Now it’s time to review Dr. Stone, a manga that ended a while back but I hadn’t gotten around to reviewing it yet. It was pretty nice to see this title get successful. It’s fairly outside of the box with the premise and is going for a different feel than the average Jump title. Yes, I still tend to lean towards the fully action packed ones myself but it’s never bad to have a change of pace title. My thoughts are, if a series is good then no matter the genre I want it to go on for as long as possible. That includes everything that’s a 7 or up, for a 6 I suppose so but I’m less invested. Either way this title ends up being above both scores.
The series starts off by introducing us to Senku who is a brilliant worker who isn’t very emotional. In contrast his friend Taiju is always acting very emotionally as he runs off to make confessions and do his thing. Well, one day the Earth is blasted with a powerful ray that turns everyone to stone. All of the characters slumber for thousands of years until Senku finally wakes up due to his incredible mental fortitude. He must now bring humanity back from the Stone Age and find out what happened here. Will he be able to pull this off or is humanity already completely doomed?
Now that’s a very early plot summary of course but no worries I’m going to be diving into the arcs in a minute. Right off the bat I can say that part of what makes the science work is how some of it is actually possible. As the series goes on some parts may be a little tricky or stretch disbelief a bit. I suspect it’s because the manga needed to be wrapped up so things were going fast, but especially in the first half the attention to detail is really great. I even put the series to the test. Yes that’s right, I decided to find out if this was actually real and so I made the Senku Cola.
To this day that was a very memorable moment for me and I had a blast with it. The drink actually did taste really good too and that’s when I really gained respect for the series. The author clearly did his homework and so then you get extra enjoyment out of seeing how it goes since you could make some of the other stuff yourself. I was mildly tempted for the homemade ramen but to me the Cola looked the best either way.
There are some fights here but I do want to stress that the series is more about the journey. Seeing how the characters overcome all of their hurdles without the benefit of high powered technology. I’d say the series does well with that throughout. The characters are fun and it’s just a solid series through and through. I’ll list some issues I had with it down the line but for now lets focus on the main aspects that really worked aside from the science.
One big thing is that the artwork is really solid. This artist really knows how to add a whole lot of extra detail here. It makes for a solid read when you want to really narrow in on a page or set of pages. The backgrounds hold up to the extra scrutiny and the character designs are on point as well. The clashes we get during the fights are also solid. On the flip side, you will rarely see a prolonged fight for that reason as the art style is better suited to powerful stills than a lot of choreography. You will see the rare extended fight but not very often. It does show glimpses of the author being able to draw a long fight if he wanted too though. I think if he made that a focus then it would be done well, this just wasn’t the series for it.
I also give the author credit for having Senku get everyone up to speed so quickly. I do not like stories about cavemen and such. Never have and this series could have easily gone in that way but fortunately with his tech, Senku keeps things civilized right from the jump. Definitely a really good move and even the people who grew up in the village can speak English normally and aren’t just being super quirky the whole time. Characters do have their quirks of course but not the cavemen type.
There are also some solid philosophical debates here with the villains having very different reactions to a world of stone. In a way this is a chance for humanity to reset so some characters like the heroes want to make everything normal again while others want to radically change the world. It never gets into a very gray area as you don’t doubt Senku and the crew but at least the villains do have some solid thought processes behind their actions which makes most of them rather solid. I do think it’s important to have good villains to balance out with the heroes whenever possible.
Now for my main issue, it would be that the final part of the series moves at such breakneck speed that you feel like it misses some opportunities and also that some parts are impossible even for their mastery of science. Building multiple rockets in a super short span of time? We needed some more time skips there. The whole final twist? It wasn’t super satisfying, now there were a lot of theories for this and I liked the future Senku one the most but what we got just didn’t lead to any real big moments. If you do go with this angle for the reason as to why the Earth got turned to stone, then you need to take it further and have a follow up arc. Finally, there’s a moment where we nearly got another huge timeskip of many, many years that ended up being a fake-out. That said, I wasn’t particularly torn up about it since it would have been about a character that I wasn’t a huge fan of. I think it would have been interesting of course but I wouldn’t call that one a bad thing.
Now that we’ve talked about the series on a large scale, lets dial it back and talk about the sagas. First up is the pre arc which involves Senku and his childhood friends being split up so they go with Tsukasa as spies while Senku heads over to Ishigami village to recruit some troops and get started on his transformation into a world of science. This was a good way to introduce a lot of characters and it’s a fun pre arc. Senku gets to show how he fights with science and it was also a really solid way to introduce Tsukasa as a true threat. I definitely would have removed the whole him fighting an animal part though as he already know that he’s tough. No need to stress the point.
