Hey guys! Two weeks ago I finished watching an anime that is very special to me. Forest of Piano is a twenty four episode long series that focuses of Kai Ichinose, and little boy who is a child prodigy when it comes to the piano. You might remember him from my Inspiring Characters post I made about him. Throughout the series (based off of the manga) we see him mature into a young man and follow him through the International Chopin Competition (which is a real competition, by the way). His friend, Shuhei Amamiya, is in the competition too, and this causes some problems. Kai must juggle the competition and keeping his relationships. There’s also plenty of subplots to go with it, like Wei Pang’s horrifying past and Lech Szymanowski’s apparent need to win the competition for his older sister, who has been in a coma for five years after suffering from series head injuries. The series is a favorite of mine, and is by far the most relatable TV show I’ve ever watched! I’ve been playing the piano for eleven years, and I found everything to be spot on, even down to which note they hit whenever they played a piece! Okay, so I’m going to go on and start the countdown, but do be warned; there will be major spoilers!…
#10 Don’t Forget Your Octaves!
I just had to put this one on the list because of how important this is in the show. In season 1 episode 2, Ajino tells Kai that he will have to learn some exercises if he wants to play Chopin’s Minute Waltz. As Kai practices these exercises, he learns just how agonizing it can be to play the same thing over and over and over again, and I found that to be one of the most relatable scenes in the show! However, one thing that really hit me was in a later episode, when Kai is grown, living on his own, in college, and working a few jobs, he would get up super early in the morning to practice piano. And what do you think the first thing he practiced? Those same exercises that Ajino taught him. They may be boring, but they are super important!
#9 The Student Becomes The Teacher
This one gives me the feels! After Ajino undergoes surgery to correct the damage in his left hand, rehab isn’t going so smoothly. Ajino loses his motivation to play, and feels angry at himself. When Kai hears that his teacher isn’t doing very well, he rushes home to Japan, leaving his piano tour in America behind. He brings Ajino a bunch of beginner’s piano books, and tells him to do one of the first things Ajino ever taught him. He tells Ajino that he must visualize the place he loves most and where he feels most at home, then he can play without frustration. After that, Kai teaches Ajino how to play again, starting with Twinkle Twinkle Little Stars. Seeing Kai become the teacher made me both proud and sentimental. But, to be honest, so did the rest of the finale!
#8 Ajino Goes To The Forest
Obviously, this scene had to be on the list. After hearing the strange news that one of his students, Kai Ichinose, can play the broken piano in the forest, Ajino goes to see for himself. At night, he finds Kai playing an arrangment of Little Brown Jug that the boy had only heard once in his entire life. And he had only heard it that day. He is shocked at Kai’s talent, and decides that he will take Kai and teach him how to play the best piano he can. Even though this one didn’t get very high on the list, it is one of my favorite Anime scenes ever!
#7 Friends Again
Things started to go downhill REAL fast once season two hit. When Shuhei gets dropped out of the Chopin competition, he lets his anger out on Kai, revealing that he has hated him ever since they met. Shuhei telling Kai how much he hates him is a painful scene, and I really hate it when friendships tear apart like that. Later, Shuhei feels quite terrible for what he said to Kai, and begins to regret it. Yet, he can’t bring himself to face his ex-friend and apologize. Later, when Kai is having trouble practicing for his final performance, he hears another pianist in the next room…and it seemed like they were playing with him. Not only that, but Kai recognizes their style of playing. Kai goes to investigate, and finds that Shuhei has come not only to apologize, but to help him win the competition. Friends again, they stay up all night working on Kai’s final performance. I was so happy to see them getting along I felt like there wasn’t enough episodes for them to be friends in, since we had gone so long with them being rivals!
#6 Wei Pong Leaves His Past Behind
And the prize for the worst backstory goes to…Wei Pong! Seriously, his backstory was so horrid that it’s no wonder he can play so well. Wei Pong plays with feeling, but he plays with so much anger and sadness that he changes the demeanor of his audience. He makes them afraid when he plays. And to be honest, he’s not that nice of a guy. In fact, I didn’t like Wei Pong when he first came on the show. But that changed the more he was there. He never knew his parents, and he was raised by a man who couldn’t care less about him. All the man cared about was that Wei Pong became a famous pianist. As a child, Wei Pong wanted to give up…until he heard Ajino perform. Then he wanted to be just like him. With a TON of hard work, Wei Pong became the most famous pianist in China. But like I said, he played with anger and sadness…even in songs that should be happy. Oh, but by the way, his Funeral March was AMAZING. I’ve never heard it played like that before! Anyway, after being kidnapped (long story) and a conversation with Ajino, Wei Pong plays his final performance. This time, he plays with happiness he didn’t know he had! He literally cried during his performance. It was so beautiful! And while he played, he left his anger about his past behind!
