Manga One Piece

Luffy and Joy Boy: Reincarnation or the Inheritance of Will?

There is no way even a single One Piece fan is calm right now. Chapter 1043 blew my mind – Oda’s will has the fandom reeling!

The resolution of that cliffhanger at the end of the latest chapter is going to change the course of the entire series.

SPOILERS AHEAD! This page contains spoilers from One Piece .

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably been clicking yourself through a universe of theories during this break week.

I know it can get overwhelming, but some fans are literally posting the first thing that comes to their minds. I’m going to get down to the crux of it, of the crucial question that’s been generating all this fanon: what exactly is the connection between Luffy and Joy Boy?

1. Reincarnation Theory: Is Luffy the reincarnation of Joy Boy?

Luffy has not been reincarnated as Joy Boy.

There are several reasons why the reincarnation theory falls through, but it’s still important to discuss why so many people think it’s a legitimate possibility.

Luffy and Joy Boy: Reincarnation or the Inheritance of Will?
Luffy | Source: IMDb

Let’s look at the facts.

In chapter 1043, Oda explicitly tells us that Luffy is Joy Boy.

Luffy has lost to the Yonko Kaido after his Gear 4 transformation fails, and his “Voice” cannot be heard anymore by Momonosuke and Law. He is declared dead.

At the end of the chapter, as Momo and Yamato battle Kaido, Zunesha, the elephant-companion of Joy Boy who can only be heard by Momo, says:

I can hear it […] I hear the Drums of Liberation. For the first time in 800 years, he is here! Joy Boy has returned!

The dialogue runs through the final panel, where we see the previously dead Luffy, grin from ear-to-ear, with his head sort of melting. The bubble next to him says “Nika” which translates as “grin”, but also seems to imply the Sun God Nika.

(There are Japanese fans who argue that the SFX in the speech bubble lacks the “tsu”, and is written in Hiragana and not Katakana, which is how the Sun God Nika would have been written. So, the “grin,” might just be a “nika”, and not “Nika,” the Sun God.)

2. Why People Think Luffy is Joy Boy Reincarnated

While it’s a popular fan-theory that Luffy and Nika are somehow related, what we know for sure is that Luffy and Joy Boy are synonymous, because Zunesha refers to Luffy’s beating heart as the Drums of Liberation, which can only be heard when Joy Boy reappears.

Luffy and Joy Boy: Reincarnation or the Inheritance of Will?
Luffy | Source: Fandom

Going by other clues dropped throughout the manga, Luffy is the “Don” (Bink’s Sake) or the dawn that the world has been waiting for, the light that the World Government wants to snuff out from history.

This is also why the Nika-JoyBoy-Luffy connection is so plausible, because the 3 characters have so many similarities. Check out my other article for a detailed explanation about this connection.

I. Chosen One:

It is but natural to theorize that Luffy has always been the reincarnation of Joy Boy. First of all, Luffy is our MC, and Joy Boy is the biggest, strongest, most important historical entity in the franchise.

With Luffy’s Voice vanishing and him undergoing some sort of apparent transformation, it’s easy to presume that there’s some kind of awakening that’s happening, not unlike Aang or Korra going into their Avatar state, like in the Avatar franchise.

Luffy and Joy Boy: Reincarnation or the Inheritance of Will?
Korra | Source: Fandom

Korra and Aang are reincarnations of one another, of Wan, the first Avatar. When things get too tough, they go into their Avatar state, and can access the power of the latent Avatar.

Fans have observed that Luffy’s grin seems different; it’s almost as if he’s taking on a different personality.

It’s not too much of a stretch to believe that because Luffy has reached his breaking point, Joy Boy has awakened within him (which most probably has something to do with the awakening of his Devil Fruit).

We can also tie in Nika here, who could have, like Luffy, been a reincarnation of Joy Boy – Zunesha’s companion, and the one that could not keep his promise to Fish-Man Island.

Luffy, then, could be the “chosen one”, a person most likely to be able to take on the mantle of Joy Boy, the savior, the one who would free the people and bring joy to the world.

