Songs to Make You Smile
One-shots are short, sweet and to-the-point. That is what short stories usually are. This is the format of Natsuki Takaya's Songs To Make You Smile. There are four short manga stories with a fifth tie in chapter with characters from Tsubasa, another of Takaya's works. Characters from these short stories are all different, and stand alone. There are a variety of funny, serious, romantic and dramatic situations written into this book that are bound to entertain readers.
The first story is the namesake of this manga, Songs To Make You Smile that talks about Atsushi and Anzu, two socially awkward students who find themselves realizing their feelings for each other in the midst of the school's cultural fair. There is a pop music element to this story.
Ding Dong is about Chisato, whose father had passed away, and she now lives with her young stepmother. In her angst filled adolescent growing period, is there still familial love for her?
Third story, Voice of Mine centers on Inagaki and Futaba, who are both students in a prestigious musical high school. They face adversity and a growing respect for one another as their relationship takes root.
The last main story in this manga is, Double Flower where Tachibana is a man who likes to do girly hobbies, for readers who have read Shoujo Beat's Otoman, this is a similar story with guys having creative crafts abilities. He has been in love with Makoto for a long time. She doesn't know of his feelings, until his niece appears as a surprise guest for a short time.
Readers checking out this book should be of several types. One they are fans of Takaya, from her previous works of Fruits Basket, in spite of the stories in Songs To Make You Smile were originally published long before Fruits Basket. Two, are fans of romantic stories. Three, be a regular graphic novel reader, and on a general level have a short attention span, or don't want the hassle of getting into long multi-volume series.
Reviewed by Linda Yau, August 2010
Below: A double page spread from the manga Songs to Make You Smile (click on the image to view at full size).
Below: Illustrations from the manga Songs to Make You Smile.