Welcome, all, again. Have you ever noticed how when somebody has a good idea, you suddenly see it everywhere? And there is neither a pretense of originality nor apology offered for blatant intellectual theft. Indeed, the popularity of the original idea becomes the justification for its almost thoughtless imitation (read as regurgitation). In writing, this is called plagiarism. In the rest of the world, it’s called business as usual. But occasionally–so very occasionally–an imitation appears that is worthy of the original, being more of an homage than an embarrassment. And that perfectly describes the subject of today’s review, In Another World With My Smartphone.
So, how about having an anime about a character who can die and return to life? You know, like in them there vidja games! In fact, why not model the storyline on the basic formula of those very games, with quests and parties and weird weapons and abilities. . .oh, and we’re probably gonna want some of those monsters and such. And some of the hottest gals who ever walked around perpetually single but just waiting on the right guy. See, now we’ve got a game! Er, I mean, an anime.
And it’s not even as if this recent spate of shows is the first time the subject been covered. But just recently we’ve had Konosuba‘s two seasons, as well as Re:Zero–Starting Life In Another World, which won numerous awards. Konosuba came first, following the comedic misadventures of Kazuma Sato and companions after his death in our world. Offered an ability or item of his choice with which to be reincarnated into an RPG world, Sato chooses the goddess Aqua herself, who is handling his reincarnation. And that might have been a brilliant–even inspired–choice, were Aqua a little brighter. What might have been, right? Then Re:Zero arrived with its much more serious slant and, to be honest, I was not a fan. I guess Konosuba had spoiled me, but Re:Zero seemed to be trying too hard–to me, it had no heart, and I stopped watching just a few episodes in. True, Re:Zero had some beautiful artwork and did a yeoman’s job of character development, but I just never really got into it. Maybe I’ll try again, sometime.
But now we’ve got In Another World With My Smartphone, and I’m loving this show! Touya Mochizuki awakens to find himself in a private meeting with God, who explains that he accidentally killed Touya with a lightning strike. By way of apology, God offers to reincarnate Touya into a magical world with the added benefit of the gift or ability of his choice. Touya immediately requests to bring his smartphone with him. God agrees and, somewhat taken aback by the smallness of Touya’s request, enhances his other abilities (such as strength, magic, etc).
Touya then awakens in his new world, and immediately puts his smartphone to use for directions. Moreover, denizens of this world consider Touya’s smartphone to be a type of personal magic that only he can use. But it turns out that with God’s extra oomph, Touya can use just about any type of magic available, making him very unique. This, in turn, draws attention, but not all of it is unwelcome: Touya has only to walk down the road, and girls seem to fall out of the trees and land at his feet. Talk about enhanced abilities! But whatever might those girls see in him? That is, beyond his exotic foreign charm. And his overwhelming powers as a mage. And his surprising physical strength. Oh, right–on top of all that, his smartphone allows him to impress the girls with his cooking! His cooking! Now, I know God was feeling bad for Touya, but he really went and stacked the deck on this one. But Touya nonetheless remains humble and helpful, so maybe we can overlook a little overcompensation. Maybe.
This is a fun show, a tongue-in-cheek send-up of RPGs and the anime that they’ve inspired. And it approaches the situation from an entirely different perspective than does Magical Circle Guru Guru, another RPG-inspired show: Touya is the nigh-invincible hero exploring his capabilities, whereas MCGG‘s Nike is the disinterested straw man, the hero’s reluctant proxy. And speaking of disinterest, it’s seems that In Another World With My Smartphone is turning into something of a harem show. So far, though, that particular aspect has been prevented from becoming obnoxious, and this series remains a quietly witty and enjoyable–if predictable–bit of fantasy.