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Warning: Before reading the contents of this webpage ‘SPOILERS‘, please keep in mind this article, along with other articles, will be Manga theories and images from chapters YET to be released in anime format.
Awakening Means Mastery
The fight against Katakuri was Luffy mastering the awakening of the GUM fruit! We first saw the reveal of this ability in Water 7 when everything came down to either get stronger or lose their beloved crewmate. They all amped up their abilities. As usual, Luffy was the key to victory by awakening NOT ONLY the second but the THIRD gear on top of it!
THE MOST IMPORTANT TIME IN THE STRAWHATS’ JOURNEY WAS THERE AT WATER 7
Similarities with Bleach (Not trolling)
Just as in Bleach, where Ichigo’s zanpakuto was always in Shikai form, (upgrades normal sword to advanced/awakened mode) Luffy is already in the same category. Meaning gear one would just be his gum-gum powers and would be his default, just as Ichigo instinctively always goes for Shikai.
Ichigos Bankai and Luffy’s gears
Ichigo’s Bankai was different from any of the other fighters since he focused his Bankai inside of himself in order to increase his speed and power, and that was even commented on when he fought Byakuya. In the same fashion as that, Luffy’s power is also directed inside and also outside of his body to increase his attack and speed as well.
The Beginning of Awakening: Gear 2nd & Gear 3rd
This was practice for expanding his control over his devil fruit, learning his limits, and increasing them. His awakening happens within his body, as opposed to fighters like Doflamingo and Katakuri. They have Paramecia that allow them to create outer body material while still having slight Logia properties to them.
GEAR 2ND (Organ Control & Increased Speed) Ep.272-273
Using his elastic body, Luffy amplifies his blood flow in order to increase his fighting ability. The amplifying blood flow is a result of Luffy circulating his blood and oxygen more efficiently ultimately bypassing his normal limits, sort of like internal doping.
The 3rd Gear (Bone and muscle Manipulation / Raw Power) Ep.304-305
Going even further, this gear removes the speed element and in return uses a different type of body manipulation by blowing up not only his body but also his rubber bones, in order to deliver maximum attack efficiency while his powerful limbs are the size of a giant.
All 4TH Gear Forms (Gears 2 & 3 Combined)(FULL AWAKENING)
When using a combination of 2nd and 3rd gear with the haki addition, the cherry on top, it gives him more control over all three. Luffy can add the combination together with a lot of focus and compressed tensile strength in order to make his rubber the hardest form it could attain.
- relating to tension.”a tensile force”
- capable of being drawn out or stretched.”a tensile steel rod”
BOUNCEMAN – E726 “GEAR 4th! The Phenomenal boundman!“
TANK MAN: S011 E806 – “The Power of Satiety! A New Gear Four Form – Tank Man!“
9 Minutes, 30 Seconds in.
Cracker fails to penetrate Luffy’s stomach and as the sword sits on Luffy’s belly, he slowly absorbs Cracker into his body. This allows Luffy to use Cracker as a human cannonball.
SNAKE MAN: S011 E870 – “A Fist of Divine Speed! Another Gear Four Application Activated!“
I seriously doubt that there will be a fifth gear, however, if I was to speculate on the other side of the debate and believe it to be possible, then it would fall into my theory of the GUM-GUM DF awakening. Revealing that the final awakening of the DF would be this addition.
If fifth gear was a reality in my eyes, it would be his complete control over his fruit and the completion of him as an awakened devil fruit user.
“The Wisdom King” Was The Previous Owner of the Gum Fruit and was Awakened! Chapter 990
Spoken of by Hyogoro of the flowers, either a book or old folklore stories passed down in the country of Wano, depicted in images is ‘The Wisdom King’. Closing the gates just in time to protect the country from another danger, ‘the Wisdom King’ was a man who did great things that earned him that name. This could possibly be the story on Joy Boy.
Of course, these ideas are just me speculating and making possible theories, although seeing as we are dealing with Luffy, who never really notices things or pays too much attention to what’s happening. I do believe his gears are in the process of awakening, but I don’t think that Luffy is even aware of the fact that he’s been doing it, which would be his typical character.
To end my thoughts on this, I believe that in the end, he will defeat Kaido with a combination of gear 4th snake man, and conquerors haki.