Ah, One Piece. The one Shonen franchise I actively fear covering because oh my God, it retcons so much of its lore that even Marvel Comics would be left stunned. One Piece has a nasty habit of introducing characters that it never fully actualizes, going as far as to replace their entire history. For example, take the case of Shiki aka the famed Golden Lion, and his sudden drop in power levels.
I’m always concerned when there is a new movie or side story announced for One Piece because you never know whether it’ll be deemed as non-canon, meaning you got attached to a character for nothing! And then sometimes, they might keep the character but obliterate their entire backstory and nuke them down to the ground, completely erasing their power and influence.
Sadly, this happens far too often in this franchise, especially when it comes to movie-specific characters like Shiki. And we are left wondering if this amazing character that went toe to toe with Monkey D. Luffy, of all people, is just another forgettable cog in the machine.
Welcome to Character Analysis, a segment where we break down characters from across various mediums like manga, anime, and light novels to address queries by curious netizens. And today we’ll be tackling the conundrum that is the Golden Lion from One Piece, Shiki, and whether he got declawed (get it?) in the story. So, let’s dive right in!
Early Shiki: A Living Legend
Initially, Shiki was first mentioned in the manga when it started discussing the Rock Pirates crew, a supergroup of the biggest pirates to sail the oceans, led by Rocks D. Xebec. And this group was truly fearsome, considered the most infamous and powerful crew of its time, later spawning at least three Emperors which included Edward Newgate, Charlotte Linlin, and Kaidou.
And it was amongst this illustrious crew that we meet the great Golden Lion, already known amongst his peers as someone to fear. So, you can imagine what kind of power he held to be considered so highly by the likes of Big Mom and Whitebeard, legends in their own right.
Shiki is considered one of the most powerful pirates of his generation, being brought up alongside bigwigs like Roger. He was known for his incredible physical strength which, coupled with his amazing sword-fighting skills, enabled him to single-handedly level an entire Marine army at Marineford.
He was only pushed back by the combined forces of both Sengoku and Garp, a frightening feat considering that the entire scuffle between them left half of Marineford decimated. Mind you, Sengoku is rumored to be one of the few that can go against the infamous ‘Pirate King’, which further proves how formidable an opponent Shiki was.
Canon Shiki: Past His Prime?
Sadly, this is where the curse of canon vs non-canon in One Piece comes in. Aside from the Straw Hats Crew and a few exceptions, almost everyone has had their initial backstory warped significantly, or been retconned altogether. This holds especially true if they weren’t a manga original characters.
Shiki is old. He has aged significantly and his legendary fight with Luffy never happened in the canon timeline. But his biggest setback comes from the fact that he never materialized a Haki to gain strength. And after seeing how his life went, it’s no wonder why he couldn’t.
Haki is about harnessing willpower and channeling it into heightened senses. With the cards Shiki was dealt with, it isn’t surprising he lost faith in himself. The man amputated his legs to escape the shackles at Seastone and had an accident that left a steering wheel lodged permanently into his head (His pain tolerance impressed Dr. Indigo).
The Shiki we know now is merely a husk of who used to be. Despite holding his own against Roronoa Zoro of the Straw Hat Pirates crew, he was still overpowered easily. His lack of willpower, old age, and a newer generation of Pirates overtaking have left him a weak echo of the past.
Can We Expect The Golden Lion To Roar Again?
With Eiichiro Oda, the mangaka and creative force behind One Piece, you never know who will end up being important as a character down the line. That isn’t to say Shiki isn’t important. I mean the man had the largest Pirate crew of his time: The Golden Lions crew with 51 crewmates.
But when we first saw him, he was the antagonist in a movie and was defeated by Luffy in the end, so no surprises there. But canonically, he is still stronger than Luffy at the moment. There is just no way that Shiki would be so easily defeated by our favorite jolly pirate if he was still in his prime. And his history can teach the newer Pirate aspirants a lot about endurance.
So, can we expect Shiki the Golden Lion to come back, stronger than ever before? Let’s cross our fingers for this one, mates!