Image copyright: © Patora Fuyuhara, HOBBY JAPAN/Principality of Buryunhild

Of all the items he could bring with him to his new life in a fantastical world, Touya Mochizuki from In Another World With My Smartphone chose his smartphone.

One day God mistakenly struck dead the 15-year-old boy Touya Mochizuki with a lighting bolt. As compensation, God gives Touya a second life in a new world and allows him to bring one item of his choosing. Without any hesitation, Touya picks his smartphone, the clear choice of any modern teen.

We love our smartphones. They allow us access to the Internet and keep us connected with our friends and family at all times. So, Touya choosing his smartphone to take with him to his new life isn’t all that odd. Granted, the first thought is how is he going to use it in a world that doesn’t have cell towers, let alone modern technology. But, there’s a fascinating work around for that. God basically allows Touya’s smartphone to work. However, this raises an interesting question about the premise of the series, can Touya really not let go of his smartphone?

Image copyright: © Patora Fuyuhara, HOBBY JAPAN/Principality of Buryunhild

Consider the fact Touya is given the chance to live a second life in a new world. And with a little help from God, his physical abilities are also raised above the average person. But, he still wants his smartphone for some reason. There’s little comfort in having it either as all he can really do is call God, surf the internet (but not leave any comments or messages) and use a map application to navigate this new world.

While these are nice perks for Touya, the benefit of having a smartphone is the ability to connect with anyone and everyone around you at all times. It’s one of the many reasons why we abhor returning to technologies like flip phones—they lack the same usefulness a smartphone has. But, with only a few functions available to Touya, we can’t help but think he wants his smartphone because it’s a symbol of his old life. After all, his smartphone is essentially a glorified map and book that serves little use for him in his new life.

Yet, if we examine the smartphone in the series in a different light, it becomes an interesting tool that allows Touya to keep up with the news from his home. For instance, in the first episode, we see him reading an article about a band breaking up. It’s a very small thing, but the ability to read these sorts of news articles actually allows him to adjust to his new life more smoothly. Think of it in these terms: Moving to a new place prior to smartphones or even high-speed Internet meant you were, in essence, cutting off ties to your old life. But now, with these technologies implemented in many parts of the world, it’s much easier to keep in touch with old friends and family or even keep up with current events from places all around the world. For a teenage boy like Touya, this is really important, especially the last bit. While he may not be able to return to his old life, he can still live that life vicariously through the use of his smartphone.

Image copyright: © Patora Fuyuhara, HOBBY JAPAN/Principality of Buryunhild

There are even greater ramifications to having a smartphone in a fantastical world as well. Because Touya has access to the Internet, he can literally retrieve any sort of information he needs, be it schematics and blueprints to all sorts of technology or simple fixes to household objects. That’s a powerful tool because information really affects our lives in countless ways. Take in the first episode when Touya uses his smartphone to find a recipe and the process to make ice cream. Rather than cataloging the information to his memory, he uses a helpful tool to store and retrieve it. That’s an impressive feat in a world that lacks that sort of technology and instant access to all sorts of knowledge. So, dependent as he may be on his smartphone at first, what it has done is allowed him to use his brainpower for other more important matters.

It may seem as though Touya is dependent on his smartphone when he chose to take it with him to his new life. And the few times he uses it is a good reminder in how dependent we all are on this technology. But, at the same time, it’s an amazing reminder in why Touya, and by proxy us, enjoy the technology: instant access to all sorts of information.

In Another World With My Smartphone is streaming on Crunchyroll.

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