As a main character Senku is definitely solid. He’s not going to be joining the top ranks of protagonists anytime soon but he gets the job done and always has a plan. His lack of emotions help him in a lot of ways since he doesn’t panic easily. I like his confident demeanor and he just doesn’t make mistakes. Senku’s a very well rounded character who even learns to lighten up a bit by the end and has some emotional moments like with Tsukasa. He may not change a ton but he doesn’t need to, he was already equipped with good skills from the start.
Then you have Taiju who was also solid. The guy doesn’t get to appear or do as much as you might expect but he’s always a good friend. He did well in standing up to Tsukasa initially and can always be counted on. My main problem with him is that he takes being a pacifist way too far at times. You should absolutely still be able to punch someone in self defense or to protect a friend. He takes his ideals a little too far at the expense of the safety of his crew. Fortunately he is rarely put in a position like that but it is a slight mark against him.
Yuzuriha was sort of the main heroine for about a volume before vanishing and she’s another good character. Like Taiju she ended up vanishing early but made the most of her screentime. She’s a nice person who wants to help out. Ultimately she didn’t get a lot more character than that but she is around so you’re not going to forget her or anything like that. She helps out as needed.
Tsukasa is the first villain to show up and right away I liked the guy. So his goal is very simple, he figures that grown ups are the reason for all of the strife and corruption in the world so he wants to spare only the children and remove everyone else. That means he’ll go around busting up all of the adult statues and then he’ll revive the youth to take over the world. It’s a pretty interesting way to rebuild the planet but you can argue that it just delays the inevitable as they will be adults someday. If humanity is just that corrupt then this strategy won’t work.
His only chance is if he can raise the next generation personally so that they don’t end up twisted but it seems hard to stop that if the adults are that bad. It’s an interesting idea though and why not try to make the world a better place instead of resetting it to how things always were right? It’s just that his methods involve murder which destroys his chances of having a good discussion about it. What would have been interesting is if he decided to instead keep them as stone and made a case to Senku that they shouldn’t revive them yet as they think about what to do. I want to say Senku may have at least heard him out for a while even if ultimately I don’t see them coming to terms on this.
Tsukasa can fight and lead really well though so he was the perfect character to put in as the first major villain. He really has a lot of presence in the story and he’s so powerful that even great plans can end up crumbling in front of him. That’s what it means to wield great power. Back to the village characters though, we get a mini boss in Magma. Eh, the guy never interested me much though. He’s the kind of villain who is fighting for the girl and is super petty all around. Not much to cheer on in that case and he ends up lagging behind.
Kohaku is the character who really takes over the main heroine spot and I enjoyed her character as soon as she went up against Tsukasa in the forest. She had no fear as she charged in and while she ultimately didn’t prove to be a match for him, I respected the courage there. Kohaku was absolutely not going to back down and that’s the right approach here. Always try to go for the win and don’t back down. It’s the best way to go about this. Throughout the series she is really handy whether it be for scouting missions or helping with the inventions. Her excellent eye sight and hand-eye coordination really come in handy.
From all of the village characters she is certainly the best one. Chrome is another villager and his thing is that he’s a scientific mastermind like Senku. Of course he doesn’t have the benefit of formal education like what Senku has but in a way that makes it more impressive that he’s able to keep up. He’s not really my kind of character though. He’s helpful in a pinch but the whole time you just feel like he’s a weaker version of Senku so he doesn’t get to make as much of an impact. He contributes a lot but he just can’t catch up to Senku even if he does mean well.
Finally you have Suika and she is just too young for this. There’s only so much that you can do as a kid and while her watermelon crawl is handy and all…she just never ended up being all that interesting. Kids often just get in the way in Jump titles and while she wasn’t panicking or being taken hostage a lot, I would put her as one of the weakest villagers. She definitely needed to be a little older to really help out.
The village has a high ranking member in Ruri who is good for the info dumps, but she doesn’t ultimately get to do much. Once she is cured from her disease she just sort of fades into the background. She isn’t a fighter so that was probably inevitable though. Someone had to give out the news right? So at least she had that job but ultimately her sister Kohaku ended up being a lot more fun.
Kinro and Ginro are two supporting characters in the village but I never ended up being a big fan of either of them. For Kinro, he is technically a good fighter and he tries to be strict, but often times it’s hard to take him seriously. I feel like he needed to be a little stronger to have really had an effect like that. Meanwhile Ginro is the comic relief character who is scared of everything. Unfortunately he never gets to be endearing so instead he just ends up being annoying the whole time. If I had to pick a comic relief character who was better then I’d go with Kaseki. He really just has one gag that is used on repeat with his whole turning buff thing but at least it’s not a super annoying gimmick or anything like that. I’m not a big fan of the guy but he’s not really around much anyway.
