Life Lessons in Fiction: Forest of Piano

Hey guys!  if you look at the title of this post, you might notice that it’s a bit different than any of my other posts.  I’m super excited to start up another series, and that is the Life Lessons in Fiction series!  I’ve read a lot of books and played a lot of games, and I’ve noticed that some of them have some pretty deep themes.  In this series, I’m going to take a video game/book/movie etc. and break down it’s themes and discuss what we can learn from them.  To kick off this series, I’ll be doing an anime that it very special to me; Forest of Piano.


1. The Hard Workers Are Rewarded

Everyone in Forest of Piano worked absurdly hard to get to where they were, but Kai (and Wei Pong, but I’ll get to him in a minute) worked the hardest.  After the time jump in season one of Forest of Piano, things are a lot different.  Shuhei returns to Japan after studying abroad for the last five years to see his old friend Kai again.  Except…he can’t seem to find the now sixteen year old.  After awhile of searching, it turns out that Kai is living alone in an abandoned nightclub, working three jobs to pay for his musical education.  In order to provide for himself, he works at a nightclub, as a street performer, and a piano teacher.  Shuhei spends the night at Kai’s place, and here’s what really got me.  He wakes up at the crack of dawn to practice piano before he leave for his college classes.  All in all, he’s got zero free time.  Kai gre up without a dad, and he’s been forced to work ever since he was a little kid.  He had a difficult childhood, but he never let that get him down.  In fact, he let that fuel him.  He worked his tail off to prove that a nobody could be a somebody.  I don’t know about you, but Kai inspired me to work hard in order to chase my dreams.  Because, in the end, Kai’s hard work paid off.  All the hours of practice, working, and never giving up brought him his greatest wish; winning first place in the International Chopin Competition.


2. Be Your Own Person (And Don’t Let Self Doubt Steal Your Dreams)

No other fictional character has ever resonated with me as much as Shuhei does.  Shuhei has worked hard to perfect his piano skills.  I mean, he’s been playing since he was three years old, if I remember correctly.  But after he meets Kai, he begins to wonder if he’s good enough.  He becomes plagued with anxiety and self-doubt, believing that if he can’t beat Kai in the Chopin competition, he’ll never add up as a pianist.  To make matters worse, his piano teacher told him that he played with no emotion, like a robot.  Anyone who plays an instrument will know that that might sound professional, but it never reaches your audience’s hearts.  Shuhei becomes so down on himself that he begins to have a little social anxiety.  He can’t even be in a large crowd without passing out.  Karol Adamski, another contestant who had recently been kicked out of the competition, sees that Shuhei is struggling, so he decides to have a little one-on-one time with him.  Adamski tells him that he needs to forget about outdoing everyone else.  If he’s always trying to be better, he’ll never enjoy playing.  The conversation brings Shuhei to his senses, and he goes to perform one last time for the judges.  Shuhei plays with heart this time, and it’s nothing like he’s ever played.  He actually enjoyed himself for the first time in years!  As I said, he played for the judges for the last time.  Shuhei was booted from the competition, and that’s when things got really bad.  So bad that Shuhei ended up breaking off his friendship with Kai.  of course, in the end, things worked out for the best.  Shuhei realized he was wrong, and made up with Kai.  He even stayed up all night to help him practice!  But after that, Shuhei never doubted his abilities again.  He knew he was an amazing pianist, and he didn’t let losing keep him down.  It’s safe to say that he went back to the competition the next time it was held!


3.  Don’t Look Back

As a young man, Kai’s teacher and a famous pianist, Souske Ajino, was in a car accident.  Not only did it kill his fiance, but it destroyed his left hand.  if you’re a pianist, then you know what a nightmare that might have been!  Ajino left his fame and went into hiding as a music teacher at Kai’s elementary school.  He was never able to play the same, even after his hand healed.  But the past was too much for him, and he threw out his old piano.  This piano happened to be the one Kai taught himself to play in the forest.  Throughout the series, we see that Ajino is on the run from his past.  In the last episode, Kai reveals that he will use his prize money from winning the competition to pay for the surgery Ajino needs in order to repair his left hand.  Ajino…isn’t very happy.  He’s touched that Kai would go to all the trouble to get him the best doctor in Japan, and that he would even think to spend his prize money like that, but he just can’t agree.  He’s too afraid that he’ll fall back into his past.  With help from his friends, Ajino realizes that he doesn’t have to look back.  There is only moving forward.  Ajino gets the surgery he needs, and he climbs his way back up to fame.


4. When Life Knocks You Down, Get Back Up

Adamski is a favorite of mine, and for good reasons.  With how everyone talked about him before his entrance into the show, I thought he was going to be a jerk.  Boy, was I wrong!  Adamski came from nothing.  His father was an alcoholic, and his mom was sickly.  He had no money.  Still, he pushed all of this aside to become on the of the most famous pianists in Poland.  When he got booted from the competition, he didn’t let that keep him from moving forward.  He let it inspire him to never stop trying.  He used it to show Shuhei that there’s more to life than winning.


5. Never Lose Hope, Even When Everyone Else Has

Lech Szymanowski has issues.  His older sister, an aspiring pianist, was in a bus accident that left her in a coma for the last five years.  She was supposed to be entering the Chopin competition, not Lech.  But he takes her place, and he intends to win for her.  Lech was one of the more…interesting characters in the show.  He seemed perfectly fine in his first appearance, and even worked his way up to being my favorite character!  But after awhile, he showed his true colors.  A pathological liar, he even attempts to trick his way into winning.  He fakes illnesses (although he really did get sick once) and does everything he can to place himself as the final performance, the one with the highest chances of winning.  But he does it all with good intentions.  He firmly believes that if he wins, his sister will wake up from her coma.  Lech was the only person that believed that his sister would wake up, while everyone else around him already thought of her as dead.  Everyone, including his parents, think he’s mentally crazy – and maybe he really was.  He insisted that he talks with his sister, and she talks back.  He tries to get his parents to believe that she really did open her eyes.  As the competition comes to a close, Lech realizes something; he doesn’t need to win in order for his sister to wake up.  He just needs to play his best, and that will be enough to make her proud.  In the end, Lech’s sister woke up from her coma, surprising everyone.  But not Lech.  He had always believed she would wake up one day.


6. Your Past Does Not Define You

By far the character with the worst backstory is Wei Pong.  He had no clue who his dad was, and all he knew about his mother was that she was killed.  He was called “bomb”, since that was what everyone thought he was before he was born.  He was raised by a man that only cared about him becoming famous and bringing in a bunch of money.  Wei Pong would have died, had it not been for Ajino.  As a little boy, he saw Ajino perform on TV, and he aspired to be just like him.  He worked hard to get to the top.  Still, he suffered from his past.  He was angry and bitter towards everyone around him.  After a reporter published an article about his past (and gets arrested for it), Wei Pong meets his hero; Souske Ajino.  He explains how Ajino saved his life, and the conversation leaves Pong feeling lighter than before.  As he walks up on the stage for his final performance in the competition, Wei Pong leaves his past behind and lets go of his bitterness.  And for the first time in his life, he plays with joy.


Forest of Piano was my first original anime, and I really enjoyed it!  If you’ve watched this show, or you have any thoughts on the lessons, let me know in the comments! i’d love to hear from you!  Have a good day, and God bless!


Note: The Card Dealer will return with Part 5 this Saturday!

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