Dr. Stone: Stone Wars
Episode 5

by Richard Eisenbeis,

How would you rate episode 5 of
Dr. Stone: Stone Wars ?

“In which the march to battle begins.”

So far, this season has been progressively raising the stakes for our heroes as the looming battle between Senku and Tsukasa grows closer. The majority of this episode, however, gives us a bit of time to catch our collective breath by showing how the re-invention of the steam engine isn't exactly the game-changer it first appeared to be.

As useful as the automobile can be, in the Stone World, it faces more than a few challenges. The absence of roads means that it must travel mainly along the coast. In areas with an incline, it needs the villagers to help it keep moving. Moreover, due to these restrictions, it's likely that the villagers could make several trips between the village and their forward camp in the same amount of time—making the steam car's carrying capacity a moot point. So this begs the question: why build the car in the first place?

This is revealed as everyone prepares to vacate the village and Senku orders everyone to load the supplies onto the car—along with the elderly. While Senku likes to pretend that he's a selfish man concerned with nothing but science, this is far from the case. He is Ishigami village's chief—and not just in name. It is his fault they are facing extermination by Tsukasa's forces and is willing to put his all into keeping them safe.

Like with the heating stove a few episodes back, the car was created for the sake of the young and the elderly—to keep them safe and healthy while preparing for battle. Senku's plan is obvious in retrospect. Leaving people in the village unguarded all but guarantees their deaths should Tsukasa's forces come. Thus, the only logical thing to do is take everyone with him to the battlefield—at least then they'll have someone to protect them close by.

However, the elders see right through this. They know that while Senku is trying to protect them by keeping them close, they will just be in the way on the battlefield—forcing otherwise vital soldiers to guard them. They basically tell Senku that if all goes to plan, he will win before Tsukasa even has the chance to launch his attack. Thus, they will be safe in the village. And if not... well, they will all be dead regardless of location.

From this point on, the car is basically dead weight. It still carries the supplies but is largely more trouble than it's worth. But Senku is nothing if not creative and thus decides to turn the car into something Tsukasa and his tribe will fear: a tank.

Now while I say “tank” it's basically an armored battering ram designed to smash into Chrome's cage and set him free. Of course, as a psychological weapon, it's far more powerful. After all, if you, using stone-age tools see that the enemy side has a tank, it's going to freak you out—making you wonder just what else they have created.

Of course, it's here that we run into something that just shatters the suspension of disbelief. No, it's not the tank itself or the re-invention of carbon fiber plastic. It's that Tsukasa has somehow divined that Senku has built a tank and has already made preparations for it.

Now let's be clear, Tsukasa has no logical reason to have figured this out. Homura hasn't reported anything about what's been happening in the village since her capture and Tsukasa's scouts haven't discovered Senku's forces yet. Therefore, he doesn't know about the re-discovery of the steam engine or the car itself. His thought process is: if you can make gunpowder, you can get coal—and thus make a steam engine-powered tank. This is an insane jump in logic and one that Tsukasa shouldn't make given what we know about his character.

Tsukasa fears weaponized technology. He already thinks that Senku has guns. If you have the technology to make those, you can also make things far more deadly than a rudimentary tank in this world without roads—namely lethal gas bombs, acid grenades, or a freaking shrapnel-shooting canon.

Of course, the reason Tsukasa makes this cognitive leap is not for any logical or in-character reason. It's simply to raise the tension of the story by showing us that Senku and his people are heading into a trap. Moreover, by letting Chrome discover the trap, it gives him the chance to step into the spotlight again by using all the science he has learned to escape on his own and save his friends. It's a great setup for next episode.

So, in the end, I'm left liking where the story went this week but hate the stupidity it took to get there. Annoying that.


Random Thoughts:

• Nothing on Taiju, Yuzuriha, and Nikki this week. I hope they've been converting people off-screen and not trapped in some kind of odd time freeze in the days/weeks since we last saw them.

• They don't really make a big deal about it but Suika is the only kid to go along with Senku's army. It shows that she has earned her place among the warriors despite her young age and is viewed as an equal.

• While the timeline in this series has become inconsistent at best, it appears that Tsukasa built the anti-tank traps around Chrome's cage even before Senku had the idea to turn the car into a tank (and maybe before the steam engine was even completed). I guess Tsukasa knows Senku better than he knows himself?

Dr. Stone: Stone Wars is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Richard is an anime and video game journalist with over a decade of experience living and working in Japan. For more of his writings, check out his Twitter and blog.

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