Dr. Stone’s Senku Could Be Groundbreaking for Asexual Anime Representation
Nerissa Rupnarine
In recent years, the LGBTQ+ community has slowly been getting more recognition in TV shows and movies, which is an incredible feat, but one category that is often overlooked and underrepresented is the asexual community. Within animation, the small list of canon asexual characters includes Spongebob Squarepants, Owen Burnett from Gargoyles, Peridot from Steven Universe, Todd Chavez from Bojack Horseman and Alastor from Hazbin Hotel. Despite not being confirmed, some fans speculate that Dr. Stone's Senku could potentially be added to this list based on his behaviour in both the anime and manga.
Someone who identifies as asexual does not experience sexual attraction. Beyond that, asexual people's romantic orientation can vary. Many asexuals can still feel romantic, aesthetic or sensual attraction, while others don't. Asexuality is a spectrum and not every person or character who identifies as asexual is going to have the same beliefs or preferences on the matter.
Senku is a logical, straight-forward character whose entire being revolves around science. It is his hobby, passion and the only thing he seems to live and breathe by. Within the story, Senku uses this as his way to connect with the world and, sometimes, with other people. In terms of relationships, he has a strong focus on platonic and familial bonds.
Unlike other characters in Dr. Stone, Senku has expressed no romantic feelings to anyone in the past or present state of the world, making him one of the few protagonists in Shonen Jump not to have a love interest at any point in the series, implying he doesn't experience romantic attraction. He does not seem to care about one's appearance, leaving no evidence of aesthetic attraction. He also doesn't seem to be a character who seeks out human contact, taking out sensual attraction. When Kohaku kissed Senku in chapter 108, the only emotion Senku felt in response was shock and nothing more. So, apart from displaying no sexual attraction, the lack of romantic, aesthetic and sensual attraction feeds into where he may lie on the spectrum of asexuality.
Identifying as asexual does not limit a person's need for an emotional connection with others. While some asexuals still do seek out romantic relationships, others prefer platonic bonds of friends and family. We see the latter consistently in Senku, as he prioritizes his friends and the people he is protecting through his passion for science. Before all life on Earth turns to stone, we see examples of how he used science to connect with others as he executes experiments with Taiju and Yuzuriha to reach space as children, or even when he decided to help Byakuya on his challenging quest in becoming an astronaut. Romantic and/or sexual relationships do not appeal to him, but instead, Senku actively seeks to have emotional connections with his friends and family.
Regarding romantic relationships, like in the instance of Taiju and Yuzuriha, Senku is content with cheering his friends on from the sidelines with no afterthoughts of potentially gaining a romantic relationship as well. Even in the anime's first season, Senku expresses neither desire nor disgust when given the opportunity to enter a relationship with Ruri. He was not thrilled about the idea of being in a relationship and just expressed how Ruri simply wasn't his type. The only emotion present when the situation arose was a lack of interest, solidifying the fact that he has no interest in pursuing romance.
If Senku is asexual and aromantic, then he is only further proof that a main character doesn't need to develop a romantic relationship for a story to be engaging, showing how characters can still be interesting, perfectly content and successful without experiencing sex or romance. Senku's attention is centred around rebuilding the current world through science with his goals and self-interests lying with his platonic bonds and love of science.
All in all, Senku appears to show no sexual attraction at any point in the anime or manga. This is all just speculation, but if the protagonist in one of the most popular currently ongoing anime series is confirmed to be asexual, then this could be groundbreaking, meaningful representation for a group of people who are often overlooked in society and in pop culture. It wouldn't even be a big deal in the story, since Dr. Stone has proven all of its strengths lie with every other aspect of the show. The label does not change anything about the story or Senku's character, but just the mere fact that he could be adds validation and recognition amongst the asexual community. Regardless on what is thought of Senku's sexual orientation, at the end of the day, there is no arguing that his true love is science!