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.