In Another World with My Smartphone, Vol. 15

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.

Readers of Smartphone will be delighted to hear that absolutely fuck all happens in this volume. I say “delighted” because readers of Smartphone have by now realized the inverse quality ratio: the books get worse the more that there is actual plot in them. For an example, I point to the 14th volume, or any of the others where Touya commits genocide and then says “la di da”. (He says that here as well, but it’s for the running gag.) But when Touya spends the whole time wandering around the world seeing what’s going on, helping out a country or two for the heck of it, and continuing to be the blandest light novel protagonist to ever get nine wives to want to marry him… it’s surprisingly decent. I will ignore the Native American stereotypes we get towards the start, mostly as they don’t get nearly as bad as Realist Hero. No, this is just Touya chilling.

I mean, obviously SOME things happen. We continue to see that there are people in this world who do not like Touya or his nation in it. They try to use a magical wood that causes beasts to go insane, but are discovered and stopped almost immediately, because that’s the kind of light novel you are reading. Touya helps another country (with the aforementioned Native American types) from attacks by giant squid, and shows them how delicious squid can be when cooked. There is a second beach party, which reminds the reader how frigging big this cast has gotten. (Honestly, even WITH the cast list at the start, I’m still trying to recall names much of the time.) And the rsverse world is still fighting the Phrase… or rather the new Golden Mutant Zombie Phrase, thanks to that annoying God. The actual Phrase are (try to contain your shock) holed up in Touya’s castle eating snacks. That said, Ende wants to get stronger, and so the God of Punching Things, who looks remarkably like Ryu from Street Fighter, something that is lampshaded, is there to help him (and Elze) get stronger.

Again, this book is never going to actually be good, but when it’s not jokingly having Touya be callous as fuck, it can be fun. It’s like walking through your favorite trashy dollar mart. I was amused at how there’s a suggestion that Touya may have been seduced and the fiancees’ reaction is essentially “we know you don’t have the guts”. We keep swapping out fiancees to try to give them equal screen time, which works better when there’s character development, but I’ve given up on that. Everyone is what they are. We also meet the Mikado of Eashen, who turns out to be a gorgeous young woman but thankfully does not appear to end up in Touya’s orbit. Oh, and Yae’s brother gets to prove he is manly enough to have a fiancee.

As I said, there’s nothing that really happens here. It’s a bunch of normal, boring old Smartohone antics. Which makes it one of the safer ones to read. I admit I’d kind of like to see the wedding soon, though, but I suspect I have a few more volumes to go.

In Another World with My Smartphone, Vol. 14

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.

Well, you can’t blame the author for nothing happening in this particular volume of Smartphone. it’s very plot-heavy, with the Phrase coming up front and center and Touya also finding out that he’s going to be getting a lot more responsibility pretty soon. What’s more, the Reverse World gets another look-in, and that and Touya’s world may soon be much closer to each other than is really comfortable. Indeed, some of the Mutant Phrase (the ones influenced by the God) are now invading that world as well, and it doesn’t have its own Touya to come in and save the day… yet. And Touya still finds time to help out a kingdom that is at war with another. For once the entire ruling class aren’t poorly written sneering villains. But we do get a few of them. Whoever said “fat and ugly”, you sure know your Smartphone. Hated it before, still hate it. Light novel authors have to write better villains.

The main non-Phrase plot that happens here is that Touya is now the main “god” for this world, meaning that he needs to fix what’s going wrong with it (the Phrase invasion), or else the God of Destruction is going to destroy the world and everyone in it (bar Touya’s fiancees, who will be spared I suspect as they worry about his sociopathic tendencies already). This includes the Reverse World, which eventually is going to merge into the same world with Touya’s own. (Both worlds are flat, which helps.) This also means he has to get the Spirits on his side, who have mostly been absent from the series to date but as long as we’re adding to a cast that already numbers in the hundreds, why not? Getting them on his side involves the female spirits loving him and the male spirits hating him as a “harem bastard”, basically. But he can beat them up, so we’re all good. Oh yes, Touya also has his usual “ew, gay” reaction too.

I’ll gently glide over Touya’s helping two kingdoms in their war, except to note that the enemy kingdom’s chief knight turned out to be Ende, who’s become a little bit Brainwashed And Crazy. As Touya and company gets more powerful, so are the Phrase, and Ende ran afoul of another set of stock characters in these sorts of stories – Evil Twins. Fortunately for Touya, he has also now located the Phrase Princess, who is imprisoned for her own safety, but this does allow her and Ende to have some cuddle time. Speaking of which, the location of the Phrase Princess’ core, as well as getting it removed, was probably one of the more well-written parts of the book. And I also liked Yumina reassuring Touya about his godhood – Yumina is still “first among equals” among the fiancees.

Smartphone is, at heart, a very conservative series, despite the polygamy. Given I am not conservative, it’s not surprising that I frequently find myself infuriated with it. And no, everyone lampshading with a smile when Touya is ‘evil’ doesn’t help, really. That said, I can’t bring myself to drop it either. I’m hoping for less stock villains next time and more things like Touya building cars.

In Another World with My Smartphone, Vol. 13

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.

Smartphone continues to be a series with two very different types of interlocking plots. The first is the “main” plot, showing Touya battling the Phrase, deducing what’s actually going on in this world, and traveling to other worlds and having adventures. The second is Touya basically wandering around, goofing off, and leisurely talking with everyone in his kingdom. The problem is that the author is very good at the second thing but consistently falls down on the first. Oh, the Phrase battle was pretty good, except for one consequence which I’ll get to later. But when Touya comes back to the Reverse World, he promptly runs into a villain. Stop me if this surprises you… the villain is insane to the point of mad laughter, gleefully kills tons of innocents, and is also a bit of a sexual deviant. Touya learns that her personality might be degraded due to the golem she’s contracted with… but then undercuts it by saying “no, I think she’s like that anyway” so as not to upset readers with that fetish. Guh.

Sorry to say that despite the cover we do not get to see Touya and his fiancees racing early 20th century cars around the kingdom here. The majority of the book is supposed to be the Festival that Touya set up last time, and we do get to see the front end. It’s pretty fun, with baseball tournaments, shogi tournaments, lots of shops, lots of food. Touya gets to walk around with a fiancee or two, chat, and just be his usual bland self. It’s refreshing, and it makes it more entertaining when he has to actually try hard NOT to be his bland self. The best joke in the book has him walking with Hilde, one of his more insecure fiancees, and having to reassure her that he loves her by saying it out loud. This gets back to the others… and he now has to say it to all of them, something which causes him to nearly break down in embarrassment. It’s really cute.

Unfortunately, despite setting up for an entire festival (and even bringing God down from Heaven), the Phrase show up somewhere in the smoking remains of not-China and Touya and his mecha army have to go take them out. The plot here is actually interesting. The Phrase seem to be having a civil war, with Phrase that have been infected by the evil God killing the non-infected Phrases in a way that reminds me of the old Dalek civil war in Doctor Who. We also see the return of Gila, the arrogant Phrase construct who looked to be a reoccurring villain… till Touya killed him here, cutting that off pretty rapidly. Touya also has to use God powers to do it, meaning afterwards he falls unconscious… and we miss the entire rest of the festival as a result. This really irritated me, especially as Touya rattled off all the stuff that happened in a couple of paragraphs.

So, cute but also frustrating, bad villains but good fiancees and a bland hero who is at his best (and worst) when he tries not to be bland. In other words, typical Smartphone.