You know what I grew up appreciating as a trait in some of my favorite characters? When they become a little unhinged. I’m talking just a hint of mania, where they seem so beyond themselves because, in the face of danger, they are laughing like they are having the best time of their life. It’s exhilarating, and maybe even a little creepy, but who doesn’t love a protagonist that is sure of themselves? And there are few as confident as the captain of the Straw Hat Pirate crew Luffy and his weird Gear 5 laughing tendencies.
Monkey D. Luffy was always a jovial fellow, but in recent chapters of One Piece, we are beginning to see just how much. He always had strange traits during his Gear transformations, but the uncontrollable laughing during Gear 5 was a new one. It’s a common theory that reason Luffy is laughing so much while in said mode is because his body is being triggered into doing so. Each Gear mode has different tells, but Gear 5 is special because it’s his strongest one yet. It affects his whole body, including his heartbeat, which lead to ticklish tremors and laughter.
But that’s so wild, right? Imagine having a transformation that basically condemns your entire body to constantly feel tremors and be trapped in that state. But considering what a power boost it has been, I’m sure Eiichiro Oda has a few aces up his sleeve to explain the behavior. I mean, the mangaka is known for his extensive lore, making sure that every new element he introduces has some ground to stand on. And the same likely holds for the symbolism behind Luffy’s new powers.
Remember, the powers stem from the famed Devil Fruit that Luffy consumed as a child, and we are only now learning of its full potential. Likely, there is a lot more to it then just ‘smiles a lot’. And that’s exactly what we are going to discuss in today’s segment of Lore Analysis – where we break down the backstory of various plot devices in anime. Today, it’s why the ‘Straw Hat’ laughs.
Table of contents
Monkey D. Luffy: Happy-Go-Lucky Doesn’t Mean Weakness
I’ve realized people have a misconception that when a character is happy and peppy, they are about to be in for a rude awakening that ‘humbles them down’ or whatever. Which is why I’m genuinely glad that, over the two whole decades that One Piece has been airing, it never dulled Luffy from laughing.
His plucky disposition is a huge part of his character arc and how he interacts with the others in the franchise. And that was never toned down to highlight a serious moment. Does that mean he hasn’t had any serious moments at all? Of course not. Luffy is a character with facets, even if he is a Shonen protagonist. And when the situation calls for it, he slips into a persona that’s less carefree and more responsible all the same.
But the fact that outside of those circumstances, he is determined and ambitious with a zeal, only serves to strengthen his resolve. Luffy is fun, almost boyish in his joy, and this doesn’t mean he’s a weakly designed character by any means. So, his most powerful form being reflective of his exuberance and laughing only makes sense.
Laughing Luffy: The Powers Of A Smiling God
Then, there is the Gomu Gomu No Mi to consider. The Gum Gum fruit enables Luffy to stretch out his body as if he has no bones underneath. He can twist, turn and elongate himself as he pleases, thanks to the Devil fruit.
But now we know the true identity of the fruit as the Hito Hito No Mi: Style Nika. The person that wields is known as the ‘Warrior Of Liberation’ because the joy of nothing holding them back helps them bring freedom and happiness in the world. I mean, it’s called ‘the most ridiculous power in the world’ for a reason, right?
With his heart beating to the ‘Drums Of Liberation’ it stands to reason that this inspires him to be as happy as can be. Which leads to his near-constant laughing and grinning throughout the Gear 5 transformation. And I think that’s why he remains so cheerful, even when he’s fighting down the likes of Kaido!