One Piece: Luffy’s Gear 5 Is Anime Creativity at Its Best

The cartoon logic behind Luffy’s latest transformation on One Piece reveals the benefits of anime as a medium.

Luffy entering Gear 5 in One Piece
Photo: ©Eiichiro Oda/Shueisha, Toei Animation

With apologies to Ken and Benny Safdie’s glasses, 2023 has been the year of One Piece. In fact, many scientists believe that every year since the manga series first released in 1997 has been the year of One Piece. But 2023 has truly been a standout thanks to a big-budget video game to start the year, the manga continuing to sell at a blistering pace, the imminent release of the Netflix live action adaptation, and of course the anime and its eye-popping (as of now) 1074 episodes sending the internet into a frenzy

It’s One Piece and creator Eiichiro Oda’s world; we’re just living in it. Thanks to everyone else for playing.

I say this all (mostly) in jest, but it’s true: the series has seemingly been more popular than ever, despite its obvious barrier to entry given the length. But the length is, in every sense, what shows how remarkable One Piece is. It’s managed to keep fans interested for so long thanks to its consistently imaginative world and gripping storylines. Luffy’s latest transformation, “Gear 5” as it is so aptly named, is just the latest reason for why this anime runs the game.  

You see, Luffy is a rubber boy. We all know this. Having your main character’s power being rubber is in of itself a testament to how remarkable the series is for somehow making this work in both a practicality and subtextual sense. The creativity in which Oda handled Luffy’s rubbery goodness makes Mr. Fantastic’s stretchy powers look like a random street performer by comparison. There’s equal parts badassery and pure hilarity to be found with his powers. 


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