(graphic via JPReckless)
The doctors made their last house call, now that Dr. Stone’s second season has concluded. The Stone Wars have ended, the dust has settled, and the future promises high seas adventures (what is this, One Piece?). But what was it that made this journey special? What truly shined, stuck out, and what maybe didn’t work, and how did this show affect the Toonami community? There’s a lot to unpack here, so as Senku would say, get excited!
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Dr. Stone is a favorite of many fans (including myself). I’ve talked about the beloved series l before on several occasions, so it makes sense that I would do the honor of writing a retrospective on all the ins and outs of what made Dr. Stone take the spotlight above others. After all, season one was a huge hit thanks to Senku’s maniacal inventions, fun characters, and a surprising touch of dueling ideologies that are debated in the world today. So when fans became aware of the second season’s eventual broadcast (starting May 15), you can imagine how excited fans became! It has a fantastic mesh of drama, morality play, comedy, and, of course, science class!
With Dr. Stone’s second season, we were treated to many new characters, but what stood out to me more than anything was the resolve of nearly every character to pursue their goals doggedly. This central theme among the characters starts to be apparent pretty quickly with Senku and Gen’s plan to use the recording of Lillian alongside Gen’s impersonation of said pop star to win over members of the Tsukasa Empire. The resolve to win a bloodless battle puts the duo into the idea that they’re bad people for it (though somehow, I don’t think this quite qualifies as that). This plan backfires initially, but thanks to Senku and Gen’s quick wit, they both could find a way to convert many high-ranking officers on Tsukasa’s side to switch. And thanks to this, the battle becomes more complex than viewers were led to believe.
And this plot point was just one of many that captivated the Toonami audience. There are many amazing scenes of resolve this season from Yuzuriha’s amazing project of saving the shattered statues, Tsuakasa’s plans, Hyoga’s desire for a bloodless end to the conflict, and Homura’s unyielding devotion to Hyoga (for some reason). This resolve is most epitomized with Chrome, however. He shows insane levels of conviction in becoming the decoy to allow Gen to escape, but then to not only tell Tsukasa off but to proudly announce that he was a scientist. A move that began to make Ukyo waver in his loyalties to the point he lied about where he found Chrome and even later slipped him a battery to help our scientist escape. Speaking of that escape, while Senku was working on a grand rescue plan by creating a tank (I teased in a prior episode that this looks like stone age Mario Kart), Chrome learned that would prove disastrous due to the traps. Taking his fate into his hands, he managed to scrounge random bits and bobs, and then with said help from Ukyo, got an escape in a way that was both genius and hilarious. One of the finer little arcs of the series that help solidify the charm that Dr. Stone has. The end of all of this comes down to Senku’s resolve to force Tsukasa to a ceasefire with explosive paper airplanes (no, I am not making this up). Still, it’s incredible to see a war resolved essentially by force of will more than anything else. Of course, following that, we see Senku and Tsukasa team up to take out the dastardly Hyoga.
The one prominent sore spot for many viewers, myself included, was the sudden shift on Tsukasa from a horrid villain to a sympathetic ‘hero.’ It certainly was amazing to see him team up with Senku, especially with the older theme music playing. But it became increasingly difficult to accept Tsukasa since he hadn’t changed, learned his lesson, or even stated a desire to repent. He was just happy to have his sister back, and everyone shrugged their shoulders at the fact that despite his intentions, he’s still a mass murderer.
Don’t get me wrong; I am all for redeemed villains. They tend to be my favorite characters due to the character growth that comes with that. But we get no such character development for Tsukasa. He merely switches sides because of a promise to save his sister and for Hyoga being even worse than he is. We get no attempts at atonement (see Endeavor in My Hero Academia for that), no challenges to his worldview that make him rethink things. And what’s more frustrating is that he didn’t see the error of his ways or the positive impact science can have on the world to make things better. Instead, Tsuakasa refuses to budge, even going out of his way to say he hasn’t changed his mind, and he is the same muscle-headed brute bent on a world for the ‘pure.’ He didn’t acknowledge the types of lessons Senku was teaching and it showed.
That’s the only blemish on an otherwise *fantastic* season of one of my favorite Weekly Shonen Jump properties in the current era. It was terrific to see Senku pull one hair-brained scheme after another, to see the cast grow, change and learn what makes them tick as people. But Toonami viewers had their own ride through this season (that even had to cut itself short in the end). Like the fantastic doctoring skills of Senku, let’s diagnose how Dr. Stone’s second season hit the community.
Every Saturday, the Twitterverse blew up on the series and even trended at one point. We all seemed to have a lot of fun reacting to the wild inventions, hair-brained schemes, awe-inspiring plot twists, zany moments, and excitement the season had to offer us. Through all the commentary, what stands out most to me, was the love of the show’s wild nature, be it Senku’s plans, Chrome being an absolute mad lad, or just the high frenetic energy this show has. It’s unlike any other show on the block this way. Having heartwarming stories and fantastic characters, while necessary, doesn’t make the show stand out; that’s relatively standard Toonami fare. What Dr. Stone does that makes it stand out is the high energy and the linkage of the story events to actual science. It’s a breath of fresh air in a world dominated by heroes who toss energy attacks around and preach about never giving up. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s nice to have something different. Besides, if you want your dumb shōnen protagonist energy, we have Taiju for that! What also was exciting was the voice cast getting involved directly with the live-tweeting on Twitter – this is very rare but gratifying to see!
The excitement doesn’t end there, as Dr. Stone: Stone Wars is already slated for an encore performance on Sept. 9. For fans of the stone world, it’s encouraging to see the series return so quickly. If you missed this spectacular second season, your chance to see it again is coming soon!
But the series wasn’t only relevant when it was airing on the block. I wrote a preview before it even aired on Adult Swim (something we don’t always do at Toonami Faithful)! There were podcast episodes about the series, as we generally do on the Toonami Faithful Podcast), and it was awesome to hear all kinds of discussions based on the series. But I wasn’t alone in being excited for Dr. Stone’s landmark second season. Starting with its first episode, we covered the run consistently in our This Week in Toonami series, to which, if you aren’t reading yet, I highly recommend checking out even beyond the Dr. Stone fun. With the season over, it seems we’ll have to wait a while to see Senku become king of the pirates, erm wrong property. But we can all be ten billion percent sure that when the show does return, we’ll see more amazing character moments, more almost mad science, and heartwarming moments. Dr. Stone: Stone Wars took us all by storm, and it was a wild ride!
Don’t forget to listen to the Toonami Faithful Podcast!