After waiting a full week since Why-Man’s identity was revealed, chapter 229 finally gives us the WHY of it all: why Why-Man did what they did – and also, how they did it.
The fandom already had some pretty good ideas about what Why-Man’s reason was for petrifying humanity 3700 years ago. But the newest chapter gives it to us straight, with some little surprises we honestly should have seen coming.
In this article, I will probe the purpose of Why-Man (something they themselves expected humanity to have been doing all this time) and discuss why the “reward” they offer to humans is so problematic.
What is Why-Man’s Secret Identity?
According to chapter 228 of the Dr. Stone manga, Why-Man is the Medusa itself. These nanomechanical parasites are sentient entities that searches for intelligent organic life through electromagnetic waves, and have agency enough to travel the universe. The Medusas have been “closer than we knew” all along.
The Medusa is a technological “device” of unknown origin, that can cause petrification. Several Medusas fell from the sky above Treasure Island centuries ago, and all were destroyed by Matsukaze’s master, except for one. The same device was later used by Ibara and Kirisame.
What we don’t know is whether this Medusa was made on Earth, or whether it’s alien tech.It’s most likely that it is alien, since in the new chapter we see that their parasitic nature has caused them to wander the galaxy looking for a race that can sustain them. Their petrification method is definitely the result of trial and error, which just goes to show that humans or the Earth wasn’t their first target.
We also do not know if Why-Man’s consciousness is singular or collective – as in, whether the Medusas have a hivemind with multiple or singular personalities, or have a solitary mind/central processor governing all the others. Senku does say that Why-Man isn’t a single entity, or some monolith acting in unison, but he only has his intuition to work with rather than actual data.
It’s likely that Why-Man consists of identical clones, i.e., all the Medusas have just one cause and goal – to multiply and survive. It’s like if all the humans of the human species had the same brain processes, and had objective thought instead of subjective emotion. We’d all be working towards a common function, which is what these parasitic mechanical aliens are all about.
From the events that transpire in chapter 229, we can deduce that Why-Man is smart, but not as complex as the human race. They have simplistic reasoning, primitive logic, and lack critical thinking. This is clearly evident in the reasoning of why they perform petrification during their confrontation with Senku, Kohaku, and Stanley.
Why did Why-Man Petrify Humanity?
Why-Man/Medusa turned the human race into stone so it didn’t have to die. In this way they could parasitize humanity until Earth’s resources were exhausted. Petrification offers everlasting life and by baiting humans with that reward, they wanted to motivate them to progress faster, replace the Medusas’ batteries, and help them proliferate.
Very early on, when Tsukasa “kills” Senku, Senku is revived because Tsukasa attacked the area of his cervical spine that was still petrified. When Taiju and Yuzuriha pour the Revival/Miracle Fluid on the stone, the stone heals the cells beneath it and also around it, bringing Senku back to life. This is when Taiju gives us the amazing revelation that whoever petrified humanity, i.e., Why-Man, is Dr. Stone, because the stone doesn’t kill humans, but “cures” death.
Later, in chapter 196-197, Hyoga was already dead before he was petrified; after petrification, he was brough back to life using the Revival Fluid that only works on stone. This means that the Medusa can inadvertently nullify death. Why-Man/Medusa can technically keep humanity alive forever, which ensures their survival for eternit as well.
Unfortunately, they are not smart enough to quantify what human life actually means to humanity, that life is more than surviving; persisting as stone isn’t something most of us would voluntarily choose, even over death.
Why-Man is programmed to believe that eternal life is the basic and ultimate goal of surviving species. But since Why-Man is alien tech with artificial intelligence, they don’t understand human life at all.
They think that enjoying a permanent deathless existence is cause for gratitude and celebration, that analyzing how the Medusas helped them, humans would harness their power (by replacing their diamond batteries, and allowing the parasites to survive) to overcome death.
How did they do it?
Look at it from a purely survival-based perspective, like an AI parasitic reproduction cycle:
- The Medusas look for a planet with a potentially advanced race by sensing regular electromagnetic activity.
- They invade the closest celestial body to the target – in this case, the Moon.
- They petrify an arbitrary species – the swallows, following the “standard parasitism process”.
- They wait and observe which species on the planet recognizes the petrification and starts communicating about the phenomenon via electromagnetic waves.
