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By Sean Aitchison
What do you get when you combine a post-modern world, elements of isekai, shounen storytelling and just a pinch of edutainment? You get one of the most original and unique anime in recent years, Dr. STONE.
Based on the manga by Riichiro Inagaki and Boichi, Dr. STONE quickly became one of my all-time favorite anime, and with a second season coming sometime next year, now is the perfect time to binge the whole series and dive into the exciting world it builds!
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Dr. STONE easily falls into the category of “gateway anime”—that is, anime that you can suggest to your friends who have never watched anime, since it’s incredibly unique, original and has something for everyone.
So, both because I absolutely love the world building and smart writing of Dr. STONE, and because it’s a great starter series for new anime fans, I wanted to take a deep dive into the series to get all of you excited (as Senku would say) about this truly unique anime!
Welcome to the Stone World
Dr. STONE tells the story of Senku, a science prodigy who, along with the rest of humanity, is suddenly turned to stone by a mysterious flash of light. Thousands of years later, Senku wakes up to find a world changed beyond recognition, a world in which he must rebuild society to its former glory.
With the help of his friends and a peculiar tribe of humans, Senku seeks to, step-by-step, introduce engineering, electricity, medicine, communications and other essential sciences to the Stone World. In the process, he establishes the Kingdom of Science, which must face off against the Tsukasa Empire of Might, which values strength over knowledge, and seeks to prevent corporate greed and the values of the previous world from coming to fruition again.
Right from its jaw-dropping first episode, Dr. STONE is wholly unique, and what little it does borrow from post-modern conventions it subverts and molds into new territory for the genre. The same could be said of the shounen elements it incorporates.
Essentially, Dr. STONE has the same pattern of your average battle-focused shounen manga, but instead of power and martial arts driving the series, it’s science, intelligence and knowledge for a better world. It’s a smart shake-up and one of the many things that makes Dr. STONE so one of a kind.
Optimism and trust in science
The fun of Dr. STONE comes in two forms: the unfolding plot of Senku rebuilding society, and the science we learn along the way.
Without leaning too far into educational TV territory, Senku provides both his friends and the audience with scientific knowledge and a basic model for introducing sciences to the Stone World. Learning about this model for rebuilding society and actually seeing it in practice makes for an endearing story—we want to see them succeed, and we want to see things evolve with each scientific hurdle.
Without spoiling too much, it’s also endearing to see Senku build his Kingdom of Science in direct contrast to Tsukasa’s Empire of Might. This showcases an optimistic approach to the usually grim and gritty post apocalyptic genre, which I have talked about before, as this struggle provides a healthy layer of thematic complexion underneath already-dense world building.
We cheer for science and intelligence to win over the selfish ideals of Tsukasa’s empire, a poignant philosophical struggle that is ever-relevant and just adds to the power of Dr. STONE.
It’s difficult to categorize Dr. STONE—it blurs the genre line so well and in such a unique way that it defies categorization, and that’s a testament to how unpredictable it is.
This alone might give you reason to start watching the series, and once you dive in, you’ll find the subtleties—the concept of the Stone World, the substitution of super-powered battles for a war of wits, and crafting taking over for training sequences—will keep you invested.
Simply put, Dr. STONE is very, very smart. An odd mix of edutainment, optimism, isekai and post apocalyptic adventure, the series manages to capture you in the same way that fun science experiments used to capture us as kids and the same way that cool science videos on social media draw us in now.
The added bonus? It’s all applied to the captivating plot of rebuilding the world—all of which is told from the perspective of Senku, a young whizkid ready to show the world the true potential of science. Get excited!
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