This is where the reincarnation theory makes sense: a person is reincarnated to fulfill an unfinished purpose. The previous Joy Boy could not keep his promise to the Fish-Man folk. His apology, as inscribed on the Poneglyph, states that someone would fulfill his promise in the future.

The connection of Joy Boy to Fish-Man Island and Poseidon has been established – and so has Luffy’s. It is during Luffy’s era that Shirahoshi is revealed to be the new Poseidon, and together, they save the island during the Fish-Man Island arc.

II. Passed Down Through Generations:

Speaking of Shirahoshi, this is another reason, people believe the reincarnation theory. Why couldn’t Joy Boy be another Poseidon? If Shirahoshi is the current manifestation of Poseidon, Luffy can just as easily be the current reincarnation of Joy Boy.

Shirahoshi was destined to be the next Posiedon, and can access the spirit of this Ancient Weapon. The first Poseidon mentioned in the story, could command the Sea Kings. She is the one who made a pact with that era’s Joy Boy.

Luffy and Joy Boy: Reincarnation or the Inheritance of Will?
Shirahoshi | Source: Fandom

Poseidon’s ability was passed down the generations of the royal family. It awakened only within Shirahoshi, when the time was right. Could Joy Boy, too, be passed down the generations? This brings me to the discussion of the Will of D.

Jaguar D. Saul drops a hint that the initial D is passed down generations. Monkey D. Luffy is the son of Monkey D. Dragon, and the grandson of Monkey D. Garp.

Of course, there are others with the initial D who aren’t biologically related, like Gol D. Roger, Trafalgar D. Law, and hell, even, Marshall D. Teach.

So, the fated characters with the initial of D. are more like a clan with a shared destiny. This means that people with the D. initial are connected, not by blood, but by fate. Joy Boy could be an inherited trait passed down any one of the D. families.

If so, the Joy Boy recessive trait was activated only when Luffy had truly exhausted the extents of his abilities.

Problems with the Reincarnation Theory

III. Oden’s Prophesy:

Oden tasked his 9 Scabbards to reopen the borders of Wano. His prophesy states that Joy Boy will return to Wano, which is why the borders need to be reopened.

Luffy and Joy Boy: Reincarnation or the Inheritance of Will?
Oden | Source: IMDb

Luffy was already in Wano fighting Kaido when Momo opened the gates.

IV. Thematic Conflict:

The Reincarnation Theory, as has been widely discussed, directly contradicts or cheapens Luffy’s journey and nullifies the mystery of the One Piece. Luffy, when he awakens, would instantly know everything and become all-powerful.

Joy Boy would act as a power boost, and Luffy’s training, growth, and struggle wouldn’t be essential to the journey. People would believe that Luffy was always destined to win since he was always Joy Boy.

Luffy and Joy Boy: Reincarnation or the Inheritance of Will?
Luffy | Source: Fandom

Destiny sure does play a role in One Piece, but so does freedom. Luffy being Joy Boy indicates that he had no free will, that he had no option other than to be who he was always supposed to be.

But will is the core of One Piece – inherited will triumphs everything, even destiny.

Let’s delve into how it’s more likely that Luffy inherited the title of Joy Boy just as he inherited the will of D.

3. Inheritance of Title Theory: Does Luffy inherit the title of Joy Boy?

Luffy inherits the title of Joy Boy. Inheritance has been discussed since the beginning of One Piece. This is not a physical inheritance, but an intangible one, the inheritance of will.

I. The Will of D. and Joy Boy’s Will

I earlier spoke of Joy Boy as an inherited trait among the D. Clan. But what is more likely is the fact that Joy Boy is an inherited will, much like the will of the original D.

The fundamental pillar of One Piece is the fact that a person can pass on their will and thus never truly die.

Luffy and Joy Boy: Reincarnation or the Inheritance of Will?
Whitebeard | Source: IMDb

During the Marineford battle, Whitebeard discovers that killing someone with the initial D does not kill their dreams. Eventually, somebody will inherit their wish, their will, and carry on the essence of who they are.

If this is the case, it doesn’t matter who the original Joy Boy was. All that is important is his will, which has been passed to Luffy. Joy Boy, thus, becomes a title for the inherited will.

