I’m writing this post to clear some misconception about the way powerscaling works in One Piece. This doesn’t want to be a post about who’s stronger than who, but I will make examples which I believe most of the fanbase would agree on.
The Power System: Haki
Haki is the foundation on which powerscaling in One Piece is built. It means “Ambition”, and is described as “Will Power”, as well as an energy present in all living things. We all know how it works on a surface level, we have Armament, Observation and Conqueror’s, but what really matters is its inner workings: how does this power affect get affected by outside forces?
Like I already said, Haki is Ambition and Will Power, which means that the same person will have better or worse Haki depending on the mental state they’re in. The most common example of this is Katakuri being unable to use Future Sight while angry. But what if I said that this buffing/nerfing also applied to things outside of the proper use of Haki?
I’m obviously talking about Big Mom. If you go back to when Bege explains his plan to kill Big Mom you will notice that not a single word is spoken about her Haki, focusing heavily on how hard her skin is. When Big Mom is under shock because of Mother Caramel’s photo and her knees bled, was it because she couldn’t use Haki?
No, what happened is that her natural skin became weaker. She isn’t the only example either. We have had another example with the Red Scabbards stabbing Kaido thanks to him getting a PTSD-esque panic attack from remembering Oden.
Even before the introduction of Haki similar cases happened quite often, the best example being Luffy, Zoro and Sanji’s power jump going from Water 7 to Enies Lobby.
Devil Fruits and Match-Ups
One of the defining traits of One Piece is the massive cast of characters, and many of them have unique powers. At first glance it may seem that One Piece is something similar to Pokemon, but it really isn’t. What I mean is that One Piece is a story, so Oda creates powers to give an extra “flair” to the fights.
Enel is the biggest example of a character that got defeated by a bad match-up, but putting him against every fighter in his general tier of power, how many people would he have a good or bad match-up against?
Or, to put it in better terms, how many people are there that either resist or are weak to electricity? Not that many in fact. Tamago has insulating clothes and the Minks can use Electro, so they can probably resist it, but that’s it.
You can apply this same argument to more or less everyone that lost or won because of a bad match-up and it would be the same.
Narrative over Feats
Like I said before, One Piece is a story first and foremost, and the powerscaling behind it only exists so that every character can fulfill their role in it. I don’t need to see anything from Kaido to know that he can defeat anyone in the series (unless someone powercreeps him), because that’s what the narrator said. There is no “Sugar can turn him into a toy”, “Hancock can turn him into stone”, etc. because that’s not what the story says. I don’t need any feats from Mihawk to know that he’s stronger than anyone else with a sword because his role is to personify Zoro’s goal. I don’t need feats to say that Luffy is stronger than the rest of the crew, because a huge part of his character is that he needs to be strong enough to step in and protect all of his crew when they’re in danger and it would be contradictory if there was a crew member as strong or stronger than him.