Series Review – Dr. Stone: Stone Wars (2021)

The highly anticipated second season of 2019’s smash hit adaptation of Riichiro Inagaki and Boichi’s Dr. Stone promised a war between Senku’s Kingdom of Science and Tsukasa’s Empire of Might that definitely delivered on the action and emotion. With some of the best scenes of the show so far, Dr. Stone: Stone Wars was a worthy second season, even if it felt like it needed a couple more episodes to explore the science further. Because of the incredibly impactful events of the last few episodes of the season, be wary of spoilers ahead. If you are looking for a spoiler-free review of the show, you can find my review of the first season here.

Gen, Chrome and Magma attempting to leave Tsukasa’s Empire in episode 4, “Full Assault”

After Hyoga’s initial attack of Ishigami Village, Senku hatches a plan to strike back against Tsukasa’s army before they have a chance to attack again. With Senku’s new handmade telephone, Magma, Gen and Chrome head to the Empire of Might to establish communications with Taiju and Yuzuriha. Much of the season is spent with these smaller conflicts, such as capturing Homura to prevent her from communicating with Tsukasa or Hyoga, or attempting to convert their enemies into allies by having Gen trick them. This season definitely delivers on the “Stone Wars” present in the title, especially in the last few episodes. The final battle to recapture the Miracle Cave shows off nearly every main character’s area of expertise.

However, the highlights of the season for me was seeing Senku reunite with characters we hadn’t seen him interact with since the beginning of the first season. His first conversation with Taiju and Yuzuriha over the phone nearly brought me to tears because of how excited I was to have the big oaf be a major part of the show again. One of the things I was looking forward to the most with the second season was more screen time and development for Taiju and Yuzuriha, and it absolutely delivered. Yuzuriha’s task of restoring the stone statues Tsukasa destroyed is a perfect fit for her skills and personality. Her and Taiju once again make for an entertaining pair, with Yuzuriha acting as the voice of reason for Taiju’s hysterics.

Taiju and Yuzuriha crying upon hearing Senku’s voice for the first time since season 1 in episode 3, “Call From the Dead”

As much as I enjoyed Taiju and Yuzuriha, I can’t deny that getting so much of Tsukasa was an unexpected delight. Seeing as he is the main antagonist for the first two seasons, it makes sense to get more screen time for him here, but I never thought we would get a full backstory for him. Tsukasa’s plans for the stone world made sense from a logical perspective, but seeing his motivations made him much more sympathetic than he ever was before. His dynamic with Senku was where this season shined the most. Their truce due to Senku promising to save his sister represents their differences perfectly, while presenting Tsukasa’s one weakness, a weakness Hyoga is more than willing to exploit.

Because of this, the final fight with Senku fighting alongside Tsukasa against Hyoga was easily my favorite moment of the whole season. As stated in the show, it felt like a fulfillment of the promise Tsukasa initially made with Senku when he was first awakened from his petrification. TMS’s animation for the fight itself was fantastic, especially in the wide shot showcasing Tsukasa and Hyoga’s fighting ability. Shonen fights always bring out the best of the characters’ personalities, and Dr. Stone is no different.

Tsukasa defending Mirai from Hyoga in episode 10, “Humanity’s Strongest Tag Team”

My only issue with this season is the speed at which the technological and scientific advancements are made. One of the highlights of the first season was seeing Senku go through each step to develop everything necessary to progress the scientific society he had planned. With the exception of episode six, “Prison Break,” which focused on Chrome escaping from Tsukasa’s prison, most of the science was glossed over likely due to the short 11-episode run of the second season. If there had been just one or two more episodes, the science likely would have been explored more as it was in the first season. It is possible this constraint was a consequence of the large amount of anime that premiered in 2021’s winter anime season because of delays due to the pandemic.

Luckily, despite the struggles of recording via home studios, the English dub had no such issues (except for a few understandable delays week-to-week). Clifford Chapin (My Hero Academia, Millionaire Detective) returns as the ADR (automated dialogue replacement) director for the second season, along with Tyler Walker (Fairy Tail, Goblin Slayer) supervising scriptwriting with assistance from Bonny Clinkenbeard (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Fruits Basket) and Matt Shipman (Akudama Drive, Kono Oto Tomare!). It was great getting to hear Aaron Dismuke and Ian Sinclair play off of each other once again this season considering how good their chemistry was in the first season. Hearing more of Ricco Fajardo (Taiju), Felecia Angelle (Kohaku), Brittany Lauda (Yuzuriha) and Jerry Jewell (Hyoga) was wonderful as well, especially considering the range the three of them have been demonstrating across their many roles recently. Matt Shipman, J Michael Tatum and Brandon McInnis continued to be a delight as well, being incredibly entertaining together during the first few episodes of the season.

Although, with a new season comes some new members of the cast, and they easily managed to hold their own among the rest of the show’s talent. Katelyn Barr (Nikki Hanada), Kyle Phillips (Yo Uei) and especially Mark Allen Jr. (Ukyo Saionji) did an excellent job bringing each of their characters to life, fleshing out Tsukasa’s side of the world of Dr. Stone. I also hope to hear more of Emi Lo as Tsukasa’s sister Mirai, but considering where the third season is headed, that might be unlikely. Each were a welcome addition to the cast and brought their own unique dynamic with every scene they were in.

Overall, Dr. Stone: Stone Wars was an incredibly enjoyable watch, despite its pit-fallings. The best moments of the season reminded me why I love this series so much and I cannot wait for the third season, especially since it will be spent exploring the rest of the world of Dr. Stone. You can watch the second season subbed on Crunchyroll and dubbed on Funimation.

Rating: 8.5/10

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