What a time to be a One Piece fan. The latest chapter 1044 has not only changed our whole perspective of the narrative, but has brought a smileto every member in the fandom.
Luffy was always the epitome of joy, but for him to be the actual personification of Joy Boy is something else entirely. My boy Luffy has finally awakened his Devil Fruit and entered what has been confirmed as “God” mode – literally.
We don’t know the full extent of his new powers but from what I saw in the previous chapter, only one word describes them: ridiculous.
But with Luffy inheriting the will of Joy Boy, many people are worried about whether Luffy will still remain Luffy.
Can a person stay true to their character despite being so overpowered? Will our beloved protagonist’s final form take precedence over everything he has thus far achieved?
Luffy’s new powers do not overshadow his achievements because his new form – Gear 5, is an awakening of the power that has always been within him. Luffy himself hasn’t changed, only evolved.
Why People Think Gear 5 Overshadows Luffy
Most people believe that the revelation that Luffy’s Devil Fruit is actually the Mythical Zoan fruit eaten by Joy Boy puts a damper on his achievements. They think his fruit makes him special, and that his Gear 5 Nika transformation overshadows who he is.
Kaido legitimately destroys Luffy in chapter 1043 and Luffy’s voice goes silent, indicating that he has died. But at the end of the chapter, Zunesha hears the Drums of Liberation – the beating of Luffy’s heart. He says that for the first time in 800 years, Joy Boy has returned.
In chapter 1044, we see Luffy not just alive after his defeat by the Yonko, but more powerful than he has ever been before.
This is because Luffy has managed to awaken his Devil Fruit, the same one that the Gorosei have been looking for since the past 8 centuries.
The Gorosei reveal that Luffy’s Paramecia-type Gomu Gomu no Mi is actually the Mythical Zoan-type Hito Hito no Mi, Model: Nika, Nika referring to the mythical Sun deity.
It is said, that in all the world, there is no power more ridiculous!
When Luffy awakens the fruit, he accesses godly power.
He can do pretty much whatever he wants with his body, and we get a taste of this when we see him rubber hosing his way around the island, flinging Yonko Kaido like he wasn’t one of the most powerful pirates in existence.
He is also able to pick up the ground like a carpet to hold off Kaido’s Blast or Boro Breath.
I understand why many fans assume that this new form takes away from Luffy. It’s like Oda revealed this sparkling Fruit of Destiny, and Luffy being the Chosen One, was meant to end up with this special fruit and fulfil his destiny to save the world.
Going by this perspective, it doesn’t matter that Luffy has reached so far on his own might. Him having the Human-Human Model: Nika means that he would have ended up here anyway.
With this all-powerful God mode, Luffy can easily triumph over Kaido, not because of his own strength, but because of the legacy of a fruit, that gives him access to the powers of a God.
Joy Boy himself was the last user who was able to awaken Nika. Luffy being the successor of Joy Boy’s will, and the wielder of the Sun God’s powers, means that Luffy has suddenly become the most powerful character in the series.
But I just have one question for these haters: Do you really think Oda would build all of this up just to throw it away in such a common, predictable manner?
Let me tell you why and how there is no way that Luffy has been overshadowed by his Devil Fruit.
Why Luffy’s True Devil Fruit Actually Changes Nothing
Luffy’s Gum-Gum fruit being the Hito-Hito, Model: Nika might seem like a new direction but it changes nothing. Luffy is still the Rubber Man; only, in Sun God style. It’s not the fruit that makes Luffy the Warrior of Liberation, but Luffy’s own traits and personality.
The Gorosei haven’t gotten hold of the legendary Hito Hito Model: Nika in the past 800 years. This means that, in all probability, there must have been several pirates other than Luffy who would have likely consumed the fruit, enjoyed its rubber powers, and then died.
The fact that others have eaten the fruit proves that the fruit doesn’t make Luffy special. On the other hand, it’s Luffy and Luffy alone who is able to unlock the full powers of the fruit. The last time someone awakened it was 800 years ago – and that someone was Joy Boy.
Joy Boy could also turn his body into rubber, the awakening giving him the versatility to fight in whatever way he fancied.
Luffy, by virtue of being Joy Boy, and the incarnation of Nika in Gear 5, can stretch himself in ridiculous ways and angles in a way that brings a smile to people’s faces.
Sure, his fruit is the legendary fruit of the most powerful entity in the franchise, but it is also the same old rubber fruit that has spread laughter and joy to the world.
The power of the fruit is only limited by imagination. It only took Luffy this long to awaken the fruit because he did not know the real name and nature of the fruit. He has been in plenty of near-death situations which would have warranted awakening.
To be fair, the Wano battle with Kaido wasn’t a near-death situation, but resulted in his actual death. His voice disappeared, pointing to something more serious than usual.
It took all the various elements to come together at the exact moment for Luffy to awaken the will of Joy Boy and go into Gear 5: Nika.
But all this would never have happened were it not for the fact that Luffy is, well, Luffy.
Luffy will liberate the oppressed, stand for freedom, bring about joy, love, and laughter. He will do these things not because it is the essence of Joy Boy, but because of who he is as a person.
So, his true fruit being Mythical Zoan instead of Paramecia, Human-Human instead of Gum-Gum, is only a difference in name and type, not in power. It doesn’t give him more power, nor does it make him more special.
