DR.STONE Season 1 REVIEW
Dr. Stone is that anime that made us all unexpectedly love science. We can say that 2019 left us a long list of exciting series that we could watch during the quarantine of 2020. However, one of the Japanese productions that stood out the most while I was catching up with anime from the previous year during confinement was definitely Dr. Stone. It is worth separating it for a moment from the others since it has dared to touch on a subject that few animations of the shonen genre have managed to include successfully in an exciting way: science.
The premise of Dr. Stone is excellent, not only because of how interesting and mysterious it is but because of its concept. An attempt is made to bring a fantastic science fiction story closer to the public, obtaining a more than favorable result since it has led the public to become interested in science or, at least, to recognize its importance and learn together while watching the series.
Taiju has been trying to confess his love for his high school crush for five years. He interrupts the science class where he looks for Senku, his best genius friend, to tell him that day is the day he will confess. But just at the moment when he is already in front of Yuzuriha to confess his love, something unexpected happens: a second before the declaration, unknown causes lead the whole of humanity to turn to stone instantly.
After 3,689 years and 158 days, during which he has struggled not to lose consciousness and disappear, Taiju finally emerges from the stone and returns to normal. However, it is only to discover that the rest of humanity never woke up from their stony sleep, as well as finding the statue of his beloved Yuzuriha. At that time, he learns that his friend Senku, an absolute genius with a much more pragmatic scientific vocation and mentality, has also survived, having left his petrification six months ago and leaving a note of where to look for him written on the tree where he found Yuzuriha’s statue.
Once meeting, the two will carry out all kinds of exhaustive experiments in order to investigate and find the substance capable of freeing humanity from its stone prison. A cure they discover, finally, after six months.
Now the two must rescue people and create a new world fleeing from superstition and magic and using the most powerful tool: science. Planning to recover the advances that humanity has taken more than two thousand years to achieve in a brief period of time. Wanting to recover civilization so as not to live in the stone age. But not only that but also one of its main objectives will be to discover the mystery of the petrification that occurred almost 3,700 years ago.
Unfortunately, just at the time of performing their first human de-petrification in order to bring Yuzuriha back, a group of lions attacks them. And in their desperation, they end up releasing their most prominent and strongest problem with the substance—Tsukasa, who, unlike Senku, does not think about rescuing humanity as a whole, but rather only the young people and destroying the old.
Although it is true that the first episodes are somewhat slow and that the series in general lines does not stand out for its frenetic pace, the animation studio knows how to measure the plot timing correctly. We will observe, amazed, how Senku can create medicine and make new allies, creating rustic machinery and, in short, causing the rebirth of science as we know it, but from a much more archaic point of view. Meanwhile, Tsukasa - who manages to get hold of the resurrection formula - founds an empire based on youth and strength, as well as cooperation and charisma.
The appearance of Tsukasa killing a lion with one blow was a narrative breaking point that reminded us that the series was still a shonen anime. And it is that the moment you see a 15-year-old boy kill a lion with one blow, the series causes confusion on one, and you no longer know what direction it will take precisely. In its first chapters, it gave so much importance to the scientific factors of our reality that this scene broke our conception of the series as just being dedicated to science. We could no longer know how realistic the series would be if a teenager could do that.
But on the other side, it also tends to be a bit predictable in a sense. For example, when Senku decides to make one of his new fabrications usually coincides with the appearance of a character for whom it will be useful. We can say that the narrative loses a bit of credibility in those situations due to these unlikely coincidences.
Another point is the one that usually repeats many sentences or words. Senku will not stop in saying in each episode that he is going to rebuild humanity, that they are in a stone world, which turns that dialogue quite redundant, and that in the long run can be tiring (because we already know Senku! There is no need to repeat yourself so many times). Besides, part of Senku's characterization is that phrase of “I’m 10 million percent sure” that he says every time he can. It is a very typical type of character writing in shonnen. Shonen protagonists tend to love to make clear what their dream or their goals are at all times. But if you have enough patience, you will get used to it, and the series will reward you by giving you the moments where its script knows how to shine.
It isn't easy to explain without actually watching the episodes. But every time it is the moment for our main character comes up with something new they need to build, and everyone joins to help. When they finally complete each of the creations, it generates a narrative climax so high that it ends up fascinating you. The anime explains everything straightforwardly and where even the ones who do not know much about the subject can understand it. It is not only entertaining, but everything is filled with epicism, nostalgia, and admiration.
