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THE PIANO FOREST (Piano no Mori)


Genre: Animation
Starring: Aya Ueto, Ryunosuke Kamiki, Chizuru Ikewaki, Mayuko Fukuda, Hiroyuki Miyasako
Director: Masayuki Kojima
Rating: PG
Year Made: 2007






Languages: Japanese
Subtitles: English/Chinese/Malay
Aspect Ratio: 4:3 Letterbox
Sound: -
Running Time: 1 hr 40 mins
Region Code: NTSC 3
Distributor: InnoF
orm Media




Kai Ichinose is a free-spirited boy bestowed with the talent of a genius in playing the piano. He befriends a transfer student Shuhei Amamiya, who devotes his time in practicing piano so that he can become a professional pianist like his father. Kai invites Shuhei to the deep forest where there lies a broken grand piano which only Kai can play on. Shuhei is touched by Kai’s performance and is surprised that he has no basic piano training.

Piano has fostered a closer friendship between the two. Kai, due to the influence from Shuhei, has developed a keen interest in piano. Kai is then entered in a piano competition, pitting his skills against Shuhei and many other aspiring young pianists.

A touching story of two young hearts, passionate about piano and their desire to discover a sound they can call their own.


The usual Japanese animations you see just can’t do without either one of these things. One: Cute talking animals or Two: Tough-looking guns-toting cyborgs.

It’s of course startling to this reviewer that "The Piano Forest" doesn’t boast either one of the above and yet manages to enthrall throughout its 100 minutes running time.

In "The Piano Forest", Kai and Shuhei are two boys who bonds together all because of their love for the piano. Kai comes from a single-parent family whose mother has a questionable profession while Shuhei has a world renowned pianist as his father. But Kai has a secret or talent of his own, he can play the piano remarkably well without any proper coaching which in turn spurned Shuhei to take up piano lessons. According to Kai’s mum, the abandoned piano in the forest has been Kai’s constant companion since he accidentally stumbled upon it when he was three years old.

There’s no surprise third act so no worries in case you wonder if somehow the piano is Kai’s magical guidance. And there’s no cute talking animals prancing around (unless you want to pick on the mice) when Kai plays on his piano. In addition, there won’t be any appearance of wand-wielding wizard in the forest.

In turn, a teacher with a haunted past and with links to the old abandoned piano in the forest decides to act as a tutelage for Kai, to help him find a 'voice' to call his own.

This Madhouse anime is filled with luscious music pieces from Mozart, Chopin, Beethoven just to name a few which are beautifully performed by Russian pianist, Vladimir Ashkenazy. Aya Ueto (Kai) and Ryunosuke Kamiki (Shuhei) who coincidentally co-starred earlier in the coming-of-age drama, "Install" gives life to the two protagonists.

Without cute talking animals or gun-toting cyborgs to visually arrest you, the leisurely paced anime is a breath of fresh air. Give "The Piano Forest" a try, it’s definitely a feel good movie about the meaning of true friendship and finding your inner calling.




The visual and audio content is acceptable but might be disappointing to those who prefer a 5.1 transfer which the disc does not possess. The DVD comes only with the original Japanese audio track but with English, Chinese and Malay subtitles. 



Review by Linus Tee



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This review is made possible with the kind support from InnoForm Media


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