When the Heavens Smile (of 1) (Mania.com)

By:Julie Opipari
Review Date: Friday, September 03, 2010
Release Date: Saturday, July 31, 2010

The heavens would frown after reading this bland collection of BL stories.

Creative Staff
Writer/Artist: Aki Senoo
Translation: Melanie Schoen
Adaptation: Melanie Schoen

What They Say
Takagi, a rather cute and innocent guy, is best friends and classmates with tall and intellectual Kumoi. One day, Takagi is stunned to find a sketch of a man who resembles his dead older brother between Kumoi's notebook pages. Takagi tells himself that Kumoi couldn't have possibly known his brother and that this was just a silly fluke and the drawing was nothing but a random drawing... but he can't stop thinking there's something more to the sketch.

The Review!

Technical Review:
One look at the cover of When the Heavens Smile hooked me.  It’s so cute!  Takagi has an impish smile, and Kumoi, true to his character, is glazing at his friend with a much more reserved expression.  I wanted to know more about these guys, but as I delved into the book, I was left disappointed.  I did not care for the interior art nearly as much, and found Aki Senoo’s illustrations clunky and unexpressive.  DMP put together a nice, trim book, but the stories in this BL anthology are weak and unimpressive.
Content Review:
When The Heavens Smile is a lackluster collection of BL stories that just did not click for me.  It was a struggle to make it through the book, and none of the chapters was very memorable.  The combination of blocky art and  uninspired character interactions definitely left me wanting more.  This is often a problem that I find with anthologies; the stories are usually so uneven that they have a hard time holding my attention. 
“Fragment” gets things kicked off, and this was the strongest story for me.  Love blooms over a whistled song fragment, and a chance encounter between schoolmates leads to romance.  “That Which Falls From Heaven” was the next best, in which the ghost of Takagi’s brother complicates his relationship with classmate Kumoi.  For me, the biggest drawback to this short story collection is a lack of depth.  None of the situations engaged me, or even compelled me to keep turning the pages.  The only thing that did keep me going was a desire to be finished with the book so I could move on to something else, and that, obviously, is never a good sign.  Aki Senoo’s writing style just is not my cup of tea. 
In Summary:
I am very disappointed with When the Heavens Smile.  The chapters that make up this collection of short stories lack both depth and emotion.  The dialog is trite and the character interactions lack romantic tension of any kind.  Despite the appealing exterior, the interior contents did not live up to my expectations.

Mania Grade: D+
Art Rating: C-
Packaging Rating: B+
Text/Translation Rating: B
Age Rating: 16 and Up
Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
MSRP: 12.95
Pages: 200
ISBN: 9781569700525
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: When the Heavens Smile