MANGA REVIEW | "Dr. STONE" - Volume Two
There is no greater power than science. It's because of science that tools, weapons, medicine, and even the creation and destruction of life itself has become common knowledge in today's society. Dr. STONE, the collaborative work between Eyeshield 21 creator Riichiro Inagaki and Korean-born artist Boichi, pushes science over any sort of physical strength imaginable, and does so with such intensity and excitement. The latest volume of the heroes' quest to bring back life to Earth continues onward with that level of electricity.
Continuing on from where Volume One left off, the trio of the brilliant Senku, the brawny Taiji, and the handy Yuzuriha set out to create gunpowder to stop Tsukasa's plans of destroying many of the petrified people. However, a successful (yet dumb) explosion sets off smoke signals all across the land, with our heroes realizing that more people have awaken from their stoned prisons. After a face-off against the antagonist, the back story of what Senku went through before Taiji woke up is revealed, with his knowhow overcoming the greatest of obstacles that stand in his way. It's after this flashback when the true test of humanity is revealed, with Senku and his friends attempting to use science to overpower Tsukasa's strength and plans for a more "pure" human race.
It never takes too long for Dr. STONE to get going with the exciting parts, but even when things have calmed down it takes the opportunity to show the more common sensical aspects of our characters. With Taiji deciding to hold off from confessing his love to Yuzuriha, it gives the two a chance to flesh out what their friendship means between the two of them. Meanwhile, Senku dives into the pros and cons of responding to the smoke signals, as Tsukasa will more than likely find them quicker that way. He smartly decides that the future is far more important than their safety, bringing forth one hell of a stand-off against Tsukasa that uses a lot more brainpower than your average shonen series.
Where Volume One placed more focus on Taiji's antics, the spotlight was all on Senku this time around. His actions and intelligence are able to showcase the kind of mind skills he has to offer. Senku easily comes off as MacGyver with a doctorate, using what he has in front of him to create the most amazing tools of science and strength imaginable. The flashback sequence also gives both Inagaki and Boichi the chance to dive humorously into his origins, with young Senku coming off as a more dangerously funny mix of Dexter and Unikitty's Science Fox. (The commentary from the wild monkeys after he awakens adds to this zaniness.)
Speaking of Boichi, his artwork shines once more in this volume, be it the intense look in Senku's face when deep in thought or the more silly expressions from both Yuzuriha and Taiji. It's later in the volume when a new human appears where the action gets good, with the attention to detail on how the mysterious woman bends her body as she flips to evade Tsukasa's attack being very extraordinary. Perhaps the best part of the art is how nature is presented, with the forests brimming with as much life and beauty that a manga artist can bring forth. (According to Boichi in this volume's intro, the nature is his favorite part of the manga to draw.)
Dr. STONE amazed me with every page turned, and its second volume shows no signs of slowing down. Smart, funny, and filled with great action, the duo of Inagaki and Boichi have managed to concoct the perfect formula for an intelligent shonen series. Now that more members of human society have revealed themselves, it will be interesting to see how Senku, Taiju, and Yuzuriha manage to co-exist with the more nature-friendly types. From its first two volumes alone, Dr. STONE has potentially set itself up to being one of the best manga series of the decade. Get excited!
Promotional consideration provided by Erik Jansen of MediaLab PR