Since we already established that Gear 5 is combination of multiple things Luffy learned before, then what is just his Awakening? As I previously said the actual power granted by his Awakening is the greater freedom and strength which comes in the form of a new transformation he gets, hence what makes him a Zoan.
With it comes another ability that seems to cause the most confusion. Luffy’s ability to turn his surroundings into rubber and freely manipulate it.
This is the typical ability of awakened Paramecia that can create a substance, see Doflamingo and Katakuri as an example and Luffy turning the ground into rubber is not weird in itself. Where the confusion arises is specifically from this panel, where Luffy seemingly punches through Kaido.
Well, he didn’t literally punch through him. Kaido’s face simply stretched from the punch. Luffy’s Awakening seemingly lets him turn other living beings into rubber when he interacts with them. This is further supported by Kaido’s words in Chapter 1044 when Luffy inflates inside of him and Kaido wonders how his body is getting inflated when he isn’t rubber, as well as the scene from Chapter 1046 where we see Kaido’s body stretching more clearly under Luffy’s punches.
What is the point of Luffy turning the people he punches into rubber? Wouldn’t that negate the damage he deals to them? Well, First, Haki is a thing so no matter what he still deals damage as Armament bypasses the rubberiness. Second, the point I believe is for Oda to have more freedom at showing more exaggerated expressions as well to exaggerate the impact of a hit. Akin to how old cartoon did it back in the day.
Where before it was only Luffy who was impacted by this “cartoon logic” it’s now everyone he fights. It ironically, but fittingly, gives Oda the freedom to exaggerate everyone now. After all, it’s what Oda always wanted to do but was unable to, until now.
*Theory by The_Biggest_Wheel