WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Netflix’s One Piece season 1 and the manga.


  • Shanks, one of One Piece’s most important characters, had limited screen time in the first season of the live-action adaptation.
  • Shanks was an apprentice of the original Pirate King and sailed with Gold Roger, and he has a strong connection to Luffy and the straw hat.
  • Shanks possesses immense power through his mastery of Haki, a special type of ability in One Piece. He is among One Piece’s most powerful characters, even though he never ate a Devil Fruit.

One Piece’s Shanks is one of the story’s most important characters, not only for Luffy but for the saga as a whole. “Red-Haired” Shanks is played by Peter Gadiot in Netflix’s One Piece season 1, the live-action adaptation of Eiichiro Oda’s iconic manga. Shanks’ powers, backstory, and the role he plays in Monkey D. Luffy’s journey, most of which were not covered in the first season of the live-action, are essential to understanding One Piece

Shanks did not have a lot of screen time in One Piece season 1, which covered the East Blue saga minus the Loguetown segment. There were several anime Easter eggs in One Piece season 1, some of which hinted at Shank’s story. However, who Shanks is in One Piece was not really answered in the first season of the series. Here is a breakdown of who Shank is, when his story begins, and why he is so important.

Shanks Sailed With The Pirate King Before One Piece

Shanks and Gol D. Roger in One Piece

Shanks’ story in One Piece begins way before the events portrayed in Netflix’s One Piece season 1, which opened with Gold Roger’s death. Shanks, who was one of the countless people watching Gold Roger’s execution, served under the original Pirate King. Shanks was one of Gold Roger’s apprentices and sailed with the greatest pirate the world had ever seen. Buggy the Clown, whom Luffy fights in One Piece season 1, was also an apprentice of Gold Roger. This is why Buggy recognized Luffy’s straw hat as the one used by Shanks. Shanks’ origins are somewhat of a mystery, as he was found by Gold Roger’s crew inside a treasure chest.

Shanks’ straw hat, which would one day belong to Luffy, actually belonged to Gold Roger. Shanks looked a lot like Luffy during his childhood, and not just because of the straw hat. Participating in some of the most dangerous incursions a pirate could be part of, Shanks had more experience at a young age than most adult pirates could only dream of. Shanks was still part of Gold Roger’s crew when the soon-to-be Pirate King sailed to Raftel, or Laugh Tale. However, neither Shanks nor Buggy went to the island with Gold Roger. There, what would become known as the One Piece treasure was discovered.

How Shanks Knows One Piece’s Luffy

Colton Osorio as Young Luffy and Peter Gadiot as Shanks in One Piece

Following Gold Roger’s execution and the public reveal of the One Piece, Shanks went on to form his own pirate crew. Around a decade before the main events of Netflix’s One Piece, Shanks stole a Devil Fruit from the World’s Government. This Devil Fruit was assumed to be the Gomo Gomu no Mi, or Gum-Gum Fruit. While any Devil Fruit is rare by definition, the fruit Shanks stole was far more special than it seemed. One Piece recently confirmed that Shanks was aware of the true nature of the Devil Fruit he stole. This was also hinted at during Netflix’s One Piece’s Windmill Village flashback.

Related: One Piece Teases The Big Twist Behind Luffy’s Devil Fruit (& Gear 5)

Despite his immense power, Shanks is not always looking for trouble. The captain of the Red-Hair Pirates values spending time with his friends and getting some rest before a new adventure. This is why Shanks and his crew were spending some time at Windmill Village before heading back to the sea. There, Shanks interacted with a child named Luffy, who dreamed of becoming a pirate. Shanks served as a role model for Luffy, not just in terms of being a pirate, but as a person. Netflix’s One Piece exemplified this when Luffy entered a fight to protect his friends and said the same thing Shanks once said.

Shanks, like Luffy, will see the good in a person and will not engage in a fight right away. However, if someone is hurting or insulting a friend of them, both Shanks and Luffy will unleash their power. Shanks’ personality is summarized by the moment he sacrifices his arm to save Luffy from a sea beat, although this played out slightly differently in the live-action compared to the anime. Shanks believes Luffy will become a great pirate, which is why he gives him the straw hat that once belonged to Gold Roger. Shanks and Luffy did not reunite during One Piece season 1, but their paths were connected regardless.

What Powers Red-Haired Shanks Has

Shanks eye haki in One Piece

Unlike what One Piece episode 2 may suggest, Shanks does not have Devil Fruit powers. How Shanks stopped the sea best in One Piece’s flashback has to do with another type of special power that exists in this universe – Haki. One Piece season 1 does not acknowledge Haki, a concept that is only introduced much later in the manga. Haki, which can be learned through training and does not require anything external like a Devil Fruit, has to do with awakening physical and other special abilities. Haki is particularly connected with its user’s willpower, especially when it comes to the Conqueror’s Haki.

The Conqueror’s Haki is one of the rarest and most powerful techniques in the One Piece world. It allows the user to beat an opponent by imposing their willpower on them. This essentially makes the opponent submit to the user’s will, which is how Shanks stopped the sea best. Shanks’ power base comes from his use of Haki and does not involve any Devil Fruit. With an extremely refined control over his willpower and body, Shanks is one of the most powerful One Piece characters. Shanks’ swordship skills are also incredible and rival those of characters like Mihawk.

Shanks Is A Way Bigger Deal Than Netflix’s One Piece Reveals

Shanks using his Conqueror's Haki for the first time in One Piece

For those who are not familiar with the One Piece manga or anime, Shanks may seem not too big of a deal in Netflix’s One Piece. Shanks only appeared in a couple of scenes from the live-action adaptation, most of which were part of Luffy’s origin story flashbacks. This matches the original story, as Shank’s true importance was only revealed later in the manga. In fact, one recurring One Piece joke is that Shanks will appear once every year in the anime, and then disappear. Shanks’ past, as well as what happened to him after leaving Windmill Village, should be explored in One Piece season 2 and beyond.

Shanks eventually becomes one of the Four Emperors who, along with the Seven Warlords of the Sea and the Marines, rule the One Piece world. More precisely, the balance involving these three powers is what keeps the world of One Piece running. Shanks being one of the Four Emperors is another way of saying he is one of the four strongest pirates in the One Piece universe during this particular segment of the story.

How Netflix’s One Piece Has Changed Shanks In Live-Action

Peter Gadiot as Shanks Live-action One Piece Cast

Netflix’s live-action One Piece changed the manga in a few ways, including regarding Shanks. For example, Shanks looks slightly older during Gold Roger’s execution in the live-action show compared to the original story. Likewise, the events that led to Shanks losing his arm were different from the source material. In the live-action, Shanks goes to rescue Luffy on a boat and never gets into the water. He then raises his arm to protect Luffy before subtly using Haki to stop the sea beast. In the manga, Shanks arrives swimming and pulls Luffy away from the beast, losing his arm in the process.

Another small but significant difference is that Shanks specifically says to Luffy that his crew is going after the One Piece after leaving Windmill Village. In the manga, Shanks simply says that his pirates have been at Windmill Village for too long and should go back to the sea. One Piece season 1 did keep a very important Shanks scene, which is when the Red-Haired pirate learns from Mihawk that Luffy is now East Blue’s most wanted pirated. If One Piece season 2 happens, Shanks’ story will continue to be developed in live-action, although he may still not have too much screen time.

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