Based on the Weekly Shonen Jump manga of the same name, Dr. Stone isn’t your typical shonen series, as it tells a story where conflicts are regularly decided via intellect instead of brawn, sees the power of friendship frequently fail to overcome overwhelming odds, and includes a lot of introspection. During Anime Expo 2019, GameSpot asked Weekly Shonen Jump editor Hiroyuki Honda about the production behind Dr. Stone, and whether its popularity represented a shift in what shonen fans want from the genre. If you haven’t started watching Dr. Stone, you should–along with these seven other Summer 2019 anime.
“The titles that Weekly Shonen Jump carries is defined by the demographic, and I think the shonen demographics are now just changing,” Honda said. “The popularity is definitely shown in the polls that [stories like Dr. Stone] are the ones the readers now like. The reader demographic defines what is in the titles, so titles like The Promised Neverland and Dr. Stone are very popular now but they might not have been five years ago. And five, ten years down the line these type of stories might not fit what readers want anymore. The demographic defines shonen and that demographic is changing over time.”
“Popular authors tend to have a very good grasp of what is popular in the now and an understanding of what will be popular; they’re ahead of their time,” he continued. “Take One Piece, Naruto, Bleach, Haikyu, take any popular [Weekly Shonen Jump title] and you’ll see they’re written to be what the readers want while also evolving to be slightly ahead of their time.”
The story of Dr. Stone follows Taiju, an average student who’s fairly physically fit, and his best friend Senku, an aspiring scientist and brilliant mathematician. On the day Taiju decides to confess his feelings for Yuzuriha, who he’s had a crush on for five years, a strange green light encases every living person on the planet in stone. Taiju remains conscious through his desire to confess his feelings, and Senku does the same by counting the seconds that pass. Over 3,000 years later, the two are mysteriously freed from the stone and set out to find a way to undo everyone else’s petrification, while also working towards recreating every scientific advancement that humanity has ever made so as to rebuild society.
Honda said that production on the anime of Dr. Stone took roughly two years. During the process, there were quite a few meetings to figure out how to translate the manga’s introspective moments so they’d fit into an anime. “[TMS Entertainment] kept most of [the internal] monologue from the manga,” Honda said. “There were lengthy meetings with the director and producer where they basically have the whole script to decide what can be kept. But if they feel [any monologue] is too long, then they split it into two segments or use special effects to portray some of the meaning of the original monologue through action.”
“Anime should be slightly different from the manga because manga and anime are completely different expressive mediums even if the fundamental philosophy that the story tells should still be the same,” he continued. “Because if you make an anime that’s completely faithful to the manga, then the final end product will seem slightly off.” Honda went on to explain that these adjustments can be as simple as changing the perspective of a shot to better convey what the original manga panel is suggesting, or as complex as reorganizing scenes so that it’s easier to follow certain storytelling threads.
Surprisingly–given it’s the main focus of the story–one of the biggest changes between the manga and anime versions of Dr. Stone is the scientific lore. Honda stresses the changes won’t impact the story; they’re primarily to ensure the safety of the younger viewers who might check out the anime. “Politically, there’s nothing really changing in Dr. Stone, but [the anime] is slightly careful about the scientific aspects because some of the stuff [Taiju and Senku] are doing is pretty dangerous. So the studio has to tweak things a little, tone the science down, or change scenes slightly so that people don’t try [Taiju and Senku’s] experiments at home and get hurt.”