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.