Riichiro Inagaki and Boichi’s Dr. STONE Vol. 7 is out this week, which means it’s time for more science, adventure, and wacky faces. What new inventions does Senku come up with this time around? Is this volume good?
As always there’s a lot to love about Boichi’s art. The line-work is extremely polished and the characters look great. There are all manner of over-the-top expressions, with eyes popping out of their sockets and all. There are also a number of poignant moments where Boichi closes up on a character’s face and the details say it all, no narration necessary. Shots of Chrome’s eyes widening and a hyper-detailed rendering of Kaseki crying are examples of this. The settings also continue to look lovely thanks to the sheer amount of realistic detail in the shading and textures. Between the hyper-cartoony comedic bits and the majesty of nature, this volume is consistently a pleasure to look at.
Unfortunately there is one glaring exception: the fan service. This series’s depictions of women and girls have never been great, but they’re especially (unintentionally) comical here. Look no further than the literal cover and you’ll see Kohaku contorted in a position with no logical explanation except for placing her ass front and center. There’s another notably bad splash page with Kohaku and Ruri wearing next to nothing and their breasts struggling against all sense of physics and reason to take up as much of the page as possible. One of their breasts literally appears to be jutting upwards diagonally. There are a lot of aspects of this series that I appreciate; the sexualization of girls is not one of them.
Fortunately the science here is awesome. Senku and co. get to work on several new inventions that help improve life in Ishigami Village while also making further innovation all the easier. The progression throughout is really effective as each step logically leads to the next while also managing to never feel predictable. From vacuum tubes to phones, the creative team explains the hows of technology in easy to understand ways that make Senku’s love for science infectious.
There’s also a surprising amount of character development in this volume. Kaseki’s importance to the team gets further reinforced and it’s quite heartfelt. He’s one of the oldest protagonists in any current Jump comic and it’s nice to see so much page-time given to an elderly and non-conventionally attractive character. Chrome also gets some touching moments that further highlight how his role is distinct from Senku’s despite their both being science buffs. Senku meanwhile has his importance to the village highlighted; he’s come a long way in bonding with people who once saw him as a troublesome outsider. Even Magma gets a little time to shine as more than just a brutish antagonist.
Overall, Dr. STONE Vol. 7 is a highly enjoyable volume. Its strengths are largely those of the series as a whole: beautiful art, solid character work, and an infectious love for science. Unfortunately the fan service is some of the worst in the manga thus far, to the point where it’s gotten more difficult to look past. If you’re willing to tolerate the physics-breaking girls though, this book is well worth reading.