He’s 10 billion percent sure of himself.
Season one of Dr Stone was a lot of fun. Or at least it was once I got into it. The first few episodes were interesting but didn’t really draw me in and it was mostly once Senku found the village and a whole bunch of other characters that I really became invested. Which means Stone Wars should definitely work for me because its all about the village that Senku now essentially runs, because of his knowledge of science, preparing for and then heading out to wage war on Tsukasa and his goons. And while Tsukasa remains a charismatic opposition to Senku, I don’t think much of the set-up of his group given they all seem to have very little to do most of the time and the majority of them seem to have little going on between their ears.
All of this, plus an about face in character positioning pulled off in the second last episode, means that while Stone Wars does deliver the promised war and we once again have a bit of fun with characters making incredible technologies given their limited resources, this anime never moves beyond just being fun and entertaining enough into something that I’d describe as truly great. That said, not everything needs to be great so maybe fun and entertaining is enough.
And while I may have seem a bit negative above, I actually did enjoy watching Stone Wars as it has some great moments throughout it. Chrome in particular gets quite a good showing across these 11 episodes as he gets taken prisoner in order to prevent one of Senku’s schemes being discovered too soon and then realises that he needs to escape himself rather than wait for rescue. He does it in true Chrome fashion and at times you really do wish he’d shut up, but it was an excellent moment for his character and it was fantastic to see him putting together his own knowledge gathered through hard work and labour as well as the knowledge he’d absorbed from Senku in the past year.
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Chrome’s progress and abilities (while not the best at physcial conflict) are even acknowledge late in the series by another character who suggests they’d pick Chrome over Senku for exploration. While Chrome might not have the vast knowledge bank that Senku has, he makes up for it in resourcefulness and he’s a quick study. it was absolutely fantastic seeing him getting some time away from Senku’s shadow in this second season and watching him work through a problem entirely on his own.
We also had the return of Taiju and Yuzuriha into the story after such a long absence and got to find out what they’d been up to while in Tsukasa’s camp. While neither of these were my favourite characters and I felt season one got better after they parted with Senku, their return was a suitably emotional moment and the anime gave these two enough screen time to feel like it was purposeful without taking too much away from Senku’s other friends.
Likewise Gen remains an interesting addition to Senku’s forces being far more underhanded than Senku. His reactions to some of Senku’s decisions continue to be a little overblown (however exaggerated reactions are more or less what this anime does so I’m kind of used to it) but it is nice for Senku to have someone near him who understands just how insane some of his ideas are and has a modern context so that Senku isn’t just surrounded by people who’ve never heard of the various inventions they are creating. Literally any revived character could fulfil this role but Gen works overtime to ensure that his contributions, while not always successful, do feel fairly meaningful and he offers a different perspective on events that is sometimes needed.
There’s even a few characters on Tsukasa’s side who end up being interesting to a point. Ukyou took a while to really grow on me but ends up being an interesting character who seems a little underused by the series and Niki gets a brief shining moment and then more or less becomes the face of the mob characters reacting to what is going on around her. Still, there was at least an attempt at humanising Tsukasa’s followers and ensuring we didn’t just write them all off as meat-heads who were utterly disposable.
However, it is in the actions and decisions of main antagonists of Tsukasa and Hyouga that my main complaints lie and I’m not going to get into too much detail as after all the build up of the Stone Wars and the conflict itself a few key moments in later episodes more or less let all of the tension out of the situation like someone puncturing a balloon. It isn’t as though it is a narrative breaking moment as it all kind of fits, it just doesn’t feel like a satisfactory direction to go in after all the lead in.
Though that is almost immediately countered by the final episode taking a more emotional tone rather than a comedic one. Basically this anime took a turn I ultimately didn’t really buy in to and that left me feeling a little less invested in this season than I might otherwise have been. It wasn’t actually a bad watch, but I’m also not jumping up and down for a rewatch any time soon.
A final thought on this series: I never really did get the opening theme, Rakuen. I mean, it just felt like it belonged on a totally different story. If this season had just been one of scientific exploration and playing around with steam cars on the beach it would have made the theme fairly fitting, but ultimately I just never felt like it got me ready for most of the episodes where characters were actively preparing for or engaging in a war.
Minor complaints aside, Stone Wars continues to be a bright and fun series with a mix of scientific explanations, over the top facial expressions and a few cool action set-pieces sprinkled around with the overall mystery of how this world came about and how it should progress from this point continuing to be a driving force in the background. It largely works even if I didn’t agree with all the plot points and there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing Senku’s smile after he succeeds at something outrageous.
That said, I’d love to know your thoughts on this follow up to Dr Stone so be sure to leave me a comment.
Images used for review from: Dr Stone: Stone Wars. Dir. S Iina. TMS Entertainment. 2021.
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