#5 Shuhei Finds His Style
One of the biggest themes in Forest of Piano is finding your own style of playing. But Shuhei had a hard time with this. He was even told that he didn’t play with heart, which is important if you want your playing to reach your audience. You don’t want your piano to sound like your a robot playing it instead. Shuhei played what was on the sheet music, and nothing more. While he was a great pianist, there was no feeling. That all changed after a chat with Karol Adamski, who had just been booted from the competition. Somehow, Shuhei finds his style, and his final performance was brilliant! I cried because of how beautiful it was, and because he had never played like that before! Even though he was dropped after this performance, I was proud!
#4 Kai’s Secret
Back before Kai met his teacher, Ajino was in a horrific car accident that severely damaged his left hand and killed his fiance. Being a famous pianist, it destroyed Ajino’s entire life. Even after he healed, he couldn’t play like he used to. He got rid of his piano and began running from the accident, trying as hard as he could to forget it. That is…until he met Kai. When he finds out that Kai is basically a child prodigy AND he can play the broken piano in the forest (oh yeah, that broken piano was Ajino’s), he decided to teach him. But Kai was poor and had no way of paying Ajino for private lessons, saying that he would never be able to live with himself knowing that he had a free piano lesson. As an teen, Kai was still looking for ways to pay Ajino back for everything the man had done for him. I mean, Ajino wasn’t just his piano teacher. He was his legal guardian, and he did everything for Kai. Behind Ajino’s back, Kai made a deal with a hand doctor; if Kai won the competition, he would give up his prize money so that Ajino could have the surgery he couldn’t afford to make his hand better. When Kai wins the competition, Ajino finds out about the deal. Of course, people watching the show won’t know about this deal until Ajino does, and it came as quite the shock to me! But Ajino wasn’t so excited about this. All that time of trying to forget what had happened to him was for nothing now. Yet, he couldn’t deny that Kai had the kindest heart, and he couldn’t say no. Ajino agreed to the surgery, but as I said in number 9, things didn’t work out perfectly right away. Kai couldn’t leave his teacher and father figure to recover by himself, and decided to be there until he could play like he used to.
#3 Ajino Takes The Stage
This one was almost tied with number 2! After Ajino recovers from his surgery, he has his first recital as a returning pianist, and he plays with Kai. Everyone is there to watch, even Lech’s older sister, Emilia, who everyone thought would never wake up from a coma! It was such a fulfilling ending that it surprised me! I’m not all that used to a happy ending like that, so I was very satisfied! Seeing Kai and Ajino play a duet on two separate pianos was what I had hoped for the entire series! The way the two characters had supported each other throughout the show was brilliant and SO well done!
#2 And The Winner Is…
The beginning of the finale we got to see who won awards and who the six winners of the Chopin competition were. I was SHOCKED to hear that Kai won THREE awards! That does not happen on a regular basis! But the real deal happened when the judges announced Kai as the first place winner of the competition! Kai just burst into tears while everyone crowds around him. I don’t think Shuhei had ever been happier! Even Wei Pong has kind words for Kai. With everyone cheering, screaming, and jumping around, it’s a scene not easily forgotten!
#1 For Old Time’s Sake
As for number one…this was the first time I had ever legitimately sobbed during Forest of Piano. And not only me, but my sisters too! The first time Ajino ever hears Kai play piano, he plays Ajino’s own arrangement of Little Brown Jug. The winner of the competition is supposed to perform one more time, and Kai chooses that same arrangement of Little Brown Jug. I had NO IDEA that was going to happen, and neither did anyone in Kai’s audience. My jaw dropped! The song might not have meant much to the audience, but the instant they hear the familiar song, Shuhei and Ajino are brought to tears! It’s such an emotional scene it’s hard not to get the feels!
So there you have it! Forest of Piano is an AMAZING show, especially if you are a fan of music! The show is filled with twists and turns, and the pianists have to deal with all sorts of problems. Wardrobe malfunctions, piano strings suddenly breaking and power shutting down during performances. But these people kept on playing, no matter what happened, and I admire that! This show has even inspired me to work even harder on my music, and the piano has become such a big part of me that I would be a rather boring person without it! Maybe I’ll even join the Chopin competition someday…