Dr. Stone: Stone Wars
by Richard Eisenbeis,
How would you rate episode 11 of
Dr. Stone: Stone Wars ?
“In which we learn Super Mario doesn't actually become giant, he's just tripping balls.”
I wish more anime did what Dr. Stone does in its season finale. So many “last episodes” in anime end their climax right as the end credits start to roll, leaving no time for closure or exploration of the repercussions of what has happened. Dr. Stone, however, uses its final episode of the season to focus on the fallout of our heroes' climatic battle, mainly through the eyes of Kohaku and Senku.
While being somewhat in the background this season, Kohaku has had a surprisingly large amount of development—second only to Chrome. She's been loyal to Senku from the moment he agreed to save her sister back in season one, but she's pretty much become a zealot at this point. While Chrome, Kaseki, and Senku cooperate with each other, they are united by their loyalty to an abstract concept—i.e., science. Kohaku's adoration, on the other hand, is directed completely towards Senku as a person.
As we saw earlier this season, while she believes killing is wrong—and that doing so would damage the core of her being—she is willing to carry out the act if Senku deems it necessary. So when he promises she won't have to kill, and that he will conquer Tsukasa's tribe without a single life lost, she turns into a full-fledged fanatic. In the battle that follows with Tsukasa and Hyoga, she even rallies the other fighters into a fight she knows she can't win just to buy Senku time. That is how much faith she has in him.
This episode contrasts her against another fanatic, Homura. Both of them are physically strong women and are dedicated to a single person, but that's where their similarities end. Homura is clearly in love with Hyoga and wants to do anything for him; she has no real will of her own. But Kohaku has no such obvious romantic aspirations for Senku. She believes that he is a man of unquestionable integrity, and that he can do anything he says he can. He is, after all, the savior of her sister, her tribe, and even of his own enemies. Is it any surprise that she believes him to be the strongest human alive and one worthy of her reverence?
But while Kohaku may have unwavering faith in Senku, it's easy to see that Senku himself is at the end of his rope. He can't save Tsukasa; even if he had modern medicine, death would still be a definite possibility after being stabbed through the lung. Really, there is only one certain way to heal him in this situation: turn him into stone and then back again.
Of course, Senku has no idea how to do this. The petrification light might as well be magic at this point—and while he has a hint about the light's origin, Tsukasa will die of his wounds long before Senku's journey there would even be able to begin. So Senku decides his only course of action is to cryogenically freeze the injured man. But here's the problem: even with modern technology, we have no way to bring a frozen person back nor repair the damage done during the freezing process. Moreover, there is no guarantee that a corpse—even a cryogenically frozen one—will be affected by the petrification process. Senku knows all this—which is why he opts to have one final conversation with Tsukasa.
While it's ultimately a conversation about nothing, that's kind of the point. These are the kinds of things they could have talked about if their ideals hadn't driven them apart. No cat and mouse games, no battles, just a friendship between two men. And as they both realize, they did have this relationship—however briefly—and it had been a good one. It's a bittersweet ending to their tale, especially as Senku attempts to one-sidedly continue the conversation even after Tsukasa has already passed on.
Luckily, the episode doesn't end there and instead finishes on a more positive note. While the odds are not in Senku's favor, he intends to do everything he can to discover the secret of petrification and bring Tsukasa back—even if he has to sail to America to do it. Because, in the end, Kohaku is right: Senku doesn't promise things that can't be accomplished.
• So... is no one going to mention the miracle cave? Is it totally blown up or was just the entrance caved in? I wonder if they can still make revival fluid and gunpowder.
• I have a sneaking suspicion that the manga artist they revive is an amalgamation of Dr. Stone's creators, Riichiro Inagaki and Boichi.
• Kohaku's not wrong about Senku being the strongest human alive—after all, it wasn't humanity's physical strength that gave rise to civilization: it was our minds.
• That side view shot where Homura is speeding towards the defenseless Senku only for the speed lines to stop and reveal Kohaku is awesome.
• Is Ishigami Village relocating to Tsukasa's old camp permanently? If so, what about the old people? Are they going to move too?
• Poor Mirai. She's a six-year-old trapped in a pre-teen body—and her only family died just a few days after reviving her.
• I'm excited to see what kind of ship they build for their America trip. I'd assume it'd be something like what the ancient Polynesians built, but I wouldn't be surprised if Senku has them make a European-style clipper ship.
• I wonder who among our cast will be going. Senku and Kohaku should be a given but who else do you take on such a journey?
Dr. Stone: Stone Wars is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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