Dr. Stone Chapter 123 Review by Belserion
Chapter Title: Brain-Battle Gambit
This week continues where last week left off, with the team offering to ally with Mozu. Gen uses the drone to impress Mozu, or maybe it was to appeal to his naivety when it comes to modern or past technology, by having it scatter leaves all around, calling it their sorcery bird and claiming they can fly it anywhere. Mozu looked suitably impressed, especially when Gen tells him they could use it to snatch the petrification weapon out of the air. This was his opening move in the gambit, making a weak card look like an Ace of Spades, which is accurate since, as Senkuu mentions, the drone isn’t even stabilized yet.
Ukyo is worried if it comes down to a battle between all of them against Mozu, they would lose. Ryuusui is excited at the prospect of gaining the strongest card in the deck if Gen manages to convince Mozu, a sentiment echoed by Senkuu who entrusts everything to Gen. Gen continues the smooth talking, telling Mozu if he allies with them he could end up ruling the island and the harem. We’re given a little lesson in manipulation from Gen, who uses Mozu’s distraction with the drone to sneak up next to him. Mind Manipulation Technique 1 is facing the same direction as the person you’re trying to manipulate instead of facing them directly, this fosters a sense of solidarity. Basically, always choose counter seating over a table when trying to win someone over.
Gen is throwing out compliments left and right, telling Mozu how amazingly strong he is and even if he came up against Ibara and all his soldiers he’d still be 1.5 times stronger than them. Amaryllis is worried because she thinks Gen is underestimating Mozu, which is proved in the next instant when Mozu himself tells Gen the gap is bigger than he thinks. Here we’re treated to Mind Manipulation Technique 2, where Gen teaches us that offering comments with claims only slightly off will compel your partner to make the correction, especially since, if they were unwilling to speak before, you would now definitely get them talking. Ryuusui is amazed at how strong Mozu claims he is and desires him, while Gen tries to twist his boast to their advantage by telling him he’d have no trouble bringing down Ibara if he desires. Mozu levels him with a stare that could only be described as sinister. Gen's confidence is shaken as he feels Mozu has seen through his every play.
Mozu now poses a question to the group. Should he slaughter all of them or kill Ibara instead? With that question hanging over them, he claims that since he could kill them at anytime he might as well explain things. Mozu confirms that it was indeed Ibara who petrified the Master, and while he played his part well, it’s time for the old man to give it up and die. He also thinks the girls would be happy to have him take over the harem, much to everyone’s disgust. Senkuu asks him why he doesn’t just murder the geezer and get it over with, and Mozu admits he would have done that already if not for the petrification weapon that Kirisame is holding. He also admits she’s no weakling and while he could beat her in a fair fight, with no defense against the weapon, he’s at a disadvantage. Ukyo realizes the dilemma in this and points out that if Mozu were to attack Ibara then Kirisame would defend him because she doesn’t know the truth, but if Mozu were to reveal the truth to everyone he would lose access to the harem he currently enjoys. This is lauded as a brilliant scheme since it appears Ibara's not just an old fool.
Senkuu tells Mozu that the petrification weapon is an obstacle in his path and they want to get their hands on that weapon. This means their interests are ten billion percent aligned. Gen uses this moment to take control of the negotiations again as he tells Mozu that the weapon is what they want more than anything and since a good deal should be fair and equal, what Mozu wants is control of the island and the harem and that should be enough. Gen tells him they will use their sorcery to lend him a hand on the condition that he gives them the petrification weapon. In fact, Gen demands it saying that part is non-negotiable. Everyone is annoyed at Gen’s tactics thinking his demand would only cause Mozu to dig his heels in. Mozu does seem angry at Gen’s audacity, asking him why things should be fair and equal. Mozu further states that as the mightiest, he would set the terms. He tells them they would put their sorcery to work for him then give him the weapon. Everyone is shocked, especially Gen who tells him that’s not fair and he should be reasonable. Mozu warns that he would keep an eye on their hideout from afar so they really have no choice but to obey him.
Gen secretly smiles at this proclamation, which brings us to Mind Manipulation Technique 3, which in psychology is called “Reactance”. Basically when someone is told to do something, they’ll instinctively reaffirm their right to decide. You effectively force them to refuse you. What Gen did was switch tracks completely since, as Senkuu mentions, the original question was whether Mozu should kill them or not. Mozu was so determined not to let Gen have his way that through Reactance, Gen moved the goalposts and got an unwitting Mozu to agree to team up with them. Senkuu agrees to Mozu’s terms and they shake on it before Senkuu gives him one of the earpieces to get messages to him. As Mozu leaves, Gen reveals that the key to winning a gambit isn’t to beat down your opponent, but what he managed to do there, which was to pave a deceptive flowery path forward. After ascertaining that Mozu was gone, Gen collapses in relief and everyone rushes to congratulate him on a job well done. Everyone is happy to have acquired the strongest fighter on the island despite knowing he plans to murder them when everything is done, something they’ll think about later.
The next day, the team begins working on some props for the next stage of their plan. They make Mozu a weapon and Senkuu explains to him that since the Kingdom of Science is small they have to win with a sudden brutal show of power. After Mozu takes out some of the soldiers, not killing them as they need them to spread the word, the Kingdom of Petrification will think they have no other way to fight back but to use the weapon. So under the cover of darkness, and with a new disguise, Mozu would play the part of an invader, something he’s already done brilliantly as on the last panel we see him standing on a mountain of injured bodies, looking quite impressive.
Chapter Rating: 8/10
Gen was amazing this chapter. His mentalist ability can never be taken for granted or underestimated. With Mozu on their side for now, they will be much closer to achieving their goal of obtaining the petrification weapon. This plan should work, but it’s afterwards that I’m worried about. Mozu wants the weapon as well, but as long as Senkuu gets the weapon first he shouldn’t be much trouble for them. But what happens after they leave? Will they really leave the village to Mozu’s mercy? He’s still the mightiest and his intentions are not good, so unless is personality does a full circle then he’ll need to be dealt with. Will they petrify him? Give him the Hyouga treatment and imprison him and take him with them? Or maybe, could they possibly come to a compromise? Definitely some good chapters coming up in the next few weeks.
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