On the Way to a Smile is a series of short stories taking place between the time of Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VII Advent Children. Written by Kazushige Nojima, the first story (Case of Denzel) was released in episodes on the official Japanese Advent Children website, while the series was released in its entirety in V-Jump‘s Final Fantasy VII Advent Children Prologue book.
The first four chapters are told indirectly through the perspective of Denzel, the young orphan featured in Advent Children. Johnny, the bumbling regular of Tifa’s 7th Heaven bar from the original game, has opened up his own bar in the newly built city of Edge. One day Denzel shows up in Johnny’s store to have a private meeting with Reeve Tuesti. He has requested an interview with him in the hopes that he may become part of Reeve’s newly formed World Regenesis Organization, an army devoted to rebuilding the planet. Denzel then goes on to tell his life story, including how he became an orphan, the events leading up to his becoming afflicted with Geostigma, and how he came into the care of Tifa and Cloud. He also offers a firsthand account of the events of the fateful day when the Lifestream emerged to save the planet from Meteor. The second short story consists of Tifa’s account of the events following Meteor’s destruction, overlapping in part with Denzel’s story. This part of On the Way to a Smile helps to uncover some of the mysteries surrounding the beginning of the film, including identifying its setting and offering further insight into Cloud and Tifa’s respective feelings for themselves and one another. A third On the Way to a Smile story was released with the North American limited edition box set of Advent Children. It involves Barret and his struggle with having a weapon for an arm, and trying to find a new energy source for the people of the world, the story also gives insights for the rest of the AVALANCHE members’ lives after the events of Final Fantasy VII.
Advent Children Complete includes short stories in this series from the perspective of Yuffie, Red XIII, Rufus Shinra, and the Lifestream itself.