One Piece 1060 highlights Zoro as the vice captain of Strawhats, again

"Pirate Hunter" Roronoa Zoro acts as the vice-captain of the Strawhat Pirates everytime the need arises (Image via Eiichiro Oda/Shueisha, One Piece)
"Pirate Hunter" Roronoa Zoro acts as the vice-captain of the Strawhat Pirates everytime the need arises (Image via Eiichiro Oda/Shueisha, One Piece)

Since the closure of the Wano Arc, which was criticized for not fulfilling its potential, One Piece has been running wild, with every chapter being a big hit. The revelations about the Cross Guild, the new bounties of the Strawhat Pirates, Rayleigh stopping Blackbeard, and the appearance of the Seraphim Unit have all thrilled fans over the past few weeks.

Likewise, the recently released chapter is just as good.

In fact, One Piece chapter 1060 shocked fans by showing Im - the mysterious figure who seemingly rules the world - destroying an entire island. It only got better with fan-favorite Roronoa Zoro gaining the spotlight with his impressive display of authority and dominance. Follow this thread to see why this isn't the first time that Zoro has been depicted as the vice-captain of the Strawhat Pirates.

Disclaimer: This article contains major spoilers from the One Piece manga up to Chapter 1060 and reflects the opinions of the writer.


Zoro being the vice-captain of Strawhat Pirates is a matter of fact after the latest chapter of One Piece

What happened with the Strawhats in One Piece 1060

The Strawhat Pirates after the Wano Arc, with the new entry of Jinbe (Image via Eiichiro Oda/Shueisha, One Piece)
The Strawhat Pirates after the Wano Arc, with the new entry of Jinbe (Image via Eiichiro Oda/Shueisha, One Piece)

After achieving victory over the Beasts Pirates and freeing Wano from their long-established oppression, the Strawhats left, setting sail for a new adventure.

One Piece 1060 starts by showing the Thousand Sunny in an unspecified location in the midst of the New World, with members of the crew discussing the fates of Sabo, Cobra Nefertari and her daughter, the princess Vivi Nefertari.

According to news diffused by the World Government, during the events of the Reverie which took place in Mary Geoise, Cobra was killed by Sabo, while Vivi went missing. Luffy said that they should go to rescue her, but "Pirate Hunter" Zoro kept him in check, refusing the idea. He said that they should not underestimate Vivi, and that assaulting Mary Geoise head on would be a bad choice.

Nami, Sanji and Chopper backed Luffy on the idea of heading to Mary Geoise or Alabasta to save Vivi. However, Zoro addressed Luffy directly, reminding him to act maturely and not take action until a clearer picture of the situation reveals itself. The other Strawhats immediately reacted to Zoro's words by yelling their disappointment at him.

Luffy showed clear unpleasantness at his right-hand man's words, however he listened to his advice, recognizing its wisdom. Despite his own understanding, which three other crewmembers agreed with, Luffy acted according to Zoro's recommendation. This highlightened Zoro's prominent role in the Strawhats, portraying him as the factual vice-captain of the crew.


Zoro is not officially the crew's vice-captain, but he acts like one

Zoro's great strength gives him influence and authority within the crew (Image via Eiichiro Oda/Shueisha, One Piece)
Zoro's great strength gives him influence and authority within the crew (Image via Eiichiro Oda/Shueisha, One Piece)

What happened in the latest chapter of One Piece isn't surprising. In fact, Zoro has already behaved as the second-in-command of the Strawhat Pirates many times despite never officially being labeled as the vice-captain of the crew.

The vice-captain, also known as first mate, is the top officer aboard a ship, who ranks only below the captain and is therefore answerable only to him. The vice-captain is someone the captain must pick carefully and put full trust in. If the captain is not at hand or is incapacitated, the first mate is next in line to take over his job.

Zoro is confirmed to be the second strongest man in Strawhat Pirates, below only Luffy. This was portrayed with the color spread of chapter 1031 of the One Piece manga, which depicted the line-up of the "Number Twos", the second strongest individuals from the most prominent crews, featuring Zoro for the Strawhats, Rayleigh for the Roger Pirates, Benn for the Red Hair Pirates, and more.

In the subsequent SBS - a special colum where One Piece author Eiichiro Oda directly answers fan letters questioning him on a wide variety of subjects - it was stated that all the characters portrayed in the chapter 1031 color spread are the second strongest men in their crew, but not all of them also hold the position of vice-captains of their group.

This clarified that in the One Piece world the second strongest in a group does not automatically also hold the rank of its vice-captain. Some do, whereas others don't. Even those who aren't formally in charge of that rank still factually have its authority, due to the prominence resulting from their fighting strength being higher than that of their mates.

This understanding appears to be perfectly coherent with the manga. When Perospero claimed that he would be the leader of the Big Mom Pirates if Linlin was to disappear, he was told to knock it off because greater authority comes from greater strength. As a result, the second in command and eventual new leader would have been Katakuri, since he is stronger than Perospero.

With the implication that the strongest character will have greater authority, it appears rather obvious that the Strawhat with greater authority after Luffy is Zoro, who is his right-hand man, the second most powerful after him, and the only individual in the crew who is comparable in strength to him. While Zoro was never officially picked as the vice-captain of Strawhats, he clearly acts like one.

The first mate needs to be strong, be able to replace the captain if needed, and even protect the latter if he is incapacitated. In the One Piece series, no one but Zoro is able to fill that position in the Strawhats. In Thriller Bark, Zoro fought Kuma to protect Luffy, while in Wano he saved his captain from Kaido and Big Mom on many different occasions during the battle on the rooftop.


