The penultimate episode of Piano no Mori is finally here and I can’t tell you how geeked I am to be this close to the finale! This week’s episode ‘Hero’ brings the Final Stage of the Chopin Tournament to a close with two spectacular performances from Kai and Lech. But, as we reach the inevitable conclusion, I’m left with a feeling of melancholy and, unsurprisingly, excitement.
Japanese Original Episode Title: ヒーロー
Kai’s wonderfully energetic performance is followed up by Lech’s emotional musical send off to his sister Emilia and with that the Final Stage of the Chopin Tournament comes to a close. Now, it’s time for the judges to deliberate on the winner. But, much to their chagrin, earlier under the table deals and bias could spell disaster when a reporter demands that the individual judges’ scores be made public.
Kai’s Opening Voiceover: As he finishes up his final piece, Kai reminisces on his journey thus far. From his humble beginnings in the red-light district of the Forest’s Edge and the friends he’s made along the way to to Warsaw and the Chopin Tournament. Kai has been through so much to get where he is today, playing the piano he loves for the world, and it’s all thanks to the love and support he has received from all the important people in his life.
Lech’s Past: The series has been hinting at it for some time now, but, during Lech’s performance we finally get a chance to learn about Emilia’s accident and the events following. Like everyone else in the series, Lech is dealing with his own demons and for the first time we see some genuine emotion from Lech, the sadness and the regret he feels are all out in the open and you can really hear it in his playing. There’s a lot going on in this performance, much more than in any of the others, definitely one of the more emotional ones this season.
Judging Conspiracy: Well, it’s no secret that the judging in the Chopin Tournament has been all about the politics from the start, but now as the decision for the finals are at hand the judges are being placed under even more scrutiny than ever before. Some are still sore about Adamski being knocked out in the First Stage, so it’s been decided that the scores would be made public. Because of this, many of the judges are having a hard time choosing the winner of the competition.
I did something similar in my reviews for Tsurune (and I probably should have done it sooner for these reviews), but, since this is a musical anime, there are a lot of musical pieces played. Rather than cram them all into the Themes & Trivia section, here’s a separate section just for the musical compositions in each episode.
Piano Concerto No.1, Op. 11: The first of two piano concertos composed by Polish composer, Frédéric Chopin while it was written after Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2, it was the first to be published and thus was given the distinction of No. 1.
- Played by Seong-Jin Cho in the Final Stage of the 2015 Chopin Tournament: YouTube
Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor, Op. 21: The second of two piano concertos composed by Polish composer, Frédéric Chopin while it was written before Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1, it was the last to be published and thus was given the distinction of No. 2.
- Played by Charles Richard-Hamelin in the Final Stage of the 2015 Chopin Tournament: YouTube
I will keep this short. Episode 23 ‘Hero’ brings the Chopin Tournament to a close, with the episode’s focus split between Kai and Lech’s performances and the judges’ final deliberation. As always, the performances were AMAZING, and to end the Tournament on such a high note musicwise is exactly what I’d expect from a series like Piano no Mori. Since I pretty much got all my fangirling out about Kai’s playing in my review of Episode 22, I’ll instead gust about Kai’s opening narration. In lieu of the opening animated sequence we are instead treated to Kai’s musings about how far he’s come since the start of the series. Kai’s journey has been one of hardship and triumph in the face of adversity and it’s nice to see him being so reflective in these final moments of the series. He has been surrounded by people that have loved and supported him through all of his trials on his path to the Chopin Tournament. Kai is very much the embodiment of the saying, ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ and it’s no secret that Kai has an entire village behind him. From his mother who birthed him and nurtured him to Ajino who nurtured his musical talent and gave him the nudge he needed to consider playing piano professionally to Shuuhei, who was a friend and musical ally, Kai has been blessed to have so many people in his corner.
Lech’s performance had a similar theme of reflection, focusing on his relationship with his sister and how her accident has affected his feelings towards music and the piano. Something similar happened during Wei Pang’s performance a few episodes prior, but, unlike Wei, Lech’s emotional turmoil has been much more subtle. He didn’t have whole episodes dedicated to him (at least not that I can remember) so this suddenly more contemplative Lech does come a bit out of left field for me, but, was no less enjoyable.
Finally, I love that the judges are still coming under fire for what went down in Stages One and Two! They let their biases get in the way of the actual music and now they are reaping the benefit! I think it was only fitting that the bulk of the episode focused on their deliberations, because they literally hold the fates of the contestants in their hands!
The Best Performance Ever
Regardless of the final results, this is the way the Chopin Tournament was meant to end, with two phenomenal performances from two of the world’s brightest young pianists. Piano no Mori is full of so many wonderful performances and great character moments, but, I’m always in awe of just how much this series resonates with me. All in all, another great episode!!
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!!
NEXT TIME: The Best Pianist in the World
Piano no Mori
Winter 2019 | Anime Info | Simulcast