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.