to differ with the ending of the movie. So you can start with the movie and then jump to the TV Series to finish the story, at Episode 5, where the differences begin. The only advantage of watching the TV Series is if you prefer or need the dub, as there is no dub for the movie.

If you think you don't like classical piano, think again! You've been listening to classical music all your life, its on commercials, TV Series, Movies, at restaurants, at the Mall, when they leave you on hold on the phone, etc, etc. And just like any other type of music, there are some pieces that everyone recognizes and everyone likes; this is the kind of piano music showcased on this anime, and the performances are great!

The animation is average at best and loses quality with the use of some terrible CG for the piano performances, specifically the hands. I guess it was just too difficult to animate them by hand, but being an anime about music, probably with some budget constraints, I can only say that they did make the right decision to put everything into the music rather than the visuals, after all, you want to hear the performances and when music is good enough, you may find yourself closing your eyes as well. There are some visualizations on the animation, but these vary in quality and will never be as good as if you are only focusing on the music.

Unfortunately, they added some dialog over the music in an attempt to guide and educate people about the kind of emotions that evoke and the kind of things that makes a performance better than others. This will usually be a good thing, but they added just too much, and don't give enough time to try to "hear" in the music the ideas they are trying to convey, for example, they will say that a performance is warm, but won't give you the time to try to find that quality in the music, instead they go into the next idea/suggestion and the next, etc, etc. At times in some performances, I found myself wanting to yell at the narrators to shut up and let me hear the music, which was so good, but the narrators definitely ruin some performances.

The story is simple, mostly about the pianist's competitions and their struggles to find their own sound & style. There is a lot of criticism for the way judges assign points and even the politics behind the scenes that can move the voting in one direction while making or breaking the artists' careers. In the end, it also proposes better ways to make these competitions fairer.

I should also mention that in the movie, there is a lot of focus on the main protagonist's mother profession and circumstances, that highly gets ignored on the TV Series. I'm not sure if this is because of the TV censorship or the source material, but it's unfortunate that we never get to see how all of these struggles were overcome, and the issues with his mother are highly ignored.

The characters in this story are meant to fill certain roles and represent different ideologies & personalities that you often find in this kind of music scene. Everyone has a different approach to achieve the best performance and focus on different things. In the end, this anime tries to give its point of view for "how things should be" and what they should really be focusing on.

Overall, this show may not be for everyone, but I do think that everyone should give it a chance. The movie may suffice to give you an idea if you want to keep watching this series or not as if that didn't grab your attention then you should not expect more of this show.

The dub is ok.

7/10 story
5/10 animation
9/10 sound
7/10 characters
7.5/10 overall
mdchan's avatar
Jan 21, 2019

Yet another anime which suffers from the "should have been a 24 episode series" disease.  Though it still manages to be interesting and convey quite a lot of emotions through the piano playing, other emotions are done sort of wishy-washy...and even worse, it ends in the middle of a competition.

I don't know why this seems to be a trend (ending an anime after 11-13 episodes even if the anime is in the middle of an arc), but the "trend" needs to stop. 


Shuhei moves to a small town and winds up befriending a sort of "wild" kind of kid named Kai.  The two soon discover that the other both loves playing the piano, and Shuhei is amazed at Kai's interesting style and way of playing (and a little jealous as well).  Life in the red light district has made it difficult for Kai to get a teacher, however.

Eventually, Shuhei has to move again...but the two meet once more in their teens.


Shuhei Amamiya - A rich boy who is the son of a well known pianist.  A lot is expected of him, but he rarely seems to bow to the pressure.  He becomes both amazed and jealous of Kai, particularly at the end of a competition Kai had agreed to enter.

Kai Ichinose - A free spirit who found an old piano in the forest near the red light district where he lives and learned to play it on his own.  His style isn't exactly in the same format as what is expected of strict competitions, but the emotion he manages to produce with the sounds can move the audience.

There are other characters, but they are rather minor ones and not really worth mentioning as their roles are small or sort of "in and out". 

Animation and Sound

The piano playing uses actual songs composed by famous classic composers such as Mozart, and there is a huge focus on Chopin.  The soundtrack certainly brings the story and playing to life, and there were many times I wished the audience and other characters would just silence their internal thoughts so we could just listen to the music.

The animation, on the other hand, leaves a lot to be desired.  It's fine as long as nobody is playing a piano, but in an anime about playing the piano...yea.

The problem is that a rather choppy and awkward CG animation is used whenever someone plays the piano; a couple of times it's even used when they're walking across the stage to the piano!  By "awkward", I mean that it's very unnatural.  I've seen CG inserts in anime; I've seen shows with CG aspects.  Even those were less clunky and awkward as this.

This felt like a really bad video game which used even worse CG models and movements for cutscenes.

And for the short moments when the pianist isn't in the horrific CG animation, they're just in some still shot.  I'd honestly prefer the still shots to the CG, but it screams "low budget" and "don't care".

Sometimes, one can close their eyes and just listen to the music...but again, as I mentioned before, other characters are often running some internal dialogue during the piano performances, meaning that the viewer can't even close their eyes and listen to only the song (in order to block out the poor CG).


