A healthy dose of unsolved mystery
When you encounter an anime series with an insane amount of hype—especially a shonen series—it’s natural (and probably wise) to brace for at least a little disappointment. With few exceptions, a show so highly lauded is unlikely to live up to the hype; and if it does, there are good odds it will fall apart in later weeks.
But Dr. Stone is (at least so far) a show deserving of the hype it’s received. Based on the award-winning manga of the same title, it blends science, shonen action, and a healthy dose of unsolved mystery to keep the audience engaged from the first episode.
Protagonist Senku is a high school science whiz kid, a snarky but genuinely caring cross between Doogie Howser and Dr. House. He believes that all things can be solved with the power of science, and he has the brainpower to back that up. Fortunately for humanity after it’s turned to stone by a mysterious green power, he busts himself out of his stone prison and sets himself a goal: rebuild humanity from scratch.
Senku’s first opponent in his endeavors isn’t a meathead jock, as many stories would play it. (That’s his friend Taiju, who’s also been waiting 3,700 years to confess a crush to the school crafting genius Yuzuriha.) In fact, his initial rival is no slouch, possessing enough intelligence to follow Senku’s lead while also being able to kill a lion with his bare hands. That mix of brains and brawn, along with a desire to reset humanity by awakening only the pure-minded youth of the world and smashing the petrified adults, is what makes Tsukasa a worthy foil to Senku.
The centerpiece of Dr. Stone, though, is the science. Because there is a lot of science, and it’s very accurate—so accurate, in fact, that the show contains multiple warnings (sometimes in fourth-wall breaks from the characters) telling you not to imitate them because these methods work. Not all the science is destructive, though; they make gunpowder, but they also build houses and make clothes. At one point, Senku makes a pulley so impressive it makes a girl fall in love with him.
Lovers of a good mystery will enjoy digging into the “why” of Dr. Stone, which is still being discovered even in the manga. There are little clues everywhere you look, though, from how the petrification process works to what specific life forms were petrified. If you’re in need of immediate answers, Dr. Stone won’t grant them (at the moment); if you’re in need of something to theorize about, the series offers that in abundance.
Plot and characters aside, Dr. Stone goes a long way to helping contextualize human ingenuity. Senku is essentially attempting to speed-run society, but he does have everything he needs at his disposal—or the seeds of it, at least. As he works his way up from simple spears to clothing machines, we get lessons both in the theories of great scientists and the inventions of our own ancestors. Senku talks excitedly about Einstein and Newton, both of whom he addressed affectionately as “old man” like a proud grandkid. That excitement and intensity brings an unexpected action quality even to something as simple as assembling a machine or making a spear.
The shonen genre seems more prone than almost any other to creating epic stories that bottom out after a long run. For now, though, Dr. Stone shows promise for the long haul. It’s a rare mix of exciting, educational, and inspiring that not many series manage. Senku and his friends will absolutely rebuild the world someday, and it’s fun being along for the ride.
rating: Not Rated