In One Piece Chapter 1044, one of the Five Elders mentions that “there is no power more ridiculous” than Hito Hito no Mi, Model: Nika. He wasn’t kidding. When Luffy reaches Gear 5, he becomes more energetic, constantly bouncing around. It reminded me of the old Saturday morning cartoons (Looney Toons) from my childhood. Luffy grabs Kiado and swings him around, repeatedly bashing him into the ground as he inflates, grins, and laughs. Many of the characters eye bulge out of their sockets (also like the cartoons). One Piece Chapter 1045 almost felt like a completely different series. However, the absurdity of Joy Boy’s powers felt appropriate for Luffy’s personality.
Awakening the Gomu Gomu no Mi
It was mentioned earlier in the series by Donquixote Doflamingo that one can reach another “stage” of their Devil Fruit abilities. This occurs rarely but bestows more power on the user. It’s not made clear what exactly triggers this transformation but reaching a moment of near death may be one. Without fully mastering their awakened abilities the user will exhaust their stamina quickly. Furthermore, the user can “spread their power beyond their own body and transform or alter the properties of the material around them to match the nature of their Devil Fruit power, as well as manipulate the transformed material in any way they desire.” This effect allows the user to “to transform the environment from afar, as well as control it with just their mind,” whereas, unawaken Devil Fruit users must “touch what they wish to transform, and often requires bodily movement to be controlled.”
So far the only Devil Fruit user to have awakened their abilities are five Zoan types: Luffy, Minotaurus, Minokoala, Minorhinoceros, and Minozebra. Four Paramecia types have also awakened: Doflamingo, Katakuri, Law, and Kid. It seems like awaken doesn’t occur with the Logia type and is a way to increase the abilities of some Zoan and Paramecia abilities to that of Logia. It should be noted that Kid and Law both used their “awaken” abilities during their fight with Big Mom. Law’s Kroom allows him to “adhere a miniature room to his weapons, which then gain the ability to extend as far as he desires, harmlessly bypass anything solid and directly operate on the insides of whatever they may phase through,” he also can use R-Room to “create and throw a room on a particular object and dictate a specific effect to take place in it.” Kid’s Assign ability allows him to turn anything he touches into magnet. By assigning one of the two poles, he can use the magnetic polarity to force objects to crash into one another.
Listen up, hatchling. Devil Fruit abilities have a whole other stage to them. It’s called “Awakening”! Very rarely, an ability will “awaken”, and begin to affect things other than the user’s own body!
Kiado notes that Luffy’s transformation is a hallmark of the Zoan Devil Fruit. He attempts to bite Luffy but it backfires as Luffy bounces around inside Kaido. Luffy is able to transfers his rubber qualities to Kaido’s body as well. When Luffy sees two light he grabs at them, pushes through them, and then latching on to Kiado’s nose pulling himself out. It looks painful but because Kaido’s body is rubber it doesn’t appear to do much damage. Luffy them enlarges himself using Gomu Gomu no Gigant and as a giant manhandles Kaido, using the Yonko as a jump rope. Luffy deflates and ages after exhausting himself Kaido promises that after his “death” he will make sure Luffy’s story get told. Unwilling to die just yet, Luffy pushes himself once again while remembering Pedro, Kinemon, and Momo.
As Kaido attacks with his Hassaikai, Luffy appears to be impervious to damage but not pain. He then bounces off the environment eventually launching into Kaido. Confused by his new appearance and fighting style, Kaido is unable to avoid Luffy’s punch that goes through his head knocking him to the ground. Luffy’s new powers seems to not only alter his opponents body but mental disorients them with confusion.
Sun God Luffy
Sun God Nika was first mentioned by Who’s-Who, the former CP9 agent that was responsible for losing the Gomu Gomu no Mi Devil Fruit to Lucky Roux. He claims that he heard the rumor of the warrior from a guard while in jail. Nika was a liberator, rescuing slavery from their bondage. In Chapter 1044, one of the Five Elders mentions that the Hito Hito no Mi, Model is named “after” a God. Early in the series during the Skypie arc, specifically chapter 287 page 15, a “God of the Sun” is mentioned along with a “God of Rain”, “God of the Earth”, and “God of the Forest”.
I don’t think Luffy is a God. But I do think that the Gomu Gomu no Mi Devil Fruit was used by this Nika. He likely inspired people to worship him for his amazing abilities especially after awakening them. One of the Elders mentions that the World Government has been trying to “recover” the Devil Fruit for “800 years.” A more superstitious society would probably assume a Devil Fruit user was a God rather than a human with powers from a fruit. Regardless, Oda subtlety weaving the hints at Luffy’s awakening all these years is brilliant. Otherwise it would have felt like an asspull to make Luffy stronger. The Elders are right, the power is ridiculous and I love that.