Just to clarify, “Chopin x shounen” does not indicate a ship. That’d be a bit creepy.
- The episode starts with Kai as an adult at the International Chopin Competition. Then it goes back and introduces us to Kai and his new friend, the transfer student Shuuhei.
- Kai and Shuuhei make up the ultimate shounen friend-rival duo. Shuuhei is the rich kid with everything provided for, and Kai comes from the red-light district and lives at the edge of a forest. The interesting thing is that the protagonist, Kai, is the one with all the talents, while Shuuhei has been trained to be a try-hard pianist.
- Shuuhei is pushed all the way to the side in the above picture from the OP though…feels bad, man. There’s nothing dislikable about the kid so far.
- The OP is a refreshing arrangement of Chopin’s Etude Op. 10. No. 1, entitled “海へ” (“To the Sea”). The original etude has also been given the name “Waterfall” for its glorious arpeggios. Forests and oceans – I’m liking the nature motifs. Kai’s name is spelled “海” and means “sea,” by the way.
- Only Kai (and Ajino in the past) can produce sound on the piano in the forest. This is left unexplained, and becomes a nice touch of magic realism.
- Shuuhei offers to teach Kai how to sight-read, but Kai is more concerned about the sound of the music itself. I don’t know how people in this anime expect others to learn everything at such a pace. You’re…not supposed to play Mozart’s sonatas in a day, let alone learn how to sight-read it?!
- Ajino gets rejected so many times over the span of two episodes. He finally has something attractive to offer now.
- What is it about Chopin that is so special? The episode only but touched on it, and this is probably because not even Kai himself knows at this point. Chopin is special to me as well, and I hope the anime explores that more soon.
- Ajino makes Kai do a few things: 1) never run away from the piano (I bet you it’s going to happen mid-season) 2) play practice scales 3) don’t play the piano in the forest until he can do scales.
- Just what is the piano in the forest? Some symbol of chosen talent? But here it’s presented as some sort of magical cheat tool. Can’t wait for the story behind it.
- Kai’s relationship with his mom is so interesting! He calls her “Rei-chan”… (he also calls Ajino “Ajino” straight up). So far, none of the adults in this anime are presented as the children’s superiors. Maybe it has to do with how Reiko got pregnant with Kai at a fairly young age, judging from the image we see in this episode. I also believe Shuuhei doesn’t call his mom “mom,” but “x-san.”
- The passionate Reiko dreams of moving to the sea. Having big dreams is an important touch in shounen, and even if Reiko isn’t a main character, her idealistic nature must have influenced Kai in a good way. Well, or it might in the future.
- Kai played some scales and has now mastered a Chopin piece. It is by no means convincing, but I don’t go into an anime like this expecting to get a documentary of the arduous process of piano-learning. I think over-the-top talent is something we all dream of, and seeing it depicted in fiction can be kind of great.
- I do wish the piano-playing gets animated less hurriedly. The effort simply looks too minimal…
- It’s good that Shuuhei immediately confronts Kai about the upcoming piano competition. I’m not sure how old they are, but Shuuhei certainly demonstrates a lot of thoughtfulness and maturity. I’m predicting that he’s going to have a few breakdowns in the future though. Sucks to be besties with someone who has more talent than you at what you love.
- The friendship-rivalry is declared. By this scene, I’m really feeling hyped.
It’s such a traditional set-up, but somehow it just draws me in! I’ve given Piano no Mori a higher first impression ranking than most people, it seems. Is it my love for Chopin? I haven’t touched my piano in at least a year though, and have been playing anime tunes the last time I played. My dad is threatening to sell the piano.
Well, we’ll see if Piano no Mori lives up to the hype I have for it!