First Look: Piano Forest

Alternative title(s): Piano no Mori
Manga Adaptation by Fukushima Gainax
Licensed by Netflix (International release pending)

Premise

Ever since he was small, Kai has been playing an abandoned piano in the middle of the forest – one which doesn’t play for anyone else. Shuhei, a new classmate, is the son of a famous pianist who aims to follow in his father’s footsteps. United by the piano in the forest, their paths intertwine.

Artemis’ verdict: Slightly Off Key

Piano Forest was one of the titles I was looking forward to the most this season, so I wish I had enjoyed the premiere more. Not that I disliked it – the discrepancy between our two main characters, particularly their respective family situations, touches on some surprisingly mature subject matter and makes for a kind of dynamic we don’t see all that often in anime. Moreover, the creators obviously put some serious consideration and work into the music itself – clearly one of the show’s most important components.

That said, I’m not overly fond of the character designs, which are lacking in detail and look a bit silly even when depicted as adults rather than elementary school children. Meanwhile, the CG whenever anyone actually plays the piano is outright terrible, which makes me wonder a lot about Piano Forest’s budget. There’s also a certain disconnect between the genuinely serious and quiet moments in the show, and those that seem almost laughably overdone as far as the drama is concerned. It’s like nearly all the cool things about Piano Forest are cancelled out by the bad or the lackluster. I’ll be keeping it on for the time being, but am hoping it has something a bit more impressive up its sleeve within the next couple of episodes.

Jel’s verdict: Needs Tuning

I was mostly interested in this show out of morbid curiosity. I understand the name Gainax doesn’t mean anything anymore, but this being their first anime in years made me at least want to check up on them. Sadly, this just made me wish they’d call it quits and stop dragging their legendary reputation through the mud. The content of the episode is fine, just another story about a rich kid slummin’ it with the a boy from the other side of the tracks. I did have zero patience for the class bullies, but other than that it’s a perfectly decent premise. From a technical point of view though, this gave the now legendary first episode of Golden Kamuy a run for its money with out of place CG and lots of sub par animation in general. I can’t say I’m surprised, but even so it’s disappointing to see Gainax sink this far.

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