What is Observation Haki

It’s the power to sense auras of animals or persons and also ahead of time foresee any actions performed consciously or intentionally. Observation Haki lets one know the future in 2 distinct ways as the series up to Whole Cake Island arc has revealed.

The common way which is in terms of consciously performed physical actions (e.g. Luffy decides to punch Satori, but Satori already knows this before hand from using his Regular Observation Haki and responds accordingly) and then there’s the advanced method of knowing the future is by what can be called Cinematic Observation Haki where the user visually views the future within a space.

The Difference between Regular Observation and Cinematic Observation Haki

All forms of Observation Haki users know the future – fundamentally, if an individual knows what someone will do before they do it, that’s being privy to the future. The nature as to how one is being privy is what differs between the 2 types of Observation Haki.

The Regular Observation Haki perceives the future through consciously performed actions while Cinematic Observation visually perceived the future within a space.

Regular Observation Haki

How it Works?

I must stress the word “conscious” meaning actions performed in a state of mental awareness. Regular Observation detects actions consciously performed. While it reads the mind, it does so only in regard to actions (e.g. Satori picks up he’ll get attacked by a Right kick meaning it doesn’t read the mind in the sense of knowing what one is thinking generally such as “I should have Pasta and Cheese for Lunch, and maybe watch a film“.

What Can’t be Predicted?

Any action that isn’t performed voluntarily/consciously cannot be predicted by Regular Observation Haki; Gomu Gomu no Baka is an example of actions not performed with one’s awareness, therefore, Regular Observation Haki perceives nothing which is why Enel is unable to read Luffy’s future movements.

While Regular Observation Haki (including Cinematic Observation) cannot read the mind in the sense that the opponent is thinking , Regular Observation can only pick up actions, but the person being observed must be in a state of conscious, awareness and thinking. Why this is the case? I don’t know for sure, but it’s a principle tacitly expressed and Oda might explain to us in future.

Cinematic Observation Haki

How it Works?

Unlike the Regular Observation Haki, it is not limited to reading physical actions performed in a state of mental awareness. It just perceives the future visually even allowing the user to perceive sound (e.g. Katakuri looks at the Cake, hears the rumbling sounds from it and see it burst out with clones of Luffy ). Regular Observation would be unable to pick this up as the Cake bursting is not the action of a person or being.

What Can’t be Predicted?

It has no limitation regarding what can be predicted. It’s predictive efficacy is not limited conscious actions like Regular Observation. It views things visually allowing it to pick up future event within a space, not just persons.

Both Observation Types are Necessary

Each Observation type has flaws, some which show superiority against the other and some which show necessity despite possessing either.

  1. Cinematic Observation perceives the future much further than Regular Observation meaning longer reaction window meaning much more complex manoeuvres are possible with Cinematic Observation than with Regular Observation which only perceives a little moment into the future meaning very little window in which to react.

2. Cinematic Observation cannot pick things too obscure to notice visually especially when void of sound; Regular Observation on the other hand picks up things that cannot be seen.

3. Cinematic Observation also has a blind-spot. Things are viewed through a window of certain size, therefore, anything outside that window is unseen until it gets within field of vision (e.g. Katakuri doesn’t understand why the attack appears from that side until he trails Luffy’s fist later).

4. Point 3 seems to give reason to believe that Cinematic Observation may allow the user to pan around to cover blind spots too.

I’m not sure if these 2 types are naturally used together, or one can use them distinctly or together. Regular Observation seems more attuned to unseen attacks while Cinematic requires attacks within field of vision to be anticipated.

The Observation Haki user’s Point of View

Observation Haki users know the future actions of others from the perspective that they are more or spectators. Everything they know occurs in the context that they’re not going to intervene.

The implication of this aspect of Observation Haki means that the user cannot foresee their own future actions or reactions. In other words, one can know the future actions of others, but one cannot know their own future actions/reactions, this is something they decide once they know the future or predict the future.

Composure

It’s important to know that anything that may cause a break in concentration or disturb one’s focus will negate the use of Observation Haki . This is so vital because it determines the situations one can use it in regard to how stressful the situation is; a distinctly high level of composure ensures that the Observation user is always able to use it.

Sequentially

Observation Haki is used sequentially. By that, I mean they initially use Observation Haki, they then decide to attack/defend depending on what is gleaned, use Observation again, attack/defend etc. This hints towards the notion that Observation Haki cannot be used simultaneously or cannot perceive the future whilst attacking, but after essentially making it sequentially.

It’s during ring this interval that Observation Haki users cannot foresee the future actions and can even be surprised by reactions as we see from Sengoku:

  • Sengoku was shocked that Luffy expanded.

