Shonen Jump has been having a rough time keeping new series in their magazine over the past few years, especially series that could replace long-running classics like Naruto and Bleach. Every so often a series like School Judgement will stick, only to be cancelled after a few volumes. The only series to really stick around for the long haul in the last couple of years have been Food Wars, My Hero Academia and Black Clover (with the later two being the more recent additions to Shonen Jump’s catalog of long running series). The Promised Neverland is showing signs of promise as it consistently does well in the weekly rankings (despite some poor pacing) and could be another series we will be seeing a lot of over the next few years.
Despite the relatively low success rate of series becoming big hits the authors keep going to Jump in order to try and hit it big. With the latest batch of new series to be featured in the magazine, one series in particular has been keeping me coming back for more each week, that series being Dr. Stone, a story written by the author of Eyeshield 21 with some crisp and expressive art to accompany it. I think the series has the potential to join the ranks of all the other series I had talked about and become one of Jumps new long running hits.
Published By: VIZ Media
Story By: Riichiro Inagaki
Art By: Boichi
The premise of Dr. Stone is pretty simple. One day a large ray of light engulfs the earth. turning everyone into stone. Animals and plant don’t seem to be affected (though some birds are turned to stone as well) so the wilderness begins to take back the earth that is now deprived of human activity. That is, until to young highshool kids find themselves waking up from their 3,700 year slumber and begin their mission to save humanity from extinction.
The two boys that first awaken are Senkuu and Ooki Taiju, who are more defined by their stereotypes than anything else. Senkuu is a science loving genius, who basically knows everything about anything. He is the backbone of the plot, because with him the characters can create anything they need. He is able to advance civilization thousands of years from the stone age (which is basically where they start) in days by creating things like gunpowder from his knowledge of the sciences. He is also the only one so far able to come up with a method to save humanity, which he finds through rigorous testing and experiments as he tries to reverse the petrification. Taiju on the other hand is a bit of an idiot, but he is one of those strong willed (and physically strong) characters that just never gives up. Everything about Taiju and the actions he takes run off this idea, which is that he can will himself to do whatever needs to be done because of his inexhaustible stamina and willpower. He essentially becomes the guy who has to do all the physical labor.
With both brains and brawn the duo take up the task of saving humanity and restoring civilization. Fairly early on they encounter their first roadblock in the form of another character that fits a very specific archetype, Tsukasa Shishiou. His archetype is that of a supervillain, as he is incredibly powerful (he takes out a pack of lions with his bare hands) and incredibly cruel. In his mind he thinks that humanity has been given a second chance, and it is his duty to ensue that only those who are worthy to be saved are saved, while everyone else is crushed (essentially killing them).
With the characters being nothing more than basic archetypes, they don’t feel all too interesting. There isn’t much depth or room for character growth here, since they are basically all incredibly skilled in whatever task it is they are meant to do in the series. That isn’t to say the series is dull or passable however, as I found myself enjoying the story as it progressed each week. So far the pacing has been tight, keeping the story going at a fast enough pace to keep me interested without feeling like it is being rushed to get to a specific place. The introduction of Shishiou has kept me on my toes as to wondering what he will do next, since he has already clearly shown that murder is not below him if it means he can create his ideal world. The fact that the characters are no where near as strong as him, and therefor have to use their brains to defeat him, is also refreshing. Too many series will have its characters just defeat an opponent out of nowhere, even though the opponent was more skilled and more powerful. Instead Senkuu has to come up with a plan to defeat Tsukasa using his knowledge of science and put it into motion before he can notice. Instead of having Taiju just become an incredible fighter all of a sudden to beat Tsukasa, the series plays to its strength in using Senkuu’s superhuman knowledge to solve it problems.
Honestly, I am enjoying Dr. Stone so far. Its fun and engaging, keeping me coming back for more each week. It has its flaws for sure, falling into some cliche shonen tropes (having Taiju and Yuzuriha stay apart for no real reason at all) and its flat characters. But the amazing art gives the characters personality where the writing doesn’t, and the story has been fun to follow so far. Hopefully, the series is able to go one for a while more so it can grow and expand on the world and characters. Tsukasa actually has hints of a tragic backstory that could be interesting to learn more about, and there are hints at other characters joining the fray soon. I’ll be keeping up to date with it, and this is one of the few Jump Start series I would recommend others to check out!
Recommendation: Try It