The last few months have been really monumental for One Piece fans. Chapter 1044 confirmed what many of us had predicted: Luffy is Joy Boy; but not in the way that we had thought.
A more appropriate framing would be that Joy Boy is Luffy, instead of the other way around, but more on that later.
The crux of the matter is that Luffy and Joy Boy are one and the same – although how exactly that came to be is still ambiguous.
What do we even know about the identity of Joy Boy? Who is he/them/it? How is Joy Boy connected to the Ancient Kingdom and why is he still relevant now?
In this article, I will discuss everything we know and don’t know about the enigma that is Joy Boy, his relation to Zunesha, the World Government, Laugh Tale, Sun God Nika, and, most importantly, to Luffy.
The revival of Joy Boy, in the form of Luffy, happened in Wano. But it’s important not to lose sight of all the clues Oda has given us pre-Wano arc as well. Let’s begin with the most recent information, go back from there, and see how it all adds up.
What do we know about Joy Boy? How do we know Luffy is Joy Boy?
Most people have just taken for granted that Luffy is Joy Boy.
There were 3 theories in the beginning: reincarnation, Devil Fruit Awakening, and inheritance of will. The reincarnation theory was shot down early on – you can read why here.
As Oda revealed more info, it became apparent that Joy Boy is a title rather than a person, and that Luffy has inherited the title of Joy Boy, and that it is somehow related to him Awakening his historical Devil Fruit, the Hito Hito no Mi, Model: Nika.
More than anything, the single thing recently revealed to tie Joy Boy to Luffy, is Zunesha.
Ever since Zunesha first appeared in the story, fans have been guessing that Joy Boy was bound to appear sooner than later. Zunesha, the prehistoric elephant with an island on his back, was Joy Boy’s companion 800 years ago.
We don’t know the specifics of it yet, but Zunesha traveled with Joy Boy – or the person with the title of Joy Boy – during the Void Century.
During the Raid on Onigashima, Zunesha senses the arrival of Joy Boy.
I can hear it […] I hear the Drums of Liberation. For the first time in 800 years, he is here! Joy Boy has returned!
This is when Luffy has just lost his bout with Kaido and has been knocked unconscious after Gear 4. His “voice” vanishes, and for the first time, Luffy is actually considered “dead.”
Just as all hope is lost, Luffy’s heartbeat can be heard by Zunesha, who compares it to the “Drums of Liberation.”
How nostalgic… that rhythm… Joy Boy. Hey, Joy Boy… It’s as if you’re right there. How exhilarating. This all feels like fate. I can’t help but think that we should put our faith in this boy.
Luffy comes back into action after activating what we now know as his Gear 5: Nika, where he Awakens his Mythical Zoan Devil Fruit abilities and unlocks some seriously “ridiculous” power.f
Luffy’s presence in that moment reminds Zunesha of his comrade from 8 centuries ago whom he refers to as Joy Boy.
2. Nika and the Hito Hito no Mi
Sure, Joy Boy is something that Luffy emulates or becomes or inherits; but who in the world is Nika? What’s Nika got to do with Joy Boy?
When Luffy Awakens, he grins ear-to-ear and the bubble next to him says “NIKA”. In Japanese, “nika” means “grin” and at the same time, “Nika” refers to the Sun God Nika, a mythical warrior of yore in the One Piece world.
Sun God Nika was first mentioned by Who’s Who. He was a CP9 agent at the time, and had been imprisoned by the World Government for having let the mysterious Devil Fruit he had been protecting get stolen by the Red Hair Pirates.
That Devil Fruit is the same one that Luffy eats on Shanks’s ship – the Mythical Zoan Hito Hito no Mi, Model: Nika.
The Government had changed the name of the Fruit since it was believed to be too powerful. They reclassified it as a Paramecia-type Devil Fruit, naming it after one of its most prominent abilities – the Gomu Gomu or the Gum-Gum Fruit.
