12 Days of Christmas Anime: Dr. Stone

Day 4: Light

I’m not up to date on Dr. Stone. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that all-season long, I cherry-picked episodes of the series. As my family watches through it, I sometimes tune in and sometimes I don’t. I even occasionally only watch portions of an episode, which is what I originally did with episode 21, seeing only the new year’s celebration and the short portion afterward. I didn’t even realize Christmas was mentioned in the very same episode until later, though to be fair, it only gets about a minute of runtime—almost an “blink and you miss it” sort of thing—and mostly in the shape of a Christmas tree and an image of Santa on his sleigh with his reindeer.

But that’s not to say there isn’t something significant about its inclusion.

The advancements are fast and furious in this episode, as per usual. It begins with the completion of a water wheel, providing energy that isn’t reliant on people. That leads to development of batteries to harness that energy, and then to the building of a light bulb. All these developments make sense—they’re exactly what Senku should be producing. But as I watched, two of his actions in this episode didn’t make sense to me: his desire to create a cell phone and the resources he used to put his brand new light bulbs on an evergreen, to create a symbol of a holiday that hasn’t been celebrated since the old world, and one that Senku probably never celebrated then either.

The answer to the cell phone has since been answered, but I think there’s also a solid reason as to why Senku decides to decorate a tree. It’s all about why Senku does what he does. He wants to rebuild civilization. He wants to restore that which has been lost. He wants to bring knowledge and life into the world. He wants to take this new world out of a dark age.

Senku wants to restore light.

The Christmas tree lighting up is a special occasion for the villagers. Even the peculiar Gen is overcome by the display as he realizes that it’s the 25th of December. The awe of the decorated tree was to Senku worth whatever its cost—in materials, man hours, and broken bulbs. It’s a semblance of what he intends to do for the world, of the light he intends to bring and the joy it will give.

This Christmas, you’ll see lots of lights—Christmas lights at home, in our neighborhoods, and at stores; the shiny glint on paper wrapped around gifts; stars reflecting from the top of Christmas trees. But as pretty as they are, they all dim in comparison to the Light of the World. As Senku’s tree is both a symbol and something temporary, only a foreshadowing of what he plans to do for the world, the symbols of Christmas all point to something greater. We may get distracted by it all—we may want to get distracted or even intentionally ignore the religious meaning of the holiday. But at its heart, Christmas is centered on a poor baby born in the Middle East, whose birth was full of holy and astronomical light, but whose life, death, and resurrection gave even greater luminescence, for this light was the hope of restoration, of a new world, and of life.

And whether for a Christmas in a future stone age or one here in the present, lights can represent just that. This bit of decoration is more than glint and beauty, for these lights mean a hope and future. They mean everything.

Episode 21 of Dr. Stone can be streamed on Crunchyroll. Tomorrow’s post will be about volume one of the Obsessions of an Otome Gamer light novel, which features a Christmas gift-giving scene.

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