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.