Dr. Stone: Fast-Forwarding Through Human History

Samuel Pappas, Staff Writer

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Have you ever watched a speed run for a video game you used to play as a kid?

When you were young, the first level might have taken you an hour, and beating it might have taken you dozens of hours more. But someone who knows the game inside and out can dash through it in a couple hours or less, skipping entire sections and pushing the hardware to its limits in ways that you never imagined.

“Dr. Stone” is that. Except instead of a video game, It’s a manga series.

A mysterious and apocalyptic flash of green light turns every human in the entire world into a stone statue. To make matters worse, people remain awake as this happens, unable to see, hear or feel anything. 5,700 years pass without humanity until a Japanese high school student by the name of Senku breaks out of his stone shell and finds himself in a world completely reclaimed by nature.

Fortunately for humanity, Senku is a genius scientist who is dedicated to rebuilding the world. He knows all the tricks he needs to skip over millions of years of technological evolution while surviving the cruel wilderness. He does all this with the help of his best friend Taiju, a young man with a heart of gold and the face of a confused gorilla.

With Senku’s scientific knowledge and Taiju’s ability to do whatever Senku tells him to do, watching this team never gets boring.

“Dr. Stone” is a story about the strength of human curiosity. We live in a world with technology that we take for granted, but we only got to that point because someone managed to figure it out without dying in the past. You can only buy and drink milk today because thousands of years ago, someone thought it would be a good idea to drink the stuff that comes out of cows.

“Dr. Stone” follows Senku and his friends as he slowly grows his “empire of science” by convincing other people of the value it has in the new world. It’s the type of anime that exemplifies what I love about anime and hate about TV in the West; people aren’t jerks for shallow reasons.

Senku turns people over to his side by appealing to what science can do for them. If this were an American teen drama, Senku would have spent the first episode crying about how the world is different and slowly walking through empty fields. By episode 10, he would be in conflict with everyone around him because Netflix needs the cheap drama to make sure you are still watching and not just clicking “Next Episode” and then going back to browsing Twitter.

Senku could probably use science to determine that everyone who thinks “The 100” is a good show probably has their brain made of stone.

“Dr. Stone” has some funky character designs. We are meant to believe that these characters are teenagers, despite the fact that some of them are built like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. All of the female characters have this retro style to them that looks like a cross between Betty Boop and any character from a Studio Ghibli film.

If you can get over the weirdness of Senku’s hair looking like it’s made of leeks, then you’ll find that most of the actual science of “Dr. Stone” totally checks out.

Senku and company find themselves building pottery, bows, wine, glass, iron and other things to survive. As things progress, however, the team branches out into carbonated water, gas masks, gunpowder, cotton candy, antibiotics, water wheels, lightbulbs and radios. If the wiki page for the series is any indication, then at some point Senku will be able to make Christmas trees, wireless headphones, dynamite, tear gas, microscopes, lipstick, silent bombs, mercury-based detonators, drones and many other creations.

“Dr. Stone” is a brilliant and inventive series that currently holds my number one spot of the best animated series of 2019. It’s fun, lighthearted, inspiring and educational. It has an ending theme that sounds like every “Maroon 5” song from the early 2000s.

“Dr. Stone” is available for streaming on VRV, Funimation, Crunchyroll and other services people would never openly admit to having the paid version of.