Given that certain Zoan fruits have a will of their own, it’s also possible that Joy Boy’s fruit, the Human-Human, Model: Nika, choseLuffy – similar to how a wand chooses its wizard – because he was already special. Because he is Joy Boy.
So, Luffy having the Hito Hito instead of the Gomu Gomu actually changes nothing because
- The 2 fruits are one and the same;
- Luffy is not powerful because of his fruit; his fruit is powerful because of him.
How Luffy’s New Powers Follow a Natural Progression
Had Luffy not honed his abilities and mastered his 4 Gears, he would never have reached Gear 5. His new powers organically grow from Gear 4.
Oda almost never drops something this huge on us without foreshadowing it first. Everything that is happening now has been hinted at before, been grounded in the events of the past.
Sun God Nika’s foreshadowing was explicit in the Skypiea bonfire scene; and if Luffy’s perpetual grin/“nika” and making people laugh wasn’t always indicative of Joy Boy I don’t know what was.
For a full explanation on the Nika-JoyBoy-Luffy connection, check out my other article.
As for Luffy’s Devil Fruit, we already knew something was up. From the events in the last chapter, we now know that the fruit Luffy ate, the one he took from Shanks’ treasure box, has always been Joy Boy’s Devil Fruit that has evaded the World Government for 800 years.
But Luffy’s rubber powers seemed suspiciously trivial in the beginning, considering how he is our main character. After the deaths of Ace and Whitebeard, we sort of come to see how antagonists like Akainu and Blackbeard might be too powerful for Luffy.
Blackbeard is literally a collector of the world’s most powerful Devil Fruits, and Akainu’s Magma-Magma Devil Fruit abilities rationally should trump Luffy’s rubber abilities.
For most fans though, Luffy having an arbitrary, almost silly power, was what made him so likable and special.
Despite what we saw as limitations in terms of strength, Luffy kept surprising us with his Devil Fruit abilities. He got stronger and earned big wins, not with some out-of-the-blue power boosts, but with a creative use of the powers he already had.
When he first transformed into Gear 2 in his fight with Blueno, I remember being flabbergasted that someone with rubber abilities could actually have such a cool powerup that gives him increased speed. Gear 3 let him grow his limbs to increase strength.
With Gear 4, Luffy combines strength and speed, enough to allow him to defeat characters like Doflamingo and Katakuri.
Slowly we see that the abilities granted to Luffy by the Gomu Gomu no Mi are far from weak, not because of the fruit itself, but because of how Luffy uses it.
Rubber is one of the most adaptable substances in the world: it can be expanded, compressed, heated, melted, inflated; it can float, fly, stretch, stick, elongate, harden, erase; it is malleable, tensile, elastic, and adhesive.
Rubber can also deflect lightning (ha ha, screw you, Enel!), withstand extremely high or low temperatures, and persist in almost any condition.
Above all, gum, or rubber, (hell, even resin), is impermeable. It is resistant. This is where we see the genius of Oda. What seemed like a random choice for his protagonist’s power was actually a well-researched ability thought out 25 years ago.
But what is interesting to speculate is that had somebody else eaten the Gomu Gomu – or as we now know it’s called, the Hito Hito Model: Nika – would they have used it the way Luffy has?
It is because Luffy is so suited to the natural tendencies of rubber that he is able to awaken and use it to its true potential.
Luffy and his Devil Fruit are resilient. Luffy and his Devil Fruit (Nika’s will) value freedom above all else, not just personal, but the freedom of others, as well.
Now that Luffy has awakened the full power of his Fruit (and also learned or will learn its true name) he can access freedom like he never has.
With Gear 5, Luffy has no physical restraint at all, and can even turn give his surroundings similar rubber properties – which is what many awakened Devil Fruit users can do, too.
Gear 5 sticks true to Luffy’s original goofiness. His powers were, are, and always will be cartoonish, Loony Toons-y, absurd. Ridiculous.
So it’s not like Luffy has suddenly become some God. Yes, he is the embodiment of a God – Nika, the Sun God, but only in relation to what that God stands for: freedom and joy.
The powers that he wields are a natural progression from the ones he already had.
The Nika Zoan Devil Fruit and Luffy share the essence of Joy Boy. Luffy has all the characteristics that Joy Boy must possess and that’s why he inherited the title – and also his Devil Fruit.
This is also why Luffy’s new powers don’t take away from his achievements and from who he is. Luffy’s achievements and who he is as a person are what have led him to his new powers.
About One Piece
One Piece is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Eiichiro Oda. It has been serialized in Shueisha’s Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine since July 22, 1997.
The man who had acquired everything in this world, the Pirate King, is Gol D. Roger. The final words he said at the execution tower were “My treasures? If you want it, I’ll let you have it. Look for it; I left all of it at that place.” These words sent many to the seas, chasing their dreams, headed toward the Grand Line, in search of One Piece. Thus began a new age!
Seeking to be the greatest pirate in the world, young Monkey D. Luffy also heads toward the Grand Line in search of One Piece. His diverse crew is joining him along the way, consisting of a swordsman, marksman, navigator, cook, doctor, archaeologist, and cyborg-shipwright, this will be one memorable adventure.