As anime fans, we have to be very willing to suspend our disbelief. It’s how we get to enjoy shows about robots punching planets in half and people traveling to fantasy worlds inside computers. So when a show manages to combine excitement with actual science, it stands out.
Dr. Stone is one of these shows. In addition to being action-packed and well-written, its heroes are armed not with magic or super robots, but with the power of science. If that sounds like the kind of thing you might be into, read on — because if you’re a science nerd, there are lots of reasons Dr. Stone needs to get put at the top of your watch list.
More Like This:
- Kiki’s Delivery Service is More Relevant Than Ever 30 Years Later
- 7 New Anime to Check Out This Summer
- Love Evangelion? Imagine Going to School With Its Creator
1. The science is real
Shows that make up their own magic systems (and occasionally, like Gunbuster, their own alternate scientific history) are lots of fun. But how often have you gotten a Mr. Wizard level of education from a shonen anime?
The star of Dr. Stone is Senku, who’s sort of like a green-haired cross between Doogie Howser and Dr. House. He’s a legit science genius — so when the entirety of humanity is turned to stone by a mysterious light, it’s a good thing he’s the first to break out of his petrification (albeit 3,000 years later).
All the techniques Senku uses in the show, whether he’s making concrete or gunpowder, are completely accurate. In fact, each episode has a disclaimer concerning the formulas in the show, with characters occasionally breaking the fourth wall for “don’t try this at home” warnings. (Seriously. They almost blew themselves up with gunpowder. Really don’t try this at home.)
2. You’ll learn a lot
Senku’s first companion in the Stone World of the future is his best friend Taiju, a well-meaning bonehead who’s all in on Senku’s scientific revolution. While Taiju is an absolute sweetheart, he doesn’t even come close to Senku’s genius — and that’s a good thing for us, the viewers at home.
Taiju claims he’s happy to do the heavy lifting without thinking. But for things to go right, he has to have at least a basic understanding of what’s going on. Between that and Senku’s love of monologuing, we end up getting some pretty in-depth explanations of what the pair are doing at any given time.
This is deep-cut science, too. We’re talking the many unexpected things you can do with alcohol and random minerals easily found in nature. I’ve had a couple hip science teachers in my time, but never one who told me why it’s a good idea to make as much wine as humanly possible.
3. It helps you appreciate human ingenuity
Nowadays, we take all sorts of things for granted, from clean drinking water to good hygiene. But all those things had to be discovered and developed by our ancestors, who only had the natural world around them to work with. All those discoveries formed the foundation of what we have in our lives today.
As Senku and Taiju speed their way through the history of human development, we get to see the lengths early people went to to make construction materials, food, and soap. (We even get a series name drop: Senku refers to a bar of soap as a prehistoric “doctor stone,” thanks to its ability to kill germs.)
Taiju may want to speed straight to smartphones, but they’re already moving along at a fairly decent speed. Fortunately, the trial-and-error part of rebuilding isn’t an issue for Senku; he just has to find what the ancients already proved works. But even adding back all the time spent on failed experiments, humanity’s ability to build what it needs out of what the world gives us is astounding.
4. It pairs science with action and excitement
A lot of effort has been put into trying to attract students to STEM fields, but I’ve yet to see anyone but Dr. Stone mix education with barehanded lion fights.
This is a shonen series, after all. For those not versed in Japanese, shonen literally means “boy,” referring in this case to the intended demographic. Though nowadays, it’s a lot more indicative of what to expect than who’s engaging. Shonen manga have a largely teenage cast and lots of over-the-top action.
So far, Dr. Stone has Senku, a guy so smart he counted every second he was petrified so he could tell what year it was when he broke free; and Taiju, a guy so in love he waited 3,000 years to confess his crush. We’ve had fights with both other people and wild animals, explosions, and… you know, the fact that a couple teenagers are going to save the entire world. With science.
5. It reminds us that science is a tool anyone can use – for better or for worse
More characters join Dr. Stone’s Stone World as Senku discovers how to reverse people’s petrification. In particular there’s Tsukasa, a mixed martial artist who also happened to fight that lion I mentioned earlier. While he’s not quite on Senku’s level intellectually (but who is?) he’s no slouch — at the very least, he’s smart enough to follow Senku’s logic.
Tsukasa doesn’t agree with Senku’s plan to restore humanity. He’d prefer to rid it of corrupt, warmongering adults, then wake up all the kids and start fresh. He’s also going to need access to Senku’s technology: some to use, some so he knows how to combat it when Senku inevitably fights back. So, while the “Kingdom of Science” and “Kingdom of Power” are two separate entities, both rely on a balance of both intellect and strength — Senku and Taiju on one side, Tsukasa on the other — to be successful.
While Dr. Stone is all about hyping us for the power and ingenuity of science, it also reminds us that science in and of itself isn’t “good.” It just is. Anyone can use science for any ends, either to rebuild a world or to destroy an entire segment of the population. It’s the person, not the method, that dictates the morality. And even though Tsukasa talks about innocence and purity, it seems it’s the snarky Senku who’s the most gregarious.
Need more reasons to watch Dr. Stone? It’s got great opening and ending themes, cool animation, and a whole lot of interesting world-building. And at the rate Senku’s going, Taiju may have his Stone World smartphone sooner rather than later.