Hello and welcome back to Manga Talk!
I have come back from my break refreshed and ready to talk about manga again!
Speaking of being refreshed, today we are taking a look at a manga where coming back is the premise of the story.
We are taking a look at the first volume of the manga Dr. Stone, and as usual there will be MASSIVE SPOILERS for this first volume, so please read it if you can.
Let’s get started!
The story begins with a young man named Taiju who tells his friend Senku that he is finally going to confess to his crush of five years, Yuzuriha.
Senku is nonplussed, focusing more on science then love, but has the confidence that his friend will confess his love successfully.
As Taiju begins his confession, a burst of light shines over everyone in the world, and all the people begin to turn into stone.
There is a montage of people statues breaking, which implies their deaths, and nature taking its course, with Taiju’s statue being dragged away after a flood.
While everyone is stone, their minds are still working, and all Taiju has on his mind is Yuzuhira.
One day, Taiju is freed from being a statue, and begins to surveil the situation. He goes over to the spot where Yuzuhira is and finds that her statue is safely bound by the trees roots, and along with it a message.
Taiju knows one person who could have written the message and goes to find that his friend Senku is alive, and has been surviving for at least six months.
Senku, being very intelligent, calculates that it has been 3,689 years and 158 days since they were turned to stone, and he had a feeling that Taiju would wake up and the with Taiju’s resilience and strength paired with Senku’s intelligence, the two set off to save humanity.
The two work together, with Taiju doing the manual labor and Senku doing the science to figure out their situation, they find a way to use nitric acid coming from bat guano and using grapes to make wine and then brandy to make an industrial corrosive agent known as nital.
It takes a year of trial and effort, but they eventually manage to make the correct liquid to set people free. Senku says that since Taiju came up with using grapes to make wine, that he can choose who they revive first, and he obviously chooses Yuzuhira.
When they go to retrieve her, and have an argument on her state of dress, they are attacked by lions, and they run away with the statue of Yuzuhira.
Taiju offers to hold the lions back, but Senku states that he isn’t strong enough to take on a pride of lions. Taiju then remembers that he saw the statue of a student named Shishio Tsukasa who was known as “The Strongest Primate High Schooler”.
They use the serum to revive Tsukasa and after Senku gives him the situation, Tsukasa immediately and quickly kills the lions that were attacking them.
While Tsukasa is grateful for the two for saving him, Senku gets a bad vibe off of him, but they continue to group up to work on saving humanity, with Tsukasa being their hunter.
Senku says that their next goal is to get calcium carbonate, which will be useful for agriculture, making cement for sturdier buildings, soap to disinfect wounds, and a secret fourth reason.
As Taiju goes to collect seashells for the calcium carbonate, Senku confronts Tsukasa about his true motives. Tsukasa says that they have the ability to revive whoever they want, and that they should focus on reviving the young people of the world and not the older people.
His reasoning is that the older people of the world will be grateful at first, but things will eventually devolve into wanting more things, which would victimize the weak and poor like before.
This is emphasized with him telling the story of a young boy, who was gathering seashells for his sick sister, was beaten by an older man for supposedly stealing the shells that were on the shore line, also destroying (aka killing) a statue of a nearby old man.
Senku firmly disagrees with this notion, as he intends to save all of humanity. There is some tension between the two, but they go back to camp, with Taiju coming back to say that they have enough fluid to bring back Yuzuhira.
When they go to check however, they don’t quite have enough. As Taiju is about to go off and get more, Tsukasa volunteers to go get it and Senku tells him the direction of the cave.
Senku knows that Tsukasa’s intention is to control the means of the serum, so Senku grabs more of the nitric acid that he had hidden and quickly begins to make the serum.
Tsukasa finds out that part of the component to make the serum is nitric acid, then proceeds on a statue smashing binge.
Senku tells Taiju the situation and they manage to free Yuzuhira, and she and Taiju have a touching reunion, which is broken up by Senku explaining that they have two options.
