Heart-warming short stories
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