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Shanks isn’t exactly what most people think he is

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  • We also have zero idea if Shanks is interested or emotionally invested in “One Piece” specifically. His vested interest seems to partially come from Luffy and him meeting again, but why? What does he know or want Luffy to do? He talks about “betting his arm” on the new age, but Shanks never went to Laugh Tale so we have no idea what this actually suggests. There is an idea that “betting his arm” on Luffy suggests malicious intent due to him being a D., and also a reason why he didn’t want Ace to die. They are/were candidates to become the new Joy Boy.
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  • Shanks’ crew quite literally rips Kid’s arm off in a battle with him. Killer also has some bad scars. Pretty violent for a “peaceful” man who sacrificed his own arm for something. Let it be known that Lucky Roo still shot a man in the head in chapter 1. These people are brutal and Yonko are no joke, not even Shanks.
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  • Luffy has proclaimed twice that he wants to beat Shanks physically, once at Punk Hazard (“as long as Shanks isn’t first!”/”I plan on taking down all 4 Yonko”) and once at Wano explaining to Hyougoro what the Yonko are.  A big part of why I think Shanks may be the true final antagonist (not villain, there is a difference) is Mihawk. Mihawk lost his Shichibukai status and his only known association with another pirate is Shanks. I’m not saying he will “join” the Red Haired Pirates as Shanks’ subordinate but an alliance almost seems likely since what comes after Wano is the world being in turmoil. For Mihawk to be aimless until his eventual final fight with Zoro seems weird, and that the thing, he should be Zoro’s final fight. IF Mihawk joins Shanks, then I pretty much expect Shanks to be Luffy’s final fight then as well.
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  • Finally, Shanks being the final battle just works extremely well as an emotional ending to this manga. Returning the hat seems to be the “big loop” this series has gone for, as there are even possible indications Luffy becomes Pirate King before the series ends (before the Final War). Luffy returning the hat to Shanks on the grounds that he wasn’t this exactly who he though he was is almost beautifully tragic to me (the implication being Shanks has ulterior motives that are morally grey). It works for Zoro vs. Mihawk because that should be Zoro’s last fight (assuming Mihawk allies with Shanks for the final war). It works well for Usopp because surpassing his father (assuming they meet before on Elbaf or another location) is probably an extension of his brave warrior dream since everything he is is based on his father leaving him. I just think there is a huge emotional connection to Shanks being the final villain here, not Blackbeard, who’s crew members come off more as “epic” villains than serious ones in all their chaos.
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Pretty much all I have. One other thing to note is Blackbeard and Shanks certainly dislike each other. When I suggest Shanks being an antagonist, he is also an antagonist to Blackbeard, not just Luffy, and vice versa. Even with their personalities you get very different vibes from them in terms of how they handle things. RED Haired Shanks. BLACKbeard. Order and Chaos. Freedom through controlled peace. Freedom through disarray and panic. Luffy stopping both for his own version of freedom, which we all know would be different. Shanks potentially misinterpreting Roger’s will. Makes you wonder if its always been that intentional for Oda

*Theory by Paperchampion23

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