Japanese animated tv series (2019). Based on the Manga by Riichiro Inagaki and Boichi. TMS/8PAN. Directed by Shinya Iino. Written by Yuichiro Kido. Voice cast includes Makoto Furukawa, Kana Ichinose, Yuusuke Kobayashi, Yuuichi Nakamura, Manami Numakura and Reina Ueda. 24 24-minute episodes. Colour.
In present-day Japan, just as student Taiju Oki (Furukawa) is about to declare his love to Yuzuriha Ogawa (Ichinose), all humanity (and all Swallows) are turned into stone statues (see Disaster). On 5 October 5738, Taiju is freed: he is told the date by his best friend Senku Ishigami (Kobayashi), who – until breaking free six months earlier – had stayed conscious all the while by counting. With his encyclopedic knowledge of science and Technology, the young Scientist Senku intends "to rebuild a technological civilization from scratch", reviving everyone using nitric acid derived from bat guano. When Taiju and Senku are attacked by Zoo-descended lions they use the acid on Tsukasa Shishio (Nakamura), a muscular, healthy individual who sees off the beasts.
Tsukasa believes that reviving the old and rich will bring back the injustices of the old world, and argues that only the young and healthy should be restored, to build a pure Edenic society (see Utopias). He strikes Senku, leaving him for dead: but Senku recovers, departing to create a "Kingdom of Science". Whilst wandering he finds a long established village, winning its inhabitants over by diagnosing and curing High Priestess Ruri's (Udeda) pneumonia (see Medicine). On hearing Senku's first name, Ruri reveals she knows his surname from a story passed down by each generation of priestesses (see Religion): Senku's father was part of a team visiting an international Space Station when the stone blight occurred. The six astronauts returned to Earth and founded the village.
Senku reintroduces many Inventions – from batteries to candyfloss – accompanying them with enthusiastic scientific lectures to the villagers. Meanwhile, Tsukasa discovers Senku has survived and plans to attack the village in Spring: on learning this, Senku decides Communication is a priority and lays out the numerous small steps required to produce working mobile phones. Another of Ruri's tales leads to an etched glass disc embedded in his father's gravestone, whereupon he creates a gramophone player, the season ending with Senku and the village listening to his father's message.
Senku's personality, though frequently irritating, is not dislikable: this is reflected in-story by Kohaku (Numakura), Ruri's warrior sister, who frequently points out his annoying traits but also respects him and is one of his strongest allies. This Anime's plot is regularly interrupted by Senku's science Infodumps; though there is some artistic licence, such as a healthy village descended from just three men and three women, the science is usually solid. The characters are more implausible: Tsukasa beating up lions, Senku keeping count for thousands of years – and his alarming hairstyle.
Senku's has an invigorating gung-ho attitude to science, but is indifferent to Politics – unlike Tsukasa, who is charismatic, plausible and clearly fascistic. It will be interesting to see how thoroughly future plotlines engage with the sociological implications of their contrasting worldviews, rather than just providing a cause of conflict. [SP]