Senku, separated from his friends because of Tsukasa, knows that they will end up having to fight each other. But he will be using his intelligence as a weapon instead of pure strength. Sooner rather than later, he takes control, in a traditional and friendly way, of the only existing village with people: primitive people, but strong, with average intelligence and also will find an odd ... “Sorcerer” Thus was born the Kingdom of Science, which will soon fight against the Empire of Might.
KINGDOM OF SCIENCE
We could say that the kingdom of science began with the treehouse that Senku built after he came back to life. But our protagonist really obtains the determination to build this kingdom after escaping from Tsukasa, knowing that he will have to face the Empire of Might someday when Tsukasa discovers he is alive.
After meeting and saving Kohaku, a girl trapped under a tree, she decides to take him to the Ishigami village. Senku chooses to found his kingdom of science on the outskirts of it. He soon discovers that the priestess Ruri suffers from a childhood illness that both Kohaku and Chrome, a so-called sorcerer of the village who is actually something like a stone-age scientist, have not been able to cure. Senku decides to develop a “cure-all” drug to cure Ruri and starts to befriend some of the villagers to get help to develop the medicine and future inventions. He then meets Gen Asagiri, who originally planned to spy for Tsukasa’s Empire, that after seeing all the advancements Senku made and being offered a Cola, decides to defect and join the kingdom of science.
But for the last ingredient of the medicine, they need alcohol, which is the prize of winning the fight tournament to marry the priestess. Chrome is forced to face Magma. A man focused on winning even by cheating attacking competitors before the matches. But he manages to defeat him by lighting his clothes on fire and pushing him to the water with the help of Gen. But soon after his victory, Chrome soon passes out, and since Senku was set up to face Chrome in the final round, Senku ends up winning the tournament by default.
Senku is handed over plenty of alcohol, which has turned into vinegar. After he is informed, he must marry Ruri and that the celebrations will take his time to make the medicine, Senku decides to divorce her and runs away to make the drug.
With much resistance from the father of the priestess, Kokuyo, for her to not take the medicine. Senku manages to deliver the drug to Ruri, and she gets cured. Kokuyo proclaims Senku as the new village chief. Ruri says the village's name out loud, which causes Senku to realize the village's name is the same as his own last name, Ishigami Senku. After Ruri tells Senku of the 100 stories, it is revealed to the audience that the origins of the village lie in Senku’s own father, Ishigami Byakuya, and the rest of the space station crew who survived the petrification event and founded it after going back to earth.
After becoming chief and learning about the origins of the village, Senku makes it part of his Kingdom of Science, improving the village and creating everything necessary to face Tsukasa when the Empire of Might attacks as soon as winter ends.
CLASH OF IDEOLOGIES
The clash between Senku and Tsukasa is where we can observe the conflict of mindsets from the series. Even though they all co-live for a time, take care of different tasks, and live harmoniously in community. After a few episodes, we can realize Tsukasa’s ideological confrontation against Senku in a moment on the beach where Tsukasa tells Senku about the power and responsibility they have, being able to choose who will be revived and who won’t. Arguing that reviving all people and bringing back civilization would bring back not only the good but also the bad side of society, such as injustice, envy, and resentment. Tsukasa proposes to Senku to create a new world where only the pure of heart would live. But Senku is adamantly opposed. Saying that he will save all of humanity, not just some.
After that scene, we can classify Tsukasa as a primitivist anarchist. Criticizing the origins and progress of civilization. And that at the same time is part of radical environmentalism. Maintaining the idea that moving from hunting and gathering plants towards exchange and making a profit by proclaiming what earth provided us for free as our property gave rise to social stratification. Some would abuse others given their hierarchy due to the power or status acquired. Normally this ideology would advocate a return to a “non-civilized” life through deindustrialization, abolishing the division of labor or specialization. And to a certain degree, abandonment technology. But as the world they find themselves in Dr.Stone is that ideal place already, Tsukasa's personal mission will be to do everything possible so that humanity is rebuilt under that vision of the world, remaining without being owners of anything where each one fulfills their place next to nature without taking over it.
In episode 4, we can see how Tsukasa murders Senku because he is afraid. But it is not that he is scared of Senku himself but of Senku's potential to develop civilization. This gives us several things to infer. And it is that our antagonist is radically opposed to the development because he feels that its insertion would be the beginning of social divisions. Indeed, an excellent antagonist for the series since he and Senku are two sides of the same coin. Senku wants to restore civilization completely, while Tsukasa wants complete freedom as a man. While the first thinks of society as a way of stability, each individual stops fighting each other, giving up their power to the same end. For the latter, despite the fact that the human being is born good and free, society and adults oppress and destroy that nature that ends up corrupted.
