We all suspected Luffy would at some point reveal a major power-up he developed during the past two years that allows him to surpass his limits and many anticipated that this power-up would take the form of a new gear – Gear Fourth, and alas with this chapter, we finally have confirmation that Luffy has indeed developed a Gear Fourth to push himself beyond his limits. In order to defeat Doflamingo within the hour and prevent anyone in Dressrosa from getting killed, Luffy has taken it upon himself to be the raging storm that blows away the darkness known as Doflamingo.
Trebol fate has been intentionally left unknown by Oda but given the style of writing Oda uses, we can conclude that while Trebol may be down for the rest of the climax, he is certainly not dead. Trebol’s role appears to be exhausted with the past surrounding Doflamingo and the seated executives revealed in the previous chapter but there could still be some relevance in focusing on Trebol once Doflamingo is defeated, especially if it includes clearing up whether Trebol is a Logia or not.
It was great to see that Law’s savior was Luffy, and I particularly enjoyed how Oda went about removing Law from the battlefield and from Doflamingo’s focus through the inclusion of Robin and Cavendish who have been entrusted by Luffy to look after Law.
Cavendish’s reappearance was a surprise, but a welcomed one as he was incredibly useful in protecting Robin as she gathered Law from her net, which she managed to construct with her arms without the need of sprouting them from an existing surface. Cavendish’s obsession with popularity to the point of distorting Luffy’s statement into a request by a fan was hilarious and a great way to convey how Cavendish was able to bypass his own ego and accept Luffy’s request. It was also great to see Cavendish understand the importance of Law’s wish to remain on the top level of the plateau in order to witness the defeat of Doflamingo or the fall of Luffy. To compromise agreeing with Law’s desire, Cavendish chose to remain with him on Flower Fields. Beyond his obsession with popularity, Cavendish is actually a really understanding and compassionate guy not to mention a gentleman (well done giving Robin your coat Cabbage), I can’t help but like him more and more with each panel.
Robin has made it her duty to ensure Rebecca is protected during this incident so she will be going down to the lowers level with Kyros and Rebecca to join Bartolomeo. I am interested to learn whether Leo and Mansherry are staying with Law to reattach his arm or whether they are heading down with Robin to the lower levels. It is also possible that Robin will stay with Law until Leo and Mansherry have finished attaching and healing Law’s arm and then proceed to head down to the lower levels with Leo, Mansherry, Rebecca and Kyros.
Luffy did seem slightly disadvantaged during his exchanges with Doflamingo as he was unable to really deal major damage onto Doflamingo, yet he was still able enough to defend against most of the attacks Doflamingo sent his way. Luffy is noticeably lacking in the destructive department against Doflamingo, especially with the attacks he can land onto Doflamingo. Luffy’s quick attacks are able to hit Doflamingo but they are able to seriously damage him whereas Luffy’s big attacks which can damage Doflamingo aren’t fast enough to hit Doflamingo in the first place.
Doflamingo is fast, strong, intelligent and knows exactly how to get under a person’s skin. Instead of underestimating Luffy, Doflamingo acknowledges that Luffy is someone special, a man to be impressed by. Doflamingo opts to ridicule Luffy’s decision to butt into the affairs of Dressrosa instead of underestimating Luffy’s ability and capability. In order to mentally assault Luffy, Doflamingo brings to Luffy’s attention the consequences of his decision and the potential tragic outcome it could have for Dressrosa and its citizens. Luffy was surprisingly unmoved by Doflamingo’s taunts and made the decision to use Gear Fourth against Doflamingo.
The question now becomes, what is Gear Fourth? In what way can Luffy utilise his Devil Fruit (and Haki) to advance and evolve his current fighting abilities and take it beyond what he is currently capable of? How can Luffy use his Gomu Gomu no Mi to damage Doflamingo? While Luffy is fast (Gear Second), his quick attacks aren’t powerful enough and while Luffy can be destructive (Gear Third), his powerful attacks aren’t fast enough to hit Doflamingo. In short, Luffy needs a way to perform fast attacks that are powerful and this is where I believe Gear Fourth comes in.
