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One Piece: Shanks' Powers Explained

In Netflix's live-action adaptation of Eiichiro Oda's "One Piece," Shanks (Peter Gadiot) is the pirate who inspires young Monkey D. Luffy (Iñaki Godoy) to become a seafaring swashbuckler. And while the captain of the Red Hair Pirates is uncharacteristically docile for someone in his profession, you shouldn't let his quiet sociable charm fool you. Shanks wields more power than almost any pirate to ever sail the Grand Line. In Season 1, Episode 2, "The Man in the Straw Hat," he displays a fraction of his awesome power by stopping the Lord of the Coast — a massive sea serpent — with a loaded glare and a simple verbal command. Netflix's "One Piece" doesn't explain the moment, but we will.

Unlike Luffy or Smoker the White Hunter — the huge villain teased at the end of Season 1 – or even Buggy the Star Clown, Shanks is not a Devil Fruit user. No, his superhuman abilities stem from rigorous training rather than a god-tier snack. Aside from possessing incredible strength, something that Netflix's live-action adaptation has only hinted at, Shanks is a master of all three Hakis, just like Vice Admiral Monkey D. Garp (Vincent Regan). In "One Piece," Haki is a form of energy manipulation, similar to chi. Anyone who can harness Haki can repurpose their own spiritual energy for one of three special skills, and, as we just mentioned, Shanks can do all three.

To put this in perspective, "One Piece" features over 1,200 characters ... and less than 20 of them can wield all three Haki. Of those precious few, Shanks is easily one of the greatest of them, if not the greatest.

Red-Haired Shanks is a god among pirates

In Netflix's "One Piece," Shanks uses Haoshoku Haki to bend the Lord of the Coast to his will. Haoshoku Haki is the art of manipulating spiritual energy to control others. It's similar to the Imperius Curse in "Harry Potter" in that can be used against anyone but can only control those whose defenses are weak enough to be broken. Those who can withstand the might of his Haoshoku Haki are few and far between. Eiichiro Oda once confirmed that Shanks could use this particular ability to knock out 100,000 men simultaneously. Again, this is without ever needing to raise a finger.

While not yet depicted in Netflix's live-action adaptation, Shanks can also wield Busoshoku Haki, a skill that permits its user to manipulate spiritual energy into either a defensive or offensive second skin as needed. The physical manifestation of this ability is a steely barrier that perfectly moves across the body, strong enough to deflect blades and shatter bone. Shanks can imbue his sword with Busoshoku Haki, giving it the same stat boost that he might give himself.

Lastly, and also not yet depicted, Shanks is a master of Kenbunshoku Haki. This tool allows him to manipulate his spiritual energy so that he might gain a sixth sense. What the sixth sense can do depends, quite frankly, on what the story wants. Kenbunshoku Haki users can sense hidden presences, read emotions, discern power levels (Saiyans need Scouters for that!), and predict the future. As a master of all three Haki, it's little wonder that Shanks, even with only one arm, becomes one of the four great Emperor pirates. But that's for later. Much, much later.