Video version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmvSQ0sBWYs
For this week’s analysis, given the massive importance of the reveal about devil fruits, I’d like to be able to focus on that alone, and instead tackle other details separately, hopefully over the break week. Given how the wording in Japanese is really specific, a lot of important details got lost in translation, so allow me to break down everything line by line through providing my own translation of the scene:
PEOPLE’S DREAMS AND NIKA’S RETURN
When awakened Luffy enters in battle with awakened Lucci, Vegapunk Stella comments on how Luffy’s form resembles that of the Sun God Nika depicted in ancient scriptures. Nami then however says that she’s never heard of the name “Nika” before, but Vegapunk then replies: “No wonder. That’s a name that was erased from history…!!” “…However, as long as people continue to wish for him, his existence cannot be erased…!!!” “All things that are dreamed of are born upon this world!!”.
Now the key word here is “dream”/“wish”, which in Japanese is “nozomi”. As you likely might’ve heard, there are many words in Japanese that can’t be translated literally to English, as it embodies a concept that can be represented through several different words in English. Particularly it refers to what we could call “wishing”, “hoping”, or “dreaming”, though in the latter’s case it’s dreaming in the sense of hoping for something to happen, not dreaming of sleep. You could technically translate it as something like “desire”, but I feel that usually has more negative connotations in English, whereas “nozomi” represents a concept of hoping for something to happen, of people’s dreams. So essentially, what Vegapunk is saying here is that even if the Government has erased information about Nika and people no longer know of the ancient character that Nika is anymore, people will still wish and dream for someone like him to exist as long as they remain oppressed. Because people are always wishing and dreaming of freedom, so even if they don’t know Nika, they will still wish they had someone like him in their lives, we all kinda do, it’s human nature, and as long as we keep seeking the answer of freedom, the existence of people like Luffy will never cease to be.
Does that sound familiar? Because it should, as you may have noticed, this expression is framed with almost identical wording to one of the most important quotes in the series:
Similarly, “As long as people keep dreaming of Nika, his existence will never be erased”. Because much like Inherited Will, People’s Dreams, and the Swell of an Era, these are things that will never cease to be as long as people long for freedom, and as long as people keep wishing for someone to be able to liberate the world, then someone will eventually arise to the occasion to make these things a reality.
After all, Luffy embodies all of those things. He is inherited will, for he represents the inheriting of the original Joy Boy’s will and dreams. He represents people’s dreams because people dreamed and wished for him, so as long as people continue to dream, then those dreams will never end and continue being born upon this world. And he represents the “swell of an era”, which as Law explained during his iconic speech in Punk Hazard represents the unstoppable force with how a certain someone will one day arise to bring in a “New Era”, the “shin jidai”, and how that era will bring a change to the world.
In that regard, Nika himself, or rather Luffy, is the “answer of freedom” that Roger spoke of, what people have been seeking for all these centuries, the answer to all the injustices of the world and someone who can bring liberation, who can bring freedom, to all in the world. So as long as people seek the answer of freedom and keep wishing for someone like him to arise, even if they’ve forgotten the original Nika character, he will still come and deliver joy and laughter to all in the world.
HOW ARE DEVIL FRUITS BORN?
However, what about that second expression, which also serves as the title of the chapter? Well, it tries to convey a similar idea: “All things that are dreamed of are born upon this world”, so essentially as long as people wish hard enough or dream hard enough for something, it can become a reality.
Now it’s very important not to misunderstand this as “simply wishing for something automatically makes it a reality”. I’ve seen some people interpret these words very literally, but in Japanese Vegapunk isn’t confirming this, but simply stating that people wishing and dreaming about these things eventually led to them becoming a reality, that their wishes to be liberated led to the appearance of Nika, and their wishes to evolve further led to the creation of devil fruits. How that creation happened is not clarified here, and neither is the fact of if he’s speaking quite literally or just philosophically. Maybe he could be saying that these things were literally magically born out of people’s dreams, but it also could just mean that people’s dreams led them to make these things a reality themselves, to make their dreams come true. I spoke with Japanese readers to get their impressions and we all agreed that the way the wording came off in Japanese was more philosophical than it was meant to be literal. Particularly with how Vegapunk talks about the devil fruits from a purely scientific point of evolution, being a scientist himself and having even been able to replicate fruits through the application of science, so I would suggest to not take his words too literally, or at least not take them as a canonical fact, until it is more properly clarified, which I’m sure we’ll understand better soon enough anyway.
But essentially what Vegapunk’s saying comes across as in Japanese is that anything you can dream of can become true, that anything is possible if you dream and wish hard enough about it, and that things do come true because we wish for them. It essentially embodies the concept of the limitless potential that this world has for what can be possible. After all in the end Vegapunk says that the world is so fun and wondrous because it allows for this limitless potential, so there is no need to wonder if gods really exist or not. There is no need to believe in gods or magic because the world itself already makes these possibilities a reality.