- They select this species as the optimal target since, according to Why-Man logic, humanity recognizes that petrification grants eternal life, which should be irresistible for any sentient species.
- They petrify the entire race to eliminate all biases and ensure that only the smartest – without the involvement of political power or other agencies – would be able to restart civilization.
- The most intelligent of the species – the ones with the maximum brain power – are capable of undoing petrification, and also figure out that an external corrosive agent – the Miracle Fluid – can speed up the depetrification process.
- These individuals – Senku and Xeno – would not be able to resist the allure of immortality, and cultivate the Medusa devices so that they could continually petrify and depetrify themselves to escape dying, forever.
What Why-Man didn’t consider when petrifying the entire human race 3700 years ago, was that not all of humanity was present on Earth. The ISS was orbiting space when they fired the petrification beam. As the ISS astronauts came back to Earth, they formed their own little race, creating a pocket of mini civilization.
With the rest of Earth’s humans and technology gone, they evolved to become quite a primitive race, wearing hair accessories and polishing ores. They inadvertently caused regular electromagnetic waves and Why-Man, from the Moon, considered whether they were revived factions of humanity or survivors who had somehow escaped petrifaction.
In order to teach them how to petrify themselves, Why-Man began sending out radio messages and the Medusas rained down upon them. When humanity in fact starts warring with the devices instead of investigating them, Why-Man begins to quite literally, lose it. They can’t comprehend why humanity would reject eternal life, and not even investigate the Medusa devices.
In reality, the people from Treasure Island were not capable of cultivating the Medusa devices. When Xeno wakes up, he never discovers the Revival Fluid and has no need to travel the world. Senku does, and even creates GPS to travel the world, but only does it to stop conflicts like in Japan, and save people from living on as stone.
Why-Man cannot compute this logic. The GPS proves to them that humanity doesn’t lack intellect, and are capable of creating new and powerful technology, but they do not take further steps to try and even replace the batteries of the Medusa devices, let alone try and produce more of them.
That’s when Why-Man’s desperate, bewildered radio message, “Why? Do you want to die?” rings across to Earth.
The radio message suggests that Why-Man is not threatening at all, that they are in fact confused why humanity is turning down an offer to stay alive forever.
I love the fact that their logic is so alien. As machine lifeforms, they 1) don’t have limbs, and 2) have no other goal rather than parasitize as many races as required to propagate infinitely. That’s probably why living on as stone seems like a good idea to them. Immortality is such a logically simple solution, but is it still life if you’re frozen for most of it?
Why-Man’s only goal is replication and self-preservation. To do this as a mechanical parasite that needs technologically-advanced repairs, they design the perfect barter system: propagation in exchange of immortality.
They selectively breed humanity so the smartest depetrify first – kind of like the survival of the smartest. And the smartest ones would definitely know how to replace their diamond core and manufacture more Medusas – for the simple reason that they would be the only ones who recognizes that the Medusas grant immortality. Why-Man saw death as a bug and programmed a method to get rid of it. But now, they are beginning to see from the actions of the depetrified humans that they would rather humanity than immortality. This is a problem.
The biggest conundrum in the world of Dr. Stone has been placing the identity of Why-Man. Why-Man is where it all began, the perpetrator behind the flash of light that turned all of humanity into stone.
Now we know what Why-Man is and why they petrified humanity. But there are still some unanswered questions, like: Who created Why-Man? Are they self-programmed? How many races have they petrified? Can they be negotiated with?
There is a good chance that all hell breaks lose in the next chapter, because Why-Man seems to be going berserk; what if all the Medusa devices turn into little weapons of destruction and begin an all-out war against the human race? Well, I’m sure Senku’s Kingdom of Science can get us through it.
About Dr. Stone
Dr. Stone is a Japanese manga series written by Riichiro Inagaki and illustrated by Boichi. It serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump since 6th March 2017, with the individual chapters collected and published by Shueisha into thirteen tankōbon volumes as of November 2019.
Every human on the planet was turned into Stone after a mysterious flash of light hit Earth. Four thousand years after Senku, a student is confronted with a brand new world, an Earth without Humanity.
Now animals rule the world, and nature has reclaimed the planet. Senku and his friend Taiju begin trying to find a way to restore humanity.
Season 3 is premiering in April 2023.