Heart-warm­ing short sto­ries

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FRONT PAGE - by mIKA allther­age@thes­tar.com.my

SONGS To Make You Smile is a col­lec­tion of four short sto­ries (plus a fun, bonus chap­ter) by the cre­ator of Fruits Bas­ket, Nat­suki Takaya.

This shojo col­lec­tion of un­re­lated sto­ries, tied by a com­mon theme, is drawn in a won­der­ful mix­ture of old and not-so-old art style.

The sto­ries are about fall­ing in love, ap­pre­ci­at­ing mu­sic, re­dis­cov­er­ing lost love and fam­ily ac­cep­tance. Ev­ery story pro­vokes a smile or a tear. The mes­sages and lessons they con­vey are sim­ple and heart­warm­ing, and Takaya’s beau­ti­ful, clas­sic line art com­ple­ments it well. This may sound clichéd but the manga gives off a nice, warm fuzzy feel­ing.

The first story, Songs To Make You Smile is about Takahashi At­sushi, a high school stu­dent who is also a vo­cal­ist in a band. He con­stantly wears a stoic ex­pres­sion which is of­ten mis­taken for anger, but the truth is he has dif­fi­culty ex­press­ing him­self ex­cept through mu­sic.

Ding Dong, the sec­ond tale, tells the story of Chisato, a girl who feels as though she has never been loved by her fa­ther. To make mat­ters worse, he passed away leav­ing her with her step­mother. Lit­tle did she know, her fa­ther ac­tu­ally loved her dearly.

Voice Of Mine is about a vi­o­lin­ist who fol­lows in the foot­steps of his mu­si­cally-gifted par­ents. He has never been ac­knowl­edged for his mu­sic, and is only recog­nised as his par­ents’ son. He wants his mu­sic to reach out to oth­ers and for peo­ple to feel that his mu­sic is gen­uine.

In Dou­ble Flower, a teenager is dis­owned by his grand­fa­ther and sub­se­quently, his fam­ily, be­cause of his pas­sion for sewing. De­spite this, he de­cides to pur­sue his in­ter­ests and falls in love with a lady he works for.

The bonus fun chap­ter is com­pletely dif­fer­ent in tone. It is a par­ody of Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs and will tickle you to no end. The tale may be be­yond ridicu­lous and too silly to com­pre­hend, but you’d still want to read it till the very end. Takaya’s tales seem to have an irresistable charm and that is one fun bonus chap­ter in­deed.

There’s no need to think while read­ing this manga. There are no com­pli­cated scenes, and no dis­tur­bances or dis­trac­tions in the art. All you have to do is clear your mind and let the sto­ries en­gulf you. These sto­ries will calm you and re­mind you of the finer things in life: peo­ple and the ex­pe­ri­ences they pro­vide you with.

For fans of Fruits Bas­ket, the se­ries that won the Ko­dan­sha Manga Award for the shojo manga cat­e­gory in 2001, don’t hes­i­tate to pick up this lit­tle gem. It will be, with­out a doubt, a de­light­ful read. For those who have yet to ex­plore Takaya’s work, it’s never too late to start. — Rat­ing: 4.5

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