So I decided to watch atleast one of the musical animes out there. Upon further investigation, I found that Netflix has a bunch of them, including the Forest of Piano anime which I am talking about. Now I am not a big fan of musical instruments, nor do I own one in real life, and I can’t play one as well. So why I was searching for a musical anime?
Well the thing is that, sometimes I do crave for a little bit of different genres. I have the habit of testing the waters when it comes to animes. You can relate this by imagining a boy putting his finger in hot water just to check if it is not too hot for his bath. Just like that, with the intent of exploration and in the hopes of finding something good, I tried to watch this anime. But sadly, after a few bunch of episodes, the anime loses its touch and becomes more and more complicated even though it is still a simple anime. So I dropped it! Let us see why.
Complicating simple things is not a good idea when it comes to expressing something. Music is as simple as you think, just a bunch of notes rhyming in your ear, producing a beautiful rythm which you call a song. And it should be somewhat limited to that only. Maybe we could spice things up a bit, to catch the audience’s interest, but Forest of Piano fails completely at one thing, and that is ‘realism’.
It somehow tries to portray realistic things, but in the end, it abruptly diverges itself to a completely different world that no one can relate. ‘Not being relatable’ is the anime’s curse. People love to watch something that remains in their heart, something that they think about later and feel good. However, Forest of Piano shows us a complete bland mixture of emotions and impossibilities which takes the story to absolutely absurd paths.
So the protagonist Kai Ichinose, being a piano prodigy, can only play a specific piano kept in the forest. This piano is worn out and the keys are so heavy. On the other hand, Shuhei, the friend of Kai, also plays piano quite well, through intense practice and learning it the proper way, through the use of sheet music. However, in the story, large emphasis is given upon the ‘improvisation’ aspect of music, rather than the ‘learned’ approach.
This is because the same music played by two different people sound so much different. A lot of factors like player’s mood, their finger placement, their style differs so much. I do agree with this. Music is not a static thing but a far more dynamic subject to learn. Everyone has their own ways of creating music, which gives a unique personality to the score which they are playing.
However, being a prodigy, Kai Ichinose is seen to be constantly supported and pushed forward for every piano competition (This is not true for the initial episodes though). Being a prodigy, he does not even uses sheet music for learning, rather he just moves his finger based upon his intuition and years of raw practice that he acquired because of the special piano that was kept in the forest (I am not against this theory). He is capable of playing every music out there by ear, but fails to play the Chopin. That’s where the illogicality of this anime starts happening.
The biggest problem with the story is that it is too imaginative. We see the piano competitors, who are 10-14 years old, conquer the stage fear like complete idiots. Even the greatest pianists are hesitant while giving their performances on the stage, despite their intense experience and practice. It is quite evident that fear can be managed through certain ways, but the way the story tells it, is very imaginative and not at all interesting. Forest of Piano tries to tell you that you can conquer your fear by imagining about your own ‘comfort place’ while playing the piano on stage. And guess what, this idea was also created by the prodigy Kai Ichinose only, and no one else.
What’s even more confusing is that in the early parts of the story, performances are measured based upon how ‘accurately’ the contestants play the piano. But as the story progresses, we start seeing instances where contestants are judged based upon the ‘feel’ that they provide to listeners. Why there is a shift of ideology? I was confused from head to toes, why there was a sudden shift in the mentality of people in the story? Was the story tailored to give Kai a competitive advantage, despite all the odds. As you progress forward, you will eventually see how much ‘one-sided’ the story starts becoming.
I was literally enjoying the few first episodes of the anime, but suddenly after a bunch of episodes, it started getting stagnated. Kai Ichinose is suddenly the new ‘standard’. He is portrayed as a brand, and the concept of music, for which the entire story should had been about, gets lost. There does not exist any music, just a bunch of different improvisations keep occurring episode by episode. The theory of ‘heirarchy’ shown with the use of the piano found in the forest, steals most of it’s originality.
Also the fact that this anime is ‘purely focused on piano playing’ makes it quite targeted and not suitable for those who are trying to understand what music is. Instead, the opposite happens. You actually lose the meaning of music, and get to see a totally different world. I never had high hopes with this anime, but it just failed to deliver what it was supposed to be about. At one moment, it feels quite heavily character-driven, and at other times it is just about playing piano in different ways, which is fairly not a good enough reason for watching this anime.
The biggest mistake that this anime makes is the inclusion of ‘competitions’. The story looks like it is intended to spread the message of what music actually is. However competition is not just about playing music. What I am saying applies to everything out there. Being an ‘Enthusiast’ and a ‘Professional’ is a completely different thing. You cannot ride two boats at the same time, that is what the story tells us in the beginning. But later, it defies it’s own logic. Yes, Kai is shown to be the perfect example of an ‘Enthusiast’, but we never see him transform into a ‘Professional’. Instead, what happens is the story moulds itself towards Kai, rather than him changing the story. I felt bad to see this. The entire story literally changes it’s own structure to make things happen.
I cannot tell whether you will actually like this anime or not. But it would be good if you just refrain from this one single anime, because the experience I had was terrible. If you love pianos to their utmost core, then you can watch it. However, for generic music lovers, it would be good if they just avoid seeing this anime. I regret watching this anime kill itself after a few episodes. If you love a good progressive story, then this one right here is not the one you are looking for.