Dr. Stone 001 – Review
Reviewed by: Tom
Synopsis: Taiju Oki is a big muscle bound oaf. But he has his heart in the right place. In fact, today’s the day he plans on finally confessing his love to his long time crush, Yuzuriha. After getting his blessing from his best friend, Senku, an arrogant and confident mad science student, Taiju rushes into action. But just as he’s about to profess his feelings for Yuzuriha, a brilliant light shines over the world– and turns him and everyone else to stone!
Warning: Spoilers to Follow:
Dr. Stone is all set up. This first chapter offers little beyond a brief introduction to our characters and a whole lot of what’s ultimately backstory to where the series will be going from here. But what’s offered in this chapter is very interesting, creating a scenario that is both gripping and screaming for answers. It helps that what characterization it offers for both Taiju and Senku generally allows the reader to grow attached to them. Though Taiju is currently a far more likeable and understandable character that Senku. Let’s jump in.
Dr. Stone opens with Taiju Oki, a loudmouthed muscle type guy professing to his friend, Senku, that today is the day when he confesses his love for Yuzuriha. Senku, a science nerd with some crazy hair, calls his friend a fool for waiting so long. But offers him a love potion he’s devised that’ll give Taiju a 10 billion percent chance of assured success. Taiju takes the vial and pours it out, saying he won’t cheat his way into Yuzuriha’s heart. This scene is probably when Dr. Stone is at its weakest. This interaction feels a tad forced, as Senku later notes that Taiju would never have accepted the love potion in the first place, so why offer it? It’s clear the scene is really here not to offer any insight into Senku, but rather Taiju and how honest and forward he is. It’s contrived, and the one place where I feel like the writing could use some work.
Outside Taiju meets Yuzuriha, who jokingly asks if he’s called her here to do a love confession. The rest of the class watches on from the classroom above, sure that Taiju is about to strike out. Although Senku bets that Taiju’s love confession is going to go contrary to expectations. However just as Taiju is about to confess a brilliant light flashes over the world.
Without any more warning Taiju is struck by the light while protecting Yuzuriha and turned to stone. We discover it’s not just him, the entire world is suddenly turned to stone. Planes crash, cars collide and more chaos ensues as people are frozen, stuck inside their minds. Even our ‘lovably’ inept President, is turned to stone and trapped inside himself, his mind slipping away until even his thoughts have gone silent. It’s all set up for Dr. Stone’s ongoing narrative, but even this event is really interesting. The art, which is quite eye catching, does an incredible job of portraying this intriguing yet kind of horrifying event as it sweeps across the world. Though I could do without a reminder though that Donald Trump would be our last President in this scenario.
The entire Earth goes silent, save for Taiju, who continues to scream inside his mind, refusing to lose consciousness. He ends up thinking back to earlier in the day, when a stone bird had fallen into a nearby bush on his way to school. Most assumed it was just some artistic creation, but Taiju worried it was a living animal. He rushed it to the vet clinic, only to discover they don’t open till ten in the morning. There he met Yuzuriha, who found another bird and also, as they both assumed, foolishly mistook it for an animal in need. It’s great that we go back and explore our two characters and in order to get the reader into the story faster. This flashing back is probably the best way to have done it. We got to the twist much faster than if this sequence had been at the start of the chapter.
Moving back to the present, we discover that most animals, outside of the poor birds Taiju and Yuzuriha had found, were unaffected by the same light that turned mankind to stone. A dog runs around his now petrified owner, wolves growl in the night and monkeys ransack nearby homes. This part gives me pause on a technical level since we saw the birds turn to stone, but not other animals. I can’t decide if this is a plot hole, or a vague clue as to the nature of this petrification. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
Taiju, stuck inside his own head, struggles to keep his consciousness from fading, even as floods rush in and carry him away, ripping other stone people apart. Years, Decades and Centuries pass as human civilization is torn apart by the ravages of time. The only thing that keeps Taiju from passing out is his undying love for Yuzuriha.
Finally, several thousand years later, Taiju breaks free of the stone and awakens. He finds himself amongst an overgrown grove of other stone people, many of whom have now shattered apart. He puts the pieces of one woman back together and prays for her before continuing on. He gradually finds his way back to what’s left of the school and finds Yuzuriha, thankfully unarmed, a stone statue tucked against the tree he’d told her to hold onto.
Without any way to free her, Taiju finally confesses his feelings to her, that he’s loved her for thousands of years. He promises to save her. But then notices writing on the tree behind her, a message left for him. Taiju heads down the river as the message instructed and finds Senku! Apparently he also awoke from their stone slumber.
Senku knows the exact date, as he kept his consciousness from slipping away by counting every second of every day he was frozen. As it turns out Senku woke up just a few months earlier and has been working to keep himself alive till Taiju awoke. With the two of them back together, they decide that it’s up to them to not only rebuild human civilization, but to discover why everyone was turned to stone and even save them from that lingering fate.
Outside of a couple minor issues, I’m extremely happy with Dr. Stone’s introduction and where the story seems to be headed. It feels like it’ll be awhile before we really learn what’s going on and it’s going to be a real shame if Dr. Stone doesn’t get picked up from this set of Jump Starts. Like with Hungry Marie, I’m crossing my fingers I’ll get to talk about this one again.
Let me know your thoughts on Dr. Stone in the comments below!
Dr. Stone can be found in Shonen Jump and will be available to read for free at Viz.com.