Dr. STONE returns for a 2nd season If you havent read it yet you can find my review for the first season over here on my personal blog. If you already have or just dont care then welcome to Season 2 Stone Wars. Produced by TMS Entertainment and directed once more by Shinya Iino the original story by Riichirou Inagaki and original art by Boichi This is the premier nonbattlebattle Shonen except this time with more... well actual battling. Interested? Then lets jump right in and Warning: There will be spoilers. Animation/Art As always with an anime we need to start with well the animation and art. And just like the first season this is where Dr. STONE does the worst. Simply put this is not an action anime. Action movement combat its good at none of those. Instead Dr. STONEs strength lays in its picturesque nature and its ability to imbue individual still frames with incredible detail and emotion. Whether it be the stunning Ishigami forest in winter a sunlit beach as twilight falls or the small creases of emotion on a characterss face during a confrontation. These small and expressive details hold Dr. STONE together visually. Of course none of these work alone the VAs and OST do their fair share of heavy lifting to. But as far as animation goes? Well lets just say you wont be seeing much of Dr. STONE on Sakugabooru. If thats the case if Dr. STONE really is a picturesque series then why is it visually weak? Why is poor action such a big deal? Two words: Stone Wars. For better or worse this portion of the narrative is heavily combat focused. Dr. STONE does its best to get around this with clever science inventions but it doesnt change how combat is a driving force behind the season. And the sad thing? Most of it looks like shit. From inconsistent locations during battle to stillframe characters sliding across the scene to downright janky handtohand choreography it doesnt look good. There are the occasional cuts early on the season but thats basically it. Just like in the first season Dr. STONE relies heavily on sfx and camera pulls to give the illusion of motion rather than actual motion. Will this ruin the show for you? No. But it is noticeable. Luckily for Dr. STONE while the animation leaves much to be desired the direction is good. Director Shinya Iino once again did a good job of interpreting the original manga. Of bringing the series to life through a great use of lighting timing and shot composition. Though this time it appears he has taken a more literal approach to the process. While his decisions in regards to timing and lighting are all his own and great he seems to have relied much more on the mangas composition this time around. Lifting entire scenes with minimal extra effort on his part to really make them fit the anime. This isnt the worst thing in the world Dr. STONE was a good looking manga to begin with. But there comes point where you have to ask why you shouldnt just read the original if the adaptation is going to be 1:1. All in all no one can say that Dr. STONE is a visual powerhouse especially compared to others in the season. It lacks the polished nature of Wonder Egg Priority the kinetic energy of Jujutsu Kaisen and the bombastic style of Sk8 the Infinity. But through some clever direction and solid stills along with well incorporated music Dr. STONE manages hit highs just as emotional as its peers. Hopefully one day it will get the level of animation it deserves. Until then we will just have to count ourselves lucky that Dr. STONE doesnt need smears or Keiichiro Watanabe to stand out from the crowd. Narrative Moving on we come to the narrative portion of this review. Conceptually this should a slam dunk. Aggressive primitivism vs scientism brain vs brawn Senku vs Tsukasa. On paper this should work. But with this shift in focus from pure invention and celebrating the progress of humanity towards actual philosophical combat comes 1 thing: Action. And as we figured out above Dr. STONE is not good at action. The focus on war really hurt Dr. STONE this season. It influenced not only what kinds of inventions can be made but also just how many are allowed to be made. If Senku ever progressed to much to quickly then Tsukasa would stop being a threat. Because of this Dr. STONEs greatest strength its fun and heartwarming inventions took a hit. Obviously they still exist. This wouldnt be Dr. STONE and I wouldnt still be giving it the score I am if they didnt. But for every celebration of music and its effect on humanity we get a bronze soundcannon. For every telephone or paper craft armor or steam power car we get a tank or exploding arrows etc. Things that are fun on the surface but dont give me that emotional high that most of the other inventions come with. They lack the same heart behind their invention because they are made for war not progress. Im sure some may disagree with me. The cool inventions themselves are the draw not the humanity behind them. Well to those people I say: Write your own damn review this one is mine and Im sticking to it That said its not like these moments dont still exist. Early on in the season before the war gets into full swing we are given plenty of emotional highs to tide us over. Meanwhile the finale is quite possibly one of the best of the season. Dr. STONE manages to take what I have criticized as an overly action focused conflict and shift to a Humanity Fuck Yeah style of finale. It gives Tsukasa a chance to talk to explain himself and to justify his actions to Senku. Whether or not he is successful is up to you. But where once his plan was comically evil and poorly thought out we are now shown how Senkus was as well. So while Dr. STONEs narrative wasnt perfect and certainly dragged in the middle I have to give credit where its due. The series managed to both start and end strong. Characters Speaking of Tsukasa this leads me to the characters of Dr. STONE. And if youve seen the first season then you already know most of them. Yuusuke Kobayashi reprises his role as Senku while Gen Satou and Kengo Kawanishi return to voice Chrome and Gen respectively. This is but a small fraction of Dr. STONEs cast however. Theres also Kohaku Taiju Yuzuriha Kinrou Ginrou Nikki Homura Kaseki the list the goes. In fact I would say that the list becomes bloated rather quickly. One of the biggest issues with Dr. STONEs cast is its sheer size. Theres an entire village worth of people we are expected to know but only around 10 are ever actually relevant. Sometimes this is used to good effect when a crowds reaction is required or to fill out a scene. But overall Dr. STONE definitely suffers from character bloat. While the size is ridiculous however the core cast fair