"Heaven" is a company. The job of the "Messenger of Death" is to deliver the souls of the dead to heaven. The Messengers of Death are ranked according to ability. Uka, a "Rank C" dropout, is normally an average, easy-going high school girl. One day, she is teamed up with Tsumugi, one of the "Rank A" arrogant elite! (Source: Midnight Scans)
Also includes the one-shots: Kimi Oto and Hane Oto
Soraoto is a short shoujo/fantasy/supernatural story about angels who shoulder the responsibility of escorting moribund souls to heaven (since apparently they've never heard of reapers). At any rate, it's a simple enough premise, but what lends it a heartwarming edge is the heroine, currently in her third year of training, who has far too much of a conscience about her task and befriends the souls she's supposed to escort, exposing her status as a messenger of death and generally flouting protocols willy nilly, causing all sorts of troublesome situations for her higher ups, some of whom end up charmed by her infectious optimism and exuberance.
this isn't strictly a romance title, there are a few elements of chaste affections here and there which eventually develop into a full fledged romance by the end of the two volumes. The core of the story revolved around the young angel Shinohara, her flailing antics which constantly land her in a soup, forcing the hand of her reluctant knight-in-shining-armour Tsumugi and how despite his best efforts to maintain a strictly working relationship of mentor and student with Shinohara, he unwittingly ends up as something more.
Art is beautiful and very laugh-out-loud funny in humorous or ironic panels, if a bit cluttered and shoujo-esque with the large eyes and crazy length ponytails. The bishounen however are drawn very sharp and ethereal at the same time, making it hard to look away, drawing you further into this mixed up student/angel universe. Backgrounds are pretty threadbare most of the time, but the expressions, actions and crazy over-the-top gestures of the lead heroine more than make up for anything you might find remiss.
Characters are a strong suit with Takamiya Satoru's titles. Originally very obstinate, colourful and full of vigour, both Tsumugi and Shinohara mature while becoming more vulnerable, compassionate and interdependent (perhaps a bit more lovey-dovey?) by the end of 8 chapters. While character growth and development is subtle, you'll still enjoy the bickering, the physical comedy and the constant chastising poor Shinohara is subjected to at the hands of all her seniors yielding comical results and outrageously offended expressions from her side!
Initially I was a bit turned off at the fast pace of the story. You're sort of expected to understand all the nuanced workings of the plot from the get go without much preamble, but by the end of the first chapter you get the hang of things and are able to keep up with why certain characters behave the way they do and their motivations and respective agendas. Maybe this is the mangaka's way of weeding out lazy readers? This initial challenge gives way to a quirky universe where the rules aren't all set in stone and unpredictable actions, some comedic soul searching (see how I made a pun there? Angel's are supposed to be searching for souls on earth but they give into a little Soul Searching of their own? No? Hmm tough crowd!) and surprising developments will keep you engrossed till the very end.
Overall B+: I While I enjoyed the story for its art and humor, it's not replete with doki doki moments so hardcore romance enthusiasts may give it a miss. Others interested in the behind the scenes working of heaven may find this take on the soul-escorting business quite entertaining and worthwhile through the eyes of the adorably flawed, but certainly not annoying Shinohara.