Speculation A Balloon by Any Other Shape - Snake Man's Origin

Luffy's Gears all have one thing in common so far; could Snake Man break the pattern?

  1. Tokiro Oumaga
    Luffy has always been rather unpredictable when it comes to his fighting style. About two years ago, he surprised all of us with the reveal of Gear 4th, a bouncy, kabuki-inspired behemoth. Now he continues to surprise us with a new form for Gear 4th, Snake Man.

    When I first heard that name, I didn't know what to think. After all, all of Luffy's Gear 4th abilities up to this point have been about blowing himself up like an oval balloon, puffing outward and rounding himself out.

    Balloon 1.png Bounce Man.png Tank Man.png

    How could that possibly play into anything even remotely snake-like?

    Then it dawned on me: there's more than one kind of balloon. In fact, there's one type of balloon that's specifically snake-like: the pencil balloon!

    Balloon 2.png

    Pencil balloons are the basis of balloon modelling, and in their base form are the prototypical balloon animal, the balloon snake. With that in mind, it seems fairly clear that when Luffy activates Snake Man, his body or his limbs, rather than inflating along their width...

    Muscle Balloon.png

    ...will inflate along their length. The panel where Luffy is shown activating Snake Man even suggests that this may be the case.

    Snakeman Activation.png

    Unlike in his activation of Bounce Man, Luffy's arm does not seem to have become wider, despite the fact that he has clearly already put the air into his arm. Since all we can see here is the middle of his arm, it seems likely that his arm has extended length-wise off-screen in this panel.

    This concept is not without precedent, either. Luffy has already demonstrated the ability to will air into his limbs so that they are long rather than wide in one of Bounce Man's techniques, Gum Gum Culverin.

    Gum Gum Culverin.png

    As Doflamingo pointed out, Luffy was able to manipulate and lengthen his outstretched arm without drawing it back in to tighten it first. This is just conjecture, but it may be that Luffy is controlling the air within himself to stretch his arm further. We already know that Luffy is capable of doing a similar feat thanks to his mastery of Gear 3rd.

    Originally when Luffy would use Gear 3rd, the air in his limbs would taper off the further from his hands or feet it got...

    Gear 3rd Pre Timeskip.png

    ...but after his training with Rayleigh, he gained the ability to force all of the air into one spot, allowing for denser and stronger attacks.

    Gear 3rd Post Timeskip.png

    Having demonstrated this level of control, Luffy is very likely capable of doing the exact opposite and elongating his limbs rather than expanding them. As it happens, he's even done that in the past as well, and to great effect.

    At this point it's probably common knowledge that Luffy's Gear 4th forms seem to be based off of his improvisational forms from the past, such as Bounce Man having the muscular upper body of Nightmare Luffy...

    Bounce Man.png Nightmare Luffy.png

    ...and Tank Man having the rotund belly and tiny legs of Water Luffy.

    Tank Man.png Water Luffy.png

    Because of this, the common consensus was that the next form of Gear 4th would likely be reminiscent of Afro Luffy, but with the name Snake Man, it's hard to see how that aesthetic would play into it.

    Afro Luffy.png

    Like I said, we're looking for something long, and other than Gum Gum Flail, there was nothing long about Afro Luffy. Up to this point, there has only been one time where Luffy has been able to make his limbs long and remain long without having anything as an anchor: Gum Gum Octopus, as seen in his fight against Enel.

    Gum Gum Octopus.png

    In this form, Luffy releases the tension from his limbs, allowing them to become long and be swung about more freely. With this, Luffy was able to randomly bounce his limbs off of Enel's ship, attacking him without any specific will and overcoming Enel's Observation Haki, then known as Mantra.

    Octopus Rampage.png

    Similarly, Snake Man will likely have elongated limbs that do not retract and can be swung about freely, but more on that later. Before I go too far into applications, I would like to make one other point about the aesthetics.

    Please refer back to the earlier pictures of Bounce and Tank Man. Take note of where Luffy's air has been allocated. For Bounce Man, it is all in his chest and arms, and for Tank Man it is all in his torso. In neither form is the air allocated to his legs. Because of this, there were theories that the next Gear 4th form would involve inflating Luffy's legs, often citing the wax armor created by Mr. 3 for the possible aesthetic inspiration.

    Wax Armor.png

    This may still be the case, as the armor does make Luffy's limbs longer, but the bulky design defeats the purpose of elongating the limbs in the first place, free and flexible movement. With that in mind, I am quite confident that Snake Man will take more after Octopus Luffy than Wax Luffy. It could also stretch out his back, though, making his body as a whole longer, but the main focus would be his limbs.

    Now let's move on to the applications.

    First, as an enhanced version of Gum Gum Octopus, it could potentially be used similarly to Octopus, moving erratically enough to carry no will and overcome Katakuri's future sight in the same way that Octopus overcame Enel's Mantra. Luffy could either do rebound attacks or use each limb to attack from various angles, confusing Katakuri's Observation Haki.

    Second, since the other two forms of Gear 4th have both revolved around tension (bouncing off of things and bouncing things off of Luffy), it seems likely that Snake Man will either continue that trend and make Luffy's limbs bouncy for rebound attacks as said above or break the trend and focus on a complete lack of tension, allowing his limbs to seemingly stretch into infinity. If the latter, Luffy could do techniques similar to Katakuri, who can extend his limbs and fight from a distance without needing to retract his limbs due to tension.

