In Another World with My Smartphone, Vol. 8

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.

Sometimes I wonder if the author of this series is even aware of the disquieting implications of what he writes. At times it looks like he is. The start of this volume has Touya discovering, at last, the Library of Babylon, with its ridiculous number of ancient scripts. Leen, who is over the moon about this, proposes to Touya on the spot. Touya is rather nonplussed by this, as is the reader, because in the last seven volumes we’ve seen nothing that puts Leen on the same level as the other girls in love with Touya. Indeed, later on the rest of the fiancees confront her and express doubts as well. It’s nice to see the author realized he didn’t really do enough foreshadowing. Sadly, the entire situation is resolved in about three paragraphs, after which she’s given a pass. So maybe the author is not as aware as I’d like.

That said, Leen is now a fiancee, which means she gets the main bonus of Touya turning into a raging villain whenever anyone threatens to rape her, something which happens a lot more in this series than I’d like. Again, because Touya is so bland of a protagonist, the fact that he’s casually cursing evil mooks with curses that are brutally horrific gives the reader a giant sense of disconnect. We also get more examples of his ridiculous power here, though that’s downplayed by the occasional bout of stupidity he has, like “oh, right, I really should give my kingdom laws”, or “maybe I shouldn’t have gone off somewhere with my new fiancee and not told any of the others.” (This also allows Leen to be blushy and embarrassed, which honestly seems grotesquely out of character for her.)

The plot, as with most Smartphone books, is divided into three. First we get the discovery of the library and its bookaholic maintainer, as well as Leen’s proposal. Next, young dragons are attacking cities, and it’s up to Touya and company to teach them a lesson. Finally, there’s a new dungeon that’s been discovered, leading Touya to do some dungeon crawling, something he really hasn’t done in his series, as opposed to most isekai titles like this. This leads to the discovery of a slaver ring, which Touya needs to break up. Oh, and we also have the Storehouse and its dojikko maintainer. Side stories include Leen needing to get permission from the fairies to get married, which mostly involves her upset kohai, as well as Regina Babylon, who does a lot in this series despite being dead, tricking Touya and company into playing an embarrassing real-life board game, which is mostly an excuse for fanservice. It also allows Touya to briefly have a libido, something he only seems to gain in these side stories.

Again, Isekai Smartphone is one of those series you’ll enjoy if you’ve enjoyed previous volumes, and after briefly making me think it would turn it up a notch has settled back down into “not good but entertaining”. Which is fine, I like being entertained, but don’t think I don’t notice the major characterization issues on display here.

In Another World with My Smartphone, Vol. 7

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.

This s another volume of Isekai Smartphone, with all that that entails; the work is almost review-proof, as no one would be reading Vol. 7 of this series without knowing exactly what it’s like. The main cast continues to have the depth of tissue, but I think depth might actually hurt the series more than it helps. No one wants to see Touya angst and brood about what he is becoming. Is he god? Is he man? Who cares? He can build the Great Wall of China, or its fantasy equivalent, in six days. (One presumes that on the seventh day, he rested.) He can also tell us about his little known piano lesson backstory, which allows him to build a piano (grand, of course) so that he can bring out Sakura’s hidden singing talent. No one reads Smartphone to see Touya be dull. Well, I mean, he is fundamentally dull, but you know what I mean. He doesn’t do dull things. Smartphone is rarely boring in that respect.

There’s one new character, but for the most part what we get in this book are characters we briefly saw previously returning for a more expanded role, starting with Hilde, the knight that Touya saved in the previous book. She’s since fallen head over heels for him, and upon hearing of his more recent exploits (more on that later) goes to see if she can be his knight… and his bride. Of course, then she meets Yae, who is also a fantastic swordswoman and already married to Touya, and realizes that there’s no way she can be anything but a carbon copy. (She gets her “shy tomboy” personality more from Elze.) Fortunately, who Touya loves is not really his own decision, mostly as he’s so kind and easygoing to everyone. And so his “Bride Council” decide that she’s acceptable. And so she’s bride #7. Two more slots! That said, Pam, the Amazon woman also from a previous book, will not be getting into the harem. She doesn’t love Touya, the one big requirement. She just wants his babies.

