I want to fully examine everything we so far know about Luffy’s devil fruit:
- The Origin of the Fruit’s Name
- Symbolic Meaning behind Its Power
- Gear 5 and the Gear System
- Luffy’s Awakening and What It Means
There is a common misconception floating around about the name of Luffy’s devil fruit being “Sun God Nika”. This is wrong. The name of his fruit is simply “Nika” or “Hito Hito no Mi, Model: Nika”. The “Sun God” is not part of the fruit’s name.
I believe this is simply an epithet the previous user of the fruit had, that user being Joy Boy. He used its power to free slaves, bringing them out of captivity outside of dark dungeons into the “light” where they could witness the first appearance of light in the sky before sunrise once again, spreading joy and laughter across the faces of newly freed slaves and earning himself the epithet of “Sun God”. After all, the user of the fruit was also known as Warrior of Liberation.
Deification of something “natural” is not anything new, neither for the real World or for the World of One Piece. It wouldn’t be the first time that someone with incredibly Devil Fruit powers would be worshiped as a God in One Piece World, we saw the same happen with Enel and Kaido.
Inspired by the story of Sun God Nika, Fisher Tiger decided to do the same when he freed the slaves from Mary Geoise and in honor of this mythical person he formed the “Sun Pirates”.
There has been a big debate of what exactly Luffy’s powers are now that he has awakened his fruit and I can see why. Luffy can seemingly do number of very cartoonish things to the point of people actually dubbing his new powers as “Toon Force”. One very cool thing that Oda loves doing is writing character’s powers to have a certain symbolic or thematic significance. In layman’s terms, he writes powers to match the personality of the user.
The best examples of this are the original 3 Admirals as well as the villains Luffy faced:
- Akainu is prone to eruption of anger and has explosive personality so he has the Magma Fruit.
- Aokiji is lazy, laid back and “chill”. He doesn’t lose his cool so he ate the Ice Fruit.
- Kizaru is slow to react and slow when he talks but he has a fruit that’s an antithesis to it, the Light Fruit which makes him extremely fast.
- Lucci is a bloodthirsty killer, a predator who kills for fun so he has the Cat Fruit model Leopard.
- Enel has a god complex so he is given a godlike power of Electric Logia that makes him untouchable and grants him omniscience.
And the same is the case for Luffy.
From an attack or a defeat he just keeps coming back so it’s fitting he has the rubber fruit… but… Now that we know the real name of his fruit and the power shown by it we know that it’s no longer a simple rubber fruit. Luffy has the Nika fruit making him the Warrior of Liberation. So does that means his new powers are “Toon Force”? No. His powers are still rubber powers (as mentioned by Gorosei) except now Luffy has greater freedom with them – He is unrestrained by the laws of Nature. He can now freely manipulate his body without any restrictions and I think this perfectly suits his character. Luffy wants to be the Pirate King. In his mind the Pirate King is the freest man in the World, unopposed by anyone or anything, and that’s literally what his powers make him.
He is free both in mind and body.
This brings up the question about origin of Luffy’s Gears. Now that we know he is a Zoan and not Paramecia does that also mean his Gears are Zoan transformations? No, I don’t think anything about his Gears changes. To me, the Gears seem like a prototypes of Luffy’s Awakening – Luffy attempting to utilize the power of his fruit to its fullest but being unable to do so because he still isn’t awakened. Each one of Luffy’s Gears exhibits ability that’s also shown in his Gear 5 but to a much more limiting degree. What do I mean by this?