After hearing how excited fans were for this current arc of One Piece, it is surprising to see people hating on Gear 5 online. I mean, this is possibly the most exciting form of Luffy we’ve seen yet, with it being the awakened power of the Gomu Gomu No Mi, complete with a full body transformation and powers that were only rumored before. So, it is wild to see One Piece stans be so critical of something that was so highly anticipated before.
So, why are so many people hating on Gear 5? Well, the problem is apparently two fold. Firstly, the significance of Gear 5 is pretty trope-y, with it being too heavy handed on how one Monkey D. Luffy is the Chosen One™. Secondly, it just looks bad. Plenty of fans have been complaining about how cartoonish the transformation looks, almost silly. Then again, Gear 5 was never meant to be cool, considering Eiichiro Oda himself claims it is a troll on fans who took Battle Manga stereotypes too seriously.
Yup, you heard it folks: Gear 5 was originally a joke. Which is something the mangaka has been very clear on. And it’s not like Oda isn’t known for being extremely playful, downright comedic, with his loyal readers. The man is kind of a clown and everybody knows it. So, for him to make one of the most highly anticipated moments of the Wano Arc a joke? To be fair, it’s pretty on brand. Oda had talked about how he wanted something to break up the seriousness of the buildup, and he calls the shots here.
But hate was not what I expected for a manga series as beloved as One Piece. Granted, the anime reveal of Gear 5 left much to be desired, according to consensus online. But does it warrant this much critique? What does Gear 5 even mean for Luffy, in the grand scheme of things? Well, we should break down the intricacies of the supposed ‘most ridiculous power in the world’ (and why it disappointed) in another segment of Lore Analysis!
Gear 5: A Power So Unbelievable
Originally previewed in One Piece: Red as a cameo, Gear 5 was one of the transformations that Oda had been teasing for a long time. After all, this is Luffy’s next evolution, a power only he can achieve thanks to his consumption of the Hito Hito No Mi, Model: Nika fruit all those years ago, the very thing that kickstarted his Pirate journey.
And since creating the Straw Hat Pirate Crew, we have learned more about the strange powers these Devil Fruits offer beyond your usual suspects. It’s not just that Luffy grew to be very flexible, with rubbery limbs. But the more he honed his skills and pushed himself, the more powers he unlocked. And now, as an awakened Zoan, he has finally unveiled his Gear 5 mode, which not only affects his body, but his surroundings as well.
As a Paramecia-style Devil Fruit, the Gomu Gomu No Mi is a Mythical Zoan fruit that bestows upon its consumer the power to transform into the Sun God, also known as Nika. A legendary being, its powers were thought to be so frightening that the World Government chose to hide its existence from everyone, changing everything about it so it can slip under the radar. So far, only Imu and the Five Elders know about the full extent of this coverup. However, when Luffy accidentally consumed it as a child following his meeting with the Red Haired Shanks, that was his fate sealed.
Now that he has awakened to the full reckoning of Gear 5, it has enhanced his properties from simple ‘Rubber Man’ to ‘Literal God’. He has enhanced speed, strength and all of your usual power boosts. But the thing that’s truly special about Gear 5 is how its wielder is touted as the ‘Warrior Of Liberation’ because they finally have the freedom to fight in any way they feel like. And that’s where the laws of physics get suspended, allowing Luffy to go absolutely crazy with his fighting.
Hating On Gear 5 Is Playing Into The Joke:
Okay, we all know Eiichiro Oda is probably the most invested mangaka when it comes to both fans and his works. Which is why it is not surprising when he doesn’t take things too seriously. I mean, that was the initial appeal of One Piece, where it appeared to be more light hearted than most Shonen of its time, while simultaneously being extremely gut wrenching at some points.
Oda says that Gear 5 was inspired by his love for Looney Tunes style animation, where its fluid and zany and all sorts of nonsensical things happen that defy any scientific logic. Because that was what made those cartoons fun, right? Like, the fact that it was so clearly not rooted in reality added to the excitement and bewilderment of our experience watching those cartoons as kids. And Oda wanted to recreate that.
So, Gear 5 is meant to emulate Tom And Jerry style fight sequences, where the flexibility of Luffy becomes this outrageous thing we have never experienced before. It calls back to that sense of wonderment that we would have when characters would get thrown, smashed, smooshed a million different ways, and still come back swinging. The joke here is to have fun in something that is nostalgic.
And it’s not like we, as fans, need to take Battle Shonen fighting at face value. In the end, it is all fiction, which can and does exist outside of the bounds real life has. It’s what makes things exciting, the make believe of it all. Oda said he really missed the exaggerated stylings of those cartoons, and wanted to bring it back through Luffy with his eyes popping out, or his limbs moving erratically. And clearly, it was fun for him too because he has gone on record to say how much he enjoyed drawing Luffy in Gear 5 mode, giving him a chance to experiment to his heart’s content.
So, if you’re one of those people that is hating on Gear 5? Don’t. It really isn’t that serious. Artistic choices are something to be respected, and Oda has delivered on every aspect. Really, just enjoy what it is, which is a really exciting moment in a series we all so dearly love!