Episode 20, ‘The Truth About Pang Wei’, despite its title, balances its time between Kai and the stoic pianist, Wei Pang. There is more of a focus on who they are as characters and how that enhances their playing, though there is plenty of piano music in this week’s episode to remind us just what we’re really here for!!
Original Japanese Title: パン・ウェイの真実
The second day of the Chopin Tournament finals is at hand with even more powerful performances from characters that have only been mentioned briefly in previous episodes. But, when a fraudulent article is posted about Wei Pang, everyone wonders whether the pianist will make an appearance on the final stage.
Musical Commentary: Now, this is something that I’ve only ever really seen in sports anime: a character, usually someone in the crowd, will explain the nuances of whatever sport they’re watching to someone who isn’t as familiar with said sport. The same happens quite frequently in Piano no Mori except it is usually someone explaining the technical details of Chopin, piano playing, or a participant’s choice in pieces. Shuuhei has usually taken on this role, since he tends to watch all the performances, serving as the audience’s proxy into the world of the series. In this week’s episode he explains the difference between Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and 2, which if you are unfamiliar with the works, gives some key insight into the pieces.
Rivals Meet: For the first time in their lives, Ajino and Amamiya Sr. meet, and while it’s clear the latter is a bit more stiff in their first ever interaction, Ajino has no such reservations. The conversation is light, mostly about Kai and Shuuhei and the competition. However, Ajino reveals his goals for the competition and for Kai, which shocks the older Amamiya.
There’s something about Maria: The truth about Kai’s cross-dressing alter ego Mari is finally revealed to Mr. Saga and the results are hilarious! A bit of levity in the midst of all the competition jitters.
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
So, the title of this week’s episode is a reference to the fraudulent biography printed by two ambitious tabloid reporters. I’m starting to get the feeling that the second season is really about Wei Pang, since we’ve had quite a few episodes centered around him and his connection to Sousuke Ajino. Is this maybe foreshadowing that he and not Kai will be victorious? Who knows? Either way, I don’t mind the focus on Wei Pang simply because of his similarity to Kai. They are both from the ‘wrong side of the tracks’ and they both want to make a living by playing piano, the only difference is their outlook on life. Despite the hardships they have faced, Kai remains optimistic about life, whereas Wei Pang is stoic and jaded, having not experienced true kindness. He is definitely one of the more interesting characters in the series, and in my opinion a much more fitting rival for Kai than any of the other competitors, especially Shuuhei.
Now that Kai and Shuuhei have made up, we see a return of their friendship which mirrors their interactions from the first half of Season 1. It’s nice to see them falling back into their stride without the added weight of jealousy. It makes Shuuhei a much more sympathetic character, and for once I’m glad to see him getting so much extra screen time.
But, the biggest takeaway from the episode is Ajino’s ultimate goal for Kai and the Chopin Tournament. Kai wants to win for Ajino’s sake, to prove that he is still the great pianist he once was despite his injury. Ajino on the other hand, just wants to ‘sell the world on Kai’. He realized that the biased musical community would never permit Kai to make a suitable living by playing piano, but, on the world’s stage where judging is a bit more flexible, Kai is able to flourish. They are both fighting for the sake of the other, an admiral notion that further solidifies their bond beyond that of just student and teacher, but as friends and equals.
Playing For Your Sake
Episode 20, ‘The Truth About Pang Wei’, is very much Wei Pang’s story, but about Kai’s as well. I feel like the latter half of Season 2 is setting the two up as rivals, but in a much more subtle way than it did with Shuuhei and Kai early on in the series. Here we see two individuals from similar backgrounds vying for a foothold on the world stage. Wei Pang wants to break free from his past, while Kai simply wants to live his life in spite of his past at the forest’s edge.
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: As Proof That You Lived ( あなたが生きた証に)
Forest of Piano (Piano no Mori)
Winter 2019 | Anime Info | Simulcast