I always find myself falling more and more in love with Piano no Mori. From the beautiful music to the phenomenal cast, this series always manages to hit me right in the feels. Episode 19, ‘For the Sake of Your Number One’, brings to the human drama of the series to the forefront as Kai and the rest of the Chopin Tournament hopefuls prepare for the finals.
Original Japanese Title: 君の”1番”のために
With the pressures of the third stage of the Chopin Tournament mounting, Kai is still reeling from the emotional toll of his confrontation with Shuuhei. Just when Kai reaches his lowest point, Aijino teaches Kai an important lesson about letting go. Meanwhile, Wei Pang is dealing with obstacles of his own that are causing quite a stir.
Side Character Spotlight: Piano no Mori is blessed with a phenomenal cast of characters, and unlike other series, it actually takes the time to spotlight all of them. In this week’s episode we get to spend more time with Sophie and Wei Pang, but not only that we get a bit of insight into their history with one another, albeit briefly.
The Forest Piano: After the traumatic Season 1 episode where Kai’s beloved forest piano was destroyed, his mother Reiko kept the last remaining piece of it (a charred key) as a good luck charm. Before Ajino left to join Kai in Poland, she entrusted the key to him so that Kai would always have a piece of home with him no matter where he went. In this week’s episode, Ajino finally gives the key to Kai, reminding him that nothing is ever truly lost.
Ajino’s Last Lesson: At the start of the series, Kai and Amino made a deal that the latter would become Kai’s piano teacher only until after he competed in the Chopin Tournament, after which they would both part ways. With the third and final stage of the tournament finally here, their fated parting is coming much sooner than they anticipated. Ajino takes this time to impart some final words of wisdom to Kai: Forget everything. This is the last lesson he has to teach him, perhaps the most important one.
Sorry I’m Late: After their big confrontation in ‘Requiem’,it was only a matter of time before Kai and Shuuhei found their way back to one another. Their relationship has been at the forefront of the series from their first meeting in elementary school to their tumultuous falling out; Shuuhei and Kai are at the heart of Piano no Mori. For the first time we see both Kai and Shuuhei playing together as equals, which is something the series has been building up to for awhile. There is no jealousy or competition holding them back; they’re just two friends playing piano together.
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 admit that the first half of the episode had me a bit worried since it seemed like this was going to be another Wei Pang-centric episode; not that I’m not fond of Wei Pang, because believe me, I am. But after last week’s confrontation between Kai and Shuuhei I was expecting some sort of resolution to that and thankfully, Piano no Mori did not disappoint. Though before I get to that, I do want to talk a bit about the first half.
So, Episode 18 ended with a bit of a stinger. Wei Pang is surrounded by a group of men who inform him that his father is dying and that he needs to come with them quickly. Episode 19 picks up right where that left off, with Wei Pang discovering that his father’s injury was just a clever ruse to get him bumped to the last day of the tournament (a much more desirable position). He is forced into a room where he is expected to practice while also watching the other performances of the day, most notably Sophie’s. The two once competed against one another in the Long-Thaibaud Competition, but, after listening to Sophie play again, the ever stoic Wei Pang’s opinion has changed. There was also some nice insight into Sophie’s thoughts while she plays that I think helps expand on her character, especially since she is one of the side characters we’ve spent the least amount of time with.
But, the biggest highlight of the episode has to be Kai and Shuuhei’s reconciliation. Usually I would have preferred giving them more time to stew a bit before making up, but, given the time constraints of the season and the tournament, I think handling this now is ultimately for the best. Like I said earlier, Kai and Shuuhei’s relationship is the heart of the series. Their love of piano and their friendship is at the core of who they are both as musicians and as individuals. Despite Shuuhei’s jealousy and mounting insecurities, Kai has been a constant in his life driving him to reach heights he never would have on his own. The same can be said for Shuuhei. Without his friendship and love of the piano, Kai might not have ever approached Ajino about teaching him. So, this week’s episode is like the culmination of their bond, not just as musicians, but as friends and equals.
The final scene of the pair playing with one another is one of my favorites in the entire series, here they are sitting in this huge concert hall, just the two of them playing the piano that they love. There’s no animosity, or need to compete, just two friends playing. One is going on to compete in the finals and the other is merely there as moral support, but, you can feel their passion for playing in every single frame.
Lending a Helping Hand
Episode 19, ‘For the Sake of Your Number One’, brings Kai and Shuuhei’s conflict to a close, showing them coming together not as rivals, but as friends and allies in their love of piano. This week’s episode offers a momentary reprieve from the high stakes of the Chopin Tournament, by delving into the carefully developed character relationships that are at the very heart of Piano no Mori’s narrative.
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 Truth About Pang Wei (パン・ウェイの真実)
Forest of Piano (Piano no Mori)
Winter 2019 | Anime Info | Simulcast