Power Escalation is a very common problem in Shonen Manga. Look no further than the most famous Shonen, Dragon Ball and you will know what I’m talking about. In my opinion, One Piece has always handled this issue great. As I already mentioned, Devil Fruits as a Power System allow great variety of ability which lead to more creative fights. Luffy wins against Crocodile with his ingenuity by using water and blood to negate his power, Luffy wins against Enel because he is made of rubber and Luffy wins against Lucci because he creates abilities unique to his rubber anatomy. The introduction of Haki made it more linear but it was still fine. That being said, One Piece is currently on a massive precipice.
With Luffy currently facing off a Yonko, The World’s Strongest Creature, Kaido with all 3 forms of advanced Haki and his fruit awakened we have exhausted every tangible possibility of a power-up. This is Luffy’s peak and Kaido represents the peak of Pirate strength. So how do we go up from here? The obvious way would be to break the ceiling and introduce a character even stronger-er than Kaido. Blackbeard being the next villain and being the one and only person to ever eat 2 Devil Fruits certainly could do the job. 2 Fruits are obviously better than 1. Not only that, but his whole crew is on a mission to hunt down strong Devil Fruits for them to consume. This seems to be the just needed power escalation.
However we end up circling back to Kaido’s words “Haki is what matters”. You can stack them all you want, you can still be beaten with just Haki and Roger is the proof of it.
The Power of Yami Yami no Mi
What’s the reason for all these contradictory statements? Why keep telling us “Haki is what matters” while showing us Luffy’s reliance on his Devil Fruit and Blackbeard’s obsession with collecting strong Devil Fruits? Blackbeard is a very interesting character that I always believed was built up as the Endgame villain.
He was the person who broke the previously established Power System rules which is always the good indicator. The closer we get to the end the lesser my doubt about it is and with a certain power of his, this will no doubt be the case. It’s not because of the obvious motif of Sun vs Darkness or White vs Black. It’s Blackbeard’s ability to nullify Devil Fruit powers.
Way back in Blackbeard’s fight with Ace we learn of the special ability of the Darkness Fruit to nullify or take away the powers granted by Devil Fruits. This isn’t like using Haki to bypass certain Logia or Paramecia abilities, this power completely strips the user of his Devil Fruit abilities. This is also the reason for the repeating contradictions. Oda plans for Luffy to beat Blackbeard just with his Haki, the Willpower that drives him. And while this idea is widely spread and accepted, where Blackbeard will negate Luffy’s Devil Fruit abilities leaving him to only fight with his Haki, I suggest Oda will take it a step further. The negation of Luffy’s Devil Fruit Powers won’t be something temporarily. Blackbeard will permanently strip Luffy of his trademark abilities.
Logia, Paramecia, Zoan
Continues motif of trinity follows Blackbeard everywhere he goes which is often the source of many theories surrounding him getting a third Devil Fruit to the point of where this is generally accepted as a fact, and I have to agree with it. Jolly Roger of a Pirate personifies the Captain of the ship. Where Luffy wears a Straw Hat so does his Jolly Roger. Where Kaido has horns so does his Jolly Roger. Where Shanks has a scar on his left eye so does his Jolly Roger. And where Blackbeard’s Jolly Roger has 3 Skulls so does Blackbeard, metaphorically of course.
“Rule of Three” is another very popular writing principle. It’s used by Oda all the time, you probably even noticed it before but never realized what it is. The principle suggests that a trio of events or characters is more humorous, satisfying, or effective than other numbers. As an example we have:
- 3 Admirals
- 3 Ancient Weapons
- 3 Forms of Haki
- 3 Great Powers
- 3 Yonko Commanders
- 3 Forms of Gear 4th
- 3 Brothers (Luffy, Ace, Sabo)
- And most importantly, 3 Types of Devil Fruits.