Dr. Stone: Stone Wars
by Richard Eisenbeis,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Dr. Stone: Stone Wars ?
“In which our hero's army continues to grow.”
While this episode is titled “Secret Mission,” said mission is only the catalyst for what happens in the episode. This episode is actually about Ukyo, his past, and his motivations.
Ever since Chrome's battle against Ukyo began, it's clear that Ukyo has been acting strangely. While he is one of Tsukasa's top men, he nonetheless consistently aided Chrome: first by not killing him, then by not revealing the existence of his companions, and lastly by helping him escape captivity. Yet, if he had truly been on Senku's side, there wouldn't have been a need to capture Chrome in the first place. Indeed, we find out this episode why he has been playing both sides: he discovered Yuzuriha's secret mission.
Way back when Senku and Yuzuriha parted ways, he whispered something to her and gave her a secret personal mission. Now, dozens of episodes later, we find out what it was: to rebuild all the stone people Tsukasa has been shattering. While it is shocking that the shattering could be undone by just a single determined woman and a ton of glue, what's far more interesting is how her dedication to this task has won over Ukyo.
Ukyo is fundamentally against killing. However, since he can't stand up to Tsukasa in the technology-absent stone world, he has no choice but to either rationalize his morals away or be killed. But just because he is able to do the former doesn't mean that he has given up looking for a better way. So when he sees Yuzuriha doing the impossible by repairing the lives that Tsukasa has all but ended, he can't help but hope her friend—i.e., Senku—is of like-mind. It's enough for him to make sure neither side has the upper hand until he can talk to Senku himself.
Now, it might seem strange that Ukyo, a member of the Japanese navy, is against killing—regardless of his allegiances. But therein lies a common misconception: Ukyo's not a soldier—at least not one in the way people from countries other than Japan are familiar with. Ukyo was a member of the Japanese Self Defense Force—which isn't technically a military as Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution prohibits Japan from establishing a military or solving international conflicts through violence. The JSDF sidesteps this by being a purely defensive organization.
Rather than combat, the JSDF's most important role is disaster relief—both inside of Japan and around the world. Ukyo's flashback shows that the deaths he has witnessed aren't from some battlefield, but rather a disaster he was called in to help with (likely 2011's Tohoku earthquake and tsunami).
Despite being in the closest thing Japan has to a Navy, he's not a hardened soldier that is ready to take lives or give his own to protect them. Seeing death on such a scale has made him unwilling to witness such a tragedy again. And if someone can stop Tsukasa from shattering more people encased in stone without killing anyone on either side in the process, then he is willing to lend his support. It's fantastic character building all around.
• While I don't doubt that a shattered statue could be reassembled with enough time and patience, is it even possible to gather all the pieces—especially the pebble-sized detritus and dust?
• I legit laughed at Yuzuriha's speed sewing.
• Gen is always looking for an angle. Senku is always looking for the truth.
• I like that the jailer from last episode faked his own death so as to avoid responsibility for his actions.
• I love that, in the end, the tank is a psychological attack, not a physical one.
• Tsukasa is honorable; he deeply regrets the deaths of those who followed him. Hyoga is not; he cares nothing for any life beyond his own.
• The shock on Tsukasa's face when he realizes that the true weapon was not the tank but the phone is priceless.
• Assuming there are no more timeline shenanigans, Tsukasa seems to be completely out-flanked. His enemies are gunning right for the heart of his kingdom at the very moment he's away from it. Now to see if he has the speed to make it from the gravesite to the cave in the 20 seconds Senku has to seize victory.
Dr. Stone: Stone Wars is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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