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In Another World With My Smartphone (2017)

Kids today- you can't get 'em away from their phone, or so the cliche says. In the case of teen protagonist Touya Mochizuki it's true though. So much so that he takes it with him into the next life. In Another World With My Smartphone opens with Touya coming face-to face with a bearded gentleman who identifies himself as God. Over a cup of tea, he explains to Touya that he is dead, apparently due to some sort of error on the Big Man's part. Touya seems to take this news in his stride. By way of an apology, God announces he has decided to give Touya another chance, and transport him to another world, and to grant him one request. Touya's choice? To be able to take his smartphone with him.

In Another World With My Smartphone is adapted from a series of light novels written by Patora Fuyuhara and illustrated by Eiji Usatsuka, and is animated by Production Reed. It originally aired between July and September of 2017 and was streamed on both Crunchyroll and Funimation.

Although adapted from light novels, the world Touya finds himself in could easily come from any RPG video game. It's a pure fantasy world, with magic, warriors, fairies and demons. He quickly teams up with a pair of twin adventurers (who are of course, both cute girls) and sets off on a series of quests which will see his party grow to include a samurai, a princess, a fairy and several more (who all also happen to be cute girls, naturally).

The idea of introducing modern technology to a traditional fantasy story actually has real potential. Depending on how it's used, it could be used to explore some really fun ideas. Unfortunately, the series never really does anything very interesting with it at all. A couple of times he learns to do something by looking it up online, or uses a maps app to find someone- and even at some point uses it to talk to God- but that's about it. On the other hand, it would be very easy to imagine it going the other way and over-relying on it as a crutch, so at least it avoids that particular pitfall.

One of the issues is that because our technology doesn't exist in this world, Touya's phone is only able to work through magic. And once you introduce magic, the technology aspect becomes pretty much irrelevant. As part of his apology,God has enhanced Touya's abilities and made him a powerful magic user (as well as ramping up his intelligence and physical prowess). By the time Touya is using portals to transport himself and others around and magically pulling bikes and guns(!) out of thin air, what need does he even have for his humble phone?

Touya is so ridiculously good at everything that he is has to be one of the most overpowered protagonists out there. At times it's like watching someone play a game with all the cheatcodes enabled. There's never any sense of peril or really any mystery how he's going to overcome any obstacles that come in his way.

Then again, the series is generally less concerned with the fantasy and action elements than it is with Touya's growing harem. Despite being a typically bland charisma-free self-insert style lead, virtually every female character he comes across is quickly smitten and follows him around like a love-sick puppy. The characterisation is shallow, but at least the designs are cute enough. It's all pretty standard stuff, with the requisite trips to the beach, wardrobe malfunctions and fan service. It does, however, earn some points for actually moving the plot on at the end and a pretty audacious way of solving the question of who our hero will choose. At least Touya isn't actively unlikable as a lead.

This show is ultimately a piece of male wish fulfilment, primarily for 15-year-old boys. There's nothing particularly wrong with that in itself, and this is a generally well-made and polished example of what it sets out to do.  If you're a fan of the genre or the set-up appeals you'll likely still find much to enjoy. However, if you go in expecting something more, or hoping for a series that will make the most of an intriguing premise- then expect to come away disappointed.

FORMAT: BLU-RAY/DVD Combo | Streaming. FROM: FUNIMATION RATING:  15 [UK] RUNNING TIME: 12 Episodes [TV Series]

IN A NUTSHELL:  The animation is cute enough but this soon descends into standard Harem Hi-jinx that squanders some smart ideas.

*Review discs supplied by Fetch Publicity/Funimation UK*