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Review: ‘Dr. Stone,’ vols. 1-6

Dr. Stone, vols. 1-6
Written by Riichiro Inagaki; Illustrated by Boichi
Viz Media; rated T for Teen (13+)

When you think about all the powerful things that show up in shonen manga titles, science doesn’t tend to be at the top of the list. But in Dr. Stone, a manga series from Viz Media, its the power of science, not fists, that is set to save the world.

On a day seemingly no different from any other, a blinding flash of light hits the Earth, turning every man, woman and child into stone. 3,700 years later, high schooler Taiju Oki wakes up from his stone paralysis. He finds that his friend, Senku Ishigami, the Science Club president, is already awake and is working on a plan to restart civilization. Taiju is the brawn to Senku’s brain, and they find a way to awaken the stone humans. But, one of the first humans they awaken is Tsukasa Shishio, a fighter who would rather pick and choose who lives and create a world based on strength instead of Senku’s world of science. It becomes a race between the two ideologies as to which will prevail.

Dr. Stone is a really fun series. Senku is a great protagonist. He is very upbeat and confident not just in his abilities, but in science itself. Upon waking up, he is ready to use his knowledge to not only wake up the rest of humanity, but to also restart civilization. He thinks analytically, but never unemotionally. Even when he tries to play up the “only cares about science” angle against Tsukasa, his bluff is easily called. But Senku is always thinking and is usually several steps ahead of his opponent. He has some great catch phrases too. When he is confident about something, he’s always “10 billion percent” sure it’s going to work. When he figures out how to do something, it’s “Get excited!” But he does have a bit of a mad scientist side to him, as he thinks more about how people can help him achieve his goals than making friends.

The side characters are a lot of fun too. Taiju gets just as excited as Senku about science, even if he doesn’t know what Senku is talking about. But he is always ready to help Senku and do whatever he needs. Yuzuriha, Taiju’s love interest, doesn’t get much development in these volumes, but is a supporter of Senku and Taiju, and uses her handicraft skills to help whenever she can. Tsukasa is scary as the villain, especially since his motivations are relatable, even if his methods are not.

The first two volumes establish Senku and Tsukasa’s rivalry. The remainder of the volumes occur at a village Senku discovers while searching for allies against Tsukasa. He makes friends with Kohaku, the daughter of the chief and a stronger fighter, and Chrome, a boy who discovers some of the basics of science while searching for a cure for Kohaku’s sister Ruri. Chrome becomes Senku’s assistance, and gets just as excited about new discoveries as Senku. One of the things I found amusing is whenever Senku acquires a new skill or item, it is declared like a video game achievement; “Glass Achieved!” Senku wins over the villagers with his science, but also learns a startling secret about the village that kept me reading through volume 6.

The art is detailed and well done. All of the characters are distinct in look as well as personality. With each character awakening nude, the artist Boichi came up with a lot of funny and imaginative ways to cover them until clothes were provided. It’s still a shonen series, so the art can lean into male gaze territory, but not too much so.

Dr. Stone is an entertaining series that does a good job of turning some of the tropes of shonen manga on its head. Senku’s strength doesn’t come from his muscles or fighting skills. It comes from his knowledge and ability to think through a situation. I hope this manga shows kids that science can be just as cool as martial arts!

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Lori Henderson About Lori Henderson

Lori Henderson is a mother of two teenage daughters and an avid reader. She blogs about manga at her personal blog Manga Xanadu as well as contributing and editing for Manga Village. She blogs about all things fandom (mainly Doctor Who) at her other personal blog Fangirl Xanadu. She's been at it so for over 5 years now and counting!

Comments

  1. SenkuBot3700 says:

    Very good review, Dr. Stone is by far the best edutainment I’ve ever read. I wish I had something this good growing up. Unlike most western media that tries to “make science cool” Dr. Stone looks at the reader and much like Senku himself very bluntly says “what’s the matter with you? there’s nothing cooler than science” and it’s very refreshing. It’s also great because science is about solving problems, and media doesn’t often do a good job portraying that, but with Dr. Stone that’s the whole plot. Yes kids, you too can save the world with science, and please don’t grow up to be an edglord with flawed ideology. Work together, try everything, do what you can, get excited.
    Bill Nye, take notes.

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