In Another World with My Smartphone, Vol. 19

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

It’s never a good sign when people keep asking why you’re still reading that series as you tweet about it, but that’s what’s been happening for me with this Smartphone, which seems to have worn out its welcome for everyone but the most hardcore of fans. It’s not a bad question, why do I read it? Especially given the beginning of the book, a reprehensible pile of crap that involves getting a unicorn horn, slutshaming the entire female cast while ALSO having them insist they’re all virgins, and finally ending with a “ha ha, he was gangraped by men and now he’s gay” joke. I recommend just skipping the whole chapter. After this, thankfully, it does improve, and indeed it feels like the author may have been told to wrap this up soon, as we’re resolving one of the remaining storylines, as everyone in the world, including Touya and his fiancees, battle the wicked god and the wicked Phrase that has allied with it.

The fiancees are getting a bit impatient, wanting to actually get married, but Touya has decided not to do that till the whole “evil from another world coming and killing people and destroying their souls” thing is death with. The first half of the book involves preparations for this, including the aforementioned horrible scene. They slowly purify the world with the help of a “puretree” (no worries, fans, this tree is a virgin too) and, unexpectedly, help from Luna Trieste, the Himiko Toga of Smartphone, who thankfully gets locked away for the rest of the book. The second half of the book is the battle against the Mutant Phrases, evil normal Phrases, the evil NEET god, and Yula, the Phrase who set this ball rolling in the first place. Even more unfortunately, Touya gets sealed off in a pocket dimension away from the battle. Can our heroes win without their OP husband-to-be?

Credit where credit is due, the plan that Touya has to counteract this sort of attack is very clever indeed, and I was impressed. It also helps that he tells Yula about the plan with a line that is so cheesy you cannot help but laugh out loud. I like this series when it’s being big dumb. That said, surrounding it is a lot of the same old same old. There are mecha battles, there are guns being fired, there are near misses… and, in the end, Touya does actually save the day. I mean, it’s his series. Aside from the battles, which do take up a good 2/3 of the book, we get Touya becoming more comfortable with being a god (which is why his initial attacks didn’t work well – he was too attached to humanity) and getting more comfortable with actual love and affection (he’s snuggling his fiancees without even turning red!).

So in the end, this is another volume of In Another World with My Smartphone. It has crappy and offensive rape jokes, but on the bright side, Touya doesn’t commit genocide here. If you’re reading it, keep going, you know what you’re getting. If you haven’t read the series but you’re thinking of reading it, Christ, no.

In Another World with My Smartphone, Vol. 18

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

Any Smartphone book that manages to put Touya in actual danger is automatically more interesting than most. This one actually does it twice. Not that anything actually happens to him… remember what you’re reading. But the Mutant Phrase descend with an anti-God weapon that is so poisonous that it takes Touya out for three days, and later on an inadvisable attempt at waking an ancient weapon results in time literally being rewritten to make sure it didn’t happen… something Touya is aware of but no one else is. Unfortunately, neither of these crises serve to move Touya beyond his typical bland facade… generally the only thing that can do that these days is mentioning love, as per most awkward overpowered male leads in isekai. Sadly, the weddings are still a fair ways away, but at least we’re seeing a number of other plots starting to come together. Could the end be in sight? (Probably not.)

At the start of the book, the regular Touya world and the Reverse World finally merge together, and much of the rest of the volume is spent dealing with the political fallout from that. It does not help that the bad guys choose this moment to launch their ‘anti-Touya’ poison attack, which destroys one of the kingdoms we’d seen previously. (Not Touya’s own hand this time, so that’s good.) We actually get a few Phrase battles this time around, including Ende getting his revenge against the evil twins who mopped the floor with him last time. And we finally get an idea of what happened back in ancient times when the Phrase first invaded, and hopefully a way to avoid it happening again. In between there’s the usual wacky slice-of-life stuff… a young idiot prince comes by to show how strong he is and gets his ass kicked; Hilde’s sister fights a dragon; Sakura sings Freddie Mercury songs. The usual.

I admit, much as I grouse about the series when it’s doing things wrong like having Touya be history’s greatest monster, when it doesn’t happen there’s very little TO talk about in a review of Smartphone. Touya is bland. His fiancees, though they have more emotional range, are equally bland. There’s the royalty of the neighboring kingdoms… they’re pretty bland as well. This is sort of like a “slow life” series without the slow life part. The author says that we’re going to be fighting the Evil God next time, which is good, because when there are fights at least something is happening on the page. The wedding might also help, but that’s still a few books away. That leaves us with Touya wandering around doing Touya things, which is… boring. Dull. Nearly getting killed was the best thing to happen to him all book.

The series is still worth reading for the tiny little things that make it bearable – Sue’s Hammer Throw was great – but I suspect most readers, like me, are waiting for Touya to get married and simply paddling along ill that happens. 2 out of 5 Smartphones this time around.

In Another World with My Smartphone, Vol. 17

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.

As with so many prior volumes of Smartphone, the lighter and fluffier the series gets the better it is. As such, let’s start with the less light and fluffy stuff, which is mostly towards the end. Touya and company get themselves involved in a murder mystery in another country, one that is – as with many countries we’ve seen in this series – having a succession crisis. Unfortunately, they’re being manipulated on both sides by what’s left of Yulong, the country taken out mostly by the Phrase in a previous volume. They say Touya did it, which he denies. This is true, but perhaps acting like a smug asshole and killing off the royal family part might be some of the reason. But this is Smartphone World, meaning that the bad guys are all REALLY REALLY EVIL, so it’s OK. This was my least favorite part of the book, mostly as Touya, who is passive at the best of times, is really unlikable as a passive killer.

The best section of the book is, without a doubt, the Mario Kart race. Now, names have been changed to protect the guilt,y but that’s essentially what we have here. Touya is asked to hook up the nerdy engineer price we saw in a previous book with another princess, who also turns out to be a nerdy engineer. They love the sweet cars – erm, Ether Vehicles – but disagree as to exactly how they should be modded, and so get really angry at each other. Clearly a race is the answer, and with a course designed by the Mad Scientists of the book, it’s gonna be Mario Kart. The main reason this is so fun is that Touya spends most of the race grumbling and not doing well, and then is the first one eliminated. Given that Touya is the standard perfect hero who an do anything (and is a literal God by now), this pleased me. Also, the couple bond over their cars and fall in love. Aww.

In between we have the rest of the book. Another country is wiped out by the Phrase, but this time in the reverse world. What’s more, the Red Cats base is destroyed, so now they’re in Touya’s universe. Which is going to be irrelevant soon, as the next book promises to have the two universes merge for good. Oh yes, and Touya also helps save a mom ‘n daughter diner from the forces of eeeeeeeevil (another typically broad villain from a series that can only write broad villains) and gives his spy/sex worker friend a magical panther to be her bodyguard. The other notable part of the book is Ende, who was introduced as the enigmatic know-it-all who gave Touya important info, and has somehow become comic relief, abused by his love interest and his teacher. How the mighty have fallen.

Should you read this volume of Smartphone? Well, if you’ve read the others, sure. It’s not a good jumping off point if you want to stop, and certainly has a good cliffhanger. I’d read it for the go-kart race.