One of the longest-running mysteries is none other than Joy Boy. The first mention of the character popped up all the way back in 2011 in Chapter 628 - in the anime, it came around Episode 548.
The show has gradually built the mythology of Joy Boy slowly in the background, with fans piecing together small bits of information - for a long time, there was little evidence that the existence of Joy Boy was anything more than a pirate fairy tale.
However, with Luffy’s Gear 5 anime adaptation right around the corner, here’s everything you need to know about who Joy Boy is.
Is Joy Boy real?
The first time Joy Boy is mentioned in the One Piece manga, when Nico Robin reads from the Poneglyph while in the Sea Forest - the transcription read that Joy Boy would return roughly 800 years after the Void Century.
More like this
What this tells us is that there was an original Joy Boy, who became entangled with Fish-Man Island and Poseidon through a deal made - but, for whatever reason, broke that deal and promised to return to fulfil it one day.
Something important to keep in mind is that, at some point, Joy Boy became an ally to the forever-wandering elephant Zunesha.
Is Luffy Joy Boy?
Who Joy Boy is becomes a key interest of Kaidou of the Beasts, but we’re not sure when or even why this is as of yet.
During this time, King, member of the Beasts Pirates, concocts a theory that perhaps Kaidou himself could be the second coming of Joy Boy, due to his strength and his willingness to change the world - although Kaido refuted this as he believed Joy Boy would be the only worthy opponent to best him in battle.
Finally, on 14th March 2022, Chapter 1043 revealed the truth behind Joy Boy. After Luffy goes up in battle against Kaidou, only to be knocked down by the Herculean fighter, Zunesha approaches the aspiring Pirate King, proclaiming that he could hear the "Drums of Liberation", signalling Joy Boy’s return.
It’s after that that Luffy regains consciousness, having transformed into his Gear 5 form, seemingly confirming that Luffy has in fact been Joy Boy this entire time.
Kaidou even recognises this when Luffy in Gear 5 mode defeats him, cementing him as the one and only second coming of Joy Boy.
Who is Joy Boy really?
The real truth to the mystery of who Joy Boy is is that he isn’t a person at all, but instead a legendary figure manifested through a title that is passed down to true warriors like Luffy.
So, although in a way Luffy is Joy Boy, in reality he is just the latest incarnation of the legendary warrior title - and in the future, there may be another Joy Boy that will emerge.
There is a real-life inspiration for Joy Boy, too.
As Eiichiro Oda is often known to do, he took inspiration from Michael Page and Robert Ingpen’s Encyclopaedia of Things That Never Were.
In the book, it directly mentions Joy Boy as a figure of Caribbean folklore, associated with people’s need to sing, celebrate and dance themselves silly.
He’s a figure who brings joy and peace to the world through his positive powers and the strength of his celebrations through song and dance.
One Piece is available to watch on Crunchyroll. Sign up to Crunchyroll from $7.99 per month with a 14-day free trial.
Try Radio Times magazine today and get 10 issues for only £10, PLUS a £10 John Lewis and Partners voucher delivered to your home – subscribe now. For more from the biggest stars in TV, listen to The Radio Times Podcast.