Okay now it’s time for the first big arc of the series which is the famous Stone Wars. Tsukasa and his group make their move so Senku and friends are forced to respond in kind. It’s a great way for the heroes and villains to finally meet up after all of the build up. It certainly lived up to it too with the best climax out of all the arcs. To date this fight has not been passed in the series. It was a great way to wrap up all of the character arcs and aside from the whole finding out why everyone was turned to stone thing, would have even worked as the series ending. It was a lot of fun all the way through and the arc really blasted through at a quick speed. It never dragged on and the whole thing had a very fast paced feel to it.
We got to meet more of the troops during the war as well. First up is Hyoga who is certainly very ambitious and a talented fighter. Next to Tsukasa he was likely the strongest one here and really looked impressive. He makes for a fun villain and while he’s nowhere close to Tsukasa, I liked his fighting style. His weapon certainly does have a long range which is really handy for any fight. His opponents always have to make sure they’re out of range or they’re plum out of luck.
Homura is another fighter on their side and her acrobatics are impressive. She was even able to stalemate with Kohaku for a bit there. Senku looked bad in letting her go at one point but she definitely showed why Tsukasa trusted her with the dangerous recon jobs. At the end of the day she did good. Then you have Ukyo with his super hearing. Not the most loyal fellow to have around but he’s got good aim and is another solid fighter. I wouldn’t say he ranks against the other villains but he’s reasonably good.
We can’t forget Gen the trickster who always has everyone on the ropes…at least for a few arcs. My only gripe with him is that his mentalist abilities don’t tend to help out much later on. In a way his biggest weakness is the fact that he’s well known so nobody believes him anyway or he’s going up against other geniuses who aren’t going to fall for that kind of trick. So either way he ends up being put in a tough position. Gen’s a fun guy though even if he is ineffective a lot of the time. He just needed some kind of power up although I’m not sure how that would work in this context.
Yo is another one of the villains in Tsukasa’s army and I liked him well enough. He’s a corrupt cop who is used to using a gun so he is actually very helpful on the battlefield. I thought he was a rather unique character who worked well in this context. Definitely someone you don’t forget too soon. He may not be super talented but he’s better than the no names so he at least earned his spot as one of the guards.
Well with the Stone Wars done, it was time to get a boat and then head off to the next adventure. This time it’s a big battle on an island against someone who knows how to manipulate the Medusa stones in order to turn people into stone. It makes for a very dangerous weapon and this is definitely not someone that you want to go up against without a plan. The villain here isn’t as interesting as Tsukasa by a longshot but it’s still a fun arc. We get some memorable visuals like the villain jumping head first towards the water while yelling. That could be a good jump scare in the show if handled right.
Ultimately it doesn’t have the hype and pure stakes as the Stone Wars but it’s still a good follow up arc. Plus it probably would have been very difficult to have topped that initial saga. The villain being rather lackluster is the arc’s biggest weak point but as a whole I would still say it does more good than bad. It’s the weakest of the big arcs pretty much by default and that’s because I merge the Xeno and aftermath as one arc. If you split them then this beats the epilogue.
Ryusui got to join the crew during this adventure and he’s really a standout character. Now here is someone who can absolutely hold his own with the old guard. He brought a lot of confidence to the table and ended up being a very memorable character as well. His expertise with the boats were absolutely unmatched and he always knows how to have a good time. I’d argue that the cast really needed a high energy guy like this to keep everyone focused.
Then you have his assistant Francois who does well with the cooking. This character doesn’t get a ton to do but is still fun enough. Ibara is the main villain of the island arc and he never grew on me. In a way he’s the perfect example of the kind of corrupt grown up that Tsukasa was talking about. He found out how to use the medusa power and immediately used it to be an evil ruler. Literally the guy wasted absolutely no time in doing so. If he was a little less greedy and focused more on leveraging that into being an unstoppable king who at least cared for his tribe then he may have actually made it out of this.
Matsukaze is a solid character. I like that he can fight well and it’s just a shame that he happened to decide to serve a comic relief character. Man he could have really gone places but he was introduced rather late so it’s possible that he wouldn’t have had a chance to do much more than that either way. It’s just nice to have another fighter on the team. Mozu is another strong warrior but he doesn’t have much to do. Again as this isn’t really a battle manga, you can’t expect the characters to get to mix it up with the others too often.