much better Taiju Yuzuriha and Chrome especially. After their exit early on in the first season we never saw Taiju and Yuzuriha again. But in Stone Wars the pair are reintroduced and folded back into the main cast quickly slotting well into their own roles. Beyond an emotional reunion and helping with Senkus plans however neither has much of an arc. In fact the only character to really get an arc among the good guys is Chrome who comes into his own well this season. I wont spoil you just yet but his transformation from follower to sciencer is one of the better stories of the show. The evolution of his friendship with Senku from hero worship to equal is very compelling Sadly though thats one of only 2 real character arcs Dr. STONE has for us. And the other? Well the other is Tsukasa and youll have to click to find out. Warning for spoilers about Tsukasas arc ahead. If you dont want to spoil yourself heres a spark notes: Tsukasa becomes good whenever he shares a scene with Senku. That out of the way lets talk details. When all is said and done Dr. STONE doesnt have the deepest characters. Their arcs arent complex their stories relatively short. But their interactions and the heart they bring to the story more than make up for it. OST/Sound Design Finally we are at the OST portion the last serious part of this review. And just like much of the rest of Dr. STONE its pretty good. At first I was confused it sounded as if Dr. STONE was just reusing a bunch of its Season 1 tracks. But upon listening to the whole OST in one sitting outside the show it became clear to me: Tatsuya Kato Hiroaki Tsutsumi have done it again. They have managed to create an OST that is truly unique giving Dr. STONE its own unique sound that nothing else can match. The rhythm style and breadth of instruments used is simply staggering. The way it go can from wild and untamed drums free and flighty wood winds to rap rock and electronic while still feeling like a cohesive whole is... Its hard to describe. So instead how about you just listen to it? First take the slowly evolving piece Senkus Story As the name implies it takes us through Senkus entire journey so far in the series. His slow awakening to a new unfamiliar dawn as he breaks free from the stone. The chimes and quick beat as he begins to explore and feel out this new world the woodwinds picking up as his excitement grows. Everything becomes stable has his life finds consistency only to explode into action as Tsukasa enters the scene. From there follows him as he splits from Taiju and Yuzuriha discovers the village and begins to create the Science Kingdom. Thats a lot to talk about for one track huh? And I could have easily said more. But I dont want to wow you with the single good track in the OST and then ask that you trust my word. So heres a few more to check out. Sticking close to our primitive and stone roots how about Jailbreak The way it slowly leads us in with simple percussion and flutes before slowly introducing more and more modern instruments. Working in guitars horns and who knows what else I cant pick out. Or what about Snipers Eyes a more modern piece for the character of Ukyo its peaceful and energetic melody fitting him well. If that wasnt enough Dr. STONE also spread its wings a bit this season by introducing more vocal tracks as well. We have the return of One Small Step sung by Laura PittPulford. Maybe youre looking for something quieter though like The Plan with its somber rendition of Tsukasa and Senkus relationship throughout the show. And this isnt even half the music I wanted to show you Suffice to say Dr. STONEs OST is pretty damn good. And should it ever come out on Vinyl I will be adding it to my collection without a second thought. Science Over Conflict This brings me to something unique that I like to do: The personal section of these reviews. This is where I talk about my personal experience with a show. Where I typically focus in on one specific aspect that really spoke to me for good or ill. If that doesnt interest you then feel free to skip. This has absolutely no bearing on the final score and is really just a place for me to talk with you one on one about Dr. STONE. And yes there will be spoilers. Sound good? Lets go. I love Dr. STONE. I love all of Boichis works to be frank. Im current with the manga and I generally think its one of the strongest series still in Weekly Shonen Jump. But just like in the manga the end of Stone Wars really didnt click for me. Ive talked about it a bit before in this review but the focus on conflict over science really hurt it. Not only did it limit the kinds of inventions Senku could create and how he could use them but what he created lack the heart I had come to love. Take the nitroglycerin for example. This was an on the spot asspull of an invention. And however correct the science might be to make it feels wrong for it to be the solution to the problem. Not to mention the sheer absurdity of its explosions. Its similar with stuff like the Gorilla Tank. This doesnt feel like something Senku/the author wanted to make. It didnt feel like they cared about it there was no heart in it. Rather it felt like something put there because its cool. Because this is a science series and we should make a tank. As if Boichi and Riichirou Inagaki were unsure of what to do with the series as their first major arc ended and were trying things out. Or perhaps their editor told them to try and be more like other battle manga. I can never be sure. But what I can be sure about is that this is the last major hiccup before Dr. STONE finds its stride. From here on the conflicts are tailored around the science rather than science around the conflicts. So I could not be more excited for a season 3. I hope you are to. Conclusion This brings us to the end of the review and all things considered how was Dr. STONE? And my final verdict is... Good but not as great as Season 1. Stone Wars had a strong end and a strong beginning that is undeniable. And some of its highs the finale especially match up well with Season 1. But the middle section with the cave and the shift in focus to conflict over science really hurt it. Tack on to that the continued substandard animation and you have something just below a 7/10. Now is Dr. STONE still worth your time? Yes absolutely especially if you enjoyed Season 1. Dont just see a score and assume its terrible I wrote 2700 words for a reason you monster. And if you enjoyed Stone Wars even more than I did? Then get hype because Dr. STONE: Stone Ocean Season 3 is announced. And I think its going to be pretty freaking rad. See you then
65 /100
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