Due to recent developments, Zoan Awakenings have been all the rage as of late. With Luffy awakening his fruit as the Sun God Nika, it has resurged the discussion on what exactly constitutes devil fruit Awakenings and how exactly it is done. Its sparked a lot of discourse among the community as to why many other Zoan devil fruit users, who are powerful and experienced in their own right do not have access to Awakening.
Seeing as Awakenings are very rare in the One Piece verse as a whole, the methods as to unlock these advanced applications needs to be extremely difficult and niche. I’ll only be presenting my theory for Zoans here but I want to preface this by saying I believe that the method to obtaining awakening is different amongst the types of devil fruits. And this makes sense considering Awakenings have different abilities across devil fruit types.
I believe that the method of Awakening Zoan Devil Fruits in their totality is ultimately the Death of the User. I know that sounds a bit metal but let me explain.
We have only seen 2 instances of Zoan Awakening in the entire series. This comes in the form of the aforementioned Luffy and the case of the awakened guards in Impel Down.
THE IMPEL DOWN GUARDS
As our introduction to Awakenings, we learn that these guards are enormous for starters. They are shown to have significantly increased strength speed and especially regeneration. This is put on display multiple times as when they are taken out by Luffy and co they seemingly keep on coming back. They also have access to a new more bestial like hybrid form than the ones we are used to seeing. The most important aspect is the fact they seem to revert to more of a primal state, with limited brain function. Seemingly the fruit has taken hold of their minds. This is what will come to be the most important point in this discussion.
SUN GOD NIKA
Upon Luffy taking the full brunt of Kaido’s Roaring Thunder Bagua, Luffy seemingly dies. His eyes are blacked out as opposed to the usual all white eyes of someone who is knocked out. Law also states that he cant hear Luffy’s voice either. This is important considering when Kaido previously knocks Luffy out, Momonosuke can still hear his voice and even relays a message for him.
So with Luffy dead, suddenly his heart restarts and he springs back to life in this awakened form. Luffy is granted much more freedom with his rubber body (saying every thing he could do would take forever, but you get the idea), as well as increased strength and defense. He can even apply his rubber attributes to people and objects that he touches. Appearance wise, he has all white hair, curly white eyebrows and white clothes. Luffy’s personality seems to slightly shift during his awakening, laughing almost uncontrollably and constantly talking about how much fun he is having. Basically I wouldn’t consider it a stretch to say that while Luffy is still himself, his devil fruit is clearly altering his emotions to that of Joy Boy. This is important to understanding how fundamentally these fruits work.
We even got a clue regarding this when the Gorosei talks about Luffy’s devil fruit. Although not word for word, the Gorosei mention that Zoan devil fruits have a mind of their own and that the Nika fruit has been actively avoiding the World Government. While originally I thought this was nothing more than symbolic, the idea of Zoan fruits having minds of their own has been hinted at throughout the story.
LASSOO & FUNKFREED
Ill keep this brief as the general idea makes sense once you think about it, but if devil fruits did not have some sort of sentience how can Lassoo (the Daschund Gun) and Funkfreed (the Elephant sword) even operate? I don’t think that its the sword or gun respectively that has a will of its own to transform. We even see these 2 weapons react and respond to orders, implying there is a mind that can comprehend and respond to instruction.
THE GENERAL IDEA
I believe that Zoan Awakenings are caused by the death of the user. Upon the user dying, the personality of the Zoan creature within wakes up and takes over, essentially resurrecting the user with the awakened mind of the Zoan fruit. I do believe this is a one time thing though, as once the gate is opened to Awakening the user is now capable of dying. You can’t re-open a gate twice. The death of the user allows for the mind of the fruit to occupy the body, reverting it back to its primal nature. The awakened user would most likely revert back to their previous self when they become exhausted, now having access to a new more powerful form that they would have to work to control.
I don’t see this as a “demon inside” scenario like with so many other anime (Naruto, Bleach, JJK Etc). more so allowing the mind of the devil fruit to take over grants more power, at the cost of lose of control, as opposed to a mental struggle to retain control. The Zoan creature doesn’t have malicious intentions, rather is in a primal state of mind. I’m sure this is something that could eventually be controlled with enough practice.
This lines up with both Zoan Awakenings we have seen thus far in the series.
