One of the surprising events of the recent Summer Season was the much anticipated Dr. Stone’s debut being a little rough. Here at AniTAY this series had a very mixed reception being relegated to “Honourable Mention” in the seasonal Should You Be Watching collaboration. This was due to a very strong contingent of authors who felt the series wasn’t that good. We even had an author who gave up the series (check it out here) pretty early on. Even myself one of the larger Shonen Jump fans was underwhelmed by the whole affair.
Obviously SPOILERS for the Dr. Stone anime
It is not to say Dr. Stone was bad, it was not. It just seemed odd that this series had climbed the ranks of Shonen Jump so quickly along with the amazing The Promised Neverland a series that lived up to all its hype. To be one of the new cornerstones of the magazine. A spot previously held by classics and mega hits such as Fist of the North Star, Dragon Ball, Bleach, Naruto, and One Piece. Basically, what was going on? Dr. Stone was just too basic to be this beloved.
I kept watching due to the promise of the series and the testimonials from many manga fans, that while things start slow it gets better. They just could not say when or how because it would ruin the surprise. Personally, now that time has passed I am glad they didn’t spoil it as it was pretty good.
Okay last chance big time SPOILERS
Senku the main character of the series is killed off. Well... sort of. Through some Xanatos Gambit BS he comes back safe and sound. However, from there the series shifts radically. Previously, it had looked like the series would follow a core group of three characters and the villain. Senku the “scientist”, Taiju the dull heavy, Yuzuriha the doe eyed love interest, and Tsukasa the insanely overpowered might makes right villain. Except, once all this was set up in the span of about four episodes Senku is killed, revived, and decides to send Taiju and Yuzuriha to spy on Tsukasa, who believe Senku his only threat is dead.
Following this Senku runs into a cute blonde local who introduces him to a village of new characters. At which point the other three “main characters” vanish as Senku embarks on creating his Kingdom of Science solo. Whereby he settles into the new village as his base of operations. There he quickly gains friends and allies of quirky Shonen Jump type characters (Suika being best obviously).
From here I surmise, the Dr. Stone that grew in popularity is formed as the series just flows better. This is unsurprising as the production company likely figured something like this would happen. As in four episodes it burned through 15 chapters of manga, two volumes. In the following three in only adapted seven, a much more traditional pace and it shows. The series flows so much better now, its like night and day.
Furthermore, the cast dynamics which are still forming is notably tighter. Previously, I found the main group Senku exempted, rather boring. There was just no flair to them, even their designs were uninspired. It is not surprising that series was softly rebooted, and this was a reboot allegedly to save the manga from cancellation. With only Senku moving on to star in the “Kingdom of Science” arc, the first true arc of the series.
For anime and manga pacing is vitally important. Too fast and people can get lost, too slow and people can get bored, think the first 24 episodes of Black Clover as an example, but if you hit that sweet spot it just works. For this reason, I believe it was a conscious decision on the part of the production company to push the prologue out of the way as fast as possible.
Instead, relying on the mangas popularity rather than the animes quality to keep fans attention. To quickly drive viewers to the real meat of the story. Personally, thinking back I do not know if I could have managed to stick through seven properly paced episodes of Senku, Yuzuriha, and Taiju without giving up.
However, thanks to the decision of the production committee to rush and yes harm the opening of the series, Dr. Stone has gained new potential to succeed. Which it has as last few episodes have been very entertaining. I recently watched three episodes pretty much effortlessly, an increasingly rare event with new series I have not yet grown attached too. All in Dr. Stone took a huge gamble with its production and pacing and I feel it has paid off. I cannot wait to see where the series goes from here and when Yuzuriha and Taiju do eventually return perhaps they will be a bit more interesting. Also with Iceborne’s launch I appreciate the Monster Hunter references.