I never really believed Shanks was an enemy for Luffy, until just recently. When I saw the story unfold and explain the truth pretty clearly before our eyes. In my opionion, the past few chapters have revealed a pretty clear and striking revelation.
Shanks is an opposition to the Straw Hats, with his own agenda and dream he’s not willing to give up and it’s pretty clear what his motivations are now.
The main thing that triggered this for me was asking myself a simple question: why on earth has Shanks been waiting so long? Why has he waited 12 years, for something Luffy has almost achieved in a matter of 2 years? Why hasn’t he done anything yet? Why now?
And well, the answer has become very very clear, he was waiting for the emergence of Joy Boy.
Shanks obviously knew the true identity of the Gomu Gomu no Mi and the importance of Joy Boy’s role in obtaining the One Piece (what exactly that role is, we are yet to find out). Whether he planned to consume it himself or not is unknown, but that’s certainly the one and only reason he had it.
So, back to the question: what has Shanks been waiting for and why has he taken THIS long to make a move?
Because he had no other choice.
Luffy ate Shanks’ key to the One Piece. Shanks has been waiting this entire time for Joy Boy to emerge, because he knows that’s the only way he can get the One Piece which is why he had to save Luffy at any cost.
On a further note, I also believe this is why Shanks went to Marineford, to ensure Luffy’s survival. And that’s why Shanks was at Wano, to ensure Luffy’s survival. He has closely been monitoring Luffy for a damn reason. But he has likely been keeping his distance too, so Luffy can grow on his own terms and unlock his proper potential. He’s just been there, ready, at very crucial moments. One fact that I think is interesting is how Shanks arrived “late” in Marineford (supposedly related to a skirmish with Kaido). I hate to say it but as a small bonus theory I do also believe Shanks only intervened when he believed Luffy was in danger (and we now know he can observe people from a very far distance, and can likely see into the future also, so he likely knew when and only when Luffy was in danger).
Throughout the series Shanks has sort of been shown as someone who cares strongly for keeping the peace, interfering in matters that wouldn’t really matter to him otherwise, but every time he has interfered it has been closely related to Luffy, and Luffy alone. He didn’t want Ace to go after Blackbeard because he knew it would involve Luffy. There’s not really a single thing Shanks has done so far that can be explained outside of relating to Luffy.
Shanks has had an ulterior motive, Shanks has his own ambitions. He has done everything he has done for a reason. He didn’t just set out to sea and form his own crew so he could just be there to cheer somebody else on, or to be some “good guy”. He has his own aspirations and his own agenda and his own motivation and desire to achieve it. Like almost all major characters in One Piece, yes, he too has his own dream. (Oda didn’t just put him in the story to react to Luffy’s wanted posters lmao. What a waste of potential that would be). He is a brilliant tactician and we have witnessed him hard at work (often very cunning and creative) to achieve his own plans and his overall one true goal.
So it’s no coincidence. Shanks didn’t just decide to go after the One Piece now because Oda wanted to make things interesting, if you think this timing is random then you would be gravely mistaken. Shanks has had to wait 12 years for this, and the moment he’s been waiting for is finally here. He can finally go after the One Piece, and unfortunately his key to that is, Luffy.
Personally I don’t think Shanks is as morally abhorrent as some of the pirates we have seen in the series, and he was willing to be overall kind to Luffy, but when Luffy ate that fruit, Luffy put himself in the way of Shanks and his dream, and it left him with no other option, literally.
Also fun fact I wasn’t really sure was relevant but thought I’d throw in for the hell of it. In Shanks’ wanted poster, he is looking away. That may be a subtle hint at his character and that he’s hiding his true intentions, as that is a common practice to denote such. It’s an interesting choice for Oda to go for if nothing else.
I think either way, finally, we have confirmation of what role Shanks will play in the story, one that some of us probably weren’t expecting, but an interesting twist all the same.
Obviously it’s hard to get the exact details correct, and I understand things are subject to change, but I am fairly confident in this theory coming to pass in one way or the other, at least in parts. And the one thing I am 100% sure of is that Shanks was waiting for Luffy, because he had to. As for the rest, we will see, but imo this is all highly likely.
Move over Im-sama, Blackbeard.. Shanks is gonna be the final Villain.
*Theory by Callingthewall