What makes the Joy Boy’s revelation different however, is that this is only NOW becoming an important plot point. If Oda intended this to be a permanent or eventual power-up for Luffy, why introduce it RIGHT BEFORE the final saga of the series? There’s such little room for growth, that it doesn’t make sense for this to be his end all be all. If this isn’t a power-up, and Joy Boy existing in, and controlling Luffy’s body is directly conflicting with the entire overarching goal of the main character – Wouldn’t that make him an antagonist?
This is the main reason I’ve made this theory. The thought of Joy Boy being an antagonist would’ve felt like fanfiction a chapter ago, and to some degree it still does. But there’s details in this chapter, along with the previous section, that push a final internal (and potentially external) struggle between Luffy and Joy Boy.
Firstly, Joy Boy here represents the antithesis to Luffy’s goal, and the main theme of One Piece. Throughout the series, in every arc we’ve had a focus on restoring freedom to people, or entire nations. Whether it be Alabasta with Vivi, Dressrosa with its citizens and the Tontatta tribe, or Whole Cake Island, with Luffy’s promise to come back to take down Big Mom for Katakuri. But a key thing that makes conflicts incredibly enticing for both the readers and Oda, is when the person in jeopardy hits closer to home. Sanji in Whole Cake, Nami in Arlong Park, and Robin in Enies Lobby are incredibly iconic character arcs, tied to the characters obtaining their freedom again. The most iconic of which is Ace at Marineford, who Luffy failed to free.
So it’s fitting that in the final stretch of the Wano arc, an arc where Oda intends for us to keep an eye out for Luffy’s developments, that we now get a figure directly challenging his free will. Where in every arc, Luffy consistently fights for the freedom of others, now he finds himself in peril of losing his own.
Not just that, the theme of passing on will across the generations is ALSO now in jeopardy, because Joy Boy is directly affecting current events. His will isn’t being passed onto the next generation, HE HIMSELF is acting on his goals. We always presumed he’d be the one to pass down this will, yet he still remains alive 800 years later. A similar circumstance to Imu if anything, even Imu still has the iconic straw hat, seemingly centuries old by this point. With the potential of also being at least 800 years old, and being the highest power on their side, controlling the world like a puppet. But that’s a WHOLE ‘nother discussion I’m not ready to have now.
But that seems too much of a stretch, Wano already has two Yonko, the World Government, AND an entire floating bomb waiting to erupt. Oda wouldn’t ever add yet ANOTHER obstacle to the equation, let alone an antagonist.
Yet Oda, and the current director of the Wano anime, confirm an antagonist greater than even Kaido, who’ll be fought during the Wano Country arc. A Lurking Legend.
Note: THIS IS NOT REFERRING TO IMU. If it was, he wouldn’t have been referring to story details and fights he wants to introduce in WANO, not Reverie or the final saga.
To tie this altogether, it’s incredibly fitting that in Thriller Bark, the character Cindry has her corpse controlled by the shadow of another. Despite this, the body pushes itself to reject the shadow, and ends its control. The exact same conflict Luffy could very well have in the coming chapters.
A grinning sound effect is written as “Niko”. However, the grin sound effect Joy Boy makes, “Nika”, means the following – A devious, underhanded, and scheming smile.
The man who laughs in silence.