Sunday 7 July 2019

First Impressions: Dr. Stone

Dr. Stone is available in streaming form via Crunchyroll

A new season of anime shows is upon us once more, and many are touting this to be one of the strongest summer lineups in some time. Among the most talked about shows premiering in the next few weeks is Dr. Stone, the latest in a long line of Shonen Jump manga adaptations. Animated by TMS Entertainment, this post-apocalyptic adventure series written by Riichiro Inagaki pits science against nature and even comes complete with its own scientific consultant to ensure its science wizardry has an element of realism to it.

Just as high school student Taiju Ōki is about to confess his feelings to his crush Yuzuriha Ogawa, a blinding light in the distance. In a flash the humanity is suddenly turned to stone all across the world. While many lose consciousness in this petrified state, Taiju is determined to one day revive and tell Yuzuriha just how he feels.

Thousands of years later, Taiju awakens to a world where civilisation has all but decayed. As he wanders the thick forests that have grown in the place of cities, he discovers his best friend Senku Ishigami managed to revive six months prior. A scientific genius, Senku retained consciousness throughout his stone imprisonment - deducing that the current date is October 5th, 5738. With his brains and Taiju's muscle, the pair set about recreating science's greatest achievements with limited resources in the hope of one day restoring humanity.

"Stone World" is a particularly interesting premiere for Dr. Stone because arguably it places setting before characters. Though it adequately introduces the three main characters that will take the story through its introductory phase, the important thing here is establishing its seemingly hopeless post-apocalyptic setting. Humanity seems all but gone, and with it the sum of all its knowledge. The visuals of the event that triggers this great petrification are effectively harrowing, not only showing how powerless humanity were to avoid it but also how easily they can then break. When Taiju awakens in the future the landscape is awash with "statues", many of whom are of course beyond repair. It's easy to lose that in the luscious green forestry of this future world, but Dr. Stone does a good job of balancing this sense of destruction with impressive visuals.

When it comes to characters the only real focus is on Taiju and Senku, with Yurizuha mainly being framed as motivation for Taiju at the time being. What little we do get to see of her is fun, but its really not enough to get a gauge on her character just yet. However this doesn't matter because Taiju and Senku work brilliantly as a pair, and between them you almost believe that they could be the "Adam and Eve of this Stone World". Senku is brilliant almost to the point of arrogance but the story keeps him down to Earth through trial and error, and even with his immense brain power he's still limited by his physical prowess. Taiju on the other hand is thick-headed and a bit dim, but possesses all of the physical traits Senku lacks. Not only was he strong enough to keep some control following his petrification, but also proves himself a valuable hunter-gatherer and someone who can match Senku's brain power with man power.

With so much set up required this episode makes limited use of the primitive science the Dr. Stone manga becomes popular for, but still enough to show just the kind of thing this series is going to be all about. The pair's current aim is to find out just what helped free them from their stone prisons, and through a series of experiments on stone birds they eventually one step closer to finding a solution. There's plenty of science talk as elements and compounds are name dropped in Senku's ramblings, but the dialogue makes a good job of keeping it all understandable.

When it comes to anime adaptations of long-running manga series usually I'm in the dark with the source material, but Dr. Stone is a rare occasion where I know what's coming in future episodes - and I can't wait. This first episode may have mostly been set up that barely gives away the story to come, but it does such a fantastic job of setting up this whole new world that you can't help but keep watching. That's exactly how the manga grabbed me, and with the hype surrounding this series its how I fully expect the anime to grab newcomers too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice first impressions !
Off-Topic: Gemn Corp subbed the first episode of Ultraman Taiga.