The Government presumably didn’t know for sure that this Fruit was the key to Joy Boy, or they would’ve hiked up the security surrounding it.
Well, Who’s Who was thrown into jail for losing the Fruit and it is here that he hears about the legend of Nika.
A prison guard tells him that in the ancient days, there was a mythical warrior who was called Sun God Nika, who was worshipped by slaves because they believed he would liberate them.
It was said he would bring laughter to their lips and free them from their suffering. Who knows if he really existed though?
It is not known whether Nika was an actual living person/god, but it is theorized that Nika was probably the first Joy Boy.
But whether or not this is true, the idea of Nika is perpetuated through generations: he is someone who will save people, free them, and make them laugh. He will obliterate oppression and spread joy. Remind you of someone?
Coming back to the Devil Fruit, the Five Elders confirmed in chapter 1044 that the person who eats the Mythical Zoan Fruit called the Hito Hito no Mi, Model: Nika, gains abilities akin to the Sun God Nika.
So, here in Wano, which is a nation where tyrants like Kaido and Orochi have turned citizens into slaves, Luffy has Awakened that Devil Fruit, and “become” Nika.
Like the legend told by the prison guard, Nika, the Warrior of Liberation, has arrived to free the people and bring a smile to their faces.
Since we already know how chapter 1052 ends, we know that Wano is indeed free; that Luffy has defeated Emperor Kaido, and Momonosuke has reclaimed the throne as shogun, returning Wano its peace and happiness.
Nika – Joy Boy – the grinning Luffy – they are synonymous, and this has been foreshadowed throughout the series. The now-famous Nika-Luffy silhouette is broken down in section 2.I.
3. Oden’s Prophesy
In chapter 967, we glimpse an important flashback. Gol D. Roger and Kozuki Oden, as part of the Roger Pirates’ final adventure, when they reach the “final island” which Roger later names Laugh Tale.
It is here that they find the treasure that Joy Boy supposedly left behind, the treasure known as the One Piece.
The Roger Pirates conquer the Grand Line and Roger becomes the Pirate King. Oden journals this experience, that when Roger found the One Piece, he burst out laughing.
Roger later says that he wishes he had been born at the same time as Joy Boy, and that they had found the One Piece too early.
The Roger Pirates are then disbanded, and Oden decides to return to his nation, to Wano, so he can open the borders previously closed by the Kozuki clan, to prepare for the return on Joy Boy.
“Until this point, there was a purpose to this country being closed. But now we must open its ports, before the day that Joy Boy appears.”
Of course, when Oden comes back to Wano, he finds that the usurper Orochi has taken his father’s place as shogun, and Yonko Kaido has allied with him to turn the nation’s people into slaves.
After Oden’s execution at the hands of Kaido, his wife Toki reads a letter left to her by Oden. He tells her to use her time-traveling Devil Fruit ability to send Momonosuke, Kin’emon, Kanjuro, Raizo, and Kiku in the future.
Oden knew that in 20 years’ time, another great war was going to happen where a power capable of bringing down Kaido would arrive in Wano.
He had also left his retainers with the task of helping reopen the borders of Wano.
Although Momo has still decided to keep Wano sealed to protect it from the Government, it is obvious that Luffy’s Awakening of Nika and Joy Boy is what Oden had prophesized.
Clues About Joy Boy Before the Wano Arc
Oda has left us plenty of clues about Joy Boy in the previous arcs that tie in with the event in Wano.
Ever since the first saga, he has been building up to what’s to come. Oda has a very clear concept of what Joy Boy stands for, even though he hasn’t explicitly told us what Joy Boy is.
Through these concepts, we can piece together the enigma of Joy Boy – and see how it connects to our boy Luffy.
1. Slavery – Skypiea, Fishman Island, Wano
Early on in the series, during the Skypiea arc, Luffy faces the tyrannical “god”, Enel. Much like Kaido and Orochi in Wano, Enel and his army overthrew the ruler of Skypiea and took to the throne himself.
