The One Piece world has been changed forever now that Luffy has awakened his devil fruit and its true nature has been revealed. Luffy’s Rubber-Rubber Fruit has actually been a mythical Zoan, the Human-Human Fruit Model Nika, all along.
The name Nika was first mentioned a dozen or so chapters earlier by Who’s-Who when he told the story of a legendary warrior that would free slaves and bring smiles to the people he met. The Sun God was a tale passed down through the generations, but could he have truly existed?
When Luffy awakened the fruit, Zunesha the elephant remarked how Luffy’s presence reminded him of Joy Boy, the mysterious figure from 800 years ago. This makes Joy Boy the only other known user of the devil fruit. We also know that he was an enemy of the World Government, or whatever iteration it was at the time, given that they have attempted to erase his name from history.
Could Joy Boy have been the legendary Sun God that slaves would pray to? He was alive 800 years ago, and that’s plenty of time for a story to become a legend. Perhaps the people forgot his name, remembering only his powers and appearance. Joy Boy must have had a similar god-like form in his awakened state, so it’s possible that he was the “Legendary Warrior” people spoke of.
The only problem is, devil fruits were also a thing 800 years ago. Oden’s wife Toki was born during the Void Century and had a time travel fruit. Although that’s only two confirmed fruits, it’s likely that almost all of them were in existence during that time period. How could a figure like Joy Boy, who clearly had influence in the world as an ally of the fish-men and the ancient kingdom, not be remembered? Why would the slaves pray to Nika and not Joy Boy if he was the one saving them? The Sun God also seems to have existed in other cultures. The Shandorians prayed to a Sun God only 400 years ago, and although they might not be connected, it would be odd for them to forget the name of Joy Boy after only a handful of generations.
In that case, what if Nika was his own person? The legendary warrior could have existed even further back than Joy Boy. Going back to the Shandorians, their city of gold was built 1,100 years ago, far before the Void Century. Perhaps Nika was the chief or leader of this ancient tribe on Jaya all those years ago. He could have eaten the first devil fruit, which was unnamed at the time, and then gone on a journey, freeing slaves across the known world. This would have made him a legend in a time when there were no unified governments. Not knowing what devil fruits were, the people would have thought he was blessed by the gods.
Later on, when he had passed and people began naming devil fruits, it’s possible that the tale of Nika was so prevelent that the fruit was named after him. At the beginning of One Piece, the people of East Blue know very little of devil fruits and make up wild claims about them, but they at least know what a devil fruit is. Imagine how people back in the day would have thought if a man made of rubber suddenly started bouncing around their city!
The mysteries of Joy Boy and Nika will almost certainly be revealed as the “Wano” arc heads toward its end. Luffy still doesn’t know the true nature of his fruit, but when he does, it will shake the world of One Piece to its core.