The starting point of all this is a simple question…
Why the hell did Shanks wait so long? Why did he wait 12 years, for something Luffy almost achieved in 2 years? Why hasn’t he done anything yet? Why now ?
Shanks obviously knew the true identity of the Gomu Gomu no Mi, as well as the importance of Joy Boy’s role in obtaining the One Piece. (what exactly this role is, we don’t know yet). It’s unclear if he intended to consume it himself, but that’s certainly the one and only reason he had it.
So, back to the question: what was Shanks waiting for and why did he take so long to act? Because’he had no other choice.
Luffy ate Shanks key for One Piece. Shanks has been waiting all this time for Joy Boy to emerge, because he knows it’s the only way to get the One Piece back. (That’s why he had to save Luffy at all costs.)
On the other hand, we also believed that it is for this reason that Shanks went to Marineford, to ensure Luffy’s survival. And why Shanks was in Wano, to ensure Luffy’s survival. He watched Luffy closely for good reason. But he probably kept his distance too, so Luffy could grow on his own and unleash his true potential. He was just there, ready, at very crucial times.
We think Shanks only intervened when he believed Luffy was in danger. (and we now know that he can observe people from far away, and he can probably see into the future too, so he probably knew when and only when Luffy was in danger).
Throughout the series, Shanks has been shown as someone who cares strongly about keeping the peace, meddling in matters that wouldn’t really matter to him otherwise, but each time he intervened, it was in close relationship with Luffy, and Luffy alone. He didn’t want Ace to pursue Black beard because he knew it would involve Luffy. There really isn’t a single thing Shanks has done so far that can be explained other than in relation to Luffy.
Shanks has an ulterior motive, Shanks has his own ambitions. He did everything he did for a reason. He didn’t just go to sea and form his own crew to be there to cheer on someone else, or to be a “good guy”. He has his own aspirations, his own agenda, his own motivation and his own desire to achieve it.
Like almost every main character in One Piece, yes, Shanks has his own dream. (Oda didn’t just put him in the story to react to Luffy’s wanted posters. What a waste of potential that would have been). He’s a brilliant tactician and we’ve seen him at work (often very cunning and creative) to achieve his own plans and his only true goal.
So it’s not a coincidence. Shanks Didn’t Decide To Tackle One Piece Because Oda Wanted To Make Things Interestingif you think this timing is random, you are seriously mistaken.
Shanks had to wait 12 years for this, and the moment he’s been waiting for has finally arrived. He can finally tackle One Piece, and unfortunately, his key is Luffy.
We don’t think Shanks is as morally obnoxious as some of the pirates we’ve seen on the show, and he was willing to be generally nice to Luffy, but when Luffy ate that fruit, Luffy got in the way of Shanks and his dream, and it left him with no other option, literally.
You could also say that if Shanks really wanted the Gomu Gomu No Mi, he could have let the child Luffy die. The fruit would have reappeared in the nearest fruit, which he could have easily secured. But Hito Hito no Mi: The model Sun God Nika chooses the person.
The fruit has not woken up for centuries! Luffy eating the Gomu Gomu no Mi came out of nowhere! Shanks having an advanced vision of the future must have seen that Luffy had the best chance of awakening the fruit. So letting Luffy die and finding another person to awaken the fruit could mean another few centuries before that happens. He can’t take that risk. Nika “choosing Luffy” just then, Shanks took the gamble.
We think either way, we finally have confirmation of Shanks’ role in the story, a role some of us probably didn’t expect, but an interesting twist all the same.
It’s obviously hard to get exact details, and we understand that things could change, but we’re pretty confident that this idea will come to fruition, one way or another, at least in part. And the one thing we’re 100% sure of is that Shanks was waiting for Luffy, because he had to. The rest we’ll see, but we think it’s all very likely.
Forget ImuBlack beard, Shanks is going to be the big bad.