It's one of those anime that actually makes you feel the summer heat and smell the sweat on the characters. Makoto Isshiki is probably better known for his Hanada Shounen Shi, an urban fantasy(?) about a primary school boy who gained the power to see ghosts through his near death experience.
While Hanada portrays reality through the supernatural, Piano no Mori portrays magic through realistic settings. An unused piano dumped in the middle of a forest clearing alone calls up a picture from the fairy tales. How music transforms Kai's life and how Kai influences the young musicians' lives are nothing less magical.
There are no explosions, almost no violence (there are children and drunken brawls) a perfect movie for the summer and family time.
The main contrast in the film is the young pianists' different approaches to music. Kai portrays the ideal approach that parents want their children to have. Yet what emerges under parental "guidance" (read: pressures) is usually Shu. Both boys are serious about their music, yet Kai's love is simple while Shu's involved a little too much outside forces.
What Shu said at the end of the film "Without meeting you, I surely would have hated piano." resonated. I was one of the kids forced into piano classes. I didn't meet anyone like Kai. I hated the piano and ran away as soon as I saw a chance.
Everybody needs a Kai to remind them what genuine love for a craft means. Kai is available at Play-Asia.com. Come order a DVD and spend some quality time with your children, grandparents and friends you know from piano class.