    Mochi Kick.png

    As for actual techniques, it could be used for various wrapping or binding attacks. We already know that Luffy is capable of wrapping his body around targets, whether it's his arms...

    Gum Gum Wrap 3.png


    Gum Gum Wrap 1.png

    ...or even his neck...

    Gum Gum Wrap 2.png

    ...so with elongated limbs, these wrapping techniques would be even easier, as he could execute them much more quickly and wouldn't have to worry about his limbs rebounding if the target escapes.

    Since it is called Snake Man and he presumably created this form while on Rusukaina, he may have drawn inspiration from his fight with the Boa sisters, who used their snake Zoan forms for various snake-based techniques such as constriction...

    Sandersonia Constriction.png


    Snake Slam.png

    ...and evasion.

    Snake Dance.png

    The last one could be especially helpful in the fight with Katakuri given how much difficulty Luffy has had with dodging Katakuri's attacks.

    My final and favorite idea for the application of Snake Man comes from my original conception of it, the pencil balloon. As I said before, the main purpose of pencil balloons is modelling, as their shape lends very well to bending, twisting, pinching and various other sculpting techniques which leads to near infinite shape possibilities. I sadly cannot think of too many myself, but Luffy could potentially use this ability to shape his limbs into various constructs, such as a balloon sword.

    Balloon Sword.png

    On its own, the balloon sword may be much the same as Luffy's regular arm, just shaped differently, but knowing Luffy and his habit of copying techniques off of who he's fighting, he might just be able to sharpen it in much the same way that Katakuri turned his fists into blocks.

    Block Mochi.png

    It's still unknown if Katakuri did that using Haki or if he just has that high of a level of control over his mochi, but even if it's the latter, the Mochi Mochi Fruit is similar enough to the Gum Gum Fruit that it wouldn't be at all surprising if Luffy could do that too.

    We also know that Luffy is dexterous enough to tie knots quickly, as he was able to tie Sandersonia and Marigold's tails together in the heat of battle, so there's no reason he wouldn't be able to make balloon shapes out of his own arms in battle too.

    Tail Tied.png

    I'm not actually too confident that balloon modelling is the direction Oda will take with this, but I think it would be really interesting and would work well with the rest of Snake Man's possible applications.

    Fortunately, we probably won't be waiting too much longer to find out the answer to this mystery, so hopefully I was at least a little close.

    Thank you all for reading,
    Tokiro Oumaga
    jinz, wiz_adam11, TwinKidd_B and 7 others like this.

Recent Reviews

  1. Sawamoron
    Bad analysation good write. Nice idea too. I hope next time a Bit more bases so ur theory is more realistic than fiction:)
  2. jinz
    Great theory bro, I'm also thinking the same idea that Snakeman will involve twisting his body. ^^
  3. TwinKidd_B
    Please bear the lengthy review. I promise it’s positive + matches the rating. I just want to address what I’ve seen regarding Snakeman predictions both on YouTube + here on Oro Jackson.

    I’ll be honest, I’ve been really annoyed w/ the mass floods of Snakeman “theories.” I’m definitely excited for the form too, don’t get me wrong. I just don’t see how any predictions can genuinely qualify as what we affectionately call theories. To be frank, I wouldn’t consider any predictions on Snakeman made thus far as anything more than speculations. I’m not slamming the excitement or the ideas that people have. Chapters/modes like these are perfect for predictions + speculations. However, speculations are not the same as theories. Theories are more hefty in panel evidence, while speculations are more often than not just us fans trying to be more creative than Oda, ideas coming somewhat out of left field + lacking a great deal of support from the story.

    It’s just not much of a feat to walk to the plate, look up, + point to the bleachers saying, “Snakeman is gong to be a speed gear!” ...there’s no risk nor research involved in saying that. Oda already gave us the name!! He also gave us what Gear 4th Boundman + Tankman do: offense + defense. It just doesn’t take any effort + it’s claiming credit for something that nearly EVERYONE already suspects. It’s no theory. Again, not saying theories are better or worse than speculations. They’re just different. They serve different purposes.

    ...that being said

    This is a genuinely creative, new, + refreshing take on Snakeman. Paralleling Luffy’s “muscle balloon” technique w/ the straight balloons used in the real world (the snake being the easiest ballon animal to make lol) is both clever + simple. It’s perfect for Luffy’s personality haha. Regardless of whether or not it should be considered a theory or a speculation, way to go man. I’m glad I read this theory! Now, let’s see what the man himself has to show us.
    1. Tokiro Oumaga
      Author's Response
      Thank you for the review, and I do understand your concern. I myself have long struggled with the difference between theory and speculation. To be honest, though, this one is only labeled a theory and not speculation due to negligence. I just completely forgot that there were two different categories, haha.
  4. Rej
    Glad to see you back Nakama!
    Great theory, so well analyzed. I envy you :x
    Keep up!
    1. Tokiro Oumaga
      Author's Response
      What do you envy me for? You've been doing great work this whole time that I haven't been doing anything. Don't sell yourself short!
  5. joby
    Great job! This seems much more along the lines of how luffy’s idiot-sevant brain works than getting into the minute nuances of snake physiology ;)
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