Super Smartphone is a title that really didn’t last very long. I suppose 23 chapters is still enough to cross the 20 mark but even still it’s a shame. It had a ton of potential and could have really ended up being a great title. It starts off trying a little too hard to be like Death Note. You have the really quirky detective like L but one who comes off as eccentric for no real reason and then Kyu as the rational genius who is lacking in emotion. Gradually the series started to find its own identity and even got a whole villain group…but then the series just ends. I’ll give the author credit for this though, he didn’t throw in any time skips or a rushed ending. It just ends as the battles are about to start although it mentions they will eventually come up with more chapters in the volume release to be scanned at some point.
The series begins by introducing us to a genius named Kyu who is super depressed. His younger brother went missing when they were kids and is presumed dead at this point. Now Kyu struggles to find the energy to do anything and just sleeps through life. One day he finds a special phone in his bag, a super smartphone if you will. It tells Kyu that it can search for anything in the world so on a whim Kyu uses it to search for a little girl who had been kidnapped recently. The phone is able to find her and Kyu manages to save her life just in time. Naturally he uses it to try and find his brother but mysteriously an error message prevents him from looking anything up about the brother.
The phone is cryptic about why the brother can’t be searched but does say that Kyu should start earning points. You earn points by using the smartphone and morality isn’t considered. For example using the phone to hack into someone else’s phone will grant you points and doing other things that a normal phone couldn’t possibly do. Kyu then uses his genius intellect to figure out that this implies other people have smartphones as well and it’s a race to the top. Whoever gains an unknown amount of points first will win. Earning points also unlocks new features of the phone like the ability to shield yourself from electronics and scanners. The downside to this is that this can also make it obvious who you are if you shield yourself too much. Kyu is also a a disadvantage because he doesn’t aim to commit any crimes with it while the others will without a second thought. Can he pull this off?
So like I mentioned earlier, I believe what hurt this series and got it cancelled is that it’s trying too hard to be the next Deathnote at the beginning. For example you get long conversations with the phone saying something cryptic and Kyu going off on a speech about how the phone let a lot of things slip with that one sentence. Yeah it can come off as smart but often times it also feels like he is making massive jumps in logic that only just so happen to turn out to be correct. It doesn’t hurt him as a character, I actually like his confidence quite a lot. It just feels like the author is taking shortcuts in making this a very cerebral series.
So what changes in the second half? It becomes a bit more of a thriller series. It’s still about the mind games of course but now we’re getting active battles between geniuses like in Phy Brain as opposed to the classic game of cat and mouse. This works for Super Smartphone a whole lot better than the former approach and really gets things moving in the right direction. The concept of a smart phone battle against others who can hack everything as well is just really interesting. The series does a good job of exploring the ins and outs of that too as each character has to be careful in how they attack. One user may be physically strong like a body builder, one might be rich and have a company to protect him. Others could be kids who never really use the smartphone and this makes them difficult to detect.
It should go without saying but you can’t tell anyone about the smartphone either or it will vanish and you are out of the competition. As long as you have the phone it is easy to get rich and achieve all of your desires but at the same time it also means you will be a massive target so that’s something that you will have to really think about. I’d say you could have made this a fairly long 100+ chapter series with the hero trying to find each owner every 20 chapters or so until you’ve found them all and had a big climax. I’d also expect them all to be fighting each other a lot and making for some good 3 way battles. You can’t really trust anyone with a smartphone after all so that would make for some really fun battles.
The art here is pretty good. It’s actually better than I would expect for an initial series like this. Unless the artist already did another series which is very possible, I tend to forget kind of quick who drew what but this looks like an experienced veteran. The chapters are really easy to read at least. The writing is good too. It may use some shortcuts but on the whole it does capture my attention which is important. I wasn’t bored during the read at all and it makes for a really good marathon.
Kyu is a good lead. He’s confident in his deductions and wants to find his brother which makes for a good character motivation. He does tend to get depressed quickly and while he usually bounces back sometimes it takes longer. It feels like this would have become a longer character arc if the series kept going. Like the way he represses his emotions on a daily basis makes the outbursts worse or something. In the end he starts to learn that sometimes you also need physical power in addition to your mind which is an important lesson. Yeah it would have been fun to see how he did in the battles to come.
His childhood friend Yuika doesn’t get a huge role but I bet she would have been appearing more if the series went on. She’s nice enough and always tries to help Kyu out. She’s just kept in the dark on the smartphone business so there is only so much that she can do. Then we have Nagi who is the L of the series. She’s got a bit of a temper and doesn’t believe in playing nice with people. She’ll jump into her statements right away and delivers them bluntly. She is unable to keep up with any of the smartphone holders at all though. We know she is a genius as they keep saying this a lot but it would be nice for her to get some wins. It’s understandable that she would be at a disadvantage for now so maybe they would build it up as her getting more wins down the line. Perhaps it’s realistic but she was a big underwhelming the whole time.
