While many were taken aback by the reveal of Gear 5 and many others called it “ass-pull,” the idea of Sun God Nika, on which Luffy’s powers were based on, has existed in One Piece for nearly two decades.
After all those theories about it being Tigerman and what not, Gear 5 and its abilities took everyone by surprise as it broke the decades long rule of Kaido. What was even more surprising was the reveal behind Gomu Gomu no Mi and it’s connection to Sun God Nika.
Let us take a look at the Mythical Entity Nika who’s powers allowed Luffy to climb one more step in his journey to becoming the King of Pirates.
Who is Sun God Nika?
Who’s Who was the first to tell us the legend of Nika in Chapter 1018. “A figure that slaves would pray to in the long distant past… A legendary warrior they believed would one day free them!! The Sun God Nika!!”
From the exchange between him and Jinbei, we learn that Nika was a “Warrior of Liberation.” Nika was a powerful being that would come and free slaves and bring a smile on their faces.
The words “Sun God Nika” have mixed origins. While Sun Gods are common in almost all mythologies symbolizing good luck and harvest, the word Nika might be taken from the Greek Goddess of Victory, Nike.
All we know is whoever Nika was; their powers are now in a Mythical Zoan Devil Fruit. And the fruit and Nika’s legend was so dangerous to the World Government that they renamed the whole fruit to hide its true form.
One more important detail we know about Nika is that he is an ancient god linked to the Shandorans. In Chapter 287, during a Tree Fever epidemic, the prettiest girl in the village was offered as a sacrifice to Kashigami, the Sun God.
While that Sun God isn’t Nika, the Shandora which is strongly inspired by Ancient Mayan civilization has many more links to Nika.
The Pyramid of the Sun is the largest building in Teotihuacan, serves as the main inspiration for Shandora. The thing that connects both these pyramids is the figurehead of the Aztec God Quetzalcoatl.
Quetzalcoatl means ‘serpent of precious feathers’ and is considered the god of the morning star or the “lord of the star of the dawn.”
Connecting all of this can mean – The Shandian Sun god was a Bringer of Dawn, the same thing Nika did. That aside, there is also the famous bonfire dance of Chapter 253, which shows Luffy being very similar to the picture of Nika that Who’s Who gave us.
There also exists the possibility that Nika might be a Lunarian. With flaming hair and god-like powers, maybe Nika was part of the Lunarian tribe who decided to free the oppressed living upto their angel like appearance. The only fact pointing against this is the lack of the giant wings that Lunarians like King and replicated races like Seraphims possess.
Is Luffy Sun God Nika?
By sheer accident, Luffy ended up eating the Gomu-Gomu no mi, which was actually the Hito-Hito no mi: Model Nika. So unlike what many think, no Luffy is not Nika. His gear five awakening allows him to use the powers of the Sun God, but does not make him the Sun God itself.
Though Luffy is not Nika, there seem to be criteria that need to be met to awaken the fruit’s powers. Hundreds of users of this fruit would have existed throughout history, but no one knew about its true form. If we link this with everything we know about Nika, maybe you need to have a similar personality and goal to unlock the true powers of the fruit.
Luffy looks pretty similar in many ways, being a person who comes in with a smile to free people from their miseries. In a sense, his whole life Luffy has lived as Nika – freeing everyone from Orange town to Dressrosa and now Wano, thereby being a Warrior of Liberation.
Powers and abilities of Sun God Nika
Nika is described as having flaming hair along with a spear and sword. In Chapter 1018, his limbs are also bent and curved, similar to Gear 5.
Quoting the Gorosei – “Possessing a body with the properties of rubber and fighting in whatever way he fancies, bringing smiles to the faces of people … The warrior of liberation also known as Nika, the Sun God. Awakening brings his body more strength and freedom. It is said in the world there is no power more ridiculous.”
From what Vegapunk theorizes, every devil fruit is born from the desire someone had – “what if I could be like this.” This possibility for human evolution in an alternate dimension gives the users their supernatural powers but, in turn, are hated by the Mother of Nature, the Sea, which is why they lose the ability to swim.
Going by this, I would speculate a scenario like this – Nika, the warrior of liberation, freed a bunch of slaves, and one of them wished with all their life to become Nika himself or a brave warrior who could fight like him. This manifested as the Gum-Gum fruit or, as we now know it, the Hito Hito no Mi Model: Nika.
Also, as Vegapunk says, even though all records of Nika have been destroyed and no one knows of him, just the hope and wish for a great warrior to one day come and free the people from their miseries causes Nika never to disappear.
In this sense, Nika can also be seen as a symbol or representation of hope and liberation for the people. He is a great hero (who does not like to share meat) who is born when times are dire and shakes the world with his actions. If we go by this, it makes sense why no one before Luffy could awaken the fruit’s true powers.
Well, this is all we know about Nika for now, but I’m sure it’s going to be exciting to see how the story will develop and how Oda will reveal more information about this mysterious figure.