One Piece: Is Zoro faster than Sanji? Explained
Throughout One Piece, Sanji ranked only below Luffy and Zoro within the Strawhat Pirates' hierarchy of strength. The three form the fan-favorite Monster Trio, meaning they are the strongest members of the crew.
A master swordsman, Zoro is Luffy's right-hand man and the second strongest in the bunch after him. As such, the green-haired pirate acts as the crew's first mate, while Sanji is the group's cook, as well as the third strongest member.
The fact that Zoro is overall stronger than the blond cook and a more powerful fighter than him is universally acknowledged. However, especially after episode 1046 of the One Piece anime, fans started debating which of the two would be better when it comes to speed.
Disclaimer: This article contains major spoilers from the One Piece manga up to Chapter 1072 and reflects the writer's personal views.
Zoro is stronger than Sanji overall, but is he quicker than him as well? One Piece fans may already know the answer
As a fighter, Zoro is a clear cut above Sanji
Zoro and Sanji often bicker because they have opposing personalities. For this reason, they humorously compete, resulting in funny gags. This is not in the least related to their strength but to their different ways of seeing life.
The green-haired pirate and Sanji being Luffy's wings doesn't mean that they are comparable in power. This was never hinted at nor stated. In fact, they maintain completely different backgrounds, paths, abilities, benchmarks, and goals.
It just means that they are Luffy's greatest pillars within the crew. The concept was introduced in volume 73 SBS, which stated that despite not getting along with each other, Zoro and Sanji are reliable men who cover Luffy's back. The words featured in the SBS are the same that Nico Robin used in chapter 1020.
Every bird has a dominant wing. The homonymous concept in the One Piece series likely takes inspiration from that, given that Zoro is constantly surrounded by greater hype and performs better feats. Moreover, being Luffy's right-hand man, he has a superior portrayal than Sanji.
In One Piece, the right-hand man is usually the strongest after the leader. As the captain's most loyal subordinate, the right-hand man supports him in battle and encourages him. Zoro is consistently depicted interacting or battling with the Number Twos of other crews.
While Zoro and Sanji have their dynamic, the swordsman is mostly paired with Luffy. Just like the captain, the former is among the strongest members of the Worst Generation Supernovas and is able to use the all-powerful Advanced Conqueror's Haki, which is a feat in itself.
Zoro's actions against Kuma during the Thriller Bark arc or during the heated battle against Kaido and Big Mom in the Wano arc emphasized the special connection between him and Luffy. Unlike other Strawhats, Zoro's strength is comparable to Luffy's, and his attitude is also similar to his.
Meanwhile, Sanji's status is quite different. He is not a Supernova and doesn't even possess the basic Conqueror's Haki, let alone the upgraded version.The end of the Thriller Bark arc and the fierce battle on Onigashima's rooftop feature Sanji getting sidelined while Zoro gets the spotlight in major moments.
Countless scenes in the manga, as well as concurring information from the databooks, depict Zoro as the closest person to Luffy. The noticeable parallel between the two duos of Luffy/Zoro and Roger/Rayleigh also hints at this.
From their roles to looks, the green-haired pirate and Rayleigh are spectacular characters. In addition, their similar monikers, "King of Hell" and "Dark King", recall the concept of shadow rulers, implying that they are comparable to their captains.
Zoro and Rayleigh aren't mere subordinates but powerful individuals who can stand on equal ground to their leaders. In fact, the two pirates, like Roger and Luffy, are all Advanced Conqueror's Haki users, meaning that they are among One Piece's strongest characters.
When One Piece 1031 depicts the line-up of the "Number Twos," the second strongest individuals from the most prominent crews and groups are featured, including Zoro for the Strawhats, Rayleigh for the Roger Pirates, Sabo for the Revolutionary Army, and more. This logically implies that Zoro is stronger than Sanji.
Before the time skip, Zoro was stated to be close in power to Luffy. However, the One Piece Databook Yellow declared that his strength is no less than the latter, and that he acknowledges him as his captain out of spontaneous trust, only stepping in when it is necessary to protect him.
Similarly, the Strawhat Pirates' strength ranking during the Alabasta arc, featured in the One Piece Databook Blue, puts Luffy and Zoro at the same level with a solid six out of six, while Sanji was rated with a five out of six.
The One Piece Vivre Card Databook declares that Zoro is the second strongest after Luffy and that for this reason, he acts as the vice-captain of the crew. The databook also confirmed that Zoro always fights stronger opponents than Sanji.
Depending on the arc, the gap between their opponents can vary, but Zoro's arch-enemies are never weaker than Sanji's. Even against Fujitora, as well as against Kaido and Big Mom, despite not being able to win, Luffy's right-hand man still performed very well.
In comparison, Sanji brutally lost against Doflamingo in a one-sided fight, and was not even included in the battle against Kaido and Big Mom. Nothing to take away from Sanji, but his overall strength is clearly lower than Zoro's.
Speed being among Sanji's main traits doesn't make him inherently better
Speed and Observation Haki are Sanji's trademark traits as a fighter. Some fans argue that this makes him better than other characters in these specific parameters. However, this seems to be a flawed argument.
The fact that certain abilities are Sanji's best talents doesn't mean anything compared to other characters. It simply means that he is better in these fields than in others. The comparison is with himself, not with others.
Otherwise, going by the same reasoning, Vergo's Armament Haki, his trademark trait, should be considered better than Luffy's Armament Haki, which is only one of the many abilities which the protagonist of One Piece can use. Clearly, that doesn't make much sense.
