Warning: contains spoilers for One Piece: Road to Laugh Tale vol. 3!
Fans of One Piece were shocked by the recent revelation that the story's protagonist, Monkey D. Luffy, was hiding a completely different set of Devil Fruit powers and abilities than what was previously believed, and the special Road to Laugh Tale vol. 3 finally clarifies many of the mysteries surrounding the Sun God Nika and Luffy's Gear Fifth.
From the very first chapter in the series, One Piece readers believed that Luffy's powers came from eating the Gomu Gomu no Mi, a Paramecia-type Devil Fruit that gives a body the properties of rubber. During the fight against Kaido, however, Luffy was finally able to "awaken" his abilities, a term used to indicate that a person's mind and body are able to harness the true potential of their Devil Fruit. When this happened, it was revealed that Gomu Gomu no Mi was actually a fake name given by the World Government to another Devil Fruit, whose existence they wanted to keep hidden: the mythical Zoan Hito Hito no Mi, Model: Nika. As with every other Mythical Zoan, this fruit bestows powers connected to a legendary figure, in this case a mysterious god called Nika. Once awakened, Luffy displayed a bizarre set of powers, including the ability to alter his body and surroundings according to his imagination, which allowed him to defeat even "the world's strongest creature," Kaido.SCREENRANT VIDEO OF THE DAY
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The Road to Laugh Tale specials usually do not contain new information, but they provide insight and clarifications on some of the most important mysteries in the manga, such as confirming the fall of Kaido and Big Mom. Volume 3 focuses on Devil Fruit, and Luffy's takes center stage. It is stated clearly that the awakening brings Luffy's abilities to their peak, giving him the power "to turn imagination into reality." How this exactly happens is not clearly explained, but Luffy has the "bizarre ability to rubberize his surroundings." Rubber is a highly malleable material, so this could explain Luffy's cartoon-like abilities showcased during the fight. For example, the special confirms that when he grabbed a lightning bolt, it was because he turned it into rubber.
Road to Laugh Tale vol. 3 adds a small new detail that proves to be crucial to understanding Luffy's new powers. In the section on Mythical Zoan types, it is specified that "the majority of them seem to possess unique abilities akin to Paramecia on top of the standard Zoan transformations." This means that Luffy's classic Gomu Gomu abilities are part of Nika's powers, just like Kaido is able to shoot fire from his mouth because that is an ability of the Azure Dragon he transforms to, thanks to his Mythical Zoan. However, Luffy's Devil Fruit remains unique. The special clarifies that Zoan awakenings do not affect the user's surroundings (which is what happens with Paramecia), but only unlock a new transformation. Luffy, instead, showed this exact ability after his awakening, besides also transforming into a powerful new form (Gear Fifth).
This means that Luffy has awakened at the same time the powers of a Paramecia and of a Zoan, which explains how he was able to defeat Kaido. Perhaps this is what is so unique about Nika's abilities, and why this is considered "the most ridiculous power in the world." A lot remains to be explained about this Devil Fruit, for example who Nika actually is and why the World Government tried unsuccessfully for centuries to keep its existence hidden. Some of the answers will come when One Piece resumes publication after this one-month hiatus, but for now, fans will have to be satisfied with this new clarification of Luffy's Devil Fruit abilities provided by Road to Laugh Tale vol. 3.