Piano no Mori can easily be considered as the brother-movie of Miyori no Mori. Both got originally released around the same time, both are slice-of-life movies, both place a lot of emphasis on a forest, and both have a kid of about 11 years old as their main character. In Miyori no Mori, the forest was filled with spirits, in Piano no Mori, the forest has a piano in it.
Both movies have their own strengths and weaknesses. The main characters for Piano no Mori just don’t match up to Miyori, but in exchange Piano no Mori doesn’t have any cardboard-box villain that plagued Miyori. And even though the main characters aren’t as likable as Miyori, this doesn’t mean that they’re bad. This movie portrays quite an interesting rivalry between two polar opposites. Along with the side-characters, they turn into quite an interesting smörgåsbord of a cast.
The major problem with Piano no Mori is the direction. It really felt to me like the creators were going down a checklist of some sorts, to get the necessary developments set up right for the finale. Whenever the creators had to choose between a flowing story and this checklist, they went with the checklist. What’s strange about this is that the director for this movie is top-notch: he’s been behind the critically acclaimed series of Monster and Master Keaton, and his work on the first half of A Spirit of The Sun was terrific as well. While I haven’t seen the first two, I just can’t say that Piano no Mori has been his best work.
Nevertheless, Piano no Mori is a very capable movie, which provided the satisfying ending that I missed with Miyori no Mori. Both movies (or tv-specials in Miyori no Mori’s case) are greatly recommended if you’re looking for a relaxed slice-of-life movie, just don’t expect to be blown away. The tournament at the end of the movie was nicely done, although it would have been better to see more different contestants (some who actually weren’t some kind of reincarnation of Beethoven). Still, this movie did what it set out to do, and that’s enough to make up for two hours that won’t disappoint.