One Piece has finally explained the reason why Red-Haired Shanks is considered one of the strongest pirates in the world. The character, who inspired the series protagonist Luffy to become a pirate, is still shrouded in mystery, despite making his debut in the very first chapter of the series. However, a promotional booklet written by One Piece author Eiichiro Oda explains Shanks’ fearsome reputation as one of the most powerful pirates. Not too long after that, Shanks gave the biggest showcase of his powers in the manga, further explaining his fearsome reputation.
After the first chapter, Shanks did not appear in the series for a very long time. When they made their way to the Grand Line, Luffy and the Straw Hats learned that Shanks had become one of the Yonko the four most powerful pirates in the world. It was also revealed that he was an apprentice on the ship of the legendary Pirate King Gol D. Roger. While he was never shown fighting, Shanks’ strength was teased to be on the same level as powerhouses such as Whitebeard or Kaido. In chapter #1056, Shanks finally gave a glimpse of his power, when he used his Conqueror Haki to paralyze the Marine Admiral Ryokugyu from a great distance and scare him away from Wano, an impressive feat by itself. That was the first sign that Shanks would soon have a major role in the story, and as such his powers had to be better explained soon.
Shanks’ Greatest Power Is His Mastery Of Observation Haki
To celebrate the release of the movie One Piece: Red, which focuses on Shanks, a booklet called One Piece volume 4 billion was distributed, which includes precious information about Shanks and his powers. The Yonko’s nickname in battle is “the killer of Observation Haki” because he is able to stop his opponents from seeing the future with that ability (displayed by several powerful characters in the manga). Together with Shanks’ impressive use of Conqueror Haki against Ryokugyu (until now, it was not known that the ability could work on such a long distance, and paralyze powerful opponents), this confirms that Shanks’ strength lies in his mastery of Haki, the mysterious life energy that is prerogative of the mightiest fighters in the series. The booklet also adds that Shanks fights with his “flaming sword“, but it’s not clear if the flames are another effect of his Haki or an entirely different power.
The mention of Observation Haki in the booklet was a tease of what would happen not too long after in the manga. During a brief battle against Eustass Kid and his crew, Shanks used his Observation Haki to “see” the future a full ten seconds ahead. This is not just impressive, and perhaps the most powerful use of this specific type of Haki ever seen, but it also puts in a different context what is written in One Piece volume 4 billion. Perhaps, “killer of Observation Haki” means that Shanks is incredibly adept at using this type of power in battle, as he showed against the poor Kid Pirates.
Shanks’ Full Power Is Still A Mystery, But It’s All About Haki
While Haki is prominently used in the series, it remains largely a mystery. From what he has shown, Shanks could just be the most skilled practitioner of this power in the world. Also, out of the original Yonko, Shanks is the only one whose past and goals remain a mystery. Currently, Shanks is One Piece’s most wanted active pirate in the world, but he also has yet-unexplained connections with the highest-ranking members of the World Government, which may come from the fact that Shanks actually comes from a family of Celestial Dragons. Recently, he declared his intention of finally going after the One Piece treasure, which sets him up as potentially the strongest rival that Luffy has ever faced.
Fans of One Piece waited for 25 years to see Shanks finally display his powers in battle, and the series is finally giving them a taste of what the Yonko can do. One Piece volume 4 billion added more details about his powers, but what fans really wanted is to see Shanks fight for real in the manga, which he did against Kid, showcasing the full magnitude of his Observation Haki. Considering that One Piece‘s final saga is in full swing, Red-Haired Shanks will surely get a chance to finally display his full powers soon.