Finally we approach the Xeno arc and this time we got to have some real competition for Senku. Xeno is the first villain to actually be able to keep up with Senku on an intellectual level and it works extremely well. Basically he is a part of the Nasa group and he actually had a plan for if this ever happened and he got a chance to rule the world. The guy thinks ahead, that’s definitely his forte without a doubt. Can Senku and friends really stop him? The guy has homefield advantage since they’re in America or maybe Senku and friends have finally picked an opponent who is too powerful.
It was great to see America and part of what I also liked about this arc was it showed that Senku wasn’t the only one to defeat the stone conditioning. You have to assume that at least someone else was able to keep their mind active the whole time and it’s fitting that Xeno could pull this off. They don’t call him a genius for nothing after all. When the heroes land in America and see that the place actually still looks okay, it was a great shock value moment. The villains had already started tending to the crops and such to build a civilization of their own.
For the first time Senku and friends were truly out of their depth in a modern world. Stanley also does give us some really good action scenes as that villain’s an expert with a gun. The series also paid special attention to show that as a soldier he was still bound by a code of ethics and didn’t suddenly become a monster or anything like that. It was a good way to give the villains some nuance here. Stone Wars is my favorite arc still but this one was definitely a blast.
If I have one issue with the arc it’s that at this point with a way to not only undue the petrification but also to glue the parts together, there isn’t a lot of stakes anymore. At one point the villains start blowing up the heroes to kingdom come but you know they can be revived anyway so it’s not particularly a big deal. At least in DBZ the planet might blow up so there are no dragon balls but here it’s not like the villains are going to do anything. As soon as the heroes found out that the serum pretty much makes them immortal, it meant that traditional fights wouldn’t have the same impact as they used to. At least it was a good way to show how effective guns are as even Tsukasa couldn’t do much against them. Guns are truly overpowered in a world where only one side has them.
Xeno definitely lives up to the hype here as the big bad. His discussions with Senku are really solid. Even if they both disagree on a whole lot of things, they have respect for science which is what still unites them. They never ended up forgetting that part of themselves. He has a cool design too and has to be one of the stand out characters here. Likewise Stanley is excellent as the muscle of the crew and is also very smart in his own right. He picks up on all the clues Xeno sends him, no matter how subtle they are. He’s also an expert at reading the room and using his expertise in a fight to get the upper hand on the heroes. These two are a big reason as to why the arc was a lot of fun.
After the main fights we also get a lot of new characters added into the mix for Senku’s group. For the most part they’re all added in too late though and don’t really get much to do. I dare say they didn’t need to be added like the watch guy or the girl who can read the land. It’s nice to have some more support but ultimately I didn’t feel like their roles were so big that they had to be around. At least Sai got to give us some video game moments which is always fun but for the most part you knew the series was ending so you were more interested in seeing the Whyman plot come to an end.
Now for that part, that’s where things crumble a little bit. So lets overlook how the science goes really fast here. While I don’t buy into them creating numerous rockets back to back in a short timespan like this, we had to get the heroes into the Moon somehow. My issue is that Whyman does not live up to the hype. This guy had great moments where he yelled to the planet and even had Senku’s voice somehow. Needless to say, the hype was through the roof here!
Then when he shows up, the guy has no passion, no vision. His true form isn’t very interesting and his whole plan makes absolutely no sense. The heroes even mention this and Whyman has no real response to this. Because even he knows that his actions made absolutely no sense. I didn’t think the manga did a good job of really explaining this guy. Considering that this plot was around for almost the whole series, it feels like the author didn’t really think it through. There were so many interesting routes that could have happened for this and they all ended up fading away.
It’s not a train wreck ending or anything but I thought it was super underwhelming. If ever there was a time to throw in some action and fighting then this was it. It would have made for a very memorable climax with everything at stake instead of whatever this was. At least the aftermath/epilogue for the series was cool though. We finally get the high tech gizmo I had been waiting for and it would work really well for a sequel series. There’s a lot of potential there.
Before wrapping things up, I should quickly mention that the series handled the mini flashback saga well. I liked Byakuya and Lillian as the two leads to that adventure. The old ship crew all had a good dynamic and it was nice seeing them end up creating their own small world on Earth as well. Naturally they couldn’t wait 3700 years for Senku and friends but they did well to accomplish a lot on their own without a resident genius.
Overall, That about wraps up Dr. Stone. It was definitely a great series with a solid amount of characters and action. It certainly had a long lasting career with all the chapters it ended up with and it’ll be nice to see some kind of sequel or spinoff eventually as an ongoing. Of course if the author is busy with more One Piece projects I’d definitely understand. I’m sure he’s having fun getting to tell a lot of different stories. If you haven’t read Dr. Stone yet then I would definitely recommend changing that. It makes for a very interesting read and you should definitely try making the Senku cola once you get to that point.