Shanks from One Piece I think is a really interesting character study, in more how to present a character
So, for the uninitiated, who is he? Shanks is the pirate who sets Luffy on his path when he was a child. He gives him his signature straw hat, and he even saved him from a sea monster at the cost of his own arm being ripped off
After this, Shanks is a character we very rarely hear from. He’s off doing his own thing out on the high seas but every now and then we check in with him. We learn he ran with the same crew as Buggy the Clown, the joke villain of the series, and that he’s old friends with the worlds greatest swordsman Mihawk, but other than that not much at first.
Over the course of the story, we come to learn that four very powerful pirates basically rule over the seas; even the World Government fears them: Whitebeard, Kaidou the Beast, Big Mom, and Shanks
Yes, it turns out Shanks is in fact one of the most powerful beings in the world of One Piece. One of the first major roles Shanks plays in the actual story is a meeting he has with Whitebeard, where he expresses interest in wondering how someone like him could lose his arm, to which he replies that he “Made a bet on a new era”
Here’s the interesting part: Oda has demonstrated how powerful Shanks is… by NOT showing how powerful Shanks is. In the 20+ years the series has been going on, we’ve not ONCE seen Shanks actually fight anyone on screen.
First let’s talk about Whitebeard: The dude is a half-giant and clocks in at 21 feet tall. His Devil Fruit power is Earthquakes, he can shatter the very air itself and cause tsunami’s and upheave islands with just his bare hands.
Shanks and Whitebeard at one point have an argument that ends with them clashing weapons
Just them clashing weapons splits the clouds
A full fight never happens however, we’re told Shanks leaves shortly afterwards. We don’t hear from him again until a huge war at Marineford, where Whitebeard meets his death.
It took all of the might of the Marines AND interference by the Blackbeard pirates to finally bring him down and end his life. Whitebeard’s crew had their backs to the wall, and everyone was gunning to kill them all as well
And then out of nowhere Shanks shows up, and the very idea of fighting against him and his crew makes everyone drop their weapons. The moment Shanks shows up, they all just quit and back down immediately
The reason Shanks couldn’t make it in time to save Whitebeard was because Kaidou stopped him on his way there and he had to battle him to get through. Once we’re formally introduced to Kaidou (Where at the time of this post, the manga is currently at) we find out his gimmick is being an immortal giant who’s power is turning into a gigantic dragon
SHANKS FOUGHT THAT
Luffy, the shonen hero, tried to fight Kaidou and got KO’d in ONE HIT, and Kaidou was just in his human form at that time
Also, apparently he holds some kind of reputation or weight with the very inner-core of the World Government, enough that he was able to secretly attend a meeting for only the absolute elite, with the people who decide the fate of basically the world
And the final kicker: HE HAS NO DEVIL FRUIT POWER
All of these absolutely insane feats of strength he’s performed he’s done with the handicap of not having a magical fruit give him superpowers like everyone else in the series, not to mention he’s down an arm.
It’s like the reverse of DBZ where the humans became basically irrelevant cannon fodder while the Saiyans towered over them. Here, the normal human dude is the one standing above everyone else with superpowers
Every incredible thing he’s done has happened off-screen or in the past, which makes the build-up to whenever we finally get to see him in action all the more intense.
You COULD say this violates the rule of “Show don’t tell”, but it IS shown to us by the fear and respect he commands to the world around him. Like that bit from the new Doom when we just see Doomslayer’s POV where everyone backs away from him and the guards just give him their guns.