Doctor Stone (anime show review)

David Eckstein-Schoemann, Reporter

How do shows like these keep escaping my radar? It seems like anime is full of shows that surprise people with its charm and unique ideas.

The series centers on Senkū Ishigami, an 18-year-old  genius, who is friends with Taiju Ōki and Yuzuriha Ogawa. Their world ends in an instant as a mysterious flash engulfs the planet and turns all humans into stone statues. Cut to 5738 CE (3,700 years later), and Senku is revived and finds civilization completely eroded by time. Senku makes it his mission to bring every human and civilization back through the use of science. After Taiju awakens, the two of them revive Yuzuriha and a famous mixed martial artist named Tsukasa Shishiō. Things take a dark turn as Tsukasa doesn’t want to bring back the old world civilization; he sees the old world as tainted by older people who take advantage of the youth. Instead, he  desires to create a new world based on power and strength, causing him to destroy any petrified adult he comes across. 

With his new foe amassing an army, Senkū and his friends split up to find ways to stop Tsukasa. Senkū eventually comes across a tribe of the only humans on earth, almost all of whom are unaware of the old world, and none of whom understand the technologies of the old world. Slowly but surely, Senkū shows the tribe the benefits of technology as he enlists their creative talents to join his Kingdom of Science to take down Tsukasa’s Empire and save humanity.

This is one of those types of anime where even though there’s a lot going on, it’s pretty easy to follow and understand. It basically revolves around a doomsday event and how the aftermath affects the characters. The concept of everyone in the world being turned to stone and the struggles of the few brought back after thousands of years is surprisingly original. When it happens in the first episode, you feel the weight and impact of the situation. To have a normal day in the city and suddenly be frozen, while the world falls to nature, is a pretty harrowing experience. What would you do if you woke up in this stone world? How would you survive? Could you survive? So much of the story’s conflict and tension feels so natural that you immediately buy into it.

Even though this is a dark idea, it works so well because the story allows moments of levity throughout. Most of those moments come from the characters, who you root for. Senkū is pretty enjoyable. He’s like a cross between MacGyver and Jimmy Neutron. He’s dedicated to his work and resourceful, but he’s also not afraid to have a good time. He’s full of himself, but he’s still empathetic and always strives to do good. That’s a type of character that’s really hard to pull off in terms of suspension of disbelief. In many shows, you might question whether a character would take an action that seems counter to his personality. Senkū’s character is so well developed that you see the steps he takes and believe he is acting consistent with his personality. The other characters are that well developed, too.

Things get especially interesting when he comes across the village. You would think that they would be stuck in their ways and not be interested in science, but no. Each villager who witnesses a scientific feat is intrigued by it. In fact, some of them are experts themselves with how they collect minerals, craft materials, and apply that experience to these new inventions. You really feel the camaraderie between these people and want to join their group.

This anime is so natural in how it creates conflict between the characters. Whenever someone new shows up, I’m on guard as I have no idea if they will turn out good or bad. That’s something I don’t experience often and I’m really impressed. Even with characters you disagree with, you understand the choices they make and where they’re coming from. The stone world is a dangerous place, full of many enemies and many allies.

I especially love how this show uses science and recreates many advances to accomplish in the stone world what took millions of years in the old world. You would think the options would be limited to the typical stone age creations. But they actually find clever and creative ways to recreate technologies from our world–inventions like generators, medicine, and even steel swords and gunpowder. It’s surprisingly engaging.

There’s also an element of mystery to this show. While most of the focus is on surviving the conflicts of the stone world, it gives time to ponder interesting questions and find the answers. Questions, like how all the people in the world turned to stone, are obvious ones. But there are ones I never thought of, like the human village and how it came to be that made me want to find out more. Without giving anything away, when the answer is revealed, it’s really clever  to see how it ties the past and present together.

What else can I say? Dr. Stone is a show that grabs your attention with its unique concept and dramatic turns. It’s inventive, creative, and makes you want to see it from beginning to end. Even better, they’re just beginning season 2, so there will be plenty more to see. I can’t help but get excited.

Rating: 5 out of 5 Sails