Because this was also already mentioned in the story under different wording: “Any event that people can dream of is a possible reality”. This quote is massively important, as it set up the importance of people’s dreams and what they can achieve, which again conveys the similar meaning that this world is so incredible that the sky really is the limit, and that it is never too small to contain our dreams to make them a reality.
Also, on a small side note, the terminology “all things” in this expression is exactly the same in Japanese as the “voice of all things”, which means that while it could possibly just be similar wording, the two could also potentially be related, but I’m sure we’ll understand that better soon enough.
WHAT ARE DEVIL FRUITS?
Really though, let’s break down in more detail what Vegapunk reveals about the truth of what devil fruits are, because he says that the saying of “All things that are wished for are born upon this world” can also apply to the existence of devil fruits. He believes that devil fruits embody the wishes of people wanting to become one thing or something other. For example, have you never wished that you could fly? Then the devil fruit that turns you into a falcon makes that a reality. Have you ever wished that you could create fire yourself without the need of a tool? Then a devil fruit that turns you into fire makes that a reality. Have you ever wished you could just sprout more hands to manage more tasks? That you could have silky smooth skin? Or that you were a man instead of a woman?
In fact, Oda described this very concept in an interview with China Times back in 2014, where he explained that his idea behind creating devil fruits arose from the wishes that people would have, such as wanting to have a smooth skin, or wanting to have multiple hands, so he, much like the people of the One Piece world, created these fruits from wanting to fulfill a certain wish.
As Vegapunk puts it, devil fruits are “actually the “possibilities” of “mankind’s evolution” that someone once dreamed and wished for” and that “Devil fruit abilities are in actuality the many ways the future of the hominid genus could evolve”. So essentially what Vegapunk is saying is that devil fruits are tools that unlock human evolution, the many ways in which the hominid genus could potentially evolve, which is reflected in the different abilities of each fruit. Each of them allows someone’s body to evolve to the point where they have powers that most without that futuristic scientific knowledge would simply see as supernatural. For example, if a human would evolve to develop feathers and become like a falcon, then that’s what Pell’s fruit makes possible. Or if the ability to generate body warmth evolved to the point it could become fire itself, you would have Ace’s fruit. With the limitless potential of this world and of science, we can reach a level of evolution that would otherwise take millions of years to reach.
This is likely the reason why so many characters in the story introduce their abilities by saying that they are an ability human. A barrier human, an art human, a paw human, a blade human, this has always been used across the entire series and now it makes sense, because all of them are evolved humans who specialize in one specific category.
We actually saw this being told to us in the story by, and I’m not joking, Foxy. Foxy explained that his fruit allowed him to emit a thing called “noroma particles”, which are a type of particle that modern scientists have not yet discovered. Meaning it is a technology that was lost to time and was likely understood by scientists of the past, but that current scientists do not yet understand. And when Luffy questioned this not being possible, Foxy simply said that “everything is possible in this world”.
The thing is though, all of this is technically not new information. As far back as Punk Hazard we were actually told that the truth of devil fruits relates to an application of the bloodline elements, and as Yonji explained in Whole Cake Island, the bloodline elements are the DNA of the One Piece world, the genetic code that allows for the evolution of all species.
And Oda even said that artificial Zoan devil fruits are created by sampling the bloodline elements of animals. So we were already told that the devil fruits are things that affect the genetic code related to evolution, which is what Vegapunk is essentially saying here, just much more clearly now. Eating a fruit provides your body with new genetic code that allows you to evolve your body to a whole new extent, attaining abilities that despite very much being real science, they are science we do not yet understand with our current knowledge of it, which leads many to see them as “supernatural abilities”.
This would make perfect sense since Vegapunk already explained how the ancient kingdom possessed technology so incredible that it is beyond the common scientific understanding of the present, and since devil fruits are very much the same, then it’s highly likely that the ancient kingdom was involved in creating these fruits with their advanced technology and their advanced understanding of the bloodline elements and the genetic code. Really, what Vegapunk said can be said of any of humanity’s inventions, after all “necessity is the mother of all inventions”, so these wishes could have led to people creating the devil fruits. However of course that’s only implied, as once again it’s important to clarify that in the Japanese version Vegapunk does not specify anything about how these wishes led the fruits to be, so we can only speculate for now.
WHO CREATED DEVIL FRUITS?
(MILD FILM RED SPOILERS FOR THE NEXT TWO PARAGRAPHS)
Vegapunk elaborates on this by saying that “Devil fruit “ability users” are essentially… beings living on several whole other dimensions all once pictured in someone’s mind…!!!”. Now there’s quite a few key words here: first Vegapunk mentions “someone”, just like he did in his previous line, which in Japanese in this case is intended as a singular term. He could just be speaking broadly about everyone’s individual wishes, but it makes me wonder if he actually is referring to one specific person who pioneered this scientific research and first created the devil fruits. Could that perhaps be the titular “devil”, who came to be known by this name due to being the origin of these abilities?