The main villain of the series is Zenichiro. He’s the first enemy smartphone user to make a move and the fun part about him is that he’s a rich millionaire celebrity. So even without the smartphone he had a lot of power. Just think of everything that he can do now that he has one? The possibilities are near endless and it makes things interesting for the battle with Kyu because beating him intellectually just won’t be enough. You’re going to need some muscle to get past his bodyguards as well. Zenichiro is also super confident in himself as well and it makes him a tricky opponent. The guy has a good amount of character development and was a lot of fun here.
Then there is Moura who is the worst villain in the series. He’s the classic not very smart guy who tends to get into trouble and is being manipulated because of that. I like the idea of not every owner being a genius but can’t we have a villain who is just of normal intelligence? I know they would probably get wrecked quick but it would be better than someone like this. Yes Moura gets a sob story and a lot of emotional character development but I never really ended up caring about the guy at all. He just came and went in an instant. He’s gone and then it’s time to move on.
Imura is super devoted to Zenichiro which is his whole gimmick so I can’t say that I was a big fan either. I mean it’s great that he’s loyal but the guy comes across as super desperate the whole time. You roll your eyes when he’s on screen because Zenichiro is so mean to the guy and doesn’t hide his disgust but Imura doesn’t realize this. I guess he’s not a genius in the situations that count.
The series ends as two of the other smartphone characters are introduced in Boken and Rei. Rei is a really timid character so she’s going to have a tough time in these battles so it’s good for her that Boken is here. Boken is smart and also a good fighter so physically he’s ready for anything. It’s safe to say that he’s not a super genius like Zenichiro and Kyu but he knows enough to get around and is used to using his phone. I expect he would have been a fun friend/rival to have around. He had a good first impression with me at least.
So in the final chapters we see that there are 12 smartphone users in all and we’ve only bumped one of them off. That means there are still 11 and the series was gearing up for some kind of round table elimination game. It’s all vague so we don’t know what it was but they mentioned something about voting others out. If it was an Among Us type game where they had to vote people out in each round that could have been really interesting. Almost like a Liar Game setup but the conditions and win criteria weren’t explained yet. We only just met all of these guys in quick one shot panels before the series ended. Then suddenly there were also aliens involved in the mix which was an interesting wrinkle.
I love the idea of aliens and such just running in to cause trouble and mess with humanity but it is an odd thing to add so suddenly at the end. They seem to have super powers that make them way too much for humans to deal with too like the ability to possess others and freeze people in an instant. Maybe this was actually going to take a really unexpected route and be an action series instead. One thing’s for sure, there was a lot of potential here so hopefully it gets a sequel series soon. If not, maybe the last few chapters will do more with this but at least it’s an epic cliffhanger to end things off with. This is the kind of ending you want to see as it keeps on building your hype for a sequel.
I do think the twist about what the smartphones are at the end was really lackluster though. I don’t think it was thrown in at the end because it was cancelled. To me this was planned from the start but eh….I wasn’t really into it. It could make things more personal in a way but since the A.I. are pretty much emotionless and just serve as devices the twist doesn’t enhance the story. I think doing it more like Wixoss would have been a lot more effective in having each device really feel truly unique. Who knows maybe that would be an upgrade once you got enough points, it’s hard to say.
I’d also like to see more 3 way conversations like the first battle with Zenichiro if we get a sequel. With 12 users out there or at least 6-7 left that we haven’t seen there should be ample opportunity for that. I did like the phone conversation quite a bit and that was before the series really hit its stride. So focus on fun dialogue battles like that in a tournament type setting and you’re all set. You could even structure it in a debate sense like how this one was about convincing the detective on who to trust. Do that in a battle where you have to convince the other smartphone users on who to vote out and we’d be seeing a lot of great dialogue.
Overall, I’d recommend checking this title out. It’s got a lot of detailed dialogue to really get you interested in what’s going on and the premise is unique. A super smartphone is a cool invention and I would like to see Shonen Jump try more cerebral series like this. With how successful Death Note was you’d think more series would be trying to give that type of story a big push and yet it doesn’t really happen. I guess it’s hard to not just jump in with another action series and of course I won’t complain about that since I love my battle titles but you could still do more like this. Of course it’s always a debate on if you should check out a series that’s been cancelled but I always recommend it. You’re seeing a story that didn’t make it all the way through and it’s nice to try and figure out why people didn’t like it and what it could have done differently. For the record, they should have introduced the 12 owners right away to set up this grand battle of wills right off the gate. It would have totally removed the Death Note comparisons and it’s also the most interesting part of the story so you would get everyone hooked immediately. At least if you ask me that’s the right way to go about it.
I know JP is very strict on not using brand names in fiction, but Googugu just sounds hilarious to me. Sounds like baby talk for Google and totally at odds with the thrill/mystery setting.
Ha, yeah that name’s definitely not very serious at all, they probably should have just come up with a totally made up word instead and that would have ended up working better.