In Another World With My Smartphone Episode 6
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 6 of
In Another World With My Smartphone ?
One (of many) fundamental problems with Isekai Smartphone's storytelling is that we have no information on who Touya was before his untimely death and transportation to the fantasy world. Since he seems amazingly at ease with the whole situation, we have to wonder: Did he have any friends or family he left behind? What state was his life in that he was fine with throwing it all away and starting over? Did Touya commit a horrific crime only to stumble into this fortunate escape into an alternate realm where he will never be brought to justice? We may never know.
As I ponder these questions, Touya begins this episode by being given a friggin' house in lieu of knighthood. The show parades around Touya's sweet new digs and its staff of servants, maids, security guards, etc, with no thematic purpose or flair. Once again, if we knew enough about Touya's past life, such as him being homeless or stuck living in a tiny apartment, this might be a triumphant success for him in his new exceptional existence. But we don't, so it's not.
Touya asking his gaggle of groupies to move in with him also leads to the central thread of this episode and additional gift he's been granted by the plot gods, as it becomes increasingly clear that every one of the women in his party are developing feelings for him. Now, harem setups can work as story conceits, even if the premise is played-out, but there has to be actual conflict over how the relationship with the characters will work out. It's already been established that polygyny is an accepted relationship setup in this world, so Touya's option of marrying them all has been on the table from the word go. It renders the incredibly flat squabbling over Touya's attention even more meaningless than a rote harem setup would in a better series, treated as just one more cool thing on Touya's pile of cool things.
With that red string of stupidity running through the whole plot, the rest of this episode concerns Touya and his boring brigade escorting demi-human diplomats cross-country in the name of opening up teleportation routes. This brings up even more questions about Touya's powers and the people he's ostensibly serving at this point in the series. Frankly, the show might actually be interesting if anyone in the story acknowledged how absurdly overpowered Touya was. Representatives from rival or enemy kingdoms could try to earn his favor or sway him to their side to gain power. Heck, he only ended up working for these guys because they were closest to where he happened to travel, and we haven't seen anything of their governance to indicate that they're fair or just rulers. Is Touya actually aiding oppressive imperials who don't care about the serfdoms under their feet, getting houses and waifus from bloodied hands? (Perhaps Isekai Smartphone is a darker series than I give it credit for.)
Reflecting his ubiquitous superpowers, Touya's smartphone does get trotted out again this episode just to showcase how needless the other escorts in this situation are. (I'd honestly almost forgotten about it.) It's another reminder that the series could succeed as a showcase of Touya hacking his way to the top of the world if it just leaned into that element completely, but it doesn't. What we do get are more vapid and pointless harem hijinks. The show heavily exploits Touya's classic harem protagonist denseness over his fangirls' feelings for him, and the three characters who aren't Yumina don't even have individual agency in their pursuit of him; they speak and act as one unit in this episode, like anime girl versions of Huey, Dewey, and Louie. At least it's inadvertently funny that the one thing Touya's team will actually criticize him over is that he won't recognize how much they all want to jump his bones.
For the myriad of issues brought on by Isekai Smartphone being its same lame self, it miraculously does manage to do some things right this week. The vignette storytelling falls by the wayside in favor of the ongoing escort arc, and the pacing is tightened up nicely as a result. There's a B-plot about one of the guards getting a crush on Olga, the demi-human diplomat, and it works just because those characters demonstrate a semblance of personality and internal conflict. Touya's assistance with the whole issue is decently interesting to watch too, though you will question why a guy so supposedly ‘dense’ can immediately figure out what girls want so long as they're not in his strike zone.
The strongest point of the episode comes at the end, where our flavorless fellowship finds themselves fighting a dragon. Just from the start, the music and sound design surrounding this fight is quite cool, and because we come in on the beast destroying a village, it actually feels like a battle with stakes for once. There's suspense over whether they'll be able to save everyone, and Touya actually manages to fail in an attack at one point, which is immensely satisfying to see. Overall, it's a cut above what we've come to expect from the show, and I hope it can pull this type of thing off moving forward, lest I worry that I'm only succumbing to Stockholm Syndrome for these cardboard cutout characters.
In Another World With My Smartphone is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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