Like in Wano, anyone who spoke out of line or questioned his authority, were punished instantly. Luffy defeats Enel beautifully – being immune to Enel’s electric powers due to his rubber body.
Luffy was not only able to defeat Enel, but also ended the 400-year war between the Shandians and the Skypieans.
As a celebration party progresses, everyone dances around a large bonfire, smiling and laughing.
Luffy’s dancing silhouette is the same as the one when Who’s Who is describing Nika.
When Who’s Who is recalling the Nika story, he is telling it to Jinbe, because he automatically associates Jinbe, who is a Fish Man, to slavery.
You led the Sun Pirates… I heard the crew was made up of former slaves! Besides, isn’t the history of Fish Men a history of slavery?
The Fish Men are a race that have historically been subjugated and “sold” in the slave trade by the Nobles.
A Fish Man known as Fisher Tiger fought against the Nobles at Mary Geoise, and freed the slaves from their captors – thus gaining a reputation as the Hero of Slaves.
This is why Fisher Tiger of the Fish Men – and Noland of the Dwarves – are also worthy contenders of being Nika/Joy Boy.
However, Luffy has one-by-one defeated every slave owner, including Arlong, Doflamingo, Enel, and Kaido.
Luffy arrives on Fish Man Island and defeats Hody Jones and the New Fish Man Pirates who have been spreading hatred over Fisher Tiger and enslaving Fish Men and humans. Luffy and the Straw Hats free the island from this fear of slavery and discrimination from racism – as they do in Wano.
2. Poseidon and the Poneglyph at Fish Man Island
It is also on Fish Man Island that Robin discovers that the Mermaid Princess Shirahoshi is actually the Ancient Weapon Poseidon.
Robin also finds the Ryugu Poneglyph with Joy Boy’s apology to the people of Fish Man Island.
Robin speaks to King Neptune about it, and this is when we first get a detailed mention of Joy Boy for the first time in the series.
He explains that Joy Boy and the Mermaid Princess Poseidon made a pact together during the Void Century.
The Fish Men and Poseidon promised Joy Boy that they would keep the ark he built, called Noah, safe, so it could be used when the time comes. Joy Boy promised that he would use Noah to bring the Fish Men to the surface one day.
In the Poneglyph, Joy Boy apologizes to Void Century Poseidon for breaking his side of the bargain, but says that someone would come in the future and fulfill his promise.
Additionally, Madam Shyarly makes a prediction that a man wearing a straw hat will one day destroy Fish Man Island.
This has to indicate Luffy returning to Fish Man Island in the future. He will use the help of the Ancient Weapon Poseidon and Noah’s Ark to uphold Joy Boy’s promise.
The only reason Luffy would destroy Fish Man Island would be to bring the Fish People to land so they can live freely.
Another reason is that Fish Man Island lies directly under Mary Geoise and the Red Line. In his final battle against the World Government, Luffy might destroy Fish Man Island as a consequence of conquering the Grand Line, thus bringing in a new and free world system.
3. The Royal Fish Man Island Legend
King Neptune tells Robin that there is a legend in the royal family about the person who will fulfill Joy Boy’s promise.
Going back to Roger and Oden’s adventure, it is revealed in chapter 968 that both Roger Pirates overhear this legend when they traveled to Fish Man Island.
They hear the Sea Kings talking about the birth of a certain person that will form a friendship with the new Poseidon and who will lead them in 25 years’ time.
Luffy and the current Poseidon, i.e., Shirahoshi, become close during his time on Fish Man Island, similar to Joy Boy and Void Century Poseidon.
4. Liberator of the People
After they locate the One Piece on Laugh Tale, Oden returns to Wano to prepare for the coming of Joy Boy. We know what happens after this.
The point of the matter is that this is probably how Oden knows to tell his wife, Amatsuke Toki, to send his son and retainers to the future to ally with Joy Boy and open Wano’s borders.
