Original Series by Riichiro Inagaki & Boichi
Story & Art by Boichi
Science Consulting by MsCoolAstro (Dr. Soyeon Yi)
Translated by Caleb Cook
Touch-Up Art & Lettering by Brandon Bovia
Design by Julian [JR] Robinson
Edited by Alexis Kirsch
Over the past five years, Dr. STONE has become a mainstay of Weekly Shonen Jump’s lineup. Senku’s ambitious adventure to revive humanity has enthralled manga fans, and it’s tid-bits of science have given the series a unique perspective. Back in 2019, Dr. STONE fans got an extra helping of the franchise for nine weeks with the spin-off prequel Dr. STONE Reboot: Byakuya. Written and drawn by Dr. STONE artist Boichi, this spin-off details the story of Senku’s father Byakuya and his space team’s repopulation of Earth after the petrification.
The early chapters of Reboot: Byakuya retread the known history of the main series, showing how Byakuya and his fellow astronauts avoided humanity’s petrification. That said, this story further contextualizes their reactions to the event through Byakuya’s own perspective. Byakuya’s skills as a leader are immediately apparent, quickly grasping the situation and focusing his team’s attention on sustaining humanity. Byakuya’s determination makes him a compelling lead for the story, which is further cemented by his faith in his son Senku. Byakuya wholeheartedly believes that Senku’s genius is the key to reviving humanity, and is willing to sacrifice his own dreams of exploring space if he can reunite with him. This makes Byakuya’s decision in Chapter 4 all the more brutal, forcing him to choose between saving his friends or finding Senku’s body. Despite these hurdles though, Byakuya remains hopeful about humanity’s future and that he and Senku will connect once again. Reboot: Byakuya further humanizes Byakuya, showing why he is a father worthy of Senku’s respect.
While the first four chapters of Reboot: Byakuya are centered on Byakuya himself, the remainder of the spin-off shifts its focus to Rei, Byakuya’s robot companion that he brought along to outer-space. After Byakuya and his crew leave for Earth, Rei is left alone at the International Space Station, hoping for their creator’s eventual return. Rei spends their days attempting to keep the space station operational, dedicating years of time to excavating vital resources for the station’s development. While largely separated from the events on Earth, Rei’s adventures embrace the problem-solving format of Dr. STONE. In the vein of Senku, Rei builds multifaceted strategies based on scientific fundamentals. One of Rei’s most ambitious plans even involves protecting Earth from a giant asteroid, using a series of remote-controlled hydrogen bombs. While it may feel far outside the usual scope of Dr. STONE, the story’s familiar and gradual build up to these grand events feel natural. Just like Byakuya, Rei’s story is optimistic of humanity’s future and their numerous challenges.
To say Boichi is a good artist is an understatement. The sheer amount of detail in his artwork is astounding, and his quick drawing speed has allowed him to work on multiple serializations at once. As such, it’s no surprise that Reboot: Byakuya is just as breathtaking as the main series. Since Reboot: Byakuya takes place primarily in outer-space, Boichi uses it to showcase the sheer scale of the environment. You can constantly see the speckles of stars in the backgrounds of panels and Boichi draws many two-page spreads to help visualize the massive size of the surrounding planets and the space station itself. If you find yourself gazing in awe at Dr. STONE already, this might just blow you away.
Dr. STONE Reboot: Byakuya is a solid spin-off that embraces the tone of the main series, while also exploring new territory. It’s clear that this story will play a larger role in Dr. STONE down the line, and it will be interesting to see readers make those connections. Until then, this is one hundred million percent worth reading!