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i think they CoC users can Select people who they wan to intimidate and not just reducing their power.Take Shanks saving Luffy for example..If CoC really has to be reduce in order to refrain from intimidating weaker people,that would mean luffy is stronger then seaking at the age of 7...which i highly doubt.Another recent example, is when rayleigh was teaching luffy the basic of haki and some huge elephant barge out.Even luffy in G2 couldn't hurt it.and yet rayleigh CoC could knock it out while not affecting luffy.
That goes to say that CoC can be controlled to the extend of not intimidating people whom u do not wish to intimidate.And not just reducing its power level.
Well as already said CoC is mainly only used on "fodder". It has zero effect on strong opponents. But battles are fought in armies and in ever army there are some fodders, so it is indeed a advantage. But again meaningless in serious fights against tough foes.
But I think CoC is mainly used as a prestige. Whoever posses CoC has great leadership and is destined to lead a army. And most likely is known in the world.
Sanji, Zoro and the rest, I believe Ray just throw it into the room. With confidence that the grandson of Garp and his companion are strong enough to withstand that. After all Luffy is Shanks (his former pupils) chosen man and the 3rd generation carrying that strawhat.
Anyway, Ray did for sure not hold back on the rookies. As he commented himself.
I also read that he did not intend to make the manga this long however I don't think he ever intended on making the manga 100 chapters short. I think he originally intended to have the war a lot earlier however he decided to make it longer. My impression was that he intended for a 500 chapter long manga and it got to be twice that.
hm.. Then I might have read that part with 100 chapters somewhere on a forum, idk.. has certainly been a while. Anyway, I just don't see Oda thinking of haki in chapter 1. Heck even Shanks loosing his arm does seem now out of context, considering our current knowledge. I think Oda did not foresee Shanks role that much in advance, does not make any sense to me.
I think Luffy wasn't aiming his haki at Hody and his officers. I think he was saving them for him and his crew.