We could highlight two aspects, regarding design and animation, if we talk about Dr. Stone. On the one hand, the characterization of its characters. Far from the exacerbated detail of many other authors and from a series of very marked features, Dr. Stone proclaims characters that are somewhat simpler in terms of layout. At least in the design of female characters, as this can be observed in characters such as Yuzuhira and Kohaku. On the other side, male cast members have much more marked defining features. And not only because the animation studio and author wanted to enhance their muscles much more. No. This is also conveyed through their own facial expressions.
The chosen color palette is pretty to look at. The combination of diverse environments, the contrast between nature and science, is adequate and plausible. The recreation of the post-apocalyptic world gains integers thanks to the studio's incredible work, which has managed to convey, with great success, the feelings that the mangaka captures in his drawings.
One of the most exciting aspects of the series, without a doubt, is its soundtrack. Accompanied by its charismatic characters and irrepressible sense of humor, it manages to hook the public. Therefore, we are talking about a musical production that knows how to alter the tone of the series to perfection to immerse us in different atmospheres: action, drama, comedy, tension, etc. We enjoy a stable and reliable composition, with few ups and downs, which knows when to give up the limelight.
In the same way, the sound effects are very precise. Above all, this side of the production stands out in the processes of inventions, as it recreates very well the mood of the scenes. The OST has a Celtic percussion style that gives it a very new and attractive touch that makes it unique.
The openings correspond to Good Morning World! by BURNOUT SYNDROMES and Sangenshoku (三原色) by PELICAN FANCLUB. The endings chosen are LIFE by Rude-α and Yume no You na (夢 の よ う な) by YouthK Saeki. They are beautiful and easy to recognize. To this, we must add that they are quite catchy songs. We have all sung or hummed them at times.
For both the opening and the ending, the animations are very successful in just delivering the general feeling of the series and presenting the characters, since at no time do they reveal any detail that could spoil the series too much. They show enough to draw audiences into the anime.
WHY IT’S WORTH WATCHING?
Almost all the time, Dr. Stone touches the subject of science as necessary in the world and at the same makes it entertaining for us. Senku's character knows that he is the only scientist left in the world, and he is aware that he has to re-establish the ancient knowledge of humanity. Practically having to re-restore everything from the stone age.
Knowing that he will not be able to achieve his goal alone, he will try to work with as many people as he wants to help. He explains that science is complex and that there are a series of tasks to complete to achieve something, and that the result will benefit them greatly. While Senku sometimes mentions chemical terms, the provenance and what it is for is always explained. Without realizing it, we will be amazed when he shows us that such “calcium carbonate” was used to make soap.
Senku is arrogant and conceited, but his personality always ends up driving him to do new things and recruit more people for his “Scientific Kingdom.” The audience that sees the series ends up admiring him almost as much as the other characters. Thus, he acts as a leader who ends up drawing on the strengths of each friend he makes.
Humor and even dramatic moments often occur, but the incredible power of science is never lost sight of. Between laughs and inventions that are achieved, Senku never stops looking into space, trying to one day reach it. Senku as the protagonist is very charismatic. I love each of his facets, from the cynic who sees everyone as labor for his inventions to someone who risks his life not to endanger Chrome. I am captivated by his genuine fascination with rebuilding humanity to such a degree that I also feel happy for each of his accomplishments and how this helps bring him closer to his goals. The narration in this aspect is excellent because it does not limit itself to telling the public what happens in Senku’s life, but it offers us the experiences of that life. Every Senku achievement is an achievement for us. It makes us feel like we are participating in the reconstruction of the world and his investigations.
Who doesn’t want to see if their efforts to skip thousands of years of history come true? Finally, you have to appreciate a very well-kept illustration style. Seeing science in action never had such an attractive aesthetic.
Dr. Stone is very entertaining if you are looking for something not very serious. It has very emotional, funny moments, and above all, I adore how it develops all areas of science. Perhaps for those who are not used to this type of script, it will seem hilarious that our protagonist is so absurdly intelligent. That he has been able to spend 3,700 years counting every second without losing his sanity. Taiju, who spent those same years thinking about proposing to Yuzuriha or that Tsukasa by touching the bat’s urine, already knows that it is nitric acid. But obviously, they are resources of fiction to create a good narrative having a script focused almost entirely on the exact sciences. Without losing the humor necessary to make the plot bearable. Without a doubt, one of the animes of 2019 that I enjoyed the most and that I would recommend checking out.