From Joy Boy’s apology and Oden’s flashback, and several other factors, we can deduce that Joy Boy is supposed to be the one who will unify people, bring them freedom, and put a smile on everyone’s faces.
He was supposed to bring Fish Men to the surface so they could once again travel amidst other races without discrimination.
This same principle applies to Wano and its gates – Oden wanted to usher in the new age because he knew that Joy Boy was supposed to change the very system of the current world. Deisolating Wano emphasizes the unity theme.
Luffy has done more for different races than anyone. He liberated the Fish Men, helped the Minks, and of course brought peace to oppressed communities and tribes.
Possible Links that Connect Luffy to Joy Boy
As discussed, Joy Boy has connections to Zunesha and Poseidon, and is the bringer of joy, peace, freedom, equality, and happiness.
But, there are a few things that have only been speculated about that could mean something, that could connect Luffy with Joy Boy. Let’s go over them.
1. Voice of All Things
During the Fish Man Island arc, it’s revealed that Luffy has the rare ability to hear the Voice of All Things. This is the ability to be able to hear animals, non-human beings, and inanimate objects communicate.
All the known humans who can use the Voice of All Things are Luffy, Roger, Momonosuke, Oden, and the Three Eye Tribe.
Luffy can hear Zunesha and telepathically converse with Momo. Momo, though, is the one to be able to command Zunesha, in the way that Shirahoshi, being the Mermaid Princess, can command the Sea Kings. Luffy can only communicate to them.
How this links in with Joy Boy is yet to be seen.
2. Straw Hat
This one is a famous one. Ever since we saw the giant Straw Hat in Mary Geoise, people have been tying it in with Joy Boy.
Some people think that the Straw Hat belonged to Joy Boy, who might have been a giant. Some think the Straw Hat is the tombstone for Joy Boy, whose body lies underneath.
In the fleeting scene, Imu holds the Wanted poster of Luffy and is staring at the Straw Hat.
3. The D-clan
The Will of D. is probably as big of a mystery as Joy Boy. It is the only other running theme in One Piece that seemingly strings everything important together. Along with Conqueror’s Haki.
When Robin asks Silvers Rayleigh about the Will of D., he does not answer the question, but simply says that the Roger Pirates uncovered details about the Void Century at Laugh Tale.
Void Century was when Joy Boy was active, so the D-Clan probably is related to him.
There’s a theory the people that carry the initial D. are descendants of Joy Boy’s crew. So, Luffy doesn’t have to be connected to Blackbeard by blood for them to share the middle initial.
On the other hand, D. is passed down through generations too, since Garp, Dragon, and Luffy all share it. Jaguar D. Saul also confirms this in chapter 392.
4. Ancient Weapons
It’s speculated that Joy Boy along with bring the uniter of people, was also the uniter of the 3 Ancient Weapons.
The 20 Celestial Dragons of the Ancient Kingdom saw this as a threat to their power and this is why today, the World Government is the ultimate enemy of Luffy, the pirates, and anyone standing up to their authority.
Some fans believe that Joy Boy is the key to Uranus, the Ancient Weapon we know nothing about. He already had a relationship with the Ancient Weapon Poseidon, and might have also possessed Pluton. Some think the Noah itself is Pluton, but this is unlikely.
The mystery of Joy Boy has slowly been unraveling ever since he was first mentioned in the Fish Man Island arc.
After Zunesha confirmed Joy Boy’s presence, we can conclude that the latent power/spirit/will of Joy Boy has finally awakened within Luffy. His Gear 5: Nika seems to be the power that the person with the title Joy Boy exhibits, making him the Warrior of Liberation.
Luffy is the Dawn of the New Age, the Sun that will Rise Again, the Uniter of the People, the Joy Boy.
Of course, there are still several unsolved secrets, but I’m sure Oda will tell us everything when the time is right.
Noting that he feels like fate is at work, he’s now putting his full trust in Luffy. So it’s not that Luffy has become Joy Boy, and necessarily gained a title, but he’s become like that figure.
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.