Dr. Stone is a manga series that mixes fantasy with sci-fi, sticking the protagonists in a sci-fi premise while also thrusting them into a Stone Age future and reducing the status of the world to the basics. It’s a series that’s quite clever and in this second volume we learn a bit more about the way they survived, as well as gain new insight into how Senku freed his best friend Taiju.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Senku, Taiju and Yuzuriha are well on their way to crafting gunpowder when they spot smoke far off in the distance. Convinced that it’s a sign of other humans, Senku takes a huge risk by sending up a smoke signal of their own. Meanwhile, Tsukasa is determined to stop their progress on gunpowder, and his arrival on the scene could spell the end for our heroes!
Why does this matter?
Dr. Stone is also an anime so you know the manga’s worth a damn since an animation studio is willing to turn it into a series. It’s also a fun premise that anyone can fantasize about since living in the wilderness with just your wits to keep you alive is a fantasy of many.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
I was impressed with this second volume due to some plot changing surprises as well as new reveals about how Senku and his friends survived thousands of years cast in stone. There’s direct conflict, new details are revealed, and there’s even some old school technology on full display. I can see young adults learning a bit from the narrative (we learn about how pulleys work and even get the formula for making gunpowder) which adds yet another layer to the overall package.
I have to hand it to story writer Riichiro Inagaki who comes up with a rather clever explanation as to how people could survive cast in stone for so long. We learn in the first volume that Senku never stopped counting so he knew how long he was stuck in the stone. That begs the question, how did he take in enough calories to keep on thinking? There’s a good explanation for that. There are also other reveals in a prequel chapter showing how Senku concocted the first elixir to break people from the stone, as well as all the inventions he came up with to show all the hairy monkeys that he was more than just a smooth and shiny monkey.
This volume also progresses the larger world’s story with potential for new characters. Series villain Tsukasa wants to rule the world as some kind of king, but his plans have yet to flourish. That said, the idea that there could be other people roaming about further complicates things and will surely change the gears of the plot quickly. That occurs in this volume with Tsukasa coming directly in conflict with Senku in a surprising twist.
It can’t be perfect can it?
I said this about volume one and it continues to be accurate: Taiju is a very boring character. He serves as comic relief, but the bulging eyes and highly emotional shtick gets old fast. Senku and Taiju are great friends, but it’s partly because Senku can manipulate him to help with his experiments. His explanation to Yuzuriha in the opening pages as to why he won’t tell her what he was going to say to her before they were cast in stone (that he loves her) doesn’t really make sense. He’s too dense to respect and his foolish behavior is too over-the-top to laugh at. Tsukasa is also underwritten and is somehow hyper intelligent and as powerful as Superman. He was just an aggressive jock and yet now he’s like some supervillain. It’s way too much to swallow.
Is it good?
I enjoyed this second volume even more than the first. Real answers are being delivered, there’s action, and the science-fiction elements are backed up with real science. It’s clever enough for adults, but young adults will love–and learn from–it too.