- The Impel Down Guards could very well have been killed and resurrected as awakened Zoan users for the purposes of being guards. They have all seemingly reverted to their primal personalities, not being able to speak. Its possible they have been able to regain enough control to understand their roles as prison guards, but not much else.
- Luffy is an interesting case considering while his personality changes, he still retains control and his goal remains the same. I believe this could be due to the fact that the fruit he ate was a human fruit, meaning the mind behind the devil fruit is probably more intelligent and wouldn’t cause Luffy to go into a primal rage, like the Impel Down guards. Its also possible that his main character energy and conquering spirit have allowed him to retain his sense of self while in this form.
The question I constantly hear from people regarding Awakenings is: “WELL WHY DIDN’T (INSERT NAME HERE) HAVE AWAKENING??”
Well when you think about it, if death is the way to fully awaken a zoan fruit, it would make sense why most people wouldn’t have access to Awakenings. Especially if the majority of awakened Zoans turn into primal beasts upon death, as they might not even have the mental faculties to even remember how they awakened. This would handily explain why so many powerful zoan devil fruit users don’t have access to this ability.
Why didn’t the Beasts Pirates have Awakenings? Because they’ve never been defeated. They wouldn’t be called the strongest zoan crew in the world if they were getting killed dropping like flies right? Little do they know that dying would make them stronger. considering that none of the All Stars or Tobi Roppo died in this conflict and are most likely still locked up in Udon Prison this makes sense.
How about other strong people like Marco, Yamato, Lucci and Sengoku? Well it’s not hard to see why:
- Marco’s fruit literally keeps him from dying, since his main ability is regeneration. It’s not surprising that the man using the devil fruit that allows you to instantly recover from mortal injuries as long as you have energy has not died yet.
- Yamato spent her entire life imprisoned on an island where she was not allowed to die. Kaido never killed Yamato for the constant rebellion, and she wouldn’t have access to the knowledge of awakenings being stuck on Onigashima.
- Rob Lucci as far as we know has not died and therefore wouldn’t have complete access to an Awakening. We know he uses Rokoshiki to increase his body’s size, however this doesn’t amount to an Awakening.
- Sengoku very well may have an awakened form, but considering we haven’t seen him in his prime I guess we might never know.
Now that checks off most boxes regarding Zoan Awakenings. However there is one more big Question Mark we need to discuss.
This is a very strange case. During the course of the battle at Onigashima, we see Kaido’s hybrid form occasionally change to a slightly more bestial form. His face becomes much more draconic, with a dragon nose, puffy eyebrows and a mouth full of sharp teeth. Its hard to miss but he also becomes much more muscular when in this form, which I think is best displayed here.
It’s odd that this occasional change of form is never once talked about by Kaido or Luffy during their fight. Considering Luffy doesn’t make any comments about this during their fight it could be safe to assume that this change in form is very brief and only used for an attack or two before reverting back to his standard hybrid. Kaido doesn’t even identify this as an Awakening of his own, which I find weird, considering he doesn’t even mention it while talking about Luffy’s Awakening.
So all that begs the question of what the hell is going on here exactly?
Notice how I said before the only way to FULLY awaken a devil fruit is the death of the user.
I believe that with enough extensive use of ones devil fruit it’s possible to partially access a more powerful form without the required pre requisite. This would make sense considering we know for a fact Kaido has never died. In fact, comitting suicide is his hobby. While this brief change of form indeed makes him stronger, it doesn’t seem to constitute the rise in power that other Zoan Awakenings we have seen grant. Kaido simply hasn’t died/allowed the mind within the devil fruit to take over, as he has full control of his faculties and personality doesn’t seem to change while in this form. He has had his devil fruit for over 25 years so it would make sense that he would be able to pull this off. Also this is KAIDO were talking about.
In short, Kaido has pushed his devil fruit to the absolute limit of what it can do, without actually Awakening it. Ironically enough, him being granted the one thing he wants (death) would push him to possibly become the absolute strongest person in the world.
In conclusion, the full Awakening of Zoan Devil Fruit users being caused by their deaths makes sense from a narrative standpoint, that explains why many people who we would expect to have access to it don’t, and why it has been presented as such a niche and uncommon ability in the series.
If you made it this far thanks for reading!
*Theory by Big_Nutz1123