Music Anime shows haven’t been doing so well lately and a clear decline can be seen in their overall quality since the past few years. Gone is the age of amazing music-centric stories of shows like ‘Nodame Cantabile‘, which is still remembered for its perfect representation of classical music themes along with a heartfelt romance story. ‘Forest of Piano’ received a lot of mixed reactions from viewers but in the end, it became quite a hit and thus, the creators decided to go for a season 2. Speaking of Season 1, it is a more whimsical portrayal of the power of music and how it revolves around the core theme of nature vs nurture. But season 2 takes a rather different approach and diverts its focus away from the main protagonists by bringing into picture the backstories of other contesting musicians.
This new approach comes with its own set of benefits and drawbacks. While it is able to focus more on the musical side of it by bringing up unique stories of individual musicians, this approach takes up almost half of each episode’s runtime, which affects the overall development of all the characters. It is quite an enjoyable experience to watch all of these stand-alone episodic stories, but as it progresses, the show really suffers as the main characters lack development and it also seems a little off that they have to share the stage with other characters who have just been introduced. For most viewers, this may not necessarily come off as a major flaw but it simply proves that the anime would’ve been better off with more number of episodes.
The tournament style arc of this season has led to its downfall, especially if one compares it with the drama-driven direction of the first one. The music, for obvious reasons, is still great and even pays a wonderful homage to the Polish pianist Fryderyk Chopin. I am a little disappointed with season 2 but I’m also glad that unlike many other viewers, I patiently waited for the ending which proved to make up for many of the flaws that it has. ‘Forest of Piano’ Season 2 may not be better than its predecessor but it sure has its own beautiful moments. It’s unfortunate that the real story picks up a little late, but investing your time in the bad parts of the anime is eventually worth it, solely because of its epic conclusion.
Forest of Piano Season 2 Release Date:
‘Forest of Piano’ season 1 premiered on April 9, 2018 and ran up till July 2, 2018. After the first 12-episode season, the anime returned with ‘Forest of Piano’ season 2 on January 28, 2019 and came to an end on April 15, 2019. If you wish to know more about the future of the anime, then you should check out our preview on ‘Forest of Piano’ Season 3.
Forest of Piano Season 2 Plot:
The first season revolves around the story of two young boys who are extremely passionate about playing the piano. One of these two boys is Kai Ichinose, who is born to a prostitute and spends his entire childhood in the red light district area of the city. He lacks any formal training in music and for a long time, his own talent remains unknown to him. One day, he finds an old abandoned piano in the woods and starts banging out keys for fun. Soon, he feels more drawn towards the art and starts investing more of his time on practicing it. Within no time, it becomes more of an addiction for him and after realizing his potential, he sets out on his own journey towards mastery.
The second boy the show focuses on, named Shuhei Amamiya, comes from an entirely different world of luxuries where his father himself is a professional pianist. So for obvious reasons, since his childhood, Shuhei has had the best professional training that anyone could ever have. But despite his pampered upbringing, Shuhei has a big heart and shows absolutely no signs of selfishness.
As the story begins, Shuhei joins the same Elementary School as Kai Ichinose but becomes the target of bullying from the first day itself. With time, the bullying gets worse and one day, he is forced to play the piano in the woods that is rumored to be cursed. This is when he meets Kai for the first time and though he fails to play the old broken down piano properly, he is thoroughly impressed by how amazingly Kai plays out one of the most melodious tunes he has ever heard. Their music teacher, Sosuke Ajino, soon gets involved and is beyond impressed by Kai’s talent. But mostly because of his upbringing, Kai holds himself back from coming out as a pianist. But with the support of his teacher and his new found friend, Kai sets out on a journey to unlock his true potential and along the way, he also finds the true meaning of friendship.
Season 2 initially picks up where the story of season 1 leaves but later drifts into a whole new tournament-based arc where instead of focusing on the two main characters, it introduces tons of new passionate musician characters who compete against each other in the International Chopin Piano Competition.
Forest of Piano Season 2 Review:
The story of the first season, that covers the Piano Forest arc of the manga, had this classic magical Disney feel to it that strongly reminds you of the best works of Studio Ghibli (known for ‘Spirited Away‘). It presents a more realistic story that is interwoven with some really heartfelt moments and lessons about friendship. This is something that Season 2 lacks and though its portrayal of diversity in music is appreciable, it falls flat compared to season one because it offers nothing deep. To put it simply, Season 2 lacks pretty much everything in its story that made season 1 great. The good thing is that it finally does bring its focus back on the two main characters somewhere around the ending and brings in an epic conclusion to the season.
When it comes to the characters, I appreciate the intentions of the creators because they took a risk despite knowing that they could use the same formula and still create a pretty good show. Initially, it is also quite enjoyable to watch the backstories of all the aspiring musicians who participate in the competition and their contrasting personalities make the story even more entertaining. But soon, when you realize that the main protagonists are being ignored, you can’t help but wonder what they must be going through in this change of scenario. With the sole intention of standing out from the rest, the anime destroyed something that most fans had been investing their time in all this while. ‘Forest of Piano’ Season 2 could’ve been as good as its predecessor or maybe even better, but it somehow loses itself amid its new ideas and themes.
Season 1 of ‘Piano no Mori’ was plagued with horribly unnecessary CGI. While this is still acceptable from action-centric anime, for a Seinen like this one, it was hardly a requirement and that’s why it just cannot be just overlooked. This is where Season 2 shows an improvement by completely avoiding the idea of CGI. The problem with the animation in this season is that its quality often fluctuates. There are times when it’s absolutely mind-blowing and then there are other times when it throws still images at you. This is particularly noticeable when the camera’s focus shifts towards the audience who just sit there without any movement at all. It’s almost like listening to piano solos while staring at an image of people who are simply staring right back at you. With that being said, I would still say that this is one of the best elements of the anime and anyone who’s into 2D animation style, will have a good time watching it.
Thankfully, music is one thing that still remains the same and is as mellow as it ever was. Even if you’re not a big fan of classical music, you will still be able to enjoy each and every piece that is played. While the magic of the story was somehow lost in season 2, it finds its way back with the pleasant classical piano scores. Overall, season 2 is indeed much weaker than season 1 and lacks the fantastical whimsy tone that most viewers had been investing in. Somehow, it just loses its way between its fickle focus that tries to pull off two parallel storylines at once and later ends up completely ignoring one. But in the end, it brings back the true spirit of what it stands for and manages to win the hearts of most viewers. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would give it a weak 8 only because of its heart-touching ending. I really hope that if the anime is renewed in the future, it will come back much stronger.
Forest of Piano Season 2 English Dub:
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