One Piece fans have been expecting Luffy to use a new Gear Fifth technique, but the power-up he may be getting could be even more powerful.
Warning! Contains spoilers for Chapter 1043 of One Piece!
At the end of the latest chapter of One Pieceit appears that Luffy is on the cusp of taking his powers to the next level, although not in the way many fans have been expecting. One Piece is a manga by Eiichiro Oda following Monkey D. Luffy as he attempts to become the king of the pirates. Throughout the series Luffy has continually grown stronger, but he may be about to increase his power level his in the most drastic way yet.
There are multiple power systems in the world of One Piece. Devil Fruit abilities are the most straightforward system, as it just entails someone eating a magical object called a Devil Fruit that grants them a special ability. Devil Fruit users who are especially proficient in using their fruit can push their powers even further in a process called “Awakening.” Awakening significantly boosts the powers of a given Devil Fruit and can even sometimes manifest new abilities for the user. Luffy has eaten the Gum Gum Fruit, which has given him the ability to turn his body into rubber. He has used this power in innovative ways throughout the series to create devastating attacks like the Gum Gum Gatling and Gear Third. After learning about Haki, the second power system in One Piece, Luffy incorporated that into his attacks as well to develop the powerful Gear Fourth attacks. Given the progression in attack names from Gear Third to Gear Fourth, many fans have speculated that Luffy would innovate with his powers his yet again to make a “Gear Fifth” technique. But the end of the latest chapter seems to suggest a far greater increase in power.
At the end of chapter 1043, Luffy is lying apparently dead after being defeated by the warlord Kaido. However, over the last couple of panels, his heartbeat his starts back up and he smiles as his body his begins to melt into liquid rubber. Given that both Doflamingo and Katakuri’s awakened Devil Fruit powers allowed them to transform objects around them into Strings and Mochi respectively, it makes sense that Luffy being able to turn his body into liquid rubber would be an ability of his awakened Devil Fruit. So this last panel implies that Luffy has finally awakened his Devil Fruit powers his and will use these new powers to defeat Kaido.
The groundwork for this awakening has been subtly laid by Oda over the course of the raid on Onigashima. Upon seeing some of Luffy’s combat abilities during their fight, Kaido noted that rubber shouldn’t be able to move the way Luffy was moving it. This implies that Luffy was already pushing past the limits of his abilities even before the end of Chapter 1043. On a more metatextual level, Luffy’s rivals Trafalgar Law and Eustass Kidd both awakened their Devil Fruit abilities during their fight against Big Mom, another warlord allied with Kaido, so it makes sense that Luffy would also awaken his powers during his fight against a warlord.
Awakening his powers would be a big step forward for Luffy and make him one of the most powerful characters in the series. Taking down Kaido would prove this to the world at large. Given the incredibly strong powers of other awakened Devil Fruits, it is very likely that Luffy will be able to accomplish this feat and shake the status quo of One Piece to its core.
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