Songs to Make You Smile by Natsuki Takaya is an anthology of short stories mostly written when the mangaka was still honing her craft. Natsuki Takaya is the author of the wildly popular manga Fruits Basket. I bought Songs to Make You Smile because I love the mangaka’s other work. It did not disappoint.
The short stories in this manga anthology are all shoujo and most of them are about romance. There are four stories unrelated to her other work, and one that is connected to her title Tsubasa: Those With Wings. Like so many of this mangaka’s work, the emphasis is upon accepting yourself for who you are and valuing your strengths.
- The title story is a charming piece about a boy who isn’t very good at expressing himself except through music.
- The second story is about a young girl who lost her father recently and is now living with her young stepmother. She worries about her future and feels uneasy while wondering about whether her father ever loved her.
- The third story features a young musician trying to find confidence in his unique skills while trying to come out from under the shadow of his parents’ fame.
- The fourth stand alone story is about a young man who enjoys girly crafts but shows his manly side in his love for a girl.
- The final story in this anthology is a funny side story to the Tsubasa canon. It’s a riff on the classic fairy tale of Snow White.
This collection is very sweet and enjoyable. The drawing is similar to that of Fruits Basket. The characters are almost uniformly slender and delicate. The costume choices are sometimes unfortunate, especially that of the character on the front cover — what is that? Yuck. However, the use of different layouts and formats helped tell each story at its own pace. I liked that. The author notes in the sidebar were fun and allowed the reader to know what the author was thinking when she wrote these stories.
I recommend this book for everyone who enjoys coming of age stories and gentle romance. The last story is laugh out loud funny. Go get your next fix of Takaya Sensei until the next Fruits Basket comes out.
This is a manga and the text is read right to left.