The wait is over! The much-anticipated return of Spring 2018’s beautiful musical anime Piano no Mori (Forest of the Piano) is finally here with its second cour! Join Kai, Shuuhei, and the rest of the Chopin Tournament hopefuls as they bring their own unique sound to the composer’s iconic works. I don’t know about you guys, but I am excited to dive back into the wonderful world of classical music!
Japanese Original Episode Title: ショパンの旅路
The first episode of the second cour hits the ground running, picking up where the first left off. The first round of the Chopin Tournament is complete and the judges are back with the results. This is the end of the road for some and the beginning of the next phase of the Chopin Tournament… Who will make the cut? Will Kai find himself on the chopping block or will it be Shuuhei? Or maybe it’s…
Updated Opening Animation: While the beautiful piano composition for the anime is still the same, the opening animation has been given a bit of an upgrade. Scenes from Kai’s Chopin Tournament performance and a few location shots of Warsaw have been added to the opening animation from last season.
New Ending Theme: Piano no Mori is known for its sweeping musical score, with samplings from noteworthy classical composers such as Mozart, Beethoven, and of course Chopin. So with such a high musical pedigree it stands to reason that the ending theme songs should be just as iconic. We finally retired last season’s ending theme, Kaeru Basho ga Aru to Iu Koto (帰る場所があるということ) by Aoi Yuuki, which is a tough act to follow! But, this season’s ending theme, Hajimari no Basho by Murakawa Rie, more than exceeds expectations. It’s a beautiful slow song that is accompanied by animated location shots of iconic Warsaw landmarks, overlayed by images key moments from Kai’s life; starting with the first encounter with the forest piano and ending with him playing at the Chopin Tournament.
Themes & Trivia
Protagonist is Always Late: Kai spends the better part of the episode running to the Chopin Tournament First Stage Results Press Conference. In traditional protagonist fashion, Kai is of course running late, a fact that he remarks on midway through his mad dash to the conference hall. He’s so late that he misses the results announcement.
Finding Your Own Voice: One of the biggest themes in Piano no Mori is that of finding your own musical voice. As Adamski notes, anyone can play piano, a cat jumping on a keyboard is technically ‘playing the piano’, but it takes more than just playing to give the music life. This is something that both Kai and Shuuhei have struggled with throughout the series; though Kai has more or less found his musical voice. Shuuhei on the other hand is so caught up in beating Kai that he forgot how much fun playing the piano used to be for him.
You win some, you lose some: This is a competition, not everyone is going to make it to the next stage of the Chopin Tournament. And as this series has proven time and time again, being the protagonist doesn’t automatically guarantee a win…
I have been waiting for the return of Piano no Mori for so long! I love this series so much and while the first episode of the second cour was a bit slower than I anticipated, it was great to finally see Kai and the rest of the cast back on my screen.
Right off the bat, this week’s episode had very little Kai in it, instead focusing on Shuuhei and Adamski as they await the results of the first round of the Chopin Tournament. I’m not gonna lie, I was a bit disappointed to have the first episode of the new season focus solely on my least favorite character, but I understand that he is the character with the most potential character growth opportunities. The first cour of the series was very much Kai’s story focusing more on him growing into his own unique musical self, culminating in his participation in the Chopin Tournament. He did what he set out to do, he made it to Warsaw and finally got to play his Chopin for better or worse. Meanwhile, Shuuhei is still struggling to figure out why he plays piano. He’s been so preoccupied with beating Kai that he’s lost sight of what makes playing piano worthwhile. Because Kai is the source of his conflict, it’s a little sad to see him pushing him away, especially when Kai still considers Shuuhei to be one of his good friends. On the other hand, I do like how Adamski has taken on more of a brotherly role with Shuuhei and I quite enjoy their bathroom chats. He forces Shuuhei to really delve into his own insecurities and that’s something he really isn’t getting from anyone else right now. Though… even after saying all of that, I’m still not a Shuuhei fan…
The music kind of took a backseat to Shuuhei and his baggage… but, I will say that I absolutely love the new ending theme! Hajimari no Basho is such a beautiful song and a fitting follow up to Kaeru Basho ga Aru to Iu Koto. There were also a few piano interludes, but nothing as intense as the competition pieces from last season. Hopefully, we’ll get back to some of the more hardcore piano playing in the coming episodes, because I am ready to be blown away by more Chopin!
The Next Phase
The beginning of the second cour is off to a slow start, especially after the way things ended last season, but there’s still plenty of magic! Piano no Mori has always been about the characters and the first episode of the new cour takes time to let two of them really shine. Fans of Amamiya and Adamski will appreciate seeing these two pianist given their time in the spotlight. This is only the beginning of what promises to be another delightful musical experiences, and I for one can’t wait to see what the second cour has in store for us!
I’ll be back next week with another Piano no Mori review, but in the meantime, be sure to check out MANGA.TOKYO’s other amazing Winter 2019 reviews!!
Forest of Piano (Piano no Mori)
Winter 2019 | Anime Info | Simulcast