In Another World With My Smartphone (Cert 15)
4 Discs DVD/Blu-ray Combo (Distributor: Sony Pictures) Running time: 284 minutes approx.
Kids today – and many adults, let’s be frank – can’t live without their smartphones yet surprisingly this hasn’t been the subject of an anime, until now. But as the title suggests this is not quite the satirical comedy drama it could have been because this is anime, and if there is an established genre or trope-fest they can milk with a fresh twist then they will.
15 year-old Touya Mochizuki is accidentally killed by God via an errant lightning strike and receives an apology from the deity himself. God explains that he can’t send Touya back to his old life (why not, he’s God isn’t he?) but can resurrect him in a new world and start a new life. Touya happily accepts this and when asked if there is anything he needs, he asks for his smartphone to be operational in this new world.
God obliges, allowing for all the functions of the phone to be available to Touya, except for calls which can only God can make to him, and it can be recharged by magic as well as increasing all of his natural abilities to make him superhuman. Touya then awakens in a fantasy land where he sets about learning how to use magic armed with his trusty smartphone.
There is no denying the scope of this premise is enticing and this being anime its full potential would be explored by the inquiring and fertile minds that gave us the likes of Ghost In The Shell, Spirited Away and Death Note. Conversely, anime is also responsible for such titles as Monster Musume, Legend Of The Overfiend and Kampfer – guess which direction In Another World With My Smartphone points?
One look at the cover artwork will confirm all your worst fears or have you jumping for joy depending on your tastes. Yes, it’s another fantasy harem show but this is not its biggest crime – that would be the fact the titular smartphone barely features as the prominent factor it purports to be. Aside from taking photos, being able to track people and substitute a torch, it spends most of its time in Touya’s pocket.
Whilst the world Touya ends up in isn’t given a name in the show, there are regions identified, like Eashen, the equivalent of feudal Japan, and the Kingdom of Belfast where most of the story takes place. After selling his high school uniform to an eccentric tailor, a newly attired and minted Touya seeks accommodation, bumping into twin sisters Elze and Linze Silhoueska on the way.
Through the sisters, Touya learns he is compatible with the all of the magic abilities in the kingdom and can even perform the rare and more difficult Null Magic spells. Well, having been blessed by God he is pretty much the Jesus of this story, sans long hair and sandals. Teaming up with the twins, they take on paid missions such as defeating beasts or transporting items to troubled locations.
Along the way, they add samurai girl Yae Kokonoe, before falling in favour with the Duke of Ortlinde which sees Touya rewarded with immense wealth and his own mansion for helping them out. The Jesus comparison becomes literal when Touya heals the Duke’s blind wife and his poisoned brother, but unlike Jesus, Touya is also betrothed the Duke’s 12 year-old daughter Sushie for marriage, which he manages to have postponed until they are older.
By this time, the Silhoueska sisters have inexplicably fallen for Touya as has Yae, but there is more to come as Sushie’s older cousin Yumina and Leen, head of a fairy tribe, join the list of prospective brides as the kingdom endorses polygamy. Even if Touya is living the dream of every 15 year-old boy, he is level headed enough to realise that he is to young and immature to be a husband to any of them.
Sadly, this is the only sensible bit of thinking in the entire show and it comes surprisingly during the last episode after taking a vertiginous plunge off the cliff from the flimsy storytelling that precedes it. Prior to this, the focus has been on the near invincible Touya and his female followers fighting off ferocious creatures or defusing fraught political situations, by means of charting Touya’s growth as a wielder of magic.
Yet, because he is adept at every magic ability, nothing and no-one is a match for him, rarely needing help from his companions who get stuck in anyway, leaving each encounter lacking in any drama. Operating mostly as standalone adventures with no overarching plot to speak of, other than the expanding harem, there is no investment to be found in a protagonist who can overcome everything with ease.
This adaptation is based on a light novel series by Patora Fuyuhara that is still running today, which explains the isolated direction of the episodes but not necessarily if the translation is faithful or not, given the speed at which the missions are accomplished. The only time the story is continuous is in the final three episodes in which the fan service and prurience, which had hitherto been tacit and mild, goes into overdrive.
It really is like two different shows during these closing chapters, and the prior avoided clichés are brought out of the cupboard, beginning with the obligatory and wholly incongruous beach episode, including the breast size disputes and a stupefying running gag about panties from two late comers to the harem. Worst still, the final instalment ends by hinting a second series which has yet to appear and if it doesn’t, this is a colossal misfire.
Honestly, colossal misfire sums up In Another World With My Smartphone perfectly – a fertile concept wasted, disappointing storytelling, scant originality, clichés and tropes galore, average animation and character designs, what excitement there is in the brief action sequences fails to compensate for the awkward and unnecessary fan service.
After watching this show, you too will question if there is a god….
English Language Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Japanese Language Dolby TrueHD 2.0
Episode 8 Commentary
Episode 2 Video Commentary
Textless Opening Song “Another World”
Textless Closing Song “Junjou Emotional” x 6
Rating – **
Man In Black