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With the third season of Dr. Stone airing on Thursdays, Crunchyroll hosted a panel looking behind the scenes at the making of the hit Shonen Jump anime. Kyle Cardine moderated the discussion with producers Shūsuke Katagiri and Hiroto Matsukuma, director Shūhei Matsushita, character designer Yuko Iwasa, and manga editor Ryosuke Yoritomi.
The panelists had been involved with the series for different lengths of time: Matsushita just joined the team this season, while Matsukuma joined in Season 2, and Iwasa was there from the beginning. Yoritomi had been involved with the Dr. Stone manga for a longer time but was still taking over from another editor and only got more involved in the anime production in Season 3. Katagiri recounted his first impression of the manga as “a challenging piece to adapt to animation” and is amazed the adaptation has been as successful as it’s been.
Iwasa spent much of the panel working on two drawings to be given away in a trivia game at the end of the panel. Before she started on that, Cardine asked if there were any characters she was particularly excited to design for Season 3. Iwasa answered, “I was most looking forward to designing the character of Kirisame because she has this design element that reminded me of Egyptian mythology. She’s a little cat-like, and I really like strong girls and strong women.”
As documented in the behind-the-scenes documentaries on Crunchyroll‘s YouTube channel, the team behind Dr. Stone has done extensive research for making the anime. Some of the highlights of this research include glass-making, going on boats, and visiting an oil field. When asked whether this research is common in the anime industry, Katagiri emphasized that Dr. Stone has been a unique experience in this regard.
One of Matsukuma’s responsibilities as a producer is to decide upon the key visuals used to promote the anime. This season has had three such key visuals. The first, showing the characters on the ship, was unusual because they’d never done a key visual from the backside of characters, but the producer wanted the adventurous image. For the second visual, showing Senkyu and the Soyuz capsule, Matsukuma said that the third season is tough not to spoil, so he wanted to avoid showing other characters while representing the theme of carrying the message to the next generation.
The third visual, of Senku and Ibara, emphasized the theme of fear. This caused a bit of unexpected conflict between Matsukuma and Yoritomi. The editor said that usually he’s the one pushing more financially-conscious producers to take risks, but this time, he wasn’t sure about the producer doing something “edgy and new.” Throughout the panel, Matsukuma repeatedly joked about his love of the “weird ojisan” villain Ibara (“He’s a good guy! No, I’m sorry, he’s not a good guy, but he’s cute, I think.”).
Yoritomi’s involvement as a consultant in the anime ensures the focal points of the manga chapters make it into the anime. He’s also worked with manga author Inagaki and artist Boichi to oversee the production. Inagaki oversees the Japanese script, sometimes offering suggestions, while Boichi provides reference materials for the animators. Both creators are fans of the adaptation, with Inagaki sometimes begging to watch new episodes as soon as they’re ready.
Possibly the most challenging question of the hour was asking people about their favorite characters. Katagiri went with Chrome: “he’s cute and cool at the same time, and I just love the short capri pants he wears; it’s the perfect length.” Matsukuma once again brought up Ibara before saying, “Everybody likes every character.” Yoritomi picked Senku because he’s “the symbol of the series” and “any negative situation he can turn into a positive situation.” Matsushima called Suika “the first character I fell in love with,” pointing to his glasses while discussing how she found her situation relatable. Iwasa was still busy drawing, so the moderator had the other panelists guess her favorite character (it’s Kaseki, an answer nobody guessed correctly).
When asked who the most popular character is in the Japanese fandom, Katagiri said that the Gen, Senku, and Ryusui trio have the most merchandise. The panelists guessed the same three characters, along with Suika and another Matsukuma joke-guess of Ibara, as being the most popular characters in the American fandom — a question the moderator could not provide a clear “correct” answer for.
The panel concluded with the trivia giveaway of Iwasa’s drawings and some final statements from the panelists. Yoritomi asked people to buy the manga. Matsukuma hopes to return to Anime NYC next year… and hopes that everyone likes Ibara. Matsushima was happy to experience the fans’ love and promised to do his best to continue a good production. Katagiri had the last word, promising that as the anime continues, “We’ll try to create a fun, surprising, and exciting series for you.”