Sanji is undoubtedly a fast character and has good Observation Haki. Still, several One Piece characters surpass him in those aspects. Going by their respective feats, Zoro may very well be one of them.
The green-haired swordsman's best assets are his offense (attack power, lethality, and range) and his defense (blocking attacks with swords, or if he gets hit, enduring the damage), which are further enhanced by his outstanding Armament and Conqueror's Haki.
However, Zoro is also a swift fighter. One Piece author, Eiichiro Oda, consistently emphasizes the character's speed, having him show frightening quickness to pursue opponents and excellent agility to dodge their attacks.
He can dash towards his opponents and cut them in the blink of an eye, sometimes even unsheathing and re-sheathing his sword before his enemies can react. Regarding short distances, only some One Piece characters can compete with Zoro's speed.
Most of his attacks are executed so quickly that he appears behind the opponent with such a burst of speed that it seems as if he teleported. In fact, Zoro usually overwhelms his opponents with not only power but speed as well.
Most of his finishers are sword cuts that are strong enough to overpower the opponent and heavily damage him, as well as fast enough not to let him dodge. Both his moving foot's speed and his arm speed to perform the sword attack seem almost instantaneous.
Zoro's combat speed is high not only in regards to his attack moves but also his defensive agility. He has given several impressive showings of swiftness by avoiding, parrying, and dancing through the opponent's attacks, displaying keen reflexes.
Zoro's best speed feats include:
- Perfectly reacting to Yonko Number Two-level King's boosted speed and successfully timing a counterattack to hit him.
- Straight up blitzing Yonko Number Two-level King with a frontal Lion Song.
- Blitzing Hybrid Kaido in a 1v1 frontal clash, despite fighting with several bones broken.
- Sensing incoming attacks and promptly reacting to them (a feat that, other than Zoro, only Whitebeard achieved).
- Perfectly keeping up with Killer, who is a speed and agility specialist.
Meanwhile, Sanji's best speed feats account for:
- Instantly kicking CP7 member Wanze twelve times, with the former miscalculating the number of blows.
- Dodging CP9 member and Soru user Jabra and hitting him several times.
- Dodging Yonko Number Two-level and Future Sight user Katakuri's jelly bean projectile.
- Instantly kicking Oven away and grabbing Chiffon with the former not noticing his movement (although Oven wasn't aware of Sanji being in the surroundings).
- Moving so fast that Queen mistook his raw speed for an invisibility trick and then attacking the former member of MADS with such a quick barrage of kicks that he couldn't react at all.
Admittedly, Zoro's speed feats are as good as Sanji's, if not better. First and foremost, the former achieved them against opponents who, in most cases, are overall stronger and faster than Sanji's.
The Strawhat Pirates' cook moving so fast that Oven couldn't even perceive him was impressive. However, Zoro achieved a similar feat by speedblitzing Apoo and cutting him in an instant, with enough finesse not to involve Drake and the precious antidote in his cut.
While Sanji, using his maximum speed, can move so quickly that he becomes invisible, it has to be said that this effect is relative to Queen, who is a slow character.
Wanze couldn't perceive Sanji's kicks, but Brook and Franky (who are far superior fighters than Wanze) couldn't even see Zoro's attacks during the latter's fight with Ryuma's Zombie.
Disappearing-speed is no big deal in itself, it depends in relation to the opponent's caliber. Since the beginning of the One Piece series, Zoro could move at disappearing speeds, to the point where Baroque Works agents couldn't literally see him.
Episode 1046 of the One Piece anime highlighted Zoro more than Sanji
Although the canonicity of the anime is always controversial, episode 1046 of One Piece allowed fans to witness a direct comparison between the respective speeds of Zoro and Sanji.
Going by the episode, Zoro is objectively faster than his companion. When both dashed toward their respective opponents, the green-haired pirate started moving later than Sanji. Despite the cook having a noticeable headstart, the swordsman caught up to him.
Admittedly, this was not the only occurrence where Zoro and Sanji were featured in similar situations. The swordsman proved that he is not only comparable in speed to the cook but likely even faster than him.
Zoro and Sanji are both powerful fighters, but throughout the One Piece series, it was emphasized that the swordsman is a much stronger fighter with greater ambition and status.
Comparing their respective feats, it seems that Zoro surpasses Sanji even in the specific parameter of speed. In fact, this appears even more evident after a direct comparison of how they performed on similar issues.
For instance, after both dodged Queen's lasers, Zoro was able to react to King's attempt to blitz them, successfully intercepting the latter's attack. Conversely, Sanji couldn't notice King until Zoro had already blocked the Lunarian's attempted strike.
The Strawhat Pirates' cook was stated to be "only" as fast as a fishman underwater. Conversely, Zoro was declared to be faster than a fishman underwater. Impressively enough, the swordsman outpaced Hody Jones, despite the latter being one of the strongest representatives of his race and fighting in his favorable environment.
As such, a person faster than one of the most powerful fishmen is quicker than an individual who is merely as fast as a generic representative of the fishman race. This comparison is clear and compelling, making it irrefutable.
Over long distances, Sanji may have better mobility and running pace. However, concerning combat speed, Zoro's fast reflexes and swift bursts of quickness are superior. Interestingly, One Piece author Eiichiro Oda hinted at this in one of his SBS, emphasizing the difference between being fast in a race and being swift in different situations, such as those that happen in combat.