Power Ups are one of the staples of Shōnen Manga. There’s nothing more exciting than watching a character go to the next level during battle and being able to defeat the villain with great style. In Shōnen Manga, these power-ups often come in the form of transformations. Goku in Dragon Ball Z has the Super Saiyan transformation, Ichigo in Bleach has the various stages of Bankai, and so on. In One Piece, Monkey D. Luffy has the different Gear stages, a technique that he developed on his own.
So far, Luffy has revealed Gear 2nd, Gear 3rd, and Gear 4th. Gear 4th is the most powerful of the transformations and the one he has been using against his most powerful enemies. Luffy revealed this transformation during his fight with Donquixote Doflamingo in Episode 725 of the anime and Chapter 783 of the manga.
The Gear techniques are some of the most unique fighting techniques in all of the manga and really help to distinguish Luffy on his own, in contrast with many other Shōnen protagonists. Luffy uses his imagination and powerful will to come up with some truly outrageous techniques that make each fight fun, exciting, and unpredictable.
Let’s explore a bit more about Luffy and his fighting style and how he develops each one of his techniques on the road to Gear 4.
The following paragraphs include spoilers for One Piece up to the Dressrosa arc. So, be careful. First, let’s see how Luffy can achieve these crazy techniques.
What is the Gomu Gomu no Mi?
Each Shone Manga or fantasy story has its own unique magic system. These magic systems allow the characters to do amazing things both on and off the battlefield. In One Piece, there are a couple of magic systems, but the most famous one is the Devil Fruits. The Devil Fruits are these mysterious fruits that grow in nature and give impressive abilities to those that eat them.
This magic system allows creator Eiichiro Oda to give very cool and outrageous abilities to his characters. For example, there is a fruit that gives you the ability to transform and control fire, and some weirder ones that give you the chance to transform into a dinosaur or even give you control over the weather. Oda’s imagination is the limit when it comes to what the Devil Fruit’s abilities can do.
There are three types of Devil Fruits: the Logia fruits, that give the user the ability to transform into an element and basically make them invulnerable to normal attacks. There are also the Zoan fruits that give the user the ability to transform into animals. And then there are the Paramecia fruits, which give the user a wider variety of powers but don’t give the invulnerability of the Logias or the strength of the Zoan fruits.
Luffy’s fruit is a Paremecia, and it’s called the Gomu Gomu no Mi, which translates to “the Rubber Fruit,” meaning that it gives Luffy the characteristics of rubber. Making Luffy a rubber man.
Luffy can then gain elasticity, bounciness, and he becomes impervious to most melee weapons, except for those that cut, like swords. But, for example, round bullets just bounce off him.
Luffy uses this characteristic to gain the advantage during fights. For example, he can stretch his arms and reach places no other person can reach. He can transform his legs into springs and jump higher than anyone. He can also fill himself with air and float like a balloon, or even eat exaggerated quantities of food and just stretch his stomach, so he can keep on eating, to very comical effects.
This type of ability makes Luffy a very unpredictable fighter, but also one that needs to use his brain when thinking about a strategy against an enemy. Thankfully, Luffy is also a very powerful and strong individual on his own, so the combination of that and the Gomu Gomu no Mi powers helped him become one of the strongest characters in the world of One Piece.
What are Luffy’s Gear techniques?
Luffy has displayed several of what he calls “Gear Techniques” These techniques are sort of power ups that Luffy uses as a way to increase his power and gain an advantage over his adversaries.
We can say that Luffy’s normal state could be called Gear 1st. Luffy can do all the previous mentioned moves and apply them in any battle scenario at this stage.
Gear 2nd on the other hand, is totally different. Luffy revealed this level of power during his fight against the CP9 in the Enies Lobby arc. This was the first time Luffy faced powerful enemies, ones he couldn’t just defeat by using his normal strength.
Gear 2nd allows Luffy to enhance his strength, resistance, and most of all, his speed. Luffy acquires a red tint on his skin that comes from the high temperature that his body expels as a result of the technique. You can say that Luffy is making the rubber cells in his body vibrate at such a high speed that friction makes him hot as well as quicker and more powerful. After the timeskip, Luffy continues using Gear 2nd in a more subtle way, showing that he has developed further control over the technique.
Gear 3rd on the other hand, is a crazy one. Luffy also revealed this technique during the Enies Lobby arc, but this time while facing the strongest member of the CP9 group, Rob Lucci. Lucci was so strong that Gear 2nd was not enough, and so Luffy stroked him with Gear 3rd.
Gear 3rd consist of Luffy inflating one of his limbs, commonly a leg or arm, and increasing the size of the limb to a gigantic size. This also apparently increases the weight and mass of the limb, and so when striking an enemy it would feel like the fist of a giant. The technique has a drawback in that after using it, Luffy’s body size decreases by a lot, making him unable to fight for some time.
Later, after the timeskip, Luffy also shows better control over the technique. Now he can even combine it with his more normal attacks, thus enhancing the impact of those techniques.
Gear 4th is the latest and most powerful of the Gear techniques. Luffy basically combines the 2nd and 3rd stages into one, making him bigger, stronger, and faster. Luffy also combines the technique with his Haki, increasing his power even further. He developed the technique while training with Rayleigh during the timeskip. The technique still has drawbacks, as Luffy cannot use it for extended periods of time, as it consumes too much energy from him.
It is expected that Gear 4th won’t be the last of the Gear techniques from Luffy, but we can only wait and see, as One Piece reaches its final stage.