The SMILE fruit has played a key role in Straw Hat’s journey since they unwittingly entered Punk Hazard. The artificial devil fruit, modeled on Vegapunk’s creation, has acted as an unseen hand moving the plot forward. Stopping the supply of SMILEs was supposed to be a vital cog in Trafalgar’s plan of bringing down a yonko and also defeating the king of underground activities, Doflamingo.
But how exactly could an artificial devil fruit be so important to them? What does the SMILE fruit do exactly?
What is the SMILE Fruit?
SMILE is an artificial Zoan Devil fruit that was engineered and created by the joint efforts of Caesar Clown and Donquixote Doflamingo. Its appearance is similar to that of the artificial devil fruit created by Vegapunk. The fruit was manufactured at the SMILE factory in Dressrosa, under the supervision of Doflamingo. The main ingredient of this artificial devil fruit is the SAD, which was produced by Caesar Clown in his lab in Punk Hazard.
Devil Fruits are an important part of the One Piece universe as they grant the users awesome power-ups. In the age of piracy, having an army of strong devil fruit users in your crew is one way to gain supremacy. Kaido dreamt of commanding an army entirely of devil fruit users. However, having a stable supply of natural devil fruits to form an army was something not feasible. This is why Kaido turned to SMILE fruit.
The Beast Pirates monopolized and controlled the production of the artificial devil fruit, so that Kaido could achieve his dream.
What does the SMILE fruit do?
When someone eats SMILE fruit, it grants them powers similar to that of a zoan-type devil fruit. The user is able to transform into an animal after consuming the fruit. And just like natural devil fruit users, the consumer loses their ability to swim.
However, unlike the normal Zoan Type users, who are completely able to transform into an animal or have a hybrid form, SMILE users are able to transform certain parts of their body into random parts of animals. For instance, Sheepshead can turn his hands into Sheep’s horns. These users have a control over their transformation and retract it at any time.
Some users also have actual animals with minds of their own growing out of their bodies. Bananuki has an Elephant Head growing out of his chest while Holdem has a Lion’s head and claws growing out of his midsection. Such animals, who possess intelligence may or may not listen to the users. These transformations are permanent and cannot be retracted.
Also, Oda had mentioned in a previous SBS that SMILE devil fruits actually taste good, as opposed to the normal devil fruits.
However, due to the complex chemicals and the unorthodox production methods, the SMILE fruit has side effects.
SMILE fruit Side effects:
90 percent of the people who consume the SMILE fruit do not manifest any kind of special powers. These people were termed as failures. Instead, they develop a laughing tick and lose their ability to swim. This is one of the major side effects of the SMILE fruit and the reason behind the hierarchy of pleasures and gifters in Kaido’s Beast Pirates. The ones who develop the laughing tick are unable to express their emotions properly. They end up laughing or smiling even when they are feeling sad, or are hurt in a battle etc.
This is similar to the Joker Venom that is used by the villain Joker in DC Comics. Infact, the fruit was named SMILE as a mocking tribute to the side effects the devil fruit had on the failures. The town of Ebisu in Wano is an example of how the SMILE fruit ruined the lives of people who consumed it.
SMILE users not being able to control the sentient animal manifestations in their bodies can also be considered as a side effect. In Holdem’s case, the Lion refuses to listen to him, often resisting and attacking the master. However, since both the animal and the host share the same physical body, the pain is felt by both.