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May 17, 2010

Bento Bako Weekly: Songs to Make You Smile

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Written by: Kristin
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Title: Songs to Make You Smile
Author: Natsuki Takaya (Tsubasa: Those with Wings, Phantom Dream)
Publisher: TOKYOPOP
Volume: A single-volume collection of short stories throughout Takaya’s career; $12.99
Vintage: The stories are collected from various times in Takaya’s career, but were put into this form in 1999 in Japan, and in May 2010 by TOKYOPOP
Genre: Romance, drama; safe for young teens

Songs to Make You Smile, and this is going to sound totally cheesy, is sure to make you smile.  Reading the book reminded me why Natsuki Takaya is one of my favorite mangaka.  The stories are simple, gentle, and warm.  The kind that give you a warm fuzzy feeling while reading.  Every Takaya fan should pick this up, because what you love about her stories permeates every page of this book.  Let’s take a look at the short stories that make up Songs to Make You Smile, shall we?

“Songs to Make You Smile”: Stoic Atsushi Takahashi is the singer in the pop band he formed with his high school friends.  He has trouble talking to people and voicing his feelings, but has no problem expressing himself through his music.  His classmate, Anzu Nakata, also has trouble expressing herself, having been traumatized by bullying in middle school.  Will Anzu hear Atsushi’s feelings through his song?

“Ding Dong”: After the death of her father, whom she had a tense and awkward relationship with, Chisato finds herself living with her new step-mother, unsure of her future.  She feels she is a burden to her step-mother.  A sweet story about finding proof that you are loved.

“Voice of Mine”: A talented violinist, Inagaki worries that he is only lauded because of his famous musician parents, and that he lacks his own voice.  A fellow violinist named Futaba lacks the technical skill, but has a genuine sound when she plays.  Can they help each other understand their own unique voice?

Adelaide, representing the Magic Mirror, insists that Princess Dark Black be brought under control in the Tsubasa bonus story from Songs to Make You Smile.

“Double Flower”: Suguru Tachibana is a young man who likes sewing, making quilts, curtains, stuffed animals, and other traditionally girlie things.  He’s in love with Makoto, the girl who sells his creations, but she tends to go for more “manly” guys, so he holds in his feelings.  A visit from his brother’s step-daughter might give him the courage he needs.

“Tsubasa: Those With Wings Bonus Fun Chapter: Princess Dark Black”: Sort of a retelling of Snow White, reminiscent of the “Sort of Cinderella” story line in Fruits Baskets, where the characters put on a warped version of Cinderella.  A wildly out of control fairy tale using the characters from Tsubasa: Those With Wings.

All in all, it’s a lovely collection.  Any Takaya fan should love it, though it also makes for a good Takaya sampler. The art varies, of course, as it spans her career, but I can really only complain about the art for “Ding Dong,” which is significantly rougher than the rest.  One of my fellow manga bloggers did the copy editing for this, and I can’t say that I was really bothered by the text like I normally am, so she must have done a good job.  Congratulations, Daniella, on one of your first credited published books!




  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Comic Attack, Kristin Bomba. Kristin Bomba said: New review: @TOKYOPOP's Songs to Make You Smile https://comicattack.net/2010/05/bbwsongstomakeyousmile/ #manga […]

  2. Billy

    Neat cover. This sounds like an Elton John song. 😀

  3. What’s “mangaka”?

  4. Tsk tsk Andy. I know I’ve explained this before. It’s the creator of a manga. Manga for…manga. And the suffix “ka” means expertise and authorship. So, a craft master, or creator. The person who both writes and draws a manga (there’s another term for the people who are only the artist, or only the writer; remember that a lot of manga, unlike American comics, are written and drawn by the same person).

  5. […] (Panel Patter) Johanna Draper Carlson on vol. 1 of Neko Ramen (Comics Worth Reading) Kristin on Songs to Make You Smile (Comic […]

  6. […] (Panel Patter) Johanna Draper Carlson on vol. 1 of Neko Ramen (Comics Worth Reading) Kristin on Songs to Make You Smile (Comic […]

  7. Ahhh, ok- that makes sense.

    And hey, I can’t remember all these crazy words!!

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