They either run away or they fight Tsukasa and stop him with what they have. They decide to stay and fight, but that option is only so effective.
Taiju manages to take a hit from Tsukasa, but only barely, and Tsukasa managed to catch a bolt from a crossbow that Senku made.
As Taiju hits the ground from the hit, Tsukasa decides to leave them alone, and to not stand in his way of cleansing the world.
As the trio recuperate, Senku explains that the only way that they can take down Tsukasa is by making one of the most powerful inventions made by humanity: firearms.
To do this, they need gunpowder and Senku says that their next destination is Hakone. They make a mess of their base, to make it seem like they left in a hurry, and make fake tracks to try and confuse Tsukasa of where they are heading.
They make their way to Hakone, with Yuzuhira finally being able to take in the fact that they have been imprisoned in stone for thousands of years.
Once they make it to Hakone, they rest in the hot springs, which is helpful for morale and since hot springs utilize geothermal vents, that means they have access to one of the components for making gunpowder: sulfur.
Tsukasa realizes where they were going and the race is on. Will Senku be able to make gunpowder before Tsukasa can find them?
This is an interesting take on a post apocalypse story. Most people on the planet are functionally alive, but are trapped in stone, and there is a way to get them out.
This provides an interesting conflict for the protagonists to deal with, and they don’t need to use some sort of magic powers to handle the situation.
In stories like these, there is either no solution at all or a solution that requires some wacky science fiction based method to solve. Here, they use actual science and scientific techniques to handle their issues.
Sure there are out there moments, like Tsukasa catching a crossbow bolt, but most of the situations that they need to deal with are based in the realm of actual science.
Senku is the best character by a mile because while he is a bit odd and eccentric, he does have the noble goal of saving everyone by using science and his methods are rooted with that mindset.
Even though they don’t get the correct answer right away, by following the scientific method with tenacity and determination, him and Taiju are able to find the right solution to undo the petrification process.
The second best character is the antagonist of Tsukasa. While he is not right in killing people, he does bring a salient point in how the world will go back to being how it was before everyone became stone.
It is very likely that humanity will go back to how it was, which would leave the poor and disenfranchised at the bottom with the ones who have more to use and abuse them as they please.
It presents an interesting form of conflict between Senku and Tsukasa, where they both want to bring humanity back, Tsukasa wants a world that isn’t poisoned by greed or malice and filled with pure hearted youth while Senku wants everyone back because he knows he can do it with the power of science.
The art is pretty good, with the character designs being the strongest part of the art. The characters have plenty of subtle details that make them unique, like Senku and Taiju having cracks on their bodies from wear and tear over the years.
Where the story suffers, in my opinion, is Taiju.
For most of the story, he serves as the focal point character, and he is intentionally made to be dumb so that Senku can explain what is going on in the simplest way.
He serves as an audience surrogate who lifts things up and puts things down.
Occasionally he is given good moments, but they are marred by the fact that he is made to be a dumb character that needs to be told what to do.
While Yuzuhira only becomes an actual character in the last two and a quarter chapters, she hasn’t really done much yet.
Her characterization, so far at least, has just been “Taiju’s crush” and token female character. This isn’t fair to her since, again, she has only been a primary character for a short period of time, and I hope she becomes more than what I fear she will be.
While Senku is the most enjoyable character, he can also come off as a deus ex machina with how he seems to know everything.
I get that’s the point, but there has to be a limit to the guy at some point. While Tsukasa poses a physical threat, Senku seems to have the solution to whatever issue that arises.
This is a trap that a lot of smart characters fall into, and while I don’t necessarily have an issue with it right now, I can see it becoming an issue in the future.
I would recommend this story if you want to see science being used to solve problems, and interesting clash of ideals between the protagonist and antagonist, and some great character designs.
I will probably follow the story since there are parts that have me intrigued, and I can see myself following the manga for a while.
On Friday, I will be taking a look at an interesting looking manga, which is done by an artist who has worked with DC and Marvel.
I will be looking at Witch Hat Atelier!
So until then,
Heiwa to sayonara!