The new hit anime Dr. Stone poses the question: what will one genius high school boy do after the collapse of civilization? But this isn't a zombie show, nor does it show a killer virus or alien invasion wipe out humanity. Instead, a mysterious energy wave swept the Earth one day, turning every last person (and swallows) into stone, right where they stand. No warning of any kind was given.
But this isn't the end! Some 3,000 years later, the budding scientist Senku breaks free of his stone cocoon and immediately resolves to restore humanity through the power of science. He frees his friends from the stone, builds shelter and gathers food, and much more. But even after Senku meets a whole village of people born natively in the new Stone Age, there are some lingering questions about where this world is headed.
10 Are people awakening from the stone outside Japan, too?
So far, the anime visits the former Tokyo area of Japan, since that is where the heroes woke up from the stone. For now, things are kept on a small scale, to help ease viewers into this new world and see the sights. It's possible that Dr. Stone will expand in scale later and show new regions, too, such as Hokkaido or Okinawa.
But one may wonder: are people breaking free of stone in the rest of the world as well? This was a global phenomenon, and there may already be freed people wandering the Saharan Desert, the steppes of Russia, or the Amazon Rainforest. If so, will they ever find a way to meet again, or will humanity be fractured now and forever?
9 Will old national and ethnic rivalries return?
The human race is a diverse one, and today, several thousand languages are spoken and there are just under 200 nations around the globe. And goodness knows they don't always get along. When and if humanity returns en masse in Dr. Stone's future, how will these people react when they meet in a new time and new world?
Some might be tempted to reignite grudges and national feuds from yesteryear, but perhaps they won't even see the point, since those old nations are gone. Why fight over borders that dissolved 3,000 years ago? But there's always a few radicals who are just spoiling for a fight...
8 Will more people challenge Senku's leadership and vision?
Dr. Stone would be pretty dull if Senku always got his way and if everyone just fell into line. The hero needs a good challenge, and already, the brawny Tsukasa threatens his life and his visions for the future alike. Senku has Tsukasa's budding Empire of Might to contend with, and the suspicions of the new tribe he met.
And given how radical Senku's methods and vision are, it's likely that he will get on more people's bad side, too. How many challenges to his vision can Senku handle? Will science win the day?
7 Will other native tribes appear?
For a few episodes, the known population of humanity could be counted on one hand. Senku, Yukihira, Tsukasa, and Taiju represented all of known Homo Sapiens. But soon, Senku stumbled upon a whole tribe of native-born Stone Age people in a village, numbering at least 40.
Now we're wondering: if this tribe was built and thrived in the new Stone Age, there could very well be others like it! It would be odd to think that this tribe is an anomaly, never to be repeated. Perhaps across the globe, there are already hundreds or thousands of such villages, each living in isolation. Put together, humanity could potentially number over a million!
6 Will organized religion return?
Belief in an all-powerful creator, spirits, and the supernatural are universal among humanity, and this goes back many millennia. There's actually two ways to approach about religion's possible role in the new Stone Age: will the major faiths of the old world return somehow, or are they gone for good, rendered irrelevant in this pragmatic world? And do the native Stone Age people have a faith system already?
So far, there's no clear sign of their spirituality, but it may be possible that an all-new faith system (or several) may soon be born. Senku might not be inclined to join in, though.
5 Will fossil fuels be used again?
Humanity has always needed energy to perform work, from manual labor from people and animals to burning coal and oil to today's solar panels and wind farms. But it's easier to invent a combustion engine or steam engine than a solar panel, and Senku's budding Science Kingdom will need power on an industrial scale someday.
For now, he's got a hand-cranked generator, but that won't cut it to power an entire town. Will Senku bring back the steam engine? Or is he opposed to pollution and thus seek a head start on clean energy?
4 Will new nations form?
Over time, the human race moved on from tribes of hunter-gatherers to city-states, which were the norm for a long time. Eventually, all sorts of kingdoms and empires grew around the world. Today, we've largely traded kingdoms for countries with elected rulers, but the core idea is the same.
Once the Stone Age's population becomes large enough, it may be tricky to coordinate everything without a formal civilization and central government of some sort. And what if the people form several? Japan could end up a series of small nations that may or may not get along!
3 What economic model will be used?
A lot of aspects of Stone Age humanity's future are undecided, since everything is still on a small and primitive scale. If Senku gets his way and he revives thousands of people for the Science Kingdom, he'll have to figure out what sort of economic model to follow. Will he launch a new era of might-makes-right capitalism?
Or perhaps the Stone Age people will embrace a more egalitarian socialist model, based on communal ownership of the means of production and a new social security system? On a large scale, you have to do more than make pots or collect berries to earn your keep.
2 Can Senku deal with new diseases?
So far, Dr. Stone has only lightly touched upon this topic, but it is exremely important: how to deal with disease! Until the last century or so, disease has often been humanity's #1 killer, more than any war. Often, disease kills more soldiers in war than bullets or swords do, and families used to have numerous children because many died of infection.
And bacteria and viruses mutate all the time, so Senku's immune system could be fatally out of date in the new world. The same is true of anyone who has or soon will become free of the stone. If you get a fever, watch out!
1 Will money return?
This ties in with the question about what sort of economy will develop in the Science Kingdom. For a small tribe of 40 people, money serves no real purpose, since it's always clear who needs what and at what time. Yet as the Stone Age society grows, money may become a necessity once again. In history, money appeared quite early, and even the Mesopotamians had accountants and kept records of financial transactions.
The three requirements of currency are 1) the coins are easy to carry around, 2) the coins are durable, and 3) the coins have commonly accepted value. It may not be difficult for Senku and his friends to meet those three criteria with a new monetary system that they invent.