First Impressions: Dr. Stone

Dr. Stone premiered on July 5th during Anime Expo — just in case anyone missed the giant LED advertisements on wheels in Downtown L.A. that weekend.

Dr. Stone is a Japanese manga series written by Riichiro Inagaki (creator of Eyeshield 21) and illustrated by Boichi. It has been serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump since March 6, 2017 with the individual chapters collected and published by Shueisha into five tankōbon volumes. [Wikipedia]

After a cataclysm causes everyone in the world to turn to stone, two boys awaken, and struggle to revive humanity. This epic struggle quickly turns into a fight between Science and Might – and who, exactly, deserves to be revived.

From the Dr. Stone fandom wiki [Source]

The premise is simple: one day a light appears in the sky and everyone turns to stone. Fast forward to the year 5738 and the first few humans start breaking out of their stone prisons. The main character Senku and his friend Taiju strive to save everyone and speedrun through human civilization using science.

It’s slightly ridiculous, incredibly mysterious, but straightforward and easy to follow. We’re not given too much information to start off, and watch as the main characters tackle problems one by one, giving us a regular sense of accomplishment while building momentum for the bigger problems they face.

The first episode focuses not on Senku, the main character, but on Taiju and his desire to confess to his crush, Yuzuriha. We don’t really know much about Senku or his motivations at this point, other than his passion for science, but he’s not the one carrying the narrative that episode.

The opening scene is short and sweet, and effective. We meet Taiju: a muscle-headed kid finally ready to confess to his long-time crush. Then we meet Senku, Taiju’s good friend, total science nerd who logical and also very supportive of his friend. He even places a bet against the other kids in their class that Taiju won’t get rejected.

Yuzuriha’s introduction was the most interesting. While she’s first introduced simply as “the crush”, a quick flashback fills out her character nicely. We see her kindness, sense of humor, and an indication that she actually already likes Taiju. For a character that is present for only the first moments of the first episode and will probably be absent for at least a handful more, she’s given great depth and personality. She isn’t just the object of a male character’s affection, but her own person who reciprocates his feelings.

The first episode is incredibly efficient. Within a few short minutes the stage and premise is established, and the characters are introduced through good storytelling. With just a few scenes we actually know quite a lot about each of their personalities. The world’s set up is simple and easy to understand, which also leaves us curious. There’s certainly a big mystery here but the mystery doesn’t distract from the story being told in the first arc. The pacing is very much “one problem at a time” which makes for very smooth storytelling without feeling formulaic.

To be quite honest, I find the design of the main character, Senku to be quite surprising, if a little off-putting. He’s far from your typical Shounen lead in both style and personality and I’m curious to see how he will carry this story forward. I also just want to know what is up with that hair?

Rating: 5/5

Definitely would recommend.

The character introductions are natural and effective, the narrative flows well. The story is a little exaggerated, a little ridiculous, but without interfering with the narrative; the suspension of disbelief works. It’s probably one of the best Shounen anime I’ve seen in years.

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