Nerdbot Manga Review: Dr. Stone by Riichiro Inagaki
Nerdbot would like to thank VIZ Media for providing a review copy of Dr. Stone Vol. 1
I didn’t realize how starved I was for an amazing graphic novel until I finished this book.
Dr. Stone, newly published by Viz Media, is a fantastical adventure story of survival by writer Riichiro Inagaki and artist Boichi. It’s the story of survival and the rebirth of society. As taken from the back of the book:
One fateful day, all of humanity was petrified by a blinding flash of light. After several millennia, high schooler Taiju awakens and finds himself lost in a world of statues. However, he’s not alone! His science-loving friend Senku’s been up and running for a few months and he’s got a grand plan in mind – to kick-start civilization with the power of science!
Even this description doesn’t adequately build this world and demonstrate the pull this powerful story has. Off the bat, our main character Taiju has finally built up the nerve to tell the adorable Yuzuriha (his crush of five years) how he feels about her. Before he can confess his love, there’s a flash of light that turns all the humans on earth to stone. It’s pointed out that birds have been turned to stone as well, but somehow lions, fish, and plant life have been spared.
Once the humans become stone, their consciousness/brain power slowly starts to fade unless they’re continuously thinking. Taiju thinks about Yuzuriha for literally 3,700 years until out of nowhere, the stone cracks away from his face and he’s free from his petrified bondage. His girl-crush is still a stone statue, clinging onto the tree he instructed her to grab right as the flashing light spread over the earth. Taiji wanders aimless for a tiny bit before bumping into his friend Senku, a super smart, science-loving Shonen guy with excellent hair. He’s actually the character on the front of the book and the titular Dr. Stone.
Together, the two begin to figure out how to create a liquid solution that will bring people back to life and remove the stone from their bodies. They do, but obviously the process takes a while and not very much of the solution is generated at once. But when they’re attacked by a lion and discover the petrified body of their classmate Tsukasa Shishio (an incredible fighter who is intensely brooding and questionably dangerous) they choose to bring him back to life to save them instead of using it immediately on Taiju’s crush, Yuzariha (who Taiju is schlepping around Weekend at Bernie’s style). Eventually, after the lion is dead and the three guys wander around for a while, Yuzuriha is brought back as well as their (somewhat underwhelming) fourth. It’s funny how strongly this male writer can build a world rich with lore but giving a female character some personality and stakes is a mystery.
There are so many strengths to Dr. Stone that it’s astonishing. The art is amazing and the action is easy to follow and so incredibly drawn. The four characters we’re following are wildly distinctive. Four teenagers alone in a dead world. There are aspects that are familiar to any “we’re the last ones here” survival stories, such as Lord of the Flies, The Walking Dead, or even the boorish comedy The Last Man on Earth.
Without directly addressing the unspoken questions, Dr. Stone leaves the reader with questions. What was that flash of light that turned humanity to stone? What caused the Senku and Taiju to wake up after 3,700 years? What is Senku “Dr. Stone” thinking? Is he in cahoots with someone backstage? IS there someone backstage that is facilitating all of this? Will Tsukasa rebel from the other boys and build his own violent society? Will Senku and Taiju turn against each other? What will Yuzuriha’s role be in all of this? Will we have a love story, fight for the girl, or any sort of story line like that? WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN NEXT?
I guess I’ll have to buy Volume 2 to find out.
I give Dr. Stone a 5 out of 5