One Piece: What is a Black Blade, explained
Swords are among the most common weapons in the One Piece world. However, very few swords can become Black Blades, the most powerful of them all. Throughout the series, only Ryuma Shimotsuki and Dracule Mihawk have been able to achieve a Black Blade.
Unsurprisingly, these two swordsmen are generally considered to be two of the most powerful fighters of all time. Roronoa Zoro, the right-hand man of Luffy and the first mate of the Strawhat Pirates, aims to reach and surpass them.
For this reason, One Piece fans speculate that Zoro will obtain a Black Blade in the future. However, for a sword to become a Black Blade is not an easy task, which is why this article will attempt to discuss the same by elaborating on the causes of Black Blade and how it is different from regular swords.
Disclaimer: This article contains major spoilers from the One Piece manga up to Chapter 1071 and reflects the writer's personal views.
In One Piece, no sword is as powerful as a Black Blade
Do cursed swords exist in One Piece?
According to prominent swordsmith Kozaburo Shimotsuki, swords, especially the most powerful ones, have their own personality. For instance, Sandai Kitetsu cuts more than intended, making it a "problem child." Shusui had a "bad temper," being heavier and challenging to handle.
Enma was the most problematic of all. It tested its owner by draining away their Haki. If the user wasn't strong enough, the sword would fatally steal all their Haki, leaving them with no energy.
Weaker people are unable to handle the most powerful swords. For this reason, they called those swords "cursed," blaming them for the misfortunes the owners were to incur. In truth, the swords aren't cursed, it's just that weaker swordsmen lack the strength required to handle them.
According to Kozaburo, a sword chooses the wielder who best suits its personality. To properly wield the blade, the owner must first figure out its personality and adapt to it. If the swordsman possesses the necessary strength, he will have an easier time handling the sword.
In fact, Oden was able to wield Enma as if it was as light as a feather, despite the sword sucking his Haki. Conversely, Zoro, who inherited the same sword, was having trouble with it.
To fully please Enma, the green-haired pirate unleashed all of his Conqueror's Haki and Armament Haki, which allowed him to properly wield the blade. Recently, Zoro has been shown using Enma effortlessly without needing to go all out with his Haki. Hence, it's likely that he has now mastered the sword just like Oden.
Out of all the swords in the series, Black Blades are special
Swords can usually be enhanced through the infusion of Haki. Blades empowered by Armament Haki Hardening increase their toughness as well as turn black. After countless battles, a sword can become permanently black.
These swords are known as "Black Blades" and are on a different level compared to Armament Haki powered blades. They are renowned for their impressive hardness. Moreover, it is said that they would not bend an inch, even if a dinosaur stepped on it.
While not all blades are swords, all swords are blades. In fact, Whitebeard's weapon, the Murakumogiri, was one of the Twelve Supreme Grade Blades despite not being a proper sword but a naginata.
It was said that Murakumogiri's extraordinary durability allowed Whitebeard to channel the full power of his Quake-Quake Fruit and Haki within it. Hence, it's clear that in One Piece, a weapon needs a certain degree of hardness to allow its owner to use his full power through it.
As such, not enough durable weapons would break if channeled through with a power they can't handle. The fact that the hardness of Black Blades was stated to be unparalleled emphasizes the immense power of those who raised their swords at that outstanding level.
So far, only two One Piece characters have been able to achieve the incredible feat of turning their swords into permanent Black Blades. Interestingly enough, both are heavily connected to Zoro.
Ryuma Shimotsuki made Shusui a Black Blade centuries ago
Ryuma was a legendary samurai native of Wano. He single-handedly protected the region from pirates and even Celestal Dragons. For his unparalleled swordsmanship, he became known as the "Sword God".
During his time, Ryuma was considered to be the strongest warrior in the world. Unbeknownst to him, people hailed him as "King," the number one among all the fighters. His status was immense, to the point it was even likened to that of the legendary Joy Boy.
Even hundreds of years after his death, his accomplishments remain outstanding. Despite Wano being blessed with other great samurai, such as Oden Kozuki, people still consider Ryuma to be the one worthy of the moniker "Wano's Greatest Hero."
This hints at Ryuma being even stronger than Oden, who is a mighty individual in his own right. In fact, the latter was able to fight on equal grounds with Kaido and gain the respect of Roger and Whitebeard, as well as being the only individual ever able to wield Enma before Roronoa Zoro's arrival in Wano.
When he was alive, Ryuma possessed an incredibly powerful Armament Haki. He was able to make his sword Shusui a Black Blade. Throughout the One Piece series, no one other than Mihawk was ever able to achieve this exceptional feat.
Ryuma died undefeated. At 47 years old, he suddenly contracted a sickness that proved to be fatal for him. Hundreds of years later, Gecko Moriah stole Ryuma's corpse and had Doctor Hogback put Brook's shadow inside it, turning the corpse into a zombie.
Sometime later, Zoro met the zombie. After a heated battle, he defeated it. Impressed by his strength, Ryuma, before fading forever, offered him his sword Shusui, believing that the soul of the sword would be pleased to serve under the man who defeated its preceding owner.
