The One Piece anime is on the cusp of finally adapting the long-awaited Gear 5 transformation of protagonist Monkey D. Luffy, which looks like it could be on track to break viewership records at this stage. However, Gear 5 is actually a very big deal for the entire story of One Piece and completely changes the nature of not only Luffy’s true abilities but raises some interesting implications about the future. In this article, we explain Luffy’s newfound power and answer why it’s more than just a transformation in the grand scheme of the story.
To really dig into why Luffy’s Gear 5 is a big deal for the story of One Piece, we’ll be dividing this article into three sections. For anime-only watchers, this article will heavily lean into spoiler territory and discuss everything we already know from the manga’s events, so you have been warned.
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Gear 5 Luffy Explained and Why It’s a Big Deal in One Piece
The Joy Boy Connection
For over 1000 episodes and chapters, we followed Monkey D. Luffy on his lengthy quest to find the fabled One Piece treasure, which we later learned belonged to a mysterious and highly influential figure named Joy Boy. There’s still a lot of unanswered questions surrounding who Joy Boy actually was or how he was involved in the Void Century and Ancient Kingdom, but that’s for another article.
Mainly, this point is raised because shortly before Luffy’s transformation, the massive elephant Zunesha proudly proclaims that “Joy Boy has returned” upon hearing the Drums of Liberation rhythmically echoed by Luffy’s thumping heart after he was seemingly killed by the Emperor, Kaido. Later, it’s revealed that “Joy Boy” wasn’t the name of the figure but rather a title given to someone, thus technically making Luffy the next Joy Boy. Or more specifically, he inherited Joy Boy’s will – a common theme present throughout the story.
This is huge for the story of One Piece because firstly, it presents a clear line of connection to Luffy and Joy Boy. At this point, one could say that Luffy is almost destined to find the One Piece treasure. Secondly, it also sheds a light on the actual nature of the Devil Fruit that Luffy ate – something that creator Eiichiro Oda had been slyly teasing since the Skypeia arc, which has now become one of the most important arcs in the entire series.
Furthermore, Luffy’s sudden awakening of Gear 5 has been carefully teased throughout the series. In Skypeia, Luffy defeats the false god Enel and parts the clouds, reigning sunshine on the sky island. His silhouette, in numerous panels, has also been mirrored to resemble the Sun God Nika’s iconic pose. The sun and the “dawn” has played a very important part in One Piece‘s story and the puzzle pieces are slowly falling in place.
True Power of Luffy’s Devil Fruit
As we come to learn through the Gear 5 transformation and the Gorosei, Luffy’s Devil Fruit wasn’t the Paramecia-type Gum-Gum Fruit. All this time, Luffy had actually eaten a Mythical Zoan fruit called the Human-Human Fruit Model Sun God Nika. This explains why the World Government was so adamant at tracking down the Gum-Gum Fruit and Luffy. Turns out, it wasn’t just an ordinary Devil Fruit but probably the single most important fruit in the world’s history.
I say “probably” because it’s still unclear what type of Devil Fruit the mysterious Imu possesses, who is shown to sit on the throne of the World Government (or if they even have a fruit at all). However, that shouldn’t undermine the importance of Luffy’s fruit. What’s important to note here is that the World Government really wants it for some purpose and when we take a look at its capabilities, it’s easy to understand why.
Gear 5, in essence, allows Luffy to tap into an almost unbound source of power only limited by his imagination. This is why Luffy initially (wrongfully) assumed that the limitations of his abilities were only bound by the properties of rubber. With Gear 5, Luffy is given increased speed, agility and limitless freedom to fight, allowing his rubber properties to be malleable to the point where he’s able to basically turn his fight into a cartoon – capable of turning everything around him into seemingly extremely flexible matter.
Through his child-like imagination, Luffy turns his fight against Kaido into a Looney Tunes skit. It seems as though reality itself becomes warped by Luffy’s power. Luffy is shown to combine all of his gear abilities effortlessly, stretching his body and forming massive fists, growing in size or even lifting the ground and dusting it like it’s a blanket.
We’re also led to believe that Joy Boy likely possessed this Devil Fruit 800 years ago. That said, we still have 99 questions about the Sun God Nika fruit as well as its correlation with Joy Boy, the One Piece and the Void Century. What we do know is that the fruit ended up in Luffy’s possession eventually, but was it by chance? There’s still one more key figure to discuss in all of this.
Shanks Played a Big Role
Of course, Luffy wouldn’t have come into possession of the fruit if it wasn’t for Shanks, who brought it to Luffy’s town when he was a kid. We learn that Shanks actually stole the fruit from the World Government beforehand, though it’s unclear if he meant for Luffy to eat the fruit all this time (or if it was actually destined for Gold Roger’s son, Ace, according to popular theories). Perhaps his encounter with Luffy made him reconsider.
It’s implied (or for many, outright confirmed at this point) that Shanks knew about the true nature of this special Devil Fruit all along. Otherwise why go through the trouble of attacking the World Government to steal it? This raises the question of how Shanks was able to deduce this information. We know he has some close ties to the Gorosei so it’s possible that the information might’ve been passed to him in some way. Shanks is also one of the crew mates to have travelled to the One Piece treasure with Gold Roger (though never saw it), so there’s that connection that has yet to be explained too.
Shanks still has a very important part to play in the grand scheme of the story – as does every relevant plot point including Joy Boy, God Valley, Rocks D. Xebec and much more – as we inch closer to the thrilling conclusion of One Piece.