The Weakness of Luffy’s Gear 5
With Chapters 1092 and 1093 I’m beginning to see the downsides of Gear 5 and why Luffy shouldn’t just start every battle with it, or maybe even not use it in every fight at all.
At the beginning of his fight with Kizaru, Luffy is in his Gear 4 Snakeman form, right? The change in his mannerisms between Gear 4 and Gear 5 are what tipped me off to this. While in Snakeman, Luffy comes across to me as very determined. He knows his goals are to protect Vegapunk and defeat the Admiral. But when he swaps to Gear 5, I think some of that determination is a bit lost. He decides to throw simply Kizaru away from the island, he gets distracted by Zoro’s fight with Lucci (in response to which Zoro tells him to focus), and when Kizaru comes back, Luffy gets easily distracted by the clones and allows Kizaru to attack Ussop and the rest of the crew.
So here’s my thought: what if the Nika form prevents you from taking anything seriously? Or at least makes it more difficult to. While in this form, Luffy is more caught up with being goofy and having fun rather than accomplishing his objective.
It’s kinda difficult to tell because this is Luffy we’re talking about lol. He’s always had this side to him, but I think perhaps Oda is trying to highlight this potential weakness especially now that Gear 5 has been shown in the anime, and a lot of people are likely questioning what exactly its limits are.
Speaking of which, we see this in the fight with Kaido too, right? Before, Luffy is all about the fight, simply brawling with Kaido until one of them gave out, but once Gear 5 kicked in, he was jumping rope with Kaido, and couldn’t stop himself from laughing about it.
That image of Luffy laughing uncontrollably is what really leads me to this idea. While in Nika mode, he can’t take anything as seriously, leading him to think even less than usual and potentially put himself or others in more danger than simply brawling with Gear 4.
Oda’s concept notes for Gear 5 mention that Awakening a Zoan “carries a risk” of being overtaken by the fruit’s own willpower. That’s super cool and definitely makes sense with my theory. Also explains why the Jailer Beasts are so weird. I always wondered about that.