This created a link between the two swordsmen. Given Ryuma's immense power, status, and his implied ancestry to Zoro, he is a benchmark for the latter to reach and possibly transcend. After using Ryuma's sword for many battles, the first mate of the Strawhat Pirates returned it to Wano, where it's considered a national treasure.
Dracule Mihawk upgraded his sword Yoru into a Black Blade
Since the beginning of the One Piece series, Dracule Mihawk has been set up as Zoro's final and greatest opponent, waiting for him at the top of the world. In fact, "Hawk Eyes" Mihawk is the World's Strongest Swordsman.
He is a man of the same caliber as Shanks, who is one of the Four Emperors. An individual strong enough to intimidate Admiral Ryokugyu and clash with Whitebeard, Shanks is a master swordsman.
Given that Mihawk is the World's Strongest Swordsman, he is implied to be even stronger than Shanks, which is an extraordinary feat. Regardless of Mihawk being slightly stronger than the Emperor, they are peers who have both become world-renowned.
Another testament to Mihawk's outstanding power is that Zoro, despite having become strong enough to outclass even a foe as powerful as the right-hand man of an Emperor, still needs to improve to be able to fight on par with "Hawk Eyes".
A former member of the Seven Warlords of the Sea, Mihawk, along with Crocodile, recently founded Cross Guild, a new organization that immediately gained popularity and political influence. This event shocked the One Piece world, but he obtained the same status as a Yonko crew.
This implies that Mihawk could have become a Yonko had he wanted to. He simply chose not to obtain such a status, leaving Buggy as the facade leader of Cross Guild. Given that Mihawk is at least as strong as Shanks, if not even stronger than "Red Hair," it was logical for the former to be at Yonko-level.
Even Whitebeard, the World's Strongest Man and a peer to the Pirate King, acknowledged the clashes between Mihawk and Shanks as legendary battles. These ferocious fights resonated throughout the entire Grand Line.
The One Piece Magazine recently revealed that the rivalry between Shanks and Mihawk is an analogy to the one between Gol D. Roger and Whitebeard. Moreover, the structure of the two duos is more or less the same.
With Shanks and Mihawk being two of the main benchmarks for Luffy and Zoro, respectively, they share a Yin and Yang dynamic as two towering figures who act as both mentors and rivals for the two main Strawhats.
The One Piece Databook Vivre Card revealed that Mihawk challenged more and more powerful foes until there was nobody left to challenge. Given his former nickname of the “Marine Hunter”, it’s safe to say that nobody was off-limits in his quest to reach the top of the world. Of course, his main rival was Shanks.
However, after Shanks lost an arm, Mihawk stopped being interested in fighting him. The Vivre Card stated that the latter is waiting for a challenger even stronger than Shanks. That person will most likely be Zoro, who is continuously improving to reach the strength needed to fight "Hawk Eyes" on equal grounds.
Like Ryuma, Mihawk was able to make his sword a Black Blade. Another testament to his mighty Armament Haki, he also taught Zoro how to use Haki and was able to clash with Shanks, a master of this ability.
Without putting much effort into them, even mere swings of Mihawk's sword are powerful enough to completely cleave gigantic constructs, such as icebergs as big as mountains. Given this, his full power must certainly be amazing.
Despite this unbelievable raw power, Mihawk can also use Yoru gracefully enough to deflect the course of bullets aimed at him with just a slight touch of the blade, as well as send out incredibly accurate flying slashes.
Despite being a master swordsman and a great Haki user in his own right, not even Shanks was able to turn his sword Gryphon into a permanent Black Blade like Mihawk did with his Yoru.
Given the latter's outstanding Haki prowess, it's likely that he will be revealed to be a user of the very rare Advanced Conqueror's Haki, just like Shanks and Zoro. Being a Supreme King is only fitting for someone with the ambition to become the World's Strongest Swordsman and the potential to realize that desire.
In One Piece, blades that have been given a name by their creator are called "Meito." They are all quite famous and refined in their own right, as well as ranked by the grade of their quality. However, depending on the user, a sword's rank can be raised higher than his original's.
Mihawk's sword, Yoru, has not only become a Black Blade but is also stated to be the strongest blade of all, even surpassing Ryuma's Shusui. This really highlights how impressive Mihawk's full power must be.
Interestingly enough, it is stated that no one other than Mihawk is able to wield Yoru. Given the high level of strength required to use Enma, which is not even a Black Blade, this is another hint of the immense level of power that Mihawk holds.
He is the current strongest swordsman, surpassing even Shanks and possibly even the legend of Ryuma. Moreover, he created such a powerful blade that no one is able to wield it. A blade that is so tough that it allows him to channel his full power without worries.
Given Mihawk's immense power, Zoro's dream of becoming the strongest swordsman seems to be a tough goal. However, after unlocking the superior stage of his Haki and mastering Enma, the green-haired pirate is on the right track.
During his rematch with Mihawk, Zoro may unleash his own Black Blade, or even upgrade all his three swords as Black Blades, surpassing his mentor. With One Piece having entered its endgame, this exciting moment is slowly approaching.