'Dr.Stone' Creators Discuss Playing God & Shonen Jump Style at Anime NYC

Dr. Stone is a manga that asks the question "what if a giant meteor struck earth and turned every person and bird to stone?" Created by writer Riichiro Inagaki and artist Boichi, the Shonen Jump comic stars the boy genius Senku after he wakes up from 3,700 years of petrification and tries to restart civilization. Thanks to the great care put into its scientific accuracy and epic storytelling, the series has already reached widespread success and even has an anime adaptation.

dr. stone interview anime nyc
DR. STONE © 2017 by Riichiro Inagaki, Boichi/SHUEISHA Inc. Viz Media

At Anime NYC, Newsweek spoke with both creators via translators to discuss Dr. Stone.

What inspired you to create Dr. Stone?

Inagaki: In the past there have been other manga that have been scientific or philosophical, and usually at the end they'll have a summary of those ideals. But those are only in terms of inspiration, it's not saying 'look at the knowledge I've accumulated from reading.' Those ideas got ingested and put out onto the page.

How would you describe the manga's tone?

Boichi: Unlike most Japanese manga artists, I grew up outside of Shonen Jump and didn't have the privilege of reading. From that perspective, Dr. Stone is both very like and unlike Shonen Jump. Dr. Stone doesn't have the rules or conventions of Shonen Jump. However, Dr. Stone still has the charm and the joy that Shonen mangas bring.

What are the rules and conventions of Shonen Jump?

B: As the artist, it's hard for me to go over the details of what actually makes something Shonen Jump. Though if you look at the history of Shonen Jump, we are trying to create something that never existed.

How do you feel about the anime adaptation of Dr. Stone?

I: Compared to other manga artists, I'm more deeply involved with the process. Because of time most manga artists aren't able to read through those scripts, but I actually do. I don't know if me being involved with it is actually a good thing or a bad thing for the animation team. My intention is to work with them, so I've been very grateful of their work. What they create is great.

B: South Korea was very poor when I was growing up, and my family was too poor to afford a piece of paper. To practice drawing growing up, I would practice sketching on the back of a calendar. Eventually I became an artist for Shonen Jump, and when I watch this animation version of my manga on TV the credits have my name. I couldn't be happier.

dr. stone interview anime nyc
DR. STONE © 2017 by Riichiro Inagaki, Boichi/SHUEISHA Inc. Viz Media

The anime adaptation is seemingly more light-hearted than the manga. Was that an intentional decision?

I: That could be because of the music. The tone of the manga is pretty depressing overall, but the music makes it more light-hearted as it helps the narrative forward.

Do you think humans could survive the impact of a meteor as big as the one featured in the manga?

B: In Dr.Stone Reboot Byakuya, there's a mention of this meteor collision. There was once a 10-kilometer-in diameter-size meteor fall into the Yucatan Peninsula that annihilated the entire dinosaur species. But I don't think a meteor of that size would have annihilate humankind. The human species is different and can survive. Even with only 1,000 humans we can restart. If a meteor is 40 kilometers in diameter, it would wipe us out.

The manga incorporates a lot of science. How do you decide what to include?

I: I discuss with the science consultant and push it as much as possible. Oftentimes a story demands a certain invention and we get into the discussion of if we could really do this or if it's unrealistic. They might say something isn't possible and it becomes this negotiation. Like 'are you sure it can't be done a certain way,' trying to push the limits of technologies under the circumstances in the story. I do have a rule that, if the consultant says that's absolutely impossible, I back off and don't force it. There are unknown things out there, like if the T-Rex looks like a lizard or had feathers. Does it looking closer to a bird discount how Jurassic Park portrays T-Rex? I don't think so. The only one that really knows the answer is God, and, in this world, the story writer is God. As long as there is even a bit of a possibility that can contribute to the story, we go for that.

B: I grew up as a hard sci-fi maniac, so I love the scientific strictness of the story. I really think a lot about it, but the story comes first. Even if there's a bottle cap, I need to figure out what materials it needs to be made of so it makes sense. Senku's shoes have a layer of leather and are made to last, but, because he's so active, his shoes will wear out. Thinking about how worn out his shoes will be and when he will need to get new ones can make for a less joyful Shonen Jump character. Senku's hands should be that of a Shonen Jump leading character, but if you look at his life his hands cannot remain clean.