One Piece Film Red Showcases Luffy's New Transformation For The First Time

This post contains spoilers for "One Piece Film Red."

"One Piece Film Red" is finally in theaters in the U.S., and it came just in time as this year marks the 25th anniversary of the manga, and this past October marks the 23rd anniversary of the anime as well. Eiichiro Oda's magnum opus spans just over 100 volumes of manga and 1,000 plus anime episodes, making it one of the longest-running anime to date. Impressively, hardly any of that content is filler, as the world of "One Piece" is a sprawling and intricately connected world, with some story arcs in the series featuring more world-building and character development than other manga series as a whole. 

One crucial addition to the lore that will likely play into the ending of "One Piece" (if the manga ever gets there) is featured in a critical scene in the latest film. The best part is that it involves everyone's favorite shonen anime trope, a new transformation for the main character, Monkey D. Luffy. Interestingly enough, Luffy's new transformation has yet to make its anime debut at this point in time, still having only been featured in the manga. For manga fans or anime enthusiasts who already know about the previously unseen transformation, "One Piece Film Red" showcases Luffy's mysterious and powerful "Gear 5" transformation.

A transformation with huge implications

Luffy's new transformation comes very late in the film, meant to serve as a finishing blow to the final antagonist of the film. Up to this point, viewers had already seen the "Gear 4" transformation that's been around for a few years. However, the intensity and stakes of the film required something with a little more oomph. Enter the mythical "Gear 5" transformation. Whereas "Gear 4" turns Luffy into a hulking, monstrous figure with his arms coated in black "armament haki," "Gear 5" slims Luffy down to how he regularly looks, changing his clothes and hair to a glowing white in the process.

The transformation is brief, but the power put on display when Luffy uses it provides a tease of what fans can expect when the anime brings it to life. For fans worried that a "One Piece" movie is the first time that Luffy uses this new transformation, fear not; "One Piece Film Red" isn't canon to the mainline story. So, when Luffy eventually does use "Gear 5" in the anime, it will still have the emotional impact the story requires. However, this new transformation first featured in "Film Red" has more implications than just being a powerup for Luffy; it's a momentous occasion that the massive story of "One Piece" is nearing its end.

The return of Joy Boy

The manga chapter in which Luffy first unlocks his "Gear 5" indicates that this is his true form, with those witnessing it believing it signaled the return of the legendary "Joy Boy." For those unfamiliar, Joy Boy is one of the most mysterious characters in "One Piece," with the character and his exploits lost to history. Even the former Pirate King Gol D. Roger, who set off the main events of the series when it first began publication 25 years ago, wished to have met or been born in the same period in which Joy Boy was alive. 

Joy Boy's exploits revolve around his attempts to free the entire world from oppression, a recurring theme of Luffy's exploits throughout "One Piece." The real name of Joy Boy isn't known, but it serves as a title for others to take on who have the power to help free the world. The manga has even gone so far as to reveal that Joy Boy had the same devil fruit powers as Luffy, making this transformation all the more impactful. Even more interesting is that Joy Boy's treasure is meant to be on the last island in the series, known as "Laugh Tale," where Gol D. Roger famously said the titular one piece is before his execution. 

Putting all these pieces together, it's clear that this new (and likely final) transformation Luffy has signals that the massive 25-plus year-long story of "One Piece" is nearing its end. While "Film Red" may not be canon, it's the inclusion of this still very new transformation shows that Luffy may be getting ready to wrap his story up and finally find the one piece.