Shonen is easily one of, if not the most popular genre of anime. Unfortunately, this makes standing out increasingly difficult. While many attempt to ape the high-octane action of staples such as Dragon Ball and Naruto, fewer attempt the exhaustive world building of One Piece. Riichiro Inagaki and Boichi's Dr. Stone falls more in line with the latter, bringing with it a strange yet interesting premise, and characters that seem to turn old tropes on their heads. With the anime hitting Toonami this month, here's a closer look at the series' premise, creative team and when it airs.
The World of Dr. Stone
The Dr. Stone manga revolves around high schoolers Taiju and Senku, who, along with the rest of humanity, are turned into stone by a sudden flash of light. They are both able to escape from their rocky prisons, only to find that it has thousands of years. Together, they vow to use Senku's vast scientific knowledge to free humanity from its stone prison and restore the Earth.
While trying to recover Yuzuriha, Taiju's love interest, they eventually encounter the violent Tsukasa Shishio. He embarks on a quest to create a society based around the survival of the fittest, restoring only the young to their non-petrified states. Thus, his clan of brute force and savagery comes to oppose Senku's Kingdom of Science, which seeks to restore humanity.
Dr. Stone sets itself apart from most Shonen manga with its comparative lack of emphasis on fighting and action. Though it still features some action scenes, the bigger focus of the series is its world building, or rather, rebuilding. This has garnered Dr. Stone favorable comparisons to One Piece. The manga is immensely popular in Japan, and among Shonen Jump's most beloved ongoing series.
Much of this development and building focus stems from the protagonist. Senku is not a fighter, instead relying on his immense scientific acumen to solve problems. Inagaki has spoken about how this was an intentional choice, saying he wanted a "normal" manga protagonist instead of the usually flashy and over-the-top heroes in the Shonen genre. He also wanted to focus on someone with a cool role that wasn't usually given a lot of limelight, such as a scientist or researcher. This cerebral protagonist is more cunning than his brawler counterparts, while also sharing in the familiar optimism of Shonen heroes. His absolute belief in science, as well as his rather blunt method of relaying information, characterize him in a way usually reserved for side characters or mad scientists.
In another inversion of manga tropes, Taiju is the physically more imposing of the two series leads. This strength extends to even the most menial of tasks, being the brawn to Senku's brain. He lacks the hot blooded demeanor of most strong characters in manga, having an exceptionally cool, pacifistic personality. Taiju is also unable to admit his feelings for Yuzuriha, showing a more shy, timid personality.
Even the animalistic Tsukasa is given a believable reason for his vendetta against his elders, and thus a justification for why this "new world" should only be filled with those who have remained untainted. In fact, he and Senku initially start out as allies, until their divergent worldviews force them to go their separate ways. The development of their relationship, and the subsequent formation of their two distinct clans, is a perfect example of the detailed world building featured in the franchise.
The Creators Behind Dr. Stone
Dr. Stone is written by Inagaki, who who is most well known for his other Weekly Shonen Jump manga series, Eyeshield 21. This American Football themed manga was very popular, lasting for almost seven years. The anime adaptation ran for 145 episodes. Inagaki has had several one-shots series' for WSJ, but Dr. Stone is his first ongoing series for the publisher since 2009. Boichi, a South Korean artist, illustrates Dr. Stone. He's an award-winning artist who received acclaim for his work on Sun-Ken Rock, a gangster manga focused on a high school dropout who becomes a police officer in Korea.
The anime adaptation of Dr. Stone, announced in Weekly Shonen Jump in 2018, is animated by TMS Entertainment. The studio is behind such notable anime series as Monster Rancher, Sonic X, Bakugan, D.Gray-man, as well as the recent second adaptation of Fruits Basket.
Where to Watch
For viewers outside of Asia, the series is streamed by Crunchyroll. Funimation is also providing a simuldub of the series. The series will be broadcast on the Toonami block of Adult Swim on August 24, allowing cable viewers to see what the fuss is about with one of the hottest manga/anime series running right now.