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.