12th Manga Division Grand Prize
Piano no Mori (Piano Forest)
An abandoned piano that seems unplayable lies in a forest at the edge of a town. Brought up in this piano forest is an unorthodox boy of genial musical talent. This is the story of his desire to become a pianist and of his encounters with many diverse people.
Reason for Award
There is a piano in a forest. It is abandoned and weather-beaten. However, it is also a grand piano set in almost temple-like surroundings, shining under the moon light. It is a piano in a forest, and it reveals its true sound to only one boy…. The images conveyed in the first scenes are especially wonderful. The sound of the forest piano touches the hearts of many people, changing them. The piano can only be played by a boy called Kai, who has been brought up in a rough area called MORI NO HATA (the edge of the forest). There is another boy, called AMAMIYA. He has been greatly moved, and somewhat shocked, by Kai’s uninhibited piano playing, but still aims to find the perfect style for himself. There is also a girl, called Takako, but nicknamed BENJO HIME (toilet princess). She is trying very hard to overcome severe anxiety and nervousness. All the children in the story have their own particular appeal, and as the story progresses they become ever more attractive. It was a narrow victory over MAESTRO, another classical music themed story. PIANO NO MORI was awarded the Grand Prize because the Jury felt that this work would be received more favorably by a wider range of readers, both on account of its easy-to-follow storyline, and because it has children as its main protagonists. This current crop of musically themed manga is a good harvest from recent years.