In Another World With My Smartphone, Vol. 2

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.

First of all, yes, as expected, this volume is not quite as gloriously readable as the last one. It’s hard to keep lightning in a bottle, especially when it’s trying to hit that sweet spot of “awful yet immensely readable”. (I am aware the author is not going for awful, but just work with me here.) And so there are moments where the reader rolls their eyes rather than smiles, and one large section at the end where the reader may be actively pissed off. But given the absolute low bar this series is trying to clear, it manages pretty well, and occasionally even evolves by pointing out its own silliness. Smartphone will never be good, but it can still be fun.

Despite the presence of the not-Fujibayashi twins on the cover, this is still very much an ensemble work, though the ensemble mostly watches Touya show his stuff. Let’s see here… first of all, the smartphone is in fact used more in this book, as promised. Mostly what he does is combine it with his magic so that he can take out multiple enemies via the map function. He’s also rewarded for the events of the first book by the King, which means moving to the royal city and setting up house in a giant mansion, complete with butler, two maids, a gardener and cook, and two security guards. The maids are combat ninja maids, because of course they are. The gardener and cook are married, because of course they are. The two security guys are called Tom and Huck, something so amazing that even Touya can’t look past it and comments on it. Given the book also features characters named Linze, Lim, Leon, Laim, Leim, Lapis, Lyon, Leen, and Renne (who I can only imagine is romanized with an R because the translator finally got completely fed up) we should count ourselves lucky.

The book works best when it revels in its cliches. Touya is overpowered as all hell, though even he needs a tiny bit of help to take down a giant dragon (but only a tiny bit). He gets a mansion to live in with his harem, but is oblivious to all of them. (They at least seem to have come to terms with their feelings for him, and Yumina seems to be organizing them.) His magic impresses even the Queen of the Fairies, he can defeat the battle-crazy King of Beasts (who looks like Prince Phil from Slayers if he were a giant snow leopard), he can invent email in his spare time, and he can also take in adorable orphan thief girls who are clearly also long-lost royalty and make them maids. The reason this works, for once, is because Touya is such a blank. If he were confident he’d be insufferable, if he were mopey he’d be unreadable. It’s only because he’s casual about literally everything that he gets away with it.

That said, when he ISN’T like that things go south fast. There are two short stories at the end of the book. My guess is they were taken from the early days of the webnovel, and it shows. Leaving aside the fact that the premise of the second story is “let’s melt the clothing off all the female cast”, Touya is actively seeking this, thinking that he’d actually like to see their semi-naked bodies. This flies in the face of the rest of the book, where Touya’s lack of awareness of his harem as anything but family is lampshaded repeatedly by Yumina and the others. I get that sometimes you need to pad the novel out, but not at the expense of the main character. Skip this story. But otherwise, Smartphone 2 is pretty much a lot like Smartphone 1: cliche-ridden but fun to read.

Oh yes, and he makes an extendable gun sword from scratch. Because of course he does.

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