Dr. STONE Reboot: Byakuya is a manga that surprised me by being far better than I imagined. The manga is a short spin-off / soft reboot of the Dr. stone series by Boichi, the illustrator of the mainline series and one of my favorites manga creators. He was given a chance to fully flex his creative muscles by writing and illustrating his own story in the franchise with supervision from Riichiro Inagaki, the original author of the series.
The Ishigami Legacy
The story follows the titular Byakuya Ishigami, the father of Senku Ishaigami and an astronaut who just happened to be in space when a mysterious blast petrified all of humanity. The manga follows his interstellar journey and struggle to return to Earth. The manga starts simple enough by giving us a brief flashback between him and Senku before he leaves for astronaut training. It then takes a few pages to introduce us to all the characters aboard the International Space Station, including Connie Lee; A timid but brilliant engineer, Shamil; a cold and equally brilliant astronaut, the cowardly commander Yakov, his foul mouth wife Darya, the world-famous diva Lillian, and a nifty intelligent robot designed by Byakuya called Rei 21.
While these characters are interesting in their own right, none could compare to Byakuya, who’s just as, if not more charismatic as his son Senku. The manga shows us time and again how dependable he is. He’s brave, intelligent, optimistic, with the spirit of a natural-born leader. We’re also shown how much of a great father he is through his drive and determination to fight against impossible odds to return to his son.
An Inspired Process
An essential part of Boichi’s creative process is how much detail he puts into his characters. An example of this is seen in one of my favorite series of his SunKen Rock, as most if not all of the characters easily take up the reader’s attention. While these aren’t his original characters this time, the author does an excellent job of instilling life in them regardless. Another signature part of the author’s writing process is his zany yet infectious sense of humor, which is still very much present here. Its multiple anime references and hilarious, expressive facial expressions being the primary source.
What’s more, the amount of painstaking research Boichi puts into his manga is nothing short of astounding. This is proven when halfway into the manga, the focus shifts from the crew as they leave the ISS to save humanity to Rei, Byakuya’s quirky robot that was left behind. Without delving into spoiler territory, the author puts so much effort into this section of the manga that a space travel and engineering consultant was contacted during the manga’s production to be as accurate as possible with the themes explored. This isn’t the first time the author has gone to such lengths for his work either, as he’s also known to take photographic shots and poses for his backgrounds and characters to help the accuracy of his illustrations.
This process is all worth it once you realize how deep and intricate the storytelling is especially during the latter section. Boichi’s incredible art style is yet another aspect that helps to appreciate the manga. The level of detail in his illustrations never ceases to impress me from the simplest objects to the grandest, most complex machinery and structures. His character designs also have a distinct aesthetic to them that looks both cool and pretty.
I Have Notes
All that said, not everything was to my liking. As Byakuya’s story is only briefly highlighted in the mainline series, I expected this reboot to give us more of an in-depth look at his journey. It admittedly starts off doing so but eventually changes focus to Rei. This felt like a missed opportunity as it would’ve been a near perfect way to flesh out Byakuya and the others’ background and give us a longer, more detailed look at their Journey. However, this wasn’t the case, and I found the shift from a character-focused story to a tale of full-on space exploration, while surprisingly satisfying, to be a bit Jarring.
Nevertheless, after finishing the manga, I found myself contemplating our fate if such a catastrophic and unexplainable event were to ever happen to humanity. How long would it be until we rebuild society back to how it was, if ever at all? And how different would things be if we were successful?
In short, I’m happy to say Dr. STONE Reboot: Byakuya was a fantastic read. Its story blends the character and space-focused segments quite well, making it a solid recommendation for both Dr. Stone fans and fans of everything space-related.
Dr. STONE Reboot: Byakuya is available to purchase right now from VIZ Media.
A copy of this manga was provided for review by VIZ Media
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