In Another World with My Smartphone, Vol. 1

By Patora Fuyuhara and Eiji Usatsuka. Released in Japan as “Isekai wa Smartphone to Tomo ni” by Hobby Japan. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Andrew Hodgson.

It’s a bit difficult to know where to begin. I guess I’ll start by saying that by the end of this book, I was enjoying it immensely and had a big smile on my face. The second thing I should say is that this does not actually make the book “good” in any sense of the word. For a few years I’ve had to review the occasional awful manga, and people have sometimes asked me “do you mean that it’s bad in an MST3K way or bad in a bad way”. Sadly, I’ve always had to say that it’s actually the latter. Most terrible things are not remotely entertaining. In Another World with My Smartphone is an exception. Every ridiculous power the hero has, each new cliched heroine that appears, every time the plot rearranges itself so that everything is as “awesome” as possible, and most importantly the complete lack of any sense that things are about to get difficult for anyone makes this book bad in an absolutely wonderful, hilarious way. Everyone who says Kirito or Tatsuya are overpowered self-insert wannabes need to read this immediately.

I should lay out the plot here, though if you have read any isekai you’ll get the gist. Touya (no, not the Touya from Mixed Bathing in Another Dimension, though I now wonder if the name has significance for isekai works) is accidentally killed by a lightning bolt. He’s granted an audience with God, who offers to reincarnate him in a fantasy world where he can have adventures. Touya, a modern thinking sort, asks if he can keep his smartphone, and God obligingly allows it to remain working and gives it unlimited battery. He then arrives in a new world, where he quickly meets up with Kyou and Ryou Fujibayashi… (cough) sorry, with Elze and Linze, two beginning adventurers who he joins forces with. Joining an adventurer’s guild, he gradually adds incredible powers, more cute girls, and heroic feats that make everyone’s jaws drop. In fact, the author literally apologizes for not using the smartphone enough in the first volume – why would Touya need it, when he can fight like a champ, use every single kind of magic, and summon Heavenly Beasts that then become adorable tiger cub mascots?

This is taken from a webnovel, and it’s really, really obvious. Usually with most conversions to published works they at least try to get rid of the excited sense of “I’m going to put absolutely everything into this book!”, but not here. Touya has impossible magic powers. Touya can read the moves of other fighters so he’s able to dodge or counter them. Touya can heal the blind. Touya can solve crimes, provided the suspect is an obvious cliche of an evil Duke. Touya is so pure of heart that the Princess of the land immediately falls in love and declares that he will be her husband. (Touya’s complete panic at this idea is possibly the best he’s written the whole book, and I hope (probably in vain) that future volumes throw him off his game like this.) Touya can read ancient scripts (just like Bob Hope and Steve Allen!), and can make magical reading glasses to allow other to do so. Touya can even accidentally look as if he’s been to a brothel and get lectured by all his girls, because this is still a harem comedy. Is there anything Touya cannot do? Sadly, yes. Touya cannot stop his friends’ menstrual pain. Some things are simply beyond any power.

I mentioned Touya’s purity of heart, and I think the same thing applies to the book as a whole. The reason that this is fun bad and not bad bad is that it’s so innocent of the normal cynicism you tend to see in these works. I joked on Twitter that this was “Baby’s First Isekai”, and that’s not far off. I think authors are allowed to write this sort of thing to get it out of their system. Being mean to it would be like kicking a puppy. There’s apparently an anime of this coming in the summer, and I cannot WAIT to see how the typical male anime fan who hates Kirito is going to react to this. I think I’ll bring popcorn. I’ll also be reading more, because this proved to be insanely fun. Which makes it a big success after all.

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