After all, in his One Piece Film RED commentary last month Oda commented how the Devil King’s origin is related to the origin of devil fruits, citing how the Devil King came to be from the fears and doubts of people, even confirming the Devil King as canon. Robin described the Devil King as “The embodied aggregation of people’s thoughts that have been passed down since ancient times. Things like loneliness and pain, the dark sides of people’s hearts. In time, it came to be known as the ‘Devil King’”. Which sounds a lot like the creation of devil fruits having come from the wishes and dreams of people, so in the same way, the Devil King came to be created from the embodied aggregation of people’s negative emotions, loneliness, pain, fear, and doubt. But again, is that literal or is that metaphorical? Was the Devil King literally born of people’s emotions or could the Devil King have been a devil fruit creation, which came from the negative emotions of people and a desire of revenge, leading to creating a weapon capable of wiping out the whole world rather than bring it liberation? Could the Devil King maybe even be the original “someone” who once created the devil fruits for the ancient kingdom, but then had a change of heart as the pain and suffering of his people grew and decided to create a fruit for themselves to destroy the world? Well, I suppose only time will tell.
WHY DO DEVIL FRUITS EXIST?
Anyway, next, the expression Vegapunk uses, “omoi egaita” translates to “pictured in their mind”, quite literally using the kanji for “drawing”, which in this case refers to “picturing” something, being able to envision it. Again though, it’s important to clarify that this does not necessarily indicate that someone imagined these things and then they magically appeared, but rather that because they pictured such a possibility, they were able to find a way to make that a reality, whatever that way may be. Interestingly, he also says that devil fruit users are “beings who live in several whole other dimensions”. This “dimensions” can also be translated more simply as “a whole other level”, which could be why the chapter of Luffy’s awakening was called “Next Level”, but I feel like Vegapunk is essentially just trying to transmit how devil fruit users are basically the incarnation of a whole alternate reality of how humans could genetically evolve, which makes them appear to people as “supernatural” beings.
And in fact this seems to be what propelled the myth of the sea, as Vegapunk claims “By consequence, these “unnatural” things are said to be hated by the mother of nature itself, the “sea”, which is why their very existence bears punishment!!!”. This is a very interesting piece of lore, but it’s important to note that Vegapunk specifies “it is said”, which means that this is simply the myth that is said about devil fruits. Which could have some truth to it, but compared to the scientific breakdown he gave, he talks about it like a rumor, meaning it’s likely the truth behind the rejection of the sea goes deeper than that.
After all, we already know that this is technically partially wrong, as in an SBS Oda clarified that it is not the sea that paralyzes devil fruit users, but rather any body of water, no matter what, even if it isn’t related to the sea. So it isn’t necessarily the sea that rejects devil fruit users, but rather the contact with water that makes them lose their power, something that could be explained in a scientific way as just a chemical or biological reaction to water. But this aspect too is still too murky and undefined to say for sure, as Oda said those things count as the “sea” as well.
What is more interesting here however is that the word “unnatural” could be more literally translated to “artificial”, which would suggest that the fruits are indeed artificial creations that went beyond the boundaries of what nature allows. This would better explain better why “Mother Nature” hates these fruits, because humanity decided to play at being god and create fruits that broke the natural laws of evolution, so nature fought back in turn. Which would once again suggest that the devil fruits are indeed artificial creations of humanity, as a way to materialize their dreams into reality.
Truthfully, in this chapter we ultimately don’t find out anything that wasn’t already being alluded to in the past, and the real origin of devil fruits and many other aspects of them are yet a mystery, such as how some fruits took on a will of their own, but now we can understand the truth with a lot more clarity, as we finally have the confirmation of what devil fruits really are: tools that grant the ability to evolve the genetic code of living creatures to a point far beyond what they are able to do in the present, being able to reach the full biological potential that this world and science has to offer, because they once dreamed of being able to do things that weren’t possible.
WHO IS NIKA ACTUALLY?
Now, this next bit is more speculation on my end, but all this makes me wonder if that’s specifically what happened with Nika as well. Joy Boy was a real person in ancient times, but in comparison Nika was a fictional character, with even Vegapunk describing him as a character from “ancient scriptures”. Joy Boy at one point became Nika through the devil fruit, but since it is a mythological Zoan, it means the creature it is based on never really existed, only being a myth, a story, perhaps even a “Laugh Tale”. But this means that Joy Boy dreamed of being like Nika, that he wanted to be just like this fictional character of stories of old, and decided to quite literally embody him through the creation of the Hito Hito no Mi, Model: Nika to be able to deliver joy and laughter to all in the world.
Does that mean that… well, there’s a lot to talk about here, so I suppose I’ll leave this theory for another moment. I’ll talk more about these things soon enough, but for now I guess the takeaway from all this is that dreams really do become real. Whether that’s literal or simply philosophical, anything that we can dream of can become a reality as long as we make it a reality with our very own hands. After all, dreams can always become real, because people’s dreams… never end.