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Isekai wa Smartphone to Tomo ni vs. KonoSuba: Mo Magic, Mo Problems

August 11, 2017

 

Isekai wa Smartphone to Tomo ni (In Another World with My Smartphone) and Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku! (God's Blessings on this Wonderful World!) are two anime series with a few things in common, aside from both having preposterously long names that I will henceforth refer to as Smartphone and KonoSuba, respectively.

 

Both have the same basic premise: a modern, young, Japanese nobody dies, and divine forces allow him to live on in a world that resembles a RPG (magic, experience points, monsters...you get the idea). But the similarities end at the genre and formulaic structure:

 

KonoSuba is a hilarious subversion of all the tropes associated with the genre. Sato, the "hero" was a NEET who died ingloriously and has found himself in another world trying to defeat the demon king in typical, start-with-nothing RPG fashion. He is also a selfish loser whose misanthropy would fit in better at Paddy's Pub than 7th Heaven (if you get both these references, you deserve a gold star!)

 Aqua is an equally selfish goddess with terribly underwhelming powers (most of the time), no underwear, and her nervous breakdowns from the voice actress Sora Amamiya are some of the funniest moments from any anime, period.

 Megumin is an underage mage (underage mage would be a great name for an alt rock band) who only can do a single, devastating spell that incapacitates her for 24 hours, and refuses to learn any other magic. Also she writes "Excalibur" on the main character's penis as a prank while he is dead. What other show has that, I ask you?

 

Lastly, Darkness is a knight who is a masochist. It's a unique and hilarious spin on all the paladin stereotypes of moral fortitude that adds just one more layer of humor to this delightful show.

 

Conversely, Smartphone is the worst anime I've seen this season.

 

Touya is killed, same as Sato, but he isn't upset. In fact, he isn't any emotion. Ever. He's so flat and mundane in an attempt to be a relatable every-man, that he makes Doug Funny look like Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver.

 

And after dying, who does he meet, but God. Not some anime deity...he meets Yahweh in the flesh, and he feels so bad for accidentally killing him he gives him a smartphone, a new magical world to explore...and ALL THE MAGIC POWER.

 

Seriously. All the power. Touya can do anything he wants. As such, he never struggles, he never worries, he never says or does anything wrong. All the conflicts he faces he resolves immediately with some magic solution he pulls out of nowhere. To go back to Doug...there's an episode where he and Skeeter are making superheroes and Skeeter's is the worst Mary Sue ever envisioned...well, Souya is the Silver Skeeter.

 

 

And all this because he is BFF's with God. Remember in the Bible when Jesus is on the cross and he laments: "My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Well, probably because He was playing mini-golf with Souya or something.

 

Souya meets a gaggle of girls who are impressed with his Mary Sue powers and inexplicable humility, and all follow him around solving problems for kings and princesses in the span of about thirty seconds. I'd name the girls but they are equally two-dimensional and generic, so who cares.

 

 

Lastly, the biggest issue: the title. Yes, Souya brings a smartphone to this medieval-ish fantasy land. And it doesn't do anything. Seriously. He uses it to find a few things, but it's nothing compared to his infinite skill with magic. It'd be like calling Lawrence of Arabia "A Motorcycle Ride in Britain." One tiny element of the story doesn't make the story.

 

Bottom line: Konosuba is a unique spin on the fantasy genre. Smartphone takes color-by-the-numbers formulae and actually simplifies it until there is nothing to enjoy or appreciate. It's a fantasy nobody would fantasize about. The world doesn't seem big enough, and Souya's goals aren't hard enough to create conflict.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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