Dr. Stone
Episode 21

by Andy Pfeiffer,

How would you rate episode 21 of
Dr. Stone ?

Sometimes it's nice to be right. Last week I remarked on the beginning divergence of Chrome and Senku's philosophies and that I hoped the series would build on that, and boy did that happen pretty quick!

A quick recap of that is that while Senku continues to pull out loftier ideas he's still of the mindset of the present. He will work on that current idea until it comes to fruition and then move onto the next step of the process. Chrome on the other hand, due to his lacking on exact processes, always wants to be ready for any possible future, and while there's a lot of meandering the core of this episode is exactly that. While struggling with the filament in vacuum tubes we see a rare moment of despondency from Senku. His plan was good, but he failed to account for the limitations of the Stone World. While not the most exciting way to see him, this kind of morose sadness is a nice reminder that underneath it all Senku is still human. He understands science is trial and error, but sometimes those errors add up enough to take a toll.

Here's where two of the major themes of the show rise up to get things back on track. First is Chrome's desire to continue learning and improving. While Senku is happy to sit as is due to being fully supplied for the current project, Chrome heads out to collect more rocks now that their technology allows him to explore further than ever before. It's a cute way to comment on automation and forward thinking, as he uses what new free time he has to seek a path to the future. The other is power through collaboration. While everyone is capable in their own way it's more about everyone's individual strengths working together. While this is consistently demonstrated by Kaiseki's ability to craft whatever thing Senku needs, the true focus this episode is on Chrome and Suika. Chrome's drive for exploration and progress yielded plenty of rocks, but it took Detective Suika to find the exact one that would pull Senku out of his slump.

The key thing is that this also happens to highlight Senku's fallibility. He assumes things about this world that he doesn't clearly understand. Whether it's access to resources or the abilities and reasoning of his friends, Senku does still suffer a bit from assuming he's the most knowledgeable one in the Stone World. This is especially poignant as he attempts to force our former secondary antagonist, Magma, into working with him as part of their spelunky team. Whether he understands Magma's true motivations or abilities is a total toss up to the audience, but that the other parts of the episode revolve around his ability to make mistakes makes this feel like a real bad one. Being able to read and manipulate others is more Gen's line of work, and he's being left behind on this expedition. This leaves the awkward situation of going into a deep, dark cave with the possibility that the muscle you acquired for it has limited reasons to actually help. The one saving grace for this is that Magma doesn't know how well he'd fit into Tsukasa's society. From what we've seen so far he'd be quite at home there, but instead he now has to help those that lead to his defeat and ruined his plans at village conquest. While he could very well be helpful and obey the new leader, I think it's far more likely he acts a bit more selfishly. It's certainly an interesting dynamic to either flesh out our established cast or find ways to use their more shallow personalities to say something about another character. Either way I'm really looking forward to how Magma has handled his defeat and his plans going forward and how these things impact the Kingdom of Science.

Rating: Dr. Stone is currently streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation.

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