Senku Ishigami is a man of science. He is always scheming, arrogant, kind of sleazy, and the protagonist of Dr. Stone. Dr. Stone is a high-concept shonen anime adaptation of the manga of the same name.
One day all of humanity is turned to stone inexplicably by a blinding green flash. After 3715 years, a high schooler, Taiju Oki suddenly awakens to find himself surrounded by petrified humans.
Senku Ishigami isn’t alone, however, as he soon finds out. His mad scientist friend Senku was de-petrified half a year ago. He has already set a plan in motion to revive all of humanity through the power of science!
Many things can be said about Dr. Stone as an educational anime. However, what made the show stand out to me is its complex storyline and an abundance of vibrant, fun characters. Let’s explore what makes Senku different from our usual shonen protagonists.
Senku Ishigami’s Personality Traits
We are used to seeing shonen protagonists being underdogs. Senku is a slim guy with an average height but, he is no underdog. He is a very logical and straightforward man who can often come off as overly arrogant.
Senku's overconfidence however never clouds his judgment. His every single action is backed by vast and meticulous scientific knowledge.
Senku does not berate people who are less smart than him, despite his overwhelming intelligence. He is not above being deceitful and manipulative at times but underneath it all, he is a gentle soul.
Our protagonist has a never give up attitude but it is always rooted in practicality above all else. He tends to get hyper-excited at new discoveries or when he gets new ideas. All of this makes for a pretty complex character I really enjoy watching on screen.
After Taijo was de-petrified, Senku Ishigami created a revival fluid with his help. He wishes to revive all 7 billion people and establish a kingdom of science in the current Stone world. The first person they revive is Tsukasa Shishio, a man of great physical and mental prowess.
Tsukasa, unlike Senku, wishes to revive only pure-hearted, young people. He believes the adults who run the world are corrupt. This puts him directly at odds with Senku’s plans of restoring all of humanity, making him the show’s primary antagonist.
Senku Ishigami does not explain his motives with much of an emotional core. However, it is his good-heartedness that lets him see the world beyond black and white, unlike Tsukasa.
Most shonen protagonists are driven by love, friendship, purity of their heart, etc. Senku has all of that but his primary driving force is his scientific curiosity. He has a dream of going to space, and he can not achieve that in a primitive world. He helps people around him as it is the easiest way for people to follow him and make a kingdom of science as he calls it.
Senku Ishigami is an extremely capable and resilient man. His genius is borderline insane. He counted the time to the last second while he was petrified so he’d know the exact date and time of when he gets de-petrified.
He has a vast knowledge of physics, chemistry, biology, geology, engineering, and math which he uses to his advantage ever so often.
Aside from having an analytical mind and great resourcefulness, he is also quick on his feet. He is good at crafting experimental machines and even making war strategies.
While being eccentric and self-important, Senku is still able to charm people around him with his understanding of how people think. He is linguistically capable and inspires loyalty in those around him, making him a very capable leader.
Our mad scientist unfortunately lacks physical strength and stamina as shown on multiple occasions. He gets tired rather quickly and is sensitive to the cold. He wasn’t able to lift Homura, a short petite woman on one occasion. However, our hero always has an ally willing to offer their strength to overcome his physical limitations.
During a decisive battle involving Senku, Taiju, Yuzuriha, and Tsukasa, Tsukasa points out how despite Senku’s cold rational mind, his inability to abandon his friends is his weakness. However, it becomes clear that Senku’s kind heart is anything but a weakness. It brings people together and inspires them to have each other’s back.
Senku is a ‘real’ role-model
Shonen protagonists are always inspirational. They Inspire viewers to be better people, stand up to bullies, contribute to making a better world, and so on. However, they are often abstract and somewhat unattainable.
Like Naruto, we could learn to see the power of friendship and always seek to find goodness in others. Unlike Naruto, we can not have a 9-tailed fox sitting inside of us giving us some sort of secret power.
Senku Ishigami is a somewhat tangible role model. His powers of scientific curiosity and a genuine desire to help people lie very much in the realm of possibilities.
Haikyuu caused an increase in boys’ enrollment in volleyball clubs in schools after its massive success. Dr. Stone does a similar thing with science. It shows how cool it can be to have a scientific mind and a kind heart, using hyped-up shonen tropes.
Through Senku’s adventures in a post-apocalyptic world, Dr. Stone shows that helping people isn’t just the morally right thing to do, but that it is a rational choice.