Kai's character was done very well, but Shuhei feels a bit flat from start to finish.  Even when he gets jealous and such, he just doesn't have an impact.

The CG during the piano performances does ruin a good amount of it, as does the fact that I wouldn't even call this anime "finished" since it left off in the middle of a Chopin competition.

That said, there are some positives about it.  This anime is very "slice-of-life", and since the focus is on Kai, it goes into the things he has to deal with while living in a red light district; being poor, working even at a young age, having to hide that he's even playing the piano, ect.

Everyone else sort of falls flat (a character introduced during the first competition, Takako, is more interesting than the majority of the characters who appear).

The story is fairly straightforward and continues to move in a direction of the characters learning and improving (particularly Kai, who manages to both remain the same in terms of peresonality but improve vastly at the same time).

That said, it's a little difficult to see where exactly the story is going.  World-famous pianists, perhaps?  With something like this, as opposed to a typical high school slice-of-life music anime, the worlds are very different (there are no clubs, for one, and the end goal is night and day).

While it's a good anime which remains true to the manga from what I've seen (and what I remember of the manga), I recall dropping the manga because of time skips and not holding my interest.

The anime manages to hold my interest a little more since there is sound to accompany the piano playing which makes it easier to get into the moods.  On the other hand, nothing is too riviting when it comes to either; this is probably a good series to pick up if you enjoy slow slice-of-life anime with plenty of places to stop and put it down to come back to, but it's still not for everyone...and there isn't much in the way of re-watchability.

That's subjective, I know, and there aren't many anime which focus on piano playing.  Just don't expect to really learn anything if you're new to the piano (it's not going to teach you anything except perhaps that running the scales is a warm-up exercise).  If you're at least a little familiar with the world of classical music, particularly if you're a Chopin fan, you'll definitely get more out of this anime.

That said, it's still on the "meh" side.  Kai is a strong lead of a character, but there are times when it's difficult to really feel the characters out and understand them.

4/10 story
3/10 animation
9/10 sound
4/10 characters
4/10 overall
Capeditiea's avatar
Jul 18, 2018

Sigh, Only at 2 episodes and have been kinda annoyed with the CGI graphics when Kai is playing the piano. 

Another thing I was hoping it would be the follow up of what was adapted in the film, so i am gonna guess that the first few episodes are particularly copy paste from the film with the obvious CGI changes.) I will continue to watch it, since i enjoyed the movie. (which almost a week after i watched the movie the series was announced. So i got excited.) 

Before completion of watching.


However, this is a premature rating. So whether or not it stays on my list will determine this factor. 

I rated the story a 7/10. Because it starts out with what happened in the film with a bit of a few differences. 

I rated the animation a 2/10 because of the obvious CGI while the piano is being played. Similar to how some 2D videogames look. 

The sound is rated 9/10 just because i want to have an over all of 7. 

The Charactors are rated 10/10 because of the minor changes they made. (which makes the side charactors pop out a little more. 

Overall 7/10 


I think I can edit this later on,  so if my thoughts change after watching it. I shall change it. 

Basically, only thing i can say that i dislike is the obvious CGI. But I would recommend you watch the movie first. To see the differences. 

Stop being lazy animators. 



a few changes, 

Story 9/10 due to the increased structure and beauty of the remaining after the movie parts were through. But they kinda rushed through it all, i feel there should have been more to the story. 

Animation 3/10 simply from getting used to the CGI... 

Sound 8/10 which when they played Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 2... it was the same recording which they used in Nodame Cantabile, it is a good recording, but one would expect that different players would have a different sound. This also includes the two different times they played it. but the last episode really changed it all. And made it higher.

Character 10/10 still. some characters need more background. While others are just perfect for explainations. Yet, the qualities would be closer to 9.5... and i am not sure if i could put 9.5... 

but since the limit is 10... i gotta go with that. i will keep the overall at a 7 since it has been a bit of an up and down experience. 

I do recommend anyone to watch it, it could very well spark your inspiration in music. But i still like the Movie a lot better than the first episodes of the series in my own opinion.

9/10 story
3/10 animation
8/10 sound
10/10 characters
7/10 overall
ThunderBirdPhoenix's avatar
Apr 4, 2023

A beautiful story, for peopel who love coming-of-age and classical music. Although the animation is at times underwhelming, the complex personal problems of each character really bring them to life, not to mention the splendid piano pieces and life lessons watchers of this series get to indulge in. A beautiful composition overall.

8/10 story
6/10 animation
8/10 sound
8/10 characters
8/10 overall
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Naiu's avatar
Dec 4, 2019

It started of great and usually I am a big fan of Anime about classic music. This one had a very great beginning but it kinda got boring the longer I watched. It highjacked in a few Episodes and moments but ut stayed a little dry at most points. The music however is indeed amazing, though the CGI animation ruined it sometimes. The main character has a good development, most of the side characters are literally tossed aside though and only picled up again if they were necessary for our main characters development. The story is nice, but nothing more, nothing special. 

Well overall it is a nice Anime, but nothing too extraordinary. 

It is a gold watch though, if you need something for in between. 

7/10 story
6/10 animation
8/10 sound
7/10 characters
7/10 overall
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