  • Mihawk failed to land his attack despite attempting to seriously kill Luffy, he was unable to land any decisive blows.

The Implications of Intervening

A common aphorism that is applicable here is this – For every action, there is a reaction. I will put a table below, and hopefully you’ll be able to see the significance of the aphorism above.

Evasion (Defending)Attacking
Sandersonia EvadesEnel Attacks
Rayleigh EvadesMarigold Attacks
Luffy Evades
Sandersonia Evades

NoteOn first impressions, it seems the ability really only gives the user an edge in evading attacks successfully as opposed to actually successfully dealing fatal blows whilst attacking.

It’s not so much that Observation Haki has a greater affinity for Defensive manoeuvres as opposed to Offensive manoeuvres, it’s to do with actions causing reactions which gives the semblance of changing the future. It’s not so much altering the future, it’s more a case of adapting to the situation.

Defending – No Reaction

When evading attacks, the Observation Haki user does nothing to alter the commitment of the perceived, therefore, the opponent doesn’t have to react or adapt to anything, and as a result, what the Observation Haki user knows will occur plays out as predicted.

They know their opponent will perform a right high kick to the head; it happens because the Observation Haki user does nothing to cause a different reaction, therefore, the observed will follow through with the consciously made attack.

The only difference is the Observation Haki user simply moves at the very last moment or at a point where the opponent can no longer change direction to abruptly end their momentum of their action .

Attacking – Reaction

When an Observation Haki user knows the future, remember they see the future from the view point that they do not intervene, and also bare in mind they cannot foresee their own future actions.

Due to these restrictions and limitations, when the Observation Haki proceeds to attack, the opponent now has something to react to which was never the case before, and as a result, it can often lead to attacks missing.

Scenario:

  1. X-character knows Sanji will move to the right.

  • X-character based on this decides to shoot towards the right.

  • Sanji being too fast decides to Skywalk.

X-character would never have known Sanji would skywalk because prior to aiming to shoot at Sanji who was going to move to the right as known with Observation Haki, Sanji had no reason to Skywalk and stayed on course on the choice to move to his right side, but X-character shooting Sanji (he’d never have seen himself shoot Sanji with Observation), therefore, his attack would potentially fail as he’s incited a new reaction which will result in a change of direction assuming one was quick enough to change original movement.

NoteBare in mind that reactions change what has been foreseen, therefore, no matter how far into the future one has knowledge of, at whichever point the Observation Haki user intervenes, a new reaction is forced and the success of this reaction depends the observed depends on how quick they can change direction or stop the momentum of their action.

What’s the Point of Observation whilst on the Offensive?

While this may give one reason to view Observation Haki as somewhat useless in attacks, the point of Observation Haki is not to guarantee anything. The point is to see enough of what your opponent will do, and use that visual information as basis for efficacy of defensive or offensive manoeuvres . It’s an aid intended to allow the user to make the best decision possible before the foreknown action occurs.

This is real strength of Observation Haki in regards to attacks as Enel showcases. it’s to keep your opponent under enough pressure until they falter and give an opening needed to deal a fatal blow. It allows one to know what their opponent will do, and this allows one to set up attacks way ahead of time. It ultimately gives one an advantage in all matters of combat.

NoteNot to digress, but speed that far exceeds that of an Observation Haki user would in effect render foreseeing the future redundant as the user cannot react in time to evade or setup an attack to pressurise the opponent .

Katakuri is the only one who has seen the future thus far in the series?

 

Katakuri isn’t the only one who sees the future, Luffy saw the future once in the series; Mihawk is about to perform a slash attack and before Mihawk slashes while Luffy’s about to commit to a Bazooka attack which catapult his arms towards Mihawk, he’s seen into the future that it results in his limbs being sliced off. It’s not just Katakuri that views the future visually through his Observation Haki. It’s very likely there are many high calibre Observation users besides Katakuri.

Slightly off tangent, but Luffy has always had the talent to sporadically see the future with Observation as he did in Marineford, and it appears as though he’d been taught by Rayleigh and has been working towards this goal even before the WCI arc.

Conclusion

Observation Haki is a skill that allows one to the the future actions of a person by foreknowledge. It appears used sequentially as Observation can’t function whilst attacking. The user only knows the future from the point of view that they do not intervene, therefore, Observation Haki appears to favour evasive moves in the manga as opposed to offensive manoeuvres as they do not force opponents to react like attacks always do. On progression in Observation, one can actually learn to view things cinematically as opposed to foreknowledge which makes it much more useful; it’s emphatically more powerful as cinematic knows many seconds ahead as opposed to foreknowledge.

Credits – HPsyche

Also read,Why Luffy would have only 5 gears and not more?

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