We also get the Goddess of Love, who has come down from heaven supposedly to look for an errant God, but mostly to mess with Touya’s love life. She declares that she’s his older sister Karen, and the rest of the cast, who Touya still hasn’t told anything about his past, accept it relatively easily. She’s the classic “slightly immature big sister” type, happily dishing out advice (some of which is actually good!) and also dishing dirt, as she’s fully aware of Touya’s life on Earth before he was killed. We also get his *other* older sister, the Goddess of Swords, who we hadn’t met before but who seems to fit in quite well. She’s great at tactics and combat analysis, but less so at other socialization. As for Touya himself, it’s brought up that he’s becoming a God himself, something he tries not to think about too much. Given the occasional flashes of rage he gets whenever someone hurts one of his fiancees, I’d be worried if I weren’t sure the author was absolutely not going to go there.

As for the plot, the book is essentially divided into three. The first part deals with a massive invasion by the Phrase, far bigger than anything we’d seen before. Fortunately, Touya now has a bunch of Gundams that he can use in the battles, and a large quantity of people trained to use them. He also has Ende, who leaps into his own Gundam clone faster than you can say Kaworu Nagisa. Ende may not do much other than exposit and run, but I’m still amused by him. That said, the Phrase are essentially just bugs, as Touya himself says. We need a more obvious villain, because what’s Smartphone without the bad guys being OVER THE TOP EEEEEEEVIL! And so we get the Nation of Yulong, which is a stand-in for a Nation here on Earth that should be obvious. The word “bashing” applies liberally here, as the Yulong Nation prove to be scummy in every possible way. The rest of the book is more sedate, as the second part is Hilde’s Bride Introduction, and the third has a tournament arc, as Touya won’t sire Pam’s children but will help her tribe win a competition.

The plot may be getting away from the author a bit – we met no new Gynoids and got no new parts of Babylon in this book, and Leen was totally absent as well. Still, it’s enough Smartphone to tide us over for now. The series is ridiculously plastic and shallow, but I honestly love it just for those very qualities. It’s the light novel equivalent of eating a bag of Skittles.

In Another World with My Smartphone, Vol. 6

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.

Last time I said that the volume was jam-packed, and that goes double for this one – if I didn’t know this was based off of a webnovel, I’d start wondering if the author was being told to wrap it up. The anime’s last episode spoiled the fact that Touya would eventually end up with nine wives, and now the light novel does the same thing, though we only get one “official” new fiancee at this point. But if the first volume of Smartphone read like “Baby’s First Isekai”, then this one s the isekai of a hyperactive teenager who wants to tell all the stories at once. So Touya gets to help take down ANOTHER evil usurper, and we get to fight more magical beasts, as well as more of the enemy Phrase, who continue to be lurking in the background as a threat. I’d say the book is just watching Touya be cool, but honestly half the time it’s Touya passively watching the other women around him be cool – something he lampshades.

It’s sometimes difficult to know what to actually criticize with this series, as to a certain degree being exactly what you’d expect is part of its charm. For all I talk about the “strong female characters” in this series – and we get even more of them introduced here, including Battle Maid Training – they have the depth of paper. But so do the male characters, so everything’s equal there. More seriously, I am very grumpy about the villains in the first half of the book. I know that a lot of Japanese works seek to make the villains as bad as possible, and the evil prince here gets some rape and murder, and is also a pedophile. He’s also described as ugly and with a bowl cut, and his mother is described as ugly and fat. That’s far more annoying, and I didn’t like it at all. (The afterword implied it was deliberate, so no excuses.)

As for new things, Sue is now a fiancee, though Touya admits she’s really too young, so it’s more provisional in order to stop the evil guy. (There’s a brief line about the years in this world being much longer than our own, which I wish were made a bit more explicit.) We’re also introduced to a young woman Touya rescues from near-death, who has unfortunately lost her memories (Touya names her Sakura for now), as well as a genuine Princess Knight named Hildegard, who Touya rescues from some Phrase and gives cool swords to. At the moment, they’re both basically laying down new plots and then moving on, but again, anime watchers will likely recognize the faces. Touya also helps fight against counterfeiting, brings caramel corn to the world, and fights monsters that turn people to stone, which serves mostly as a way to give Some Lu fanservice (and remind the reader that Lu exists).

So everything’s Smartphone as usual, and honestly, I suspect I’m more grumpy about the villains being stereotypically “ugly and fat = evil” than the average reader will be. Those who have already read the book will note I left out the most important part of it. I like to think I’m saving it as a surprise for the reader. Let’s just say that Smartphone is moving ever closer to becoming Mazinger Z.