An Energy Steroid, sometimes abbreviated as ES, is a special pill that the New Fish-Man Pirates got their hands on. These pills are considered to be legendary and a national treasure, and acquiring them seems to be rather difficult. They were the contents of the Tamatebako.
The pills have a blue and red checker design, are ovular in shape, and appear to be waterproof (as they did not dissolve in a place filled with water).
|— Ikaros Much, while holding a pill|
When taken, it greatly enhances the physical strength of the consumer, as well as increasing their muscle mass. Hody Jones demonstrated their power by attacking Gyro's crew and sinking their ship without using his hands.
One pill enhances the strength of the user two fold, therefore a fish-man's strength will become twenty times that of an average human. The multiplier is cumulative, so two pills will make it four fold, and each additional intake will continue to increase the strength exponentially. Hody took four pills so his strength increased sixteen fold, and while being underwater further multiplied his strength by ten, this made him at least three hundred and twenty times stronger than the average human (he is much stronger than the average fish-man).
Aside from increasing one's physical strength, the pills seem to have stimulant or revitalizing properties, since an unconscious Hody Jones was given one after he was defeated the first time by Zoro and he regained consciousness almost immediately. They also seem to act as painkillers, since Hody repeatedly took pills to relieve the ache from the wound Zoro dealt.
After overdosing on the drugs and then recovering, Hody underwent a drastic transformation, becoming larger, and more muscular, with his hair bleaching completely white. His strength increased to monstrous levels, as flicking a simple water droplet was enough to become a powerful water bullet, piercing the targeted fish-man and many buildings before losing momentum. He was also able to catch up with the mermaid Shirahoshi while swimming through the ocean, something a fish-man otherwise cannot normally do and Hody himself commented that even he could not keep up with the speed he was capable of achieving right now.
Despite the power it grants, it is not met with approval by all those who know about it. Hatchan, former officer of the Arlong Pirates, disapproved of the younger New Fish-Man Pirates destroying their bodies for the sake of their ambitions. There are even those within the New Fish-Man Pirates who disapproved the overuse of the drug, like Daruma and Ikaros Much.
Light usage does not seem to make a significant difference. However, each time the fish-man pirates used the drugs they were forced to use more to get the same benefit, with the most extreme being Hody who took more than the rest. Hody also had difficulty breathing due to his repeated usage of the pills as painkillers and underwent extreme pain during his transformation.
While the pills grant great power and ease pain, usage brings consequential side-effects in the long terms, especially if a large amount has been taken: in exchange for the benefits, the pill shaves some time off the user's remaining lifespan. The pills work by drawing innate strength of the taker, but also accelerates their aging process. During transformation, Hody's hair color became bleached white, his muscles and height increased greatly, which allowed him to be as tall as Ikaros Much, the tallest member of the officers of the New Fish-Man Pirates, even when sitting. Hyouzou, who also overdosed on the pills, and washed it down with alcohol, also underwent the same transformation of hair-whitening; however, his size and muscles did not increase.
Furthermore, the recipient's personality may become increasingly unstable, claiming that though they feel great, they still need to attack since their body is overflowing with energy. Combined with the wrong persona, some users can be left fighting in a blind or maddened fury. Bystanders note that Hyouzou's drunken personality differed from before his transformation, which was once a frenzy of uncoordinated attacks, to what seems to be aggressively hunting down targets intentionally. When Hody was defeated, all the officers of the New Fish-Man Pirates entered a maddened fury and became more wild and extreme as a response to their leader's downfall, the pills seemingly fueling their response. By the time Hody was defeated and captured, the pills have mutated his physical features so much that his crew thought he looked like a complete monster.
After the New Fish-Man Pirates were dissolved and their officers incarcerated, the full side-effect of the pills kicked in. Since the officers and Hody had abused the drug in their last battle with the Straw Hat Pirates, more so than the other members, they aged rapidly in their cells, losing all their strength, natural and enhanced. Their bodies withered so much that their shackles fell off their limbs, and could barely stand up from their overly frail bodies. In Hody's case, the damage was significant enough to render him walking stick bound and him breaking his hand trying to pull on the bars to his cell; leaving him a shell of his former self.
The Energy Steroids were considered Fish-Man Island's National Treasure, and were locked inside the Tamatebako. What they were was kept a secret and even the royal family only had stories and fables passed down between the generations to go by; legends have it that the Tamatebako had the power to accelerate a person's age and "make one as strong as a thousand men". No one dared try using the drugs to find out their effects.
