'Dr. Stone' Is A Hilarious And Oddly Educational Anime About The Power Of Science

(Welcome to Ani-time Ani-where, a regular column dedicated to helping the uninitiated understand and appreciate the world of anime.)After exploring the dark and complex existentialism of a '90s anime last time, this week we're jumping right back to the present for maybe the most anticipated anime of the summer season, which somehow still managed to be its biggest surprise. I'm talking about Dr. StoneYes, Dr. Stone is the highly anticipated adaptation of one of the most popular manga today, so chances of the anime being good were high. But with such high anticipations, the show still had to prove itself, and boy did it prove any naysayers wrong! It is easy to see why the manga is so popular and why its fans were so hyped before the anime premiered.Dr. Stone takes place thousands of years after a world-wide catastrophe turned every single human into stone. Strangely, high-schooler Senku Ishigami wakes up to find that all the technology and science he so dearly loved as a kid is gone. Not only that, but there's another human who woke up from petrification, and he's vowed to wake up an army of young brutes and govern the stone world.The show then deals with Senku's attempts to restore civilization by reinventing humanity's lost technology and find a cure for petrification in what he calls his "Kingdom of Science". It's a bit of a mix between The Flintstones and Bill Nye the Science Guy, seen through the lens of a superhero video game. And it is both hilarious and oddly educational.

What Makes It Great

Although Dr. Stone is based on a manga, it borrows heavily from the aesthetics of video games. In each episode, Senku sets a goal for himself: one tiny piece in a large and seemingly impossible task, be it to invent antibiotics or somehow make cellphones. These goals are set as quests, and every time Senku invents or discovers something important, a little pixelated graphic appears on the screen saying that item has been acquired. These quests also serve a practical purpose for the show. Because of the very complex things Senku sets out to do, he must micromanage, so Dr. Stone uses these little video game-like achievements in order to better show the progression our characters made and remind us of the type of pop culture Senku used to love and which has been lost for thousands of years. There are nods to classic video games like Super Mario Bros., Civilization, Dragon Quest and Monster Hunter. The real star of the show, though, is its love for science. You see, Senku is not only smart, he's a bit of a superhero. He is a literal know-it-all in that he can remember the entire history of humankind and also how every little thing is made. From the very first episode, Dr. Stone has gone to great lengths to make the science portrayed on the screen as accurate as possible. In fact, each episode ends with a disclaimer concerning that the formulas in the show are altered a bit in order not to give audiences a how-to lesson in making gunpowder. The show is even releasing a DIY science experiments book soon. Whether you've never had a big interest in science or if you've always been interested in the subject, Dr. Stone is just the kind of fun way of learning about how things are made, because it's all in service of the story. Watching Senku spend months making alcohol, or explain how the calcium carbonate found in limestone can be used as soap isn't just interesting – it becomes vital in the context of the show. The characters remember how good they had it before the petrification, so watching them achieve the smallest of victories in reclaiming their lost world comes as a huge emotional payoff.

What It Brings to the Conversation

While watching villagers react to Senku's newest invention – a cotton candy machine – is delightful, Dr. Stone's strength comes from how its focus doesn't lie with the science itself, but on the human resilience that paved the way for these inventions. As smart as Senku is (and he is ridiculously smart), the show shows him failing over and over again until he finally cracks the code. The battle between brains and muscles in the show is more than just about being smart, but about figuring out all the ways you're close-minded and adjusting accordingly.  Two of the best moments of the show involve Chrome, a guy who was born in the Stone World and is naturally curious and inclined to science, just like Senku. The first moment comes when Senku explains to him what happened to the world, and we see this profound sadness in Chrome's eyes as he realizes all the human accomplishments that were lost. It's a simple and short way of holding a mirror to the audience and ask them to reflect on how lucky we are to take clean drinking water and technology for granted, and also to convey the desperation of the characters and the importance of their task.The second comes in one of the most recent episodes, as Chrome takes a look at one of Senku's newest creations and sets out to surprise him – by building a watermill. In his mind, he's created this technological wonder that not even Senku can think of, but of course Senku (and the audience) are aware of what the creation is. Dr. Stone is not just a show about a genius teenager who can build things, but about the natural curiosity in humans and about how science, uh, finds a way. It's a show that takes great pains to remind us of the humanity that drives discovery and invention, usually by showing us pictures and illustrations of all the previous people who worked on the inventions and the different methods used by humans throughout history. It has a passion not only for science, but for humanity's ability to not sit idly by, but to go out and try to fix the world around them.

Why Non-Anime Fans Should Check It Out

Did you think science class at school was boring? Did you wish you could watch something better than a documentary on where soap comes from or how antibiotics were discovered? Are you tired of video game adaptations that don't really recreate the feeling of playing a game? Then you'll love Dr. Stone. The show actually teaches you not only how things like cell phones, furnaces, batteries and even Coca-Cola work and are made, but it teaches you the painful and arduous journey it took before those things were made and perfected – all while throwing the occasional fart joke.Due to the popularity and the wide mainstream appeal of Dr. Stone, this show combines most if not all the most used anime tropes today, and it kind of touches on the isekai genre I've mentioned here before. But just like how My Hero Academia uses traditional tropes and clichés effectively to tell something new, Dr. Stone takes these tropes and creates something completely unique, and damn entertaining.Watch This If You Like: Bill Nye The Science Guy, Dexter's Lab, the works of Carl Sagan, watching video game cutscenes.


Dr. Stone is streaming on Crunchyroll.