Joy Boy stands for liberation, for freedom, for joy, laughter, and love. This is everything Luffy is. His free spirit and ability to spread joy to everyone he meets, his determination to protect his friends and the innocent people suffering from oppression, is what makes the title so suited to him.

It is Luffy that inherited Joy Boy, because he is closest to the essence of who Joy Boy is. He has all the characteristics that Joy Boy must possess and that’s why he inherited the title.

Some people believe that Joy Boy’s will is, in fact, the will of D., but this cannot be, since there are people like Blackbeard who also possess the initial D. And I can’t imagine Blackbeard spreading joy to anyone but himself.

So, the will of Joy Boy is likely a subset of the Will of D., or a different will altogether. This will can be inherited through a specific Devil Fruit (as I will elaborate below), which, when awakened, will manifest the titular Joy Boy.

II. The Devil Fruit Connection

Just as Haki corresponds to spirit, Devil Fruit in One Piece corresponds to inheritance of will. There is definitely a connection of Joy Boy with Devil Fruit.

Luffy and Joy Boy: Reincarnation or the Inheritance of Will?
Haki | Source: Fandom

When Zunesha first arrives along the coast of Wano, we are told that the Gorosei had been protecting an unnamed Devil Fruit that had an ultimate awakening power.

When the Red Haired Pirates stole the fruit from the World Government, Luffy sneaks behind Shanks’ back and takes a bite of the fruit. It’s not confirmed that this fruit is the Gomu Gomu no Mi, but it does make sense.

The Devil Fruit that Luffy ate could be the same Devil Fruit that Joy Boy ate, and in this way, the will of Joy Boy is passed to Luffy.

The awakening of the fruit only suggests that Luffy can now access the full power of Joy Boy. We first see this in action when Sabo inherited the will of Ace by eating the Mera Mera no Mi.

The World Government probably knew that wills can be inherited in this manner, and thus wanted to shield the first Joy Boy’s fruit from the pirates. They send CP0 with an urgent task of eliminating Luffy. This is why the agent literally sacrifices himself so Luffy could die.

If the Devil Fruit connection is legit, then the first Joy Boy (Nika?) ate the Gomu Gomu no Mi and was able to become the most powerful personality to stand up against the World Government.

On the other hand – it’s also possible that the awakening of the Gomu Gomu no Mi is indeed Joy Boy; as in, whoever eats the fruit and awakens it, becomes the titular Joy Boy.

This theory is strengthened by the fact that in the last panel, when we see Luffy grin, his body is steaming along with his head melting. Steam, as we know, is a symbol of Luffy’s Gear forms; this means that Luffy is definitely awakening after he was announced dead.

Since Zunesha’s “Joy Boy has returned” dialogue coincides with Luffy’s awakening, we can say that Joy Boy is directly connected to Luffy’s Devil Fruit awakening.

Joy Boy’s will from 800 years ago awakens inside Luffy when he awakens his Devil Fruit, which was the same one that the Joy Boy from the Void Century ate.

4. Why Inheritance makes more sense than Reincarnation:

If Luffy inherits the will or title of Joy Boy it would mean that he never expected to be the chosen one, and that everything he has achieved has been on his own merit, not because it was fate.

Luffy will still be the same person he was when we met him in chapter 1; nothing will change.

5. Conclusion

Luffy is not Joy Boy because he is special. He is special because he made himself worthy enough to inherit that title.

Luffy and Joy Boy: Reincarnation or the Inheritance of Will?
Luffy | Source: IMDb

So, although reincarnation is a plausible theory, I don’t think Luffy is now suddenly possessed by Joy Boy’s spirit. There has been no foreshadowing of reincarnation at all, whereas, the inheritance of will theme has constantly been brought up since the beginning.

Luffy will unite the world, not because he was destined to do so, but because it is his will. And this will, also happens to be that of Joy Boy.

6. 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.

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Vansh Gulati

Vansh Gulati

Meet our very own Hinata Shoyo! - There is no anime or manga that he’s not aware of. Also the go-to guy for all things Epic at EML. He’s on a journey to discover life one bottle of sake at a time!
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