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piano – the melody of a young girl’s heart… – The Complete Collection (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

June 24, 2008 by  



“A definitely refreshing anime series that probably could have been a live-action drama.  No sci-fi or anyone with special powers, ‘piano’ is pretty much a an animated drama about teenage life, friendship and family.  Definitely an anime series different from what’s out there because it is more realistic but also quite enjoyable.”

DVD INFORMATION:

DVD TITLE:  piano – the melody of a young girl’s heart… – The Complete Collection

DURATION: 240 Minutes (10 episodes)

DVD INFORMATION: Animated, Box set, Color, DVD-Video, Subtitled, NTSC

CATALOG #: B000FILULK

COMPANY: Right Stuf

RATING: Unrated

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

STAFF INFORMATION:

DIRECTOR: Sudo Norihiko

MUSIC: Kouzu Hiroyuki

CHARACTER DESIGN: Fujishima Kosuke

ORIGINAL CREATOR: Fujishima Kosuke

ART DIRECTOR: Higashi Junichi

Unlock the music within your heart!

Miu Nomura once loved to play the piano. As a little girl, the music made her heart soar and she eagerly shared her songs with all of those around her. Now an introverted teenager, Miu has become too shy to express her feelings – even through her music. Her playing has suffered and her piano teacher, the moody Mr. Shirakawa, has become impatient with her inability to reach the next level.

When Miu develops a crush on upperclassman Takahashi, her best friend Yuuki is the first to notice. Unfortunately, Yuuki’s too distracted with her own emotional troubles – she’s fallen hard for third year track star Takizawa! However, Mr. Shirakawa has also noticed something… a sudden and remarkable change in Miu’s playing. Can he help her rediscover the joy of the piano and find the courage to share her heart and music once more?

Contains the complete series! PLUS! Each set includes a special 12-page Piano: The Melody of a Young Girl’s Heart Booklet!

I decided to give “piano – the melody of a young girl’s heart…” a try because of the title.  I figured that it should be a series that would feature awesome piano instrumentals and as a fan of Japanese dramas such as “Long Vacation” and “With You”, I figured that perhaps I would get the same enjoyment out of this animated series.

Second primary reason for watching this anime series is that its created by Fujishima Kousuke (Ah! My Goddess, You’re Under Arrest etc.) and features his character designs.  As a fan of Fujishima’s work, I’m rarely disappointed and definitely wanted to support his work.

“Piano” focuses on the life of a young teenager named Nomura Miu.  She has become somewhat of an introverted teenager and perhaps from playing piano all the time and getting good grades at school, the things that happen to teenagers starts to kick in.

She has an interest in one of the guys in school, she ponders on how her best friend has a somewhat outgoing attitude and has fun, she thinks about her parents and how her father is busy at work, how her mother copes with her father being busy and also her sister who is working as a tour guide and traveling throughout the world.

Of course, these thoughts are now cutting into her love for piano.  Her piano lessons are suffering and she’s missing classes because she wants to be with friends and she doesn’t know if piano is what she wants to do.  In fact, her piano instructor has selected her to be the student to represent the class for a major piano recital and it stresses her out.

So, each episode is more like taking a peek at Miu’s life and how she views her friends and family and her love or losing love for the piano.

No major cliffhangers, no three-way love triangle, nothing emotionally traumatizing.  Just a straightforward anime on how a young teenage girl is coping with life.

And because the anime is done that way, it’s actually quite refreshing and I really enjoyed it.

Because really, many teenagers go through what Miu had to experience.  Teenage life is never easy and it’s like an emotional rollercoaster.

VIDEO:

The anime was only ten episodes and was aired on television back in 2002.  Aspect ratio is 1:33:1 and it was good.  One of of the reasons why I did enjoy this anime for its animation was primarily because there are so many scenes involved throughout Japan.  From neighborhoods to the city skyline, I really enjoy anime series that are not too stationary and enjoy them even more when their are many types of scenery shown.

The character designs are by Fujishima Kousuke.  The guy is so well known for creating series such as “Ah! My Goddess”, “You’re Under Arrest”, “Ex-Driver” and known for his original character designs for the anime and video games such as the popular RPG “Tales of…” series (Tales of Phantasia, Abyss, World, etc.) and the “Sakura Taisen” videogames.

AUDIO:

I only watched this series in Japanese and the audio came clear, piano playing was clear at the end and one thing I realized is that they captured piano playing by an adult versus a teen or child quite well.  With Miu, her piano playing is not extraordinary as a professional but very good for her age and was happy that this was considered.  Audio is featured both in Japanese and English in 2.0.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
This special set contains The Complete Series, Character Bios, Scene Access, Line Art Galleries, Original Character Sketches, Two Special Epilogues, Four Visual Monolgues, Five Piano Side Stories, Textless Opening, Textless Closing, English Production Notes, and Right Stuf Trailers. I was very impressed by the booklet that came with series featuring “Piano Side Stories”.  The special epilogues featured the voice actresses but most impressive were the visual monologues where the actresses are on location and showing scenes that inspired locations on the anime series.

As mentioned in my review, “piano – the melody of a young girl’s heart…” is a refreshing anime series, simplistic and primarily focused on a life of a teenager who has to make decisions.

The typical anime cliche storylines of harem or love triangles are also not on this anime.

It’s a straightforward series about a teenager who has the talent to play piano but now her personal life, her teenage life of interest in boys, wanting to hang out with friends and be there for them and also to be there for her family has started to become important.  Where does the piano playing fit in and what happens when you start losing that interest?

I found myself watching this series in a marathon setting because I was intrigued by the storyline and although there was no cliffhanger that would keep me watching, the strength lies in its well-told storyline and the fact that all of us who have been teenagers have had the situations the main character, her friend or her parents have been in.

From the little things of losing a household pet and searching all over for them.  To enjoying a hobby as a child but then as a teenager, you start to lose interest.  And most of all, the relationships and bonds you have with family and your friends.

Granted, if you had a crappy life, to watch a series of a somewhat funtional family with a teenager on the straight and narrow may not be your cup of tea.  But all in all, I found the series to be enjoyable, background art to be beautiful and just overall, I found myself hooked to the series and how much thought went into the storyline.  Again, it’s simplistic but yet effective.

All in all, if you are looking for a Japanese animation that is really different from other storylines out there and you want to step back from the action, adventure and emotionally depressing or dark anime out there, “piano” is a series I recommend.

Definitely check it  out!

+ Simple, straightforward and enjoyable

+ Another impressive work by Fujishima Kyousuke

+ Really good voice acting and the piano instrumentals enhance the overall mood for the series.

+ This series could have dragged if longer but creators were smart to keep it at ten episodes

+ Really cool bonus features and a box set that you can find at a low price these days.

– Not for those who do not like simplistic, straightforward anime.  Probably not for those who had a crappy teenage life.

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