Manga Review - Super Smartphone (すごいスマホ)

There's a new mystery solving manga in shonen jump and it's left everyone asking only one question...

Who wore it better?

Super Smartphone is a manga in which a high school aged genius is presented with a mysterious device that allows him to wield information like a weapon. The device has several rules and restrictions he must follow, some of which have not yet been revealed. Even with these restrictions, the possibilities for great good or great evil are limitless. What will young Kyu (Q to his friends) do? 

I've seen a bit made in the anime and manga circles that this is the next Death Note. While I think it's very likely that this manga draws inspiration from Death Note, I think the two will probably wind up being more different than similar. Which isn't to say that I don't think fans of Death Note won't like it, I just don't think it is going to go where Death Note went in terms of "edge" or plot.

At the time I write this two chapters of the manga are out. A boy named Q is magically gifted a brand new Googugu Smartphone. This smartphone is a square containing an advanced AI that has near perfect information and searching capabilities. In the first chapter we learn that Q is a genius, but he hasn't done much with his talent. It seems that his passion died the day that his younger brother was kidnapped. It has been years since the kidnapping and his brother remains missing to this day. 

Convinced that the phone is a prank, Q decides to test it out. He uses the phone to search for the location of all dropped money in his area. To his amazement, the phone returns a result. To his further amazement, the results are accurate. Q decides to put the phone to work solving the abduction of a girl from his neighborhood. With a series of clever searches Q is able to find the missing girl and tip police off to her location. 

When Q tries to search for information on his younger brother, he is blocked. The phone reveals that Q must accumulate Googugu Points by using the smart phone to complete tasks in order to unlock certain features. Q accepts the challenge. The game is on. He will find a way to use this super smart phone to solve the mystery of his missing brother, and maybe help some people along the way!

Already the tone is much lighter than Death Note's. Q doesn't have Light Yagami's psychopathic tendencies. He doesn't seem to take pride in manipulating people. He has a childhood friend who gives him guff and tries to look out for him. He is a much more straight forward, likeable hero with far less anti-social goals. 

In Chapter 2 we can see a little more where the story may be going. Q uses the phone to solve a few more crimes, and to figure out what his classmates are up to. He gets a few points and finds out that he if he accrues the maximum number of points he gets to keep the phone permanently. Until then he must gather at least 12 points per week to retain custody of the phone. 

We're also introduced to an antagonist cybercrime officer who wants to know where this mysterious informant is getting all this information from. It's hinted that there may be more Googugu users out there competing for the maximum. The story ends with a bunch of people showing up to riot with the advanced knowledge that the city's going to experience a blackout. I suspect this is the result of an evil Googugu user. 

If my suspicions are correct than far from being another Death Note, Super Smartphone could actually be an interesting take on Shonen Battle Manga. Instead of physical combat, the fighters will engage in various kinds of information/cyber warfare. That is an intriguing idea, and a much needed departure from high schoolers fighting demons that the genre needs to take. Putting my excitement aside, I could foresee some challenges. The main challenge being what I will call "The Dr. Stone Effect."

Manga based on mind games and mysteries are always intriguing and they always start off well, likely because their writers have had a lot of time to plan the first several chapters worth of puzzles before they pitched the series. As the manga catches up to the prepared material, though, and the mangaka must puzzle in real time we run into a consistency problem. 

Dr. Stone started off strong, each step in his creation of new technologies was relatively well explained and plausible, even though it may have required the occasional miracle. As the technology (and the series) advanced a lot of handwaving needed to happen to keep things moving. Things that were simple to explain were explained in detail and things that were complex were glossed over. Plausibility was thrown out the window. The wit that drew me into the series just wasn't there anymore, or it wasn't there consistently enough for me. 

For now, I would recommend checking out Super Smartphone. If you're looking to get in on the ground floor of a manga, this one has potential. I might check back in with another review at around Chapter 20 or so and see how we're doing. I think the writer has left himself a little bit more wiggle room in this one, and that gives me hope. 

Until next time, またね


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