A theory I have for Gear Fourth is Luffy incorporating the use of vibrations into his attacks. With his rubber body Luffy can create vibrations/enter into a “vibrating state” through rapidly stretching and contracting his body (vibrating his muscles). By hardening his limbs with Haki, Luffy can amplify the vibrations created within his body and apply them to his attacks where the vibrations being produced within him are transferred onto and into his opponent when the attack lands. In effect Gear Fourth will allow Luffy to perform piercing/focused attacks with vibrations that can bypass the defense of his opponent.
Ever since witnessing the destructive nature of the Happo Navy’s Hasshoken (and how unblockable such attacks are), I have been of the opinion that such a technique/form would be incredibly useful in evolving the way Luffy attacks and fights. Vibrations imbued onto Luffy’s attacks would make them incredibly destructive as they would be able to pierce beyond the opponents defense and leave substantial damage. Vibration based attacks also don’t have to directly land on the target, they can affect the surrounding area of the source. Gear Fourth will leave Luffy in a “vibrating state” (like an active car engine) allowing Luffy to perform attacks that generate shock waves. With such a Gear, Luffy can increase the destructive nature of his attacks and avoid having to inflate his limbs, which slows him down, to increase his strength.
Using vibrations against Doflamingo would be an effective way to bypass Doflamingo’s defense and injure Doflamingo internally, which will also have the added effect of interrupting Doflamingo’s internal “repairing” whenever he has it active. Doflamingo did ridicule Luffy for having weak punches but with vibrations imbued onto his attacks, Luffy can soon have Doflamingo eating those very words when his attacks are able to penetrate through Doflamingo’s defenses. Vibrations can also be a good way for Luffy to affect the “string” power of Doflamingo by disrupting the resonance of the strings. I can imagine Luffy’s finishing move sending Doflamingo flying into the Bird Cage and with the vibrational power behind that attack being transferred onto the Bird Cage, the strings forming the cage around Dressrosa would end up being disabled and undone, thereby destroying Bird Cage along with Doflamingo (and removing the “thorn” in Luffy’s side).
The initial source of inspiration behind Gear Fourth is most likely Whitebeard and the way he utilised his Gura Gura no Mi during the Marineford War. Whitebeard’s vibration imbued attacks were devastating and completely overwhelmed all those who were subject to it – including Akainu, Blackbeard and the Marineford Island. Luffy may have gotten an idea from that experience about how to make his attacks more destructive.
The reason Luffy wanted his nakama away from the nearby area may be because of the destructive nature of Gear Fourth. Thanks to Luffy witnessing Whitebeard’s magnificence two years ago he realises how destructive vibrations can be and is aware that with the release of Gear Fourth (if it is focused around vibrations), not even the Palace on top of the plateau would be safe.
Another significant point to note is by Luffy having a Gear that can utilise vibrations in his attacks, a means to combat Blackbeard, the current user of the Gura Gura no Mi, has opened up. Luffy’s battle against Blackbeard will happen sometime in the future, it is an inevitable fate the two share. It is possible that with a Gear utilising vibrations Luffy can develop a way to counter Blackbeard’s Gura Gura no Mi attacks and avoid being completely overwhelmed by it. Additionally Luffy can give Blackbeard a taste of what the Gura Gura no Mi’s power (vibrations) taste like.
Gear Fourth incorporating vibrations (produced by Luffy’s muscles) would help to evolve the way Luffy fights. Overtime Luffy may find ways to use Gear Fourth in conjunction with Gear Second and Third, if he hasn’t already. A Gear Third attack used in Gear Fourth (vibrating state) would be a sight to see. A downside to Luffy using Gear Fourth would be overusing his stretching ability and tiring his muscles out ultimately leaving him in a fatigued state where he has reduced stretching ability. Upon using Gear Fourth Luffy will have to wait a while for his body to recover before being able to fully utilise the stretching ability his body offers.
Very much looking forward to the next chapter and finding out what Gear Fourth will actually be. I have made an attempt to try to determine what it could be but at this point, I am completely unsure what Oda will end up doing and my guess may be terribly wrong. Gear Second and Third surprised me, and I wonder if Gear Fourth will do the same. I am ready to be left in awe!