WARNING: The following contains spoilers for One Piece Chapter 1044, "Warrior of Liberation," by Eiichiro Oda, Stephen Paul and Vanessa Satone, available in English from Viz Media.
Chapter 1043 saw Kaido's reaction to CP0's interference of his and Luffy's fight. After bashing Luffy into the ground, seemingly killing the Straw Hat, he turned his anger towards the agent that held Luffy's arm back. Momonosuke panicked because he could no longer hear Luffy's "voice," something Law and Kid also confirmed. Kaido then demanded to speak to Momonosuke, who confided in Yamato that he felt as though he wouldn't be able to beat Kaido. He felt his only option was to surrender, but Yamato refused to even consider it, insisting they instead face death together. Just then, Zunesha telepathically spoke to Momonosuke, revealing that Joyboy had returned.
As Chapter 1044 begins, Luffy is shocked that he's still alive, questioning how it's possible. He knows he should have lost the fight, but he feels invigorated. Down below, Momonosuke is rattled at Zunesha's reveal that Luffy is indeed Joyboy. Yamato is equally as shocked as Momo reiterates this out loud.
In the Pleasure Hall, Sanji awakens with a jolt, having been tended to by the woman he helped during his fight with Queen. Despite not being on the roof and being unconscious the whole time, he feels the change in his captain. This feeling spreads to the others around the island. On the Live Floor, Kid, Law, Marco, and Hyogoro also feel Luffy's change. Marco takes this chance to reassure a sobbing Nami and Tama that Luffy is still alive.
In Sacred Marijoa, the Five Elders are still conversing with each other about the Devil Fruit that was stolen. One member questions what the point was, having just sacrificed one of their elite agents and enraging Kaido. Another says that it's important they try to eliminate dangerous variables. One member goes to reveal that the World Government has never been able to get its hands on the Gomu Gomu no Mi, even after trying for 800 years. The members then begin discussing how Zoan Fruits have their own will, particularly the one that bears the Gomu Gomu no Mi monicker.
It's then revealed that what was dubbed the Gomu Gomu no Mi is in actuality the Hito Hito no Mi (Human-Human Fruit in English), Model: Nika. This particular Devil Fruit grants the user a rubber body, with the only limitation being their imagination, explaining how Luffy was able to change the trajectory of his punches the way he was in his fight with Kaido. Those who eat the Nika Devil Fruit are able to embody the god upon achieving their Devil Fruit Awakening, further strengthening their bodies and allowing more creativity in battle. As the Elders talk amongst themselves about the power of the Hito Hito no Mi and its ridiculous power, Luffy jumps into the air and strikes a pose similar to that of Nika shown in an earlier chapter.
In the Treasure Repository, Orochi pleads for Hiyori to remove the Seastone Nails, insisting he always admired and believed in her father Oden. Kaido was only using him to gain control of Wano. Hiyori doesn't fall for his desperate lies, still strumming away on her shamisen. She points out that her father kept his promise to Kaido and Orochi to dance for five years, never even telling his family of the deal he had made. Even while his body burned in hot oil for an hour, he believed that Orochi would keep his promises.
She thinks back to a time when she asked Oden if he was fine with how the people of his country talked about him. He assured her it was fine because he had his family and those who believed in him. Orochi again begins spouting lies about how he always said Oden was a great samurai. In a fit of anger, Hiyori throws her mask to the floor, revealing her tear-stained face and orders Orochi to be silent. She declares that she is Kozuki Hiyori, who never shamed her father's name even when she was starving, that Orochi was never a shogun.
She stands and approaches Orochi, who begs her not to seek revenge against him. As he pleads for his life, the spirit that set the castle ablaze appears and tells Orochi of its failure. Orochi asks if the spirit is Kanjuro, but the spirit only continues to say it is spent. Orochi doesn't listen, telling "Kanjuro" to burn Hiyori, calling it "The Failure of the Woman's 20-Year Revenge." Instead, he heads toward Orochi, lighting him too ablaze as Hiyori watches on. Orochi begs Hiyori to help him, but she simply says the Kozuki Clan always keeps its promises.
Back outside, Luffy feels completely refreshed and like anything is possible, noting that his heartbeat sounds different. He can do everything he wanted and is at his pinnacle, declaring it his Gear Five. Black lightning crackles from the roof of the Skull Dome as the Animal Kingdom Pirates are knocked out by Luffy's Haki. Kaido calls out to them, wondering what it is that's on the roof.
Suddenly, the ceiling collapses and a giant hand reaches down, grabbing Kaido and shocking everyone watching. Luffy pulls Kaido up through the roof and swings him through the air. He spins the dragon around in a circle, slams him on the ground repeatedly, and smashes Kaido's head into the ground, laughing all the while. In a single panel, Luffy's face is partially shown, revealing his once black hair is now lighter and resembles fire.
Despite the beating, Kaido is relieved that he gets to face Luffy fairly, declaring that he's thankful he's still alive. He fires a Blast Breath at him, but Luffy stops his laughing fit long enough to pull up a piece of the ground and sends it flying back towards Kaido. He starts laughing hysterically again as Kaido apologizes for the CP0 member interfering, but Luffy tells him not to worry about it, his face finally revealed completely. His dark irises are now lighter and his eyebrows have a curl to them.
One Piece Chapter 1045 will be released on Sunday, April 3rd.