Before Hody left the Neptune Army, he managed to steal a small sample from the Tamatebako. No one knew who took the Energy Steroids, but since the story would cause an uproar, it was kept secret; the Minister of the Left replaced the contents of the box with a bomb to prevent another re-occurrence. From the small sample Hody Jones managed to gather, Zeo was able to mass produce them, with enough to allow the 70,000 fish-men of their crew to abuse their usage. During the rebellion of Fish-Man Island, the fish-man subordinates took an Energy Steroid each to match up against Roronoa Zoro, and later all the officers of the New Fish-Man Pirates turned heavily to the pills for their benefits and were granted strength. Thanks to the drugs, they were able to defeat the Ryugu Kingdom princes. Hody, in particular, took them at such an extent that he would use them casually as painkillers and swallow large handfuls when Luffy was gaining the upper hand. However, despite severe overdose on the officers' part, the pills did not enable the pirates to achieve victory against the Straw Hats.
After the battle was over and the officers incarcerated, the pills eventually revealed their true nature, turning the former leaders of the New Fish-Man Pirates into old and frail men. Neptune finally discovered the truth about how Hody obtained the pills and took pity on him for the side effects.
Anime and Manga Differences
In the anime, the Energy Steroid gives the user bloodshot eyes with white and blue pupils, a detail not seen in the manga.
Also in the anime, the Energy Steroids seem to enhance the users' speed as well as their strength as the New Fish-Man Pirates officers were shown moving at speeds akin to Soru and were too fast for the princes to react.
More exclusive to the anime, Hody was seen taking even more Energy Steroids after taking Luffy's Snake Shot, which is what led to him bursting out of his shirt. Later, Hody's speed increased to the level of evading all of Luffy's Gear Second attacks while leaving afterimages.
Anime and Manga Influences
Energy Steroids have a number of properties that relate to various real world drugs.
The shortening of a life is a common trait associated with most stimulants. It has effects similar to dissociatives as well as PCP, which numb the feeling and sensations of pain as Energy Steroid does can be dangerous both physically and mentally. This is because broken bones and other serious injuries cannot be felt as they should be, leaving the consumer to ignore wounds that need urgent treatment. This was previously seen in the Thriller Bark Arc with the Zombies, when their bones were broken and they did not even realize that they were. In the real world, drugs such as Heroin and Benzodiazepine form a potentially deadly combination when combined with alcoholic beverages, such as how Hyouzou washed down the pills with saké.
Energy Steroid overdose bares some properties with the drug Amphetamine, also commonly called "speed". The main reason given for users taking the drug is that the consumer feels they have more energy than they really have, which may lead to consequences when the effect wears off. Also, the significantly aged look of Hody is also comparable to real world drugs. Drug abuse often greatly alters a person's appearance, usually giving them a significantly aged look.
When Hody was doubling up in pain from the overdose, it appeared very similar to real world Heroin withdrawals (the inverse of an overdose), his feeling of suffocation and agony and a yearning to consume more ES is very similar. It's quite possible the higher one's tolerance to the drug is - the more one need to consume, and when they hit the effect ceiling he and Hyouzou hit they are forced to consume more energy steroids until the forced evolution is complete.
The majority of harmful or illegal drugs alter the person's perception and personality, some temporarily and some permanently. Energy Steroids' main real-world influence, steroids, does account for the users being more alert and confident to paranoid and aggressive, with many mixing both wanted and unwanted personality traits. Since Hody developed such a high tolerance that he needed to practically shove them into his mouth to achieve the same effects (and null the pain from the grievous injuries sustained from his fight with Luffy), the adverse effects of the drug soon caught up to him, with their fatal side effects increased exponentially to parallel his increase in muscle mass and aggression.
- In Arabasta, Hero Water did a similar job of bestowing power onto the drinker like the Energy Steroid. However, it had a more extreme side effect of leaving the user dead after five minutes.
- The aging effects of the drug may be a reference to Urashimako, a famous japanese tale wherein a fisherman ages rapidly after opening a box given to him by a undersea princess
- Steroid Abuse – Wikipedia article about steroid abuse.
- Painkiller – Wikipedia article about the secondary effects that the drugs act as.