Chapter 1045 of One Piece has been quite the wild ride for readers. The previous entry has already pushed our understanding of just how Monkey D. Luffy’s powers work. Up to the revelation that his Gomu Gomu no Mi was actually the Hito Hito no Mi: Model Nika, he simply had a rubber body. While he could stretch his limbs in creative ways, it never reached the level it has now. Kaido’s Thunder Bagua left an imprint on his face as if he shaped permanently like the spike club that hit him. Hell, he even runs back like a Looney Tune after being pushed off the floating island. So, what exactly is going on?
While it seems quite bizarre, mangaka Eiichiro Oda is still sticking to his rule that Luffy’s powers are based on rubber. The only difference is what kind he is currently referencing. Up to this point, most of our theories were connected to the concept of synthetic or even natural rubber. That was why most of theories pointed to it potentiality being the Resin fruit, as natural rubber is commonly created through latex from the so-called rubber tree. Yet, Oda threw us a curve ball like no other with Luffy acting on some more cartoon-inspired moves.
Luffy’s power are technically still based on rubber, but one that is non-tangible. Most of the way Luffy is moving is clearly inspired by cartoons. It’s common knowledge he was inspired by watching the German-Austrian-Japanese animated series Vicky the Viking. So, the franchise has its roots in cartoons, especially looking back at the creative ways Luffy tackled each encounter throughout his travels in the East Blue and the Grand Line. Yet, now he’s truly embraced that aspect with his new powers that are based on rubber hose animation.
The name of this animation style is based on how limbs of characters are simple, without any specific articulation. It’s the grandfather of all modern animation before running out of style in 1930s, yet has seen a bit of a revival as of late. Steven Universe introduced the character of Spinel that moved in a similar fashion. The recently released The Cuphead Show! bases its entire animation style from that very era. So, it technically could be seen as the origin of the entire Western animation industry.
It even connects with the origin of his power. Nika was teased as the Sun God, a being that has quite the history. He was known to bring smiles to the faces of many’s for centuries. Perhaps that is why Oda took inspiration from the grandfather of all animation as the basis for the Devil Fruit’s abilities. Kaido has no idea what is happening, as his abilities seemingly force everything to apply to his rules. We literally see him grab the Beast Pirates’ nostril through his eyeballs before yanking himself out of the dragon’s stomach.
It’ll take some time to adjust to the ability, as it is quite a bit different from the Haki-focused combat from the New World. Yet, the power does also call back to some of his earliest and quite “inventive” ways of taking on his enemies. We’ve discussed it frequently on our Den Den Murphy podcast, but Water Luffy from Alabasta was one of the funniest and most out-of-nowhere ways of taking on his most fearsome foe yet. So, as we near the end for the franchise, we might see him get even more creative beyond what we already saw here.
Oda‘s creativity seemingly has no limits and the idea to stick true to Luffy’s powers being based on rubber. It always had some “cartoon”-inspired elements. So, rubber hose animation as part of his newly awakened power set is such a perfect way of staying true to what he set up while still catching people off-guard. This series never was about someone becoming the most powerful like Dragonball Z. It’s always been about freedom. If you’re powers are so ridiculous, you seemingly can do anything, why not embrace it?