Zoro often exerts authority over his crewmates

Zoro is Luffy's trusted and close right-hand man (Image via Eiichiro Oda/Shueisha, One Piece)
Zoro is Luffy's trusted and close right-hand man (Image via Eiichiro Oda/Shueisha, One Piece)

Zoro's first mate-like behavior in One Piece 1060 is just the latest example of many similar conducts where he exerts authority over the other crewmembers, who acknowledge his assessment as prominent. For example, when Luffy went to fight Crocodile, Zoro immediately took the lead of the rest of the crew and gave orders to the others, who obeyed him.

When Usopp begged to come back on the ship, Chopper asked Luffy to listen. When ignored, he asked Zoro too. When ignored by him as well, he didn't ask anyone else. The fact that Chopper went to plead Zoro even after receiving a negative opinion from the captain, and stopped demanding when the former also refuted him, clearly implies that the swordsman holds special authority in the crew.

In the Water Seven Arc, Zoro gave Luffy advice on how to lead the crew in a more mature manner, better bearing the burden to be the captain. Later, in the Enies Lobby Arc, Zoro urged the other Strawhats to respect Luffy and maintain the wholeness of the crew.

In the Thriller Bark Arc, Zoro led the charge against Oars and commanded everyone else. Later, when Luffy was unconscious, he took over and had the other Strawhats stay back while he fought the Warlord Bartholomew Kuma. In the Wano Arc, Zoro commanded some of his crewmates to assist him in the battle that followed Yasuie's death.


All the canon sources of the series highlight Zoro as the acting first mate

In both the manga and the suppletive material, Zoro is stated to be the one who acts as the Strawhat crew's first mate (Image via Eiichiro Oda/Shueisha, One Piece)
In both the manga and the suppletive material, Zoro is stated to be the one who acts as the Strawhat crew's first mate (Image via Eiichiro Oda/Shueisha, One Piece)

Throughout the entire series, a recurring theme is that characters who see Zoro immediately regard him as the first mate of Strawhat Pirates. Other times bystanders even express wonder at the idea of him not being the captain of Strawhats, or not being the captain of his own crew. This is due to Zoro showing crazy feats of strength or unleashing his threatening aura.

It would not make much sense for the author to draw so many scenes with characters manifesting an understanding of Zoro's figure with that consistency throughout the entire One Piece series, if it wasn't correct.

Some fans argued that Bartolomeo's statement of Zoro being the first mate is unreliable, because the former is a joke character who seems to be the enbodiment of a biased fanboy. However, that doesn't seem to be a good argument, since Bartolomeo represents someone who is a well-informed fanboy of the entire Strawhat crew, not only of Zoro.

With Bartolomeo being someone who sees every single member of Strawhats as an idol, to the point of studying all of them, it doesn't appear feasible to think that the author would have him releasing a statement that doesn't correspond to the truth. As a matter of fact, Bartolomeo's claim of Zoro being Luffy's right-hand man and the first mate for the rest of the crew seems a mere representation of reality.

In addition to that, the Vivre Card, the most recent databook of the One Piece series, states that Zoro, being the second strongest individual right after Luffy, is the one who acts as a vice-captain when the crew needs one. With this concept being unequivocally declared so many times by different sources, it really seems to be irrefutable evidence.


Zoro shares regular portrayal along the other first mates

Zoro is the only Strawhat who fights against the first mates of the other crews or who gets likened to them (Image via Toei Animation, One Piece)
Zoro is the only Strawhat who fights against the first mates of the other crews or who gets likened to them (Image via Toei Animation, One Piece)

Another very significant aspect is that Zoro is the only Strawhat who is consistently represented interacting or battling with the Number Twos of the other crews. In the Alabasta Arc, he fought and defeated Mr. 1, who was Crocodile's right-hand man and his strongest subordinate. In Skypiea Arc, Zoro beat Ohm, who was Ener's strongest underling.

In the Enies Lobby Arc, Zoro's opponent was Kaku, who was portrayed as Lucci's right-hand man. On Fishman Island, he defeated Hyozo, who was comparable in strength to Hody Jones. Next, Zoro brutally beat Pica of the Donquixote Pirates. While Doflamingo's right-hand man is Vergo, in the favorable environment of Dressrosa, which boosts his Devil Fruit, Pica appears to be stronger than him.

In the Wano Arc, Zoro interacted with multiple Number Twos. In the first part of the arc, he met Killer, Kid's right-hand man, and inflicted a crushing defeat on him. During the Raid on Onigashima, Zoro fought against King, Kaido's right-hand man and his strongest subordinate. After a heated battle, the "Pirate Hunter" ended up triumphant after unleashing the true power of his Conqueror Haki.

Zoro's fight against King was especially memorable, seeing not only the clash between two strong warriors, but also two right-hand men who deeply believe in their captain and would do everything possible to make him become the King of Pirates. One Piece author Eiichiro Oda strongly emphasized this aspect, with a panel that likens both Zoro and King's devotion to their captains.

In the extremely trending One Piece: Red movie, Zoro was the only Strawhat to be paralleled with Benn Beckman, Shanks' right-hand man. This comparison is very important, as both of them have a Sun and Moon dynamic with their captains, resembling the one between Roger and Rayleigh.

Moreover, the color spread of chapter 1031, which picked Zoro for the Strawhats, Rayleigh for the Roger Pirates, Benn for Shanks' crew, King for the Beasts Pirates, Marco for the Whitebeard's crew, and more, speaks for itself. The fact that the characters the author chose to depict are the ones that are widely considered to be the first mates of their groups appears to be a clear hint at their status.


Zoro's analogy with Silvers Rayleigh, the vice-captain par excellence, speaks for itself

Very few characters in the entire series are as alike as Zoro and Rayleigh, the right-hand men of the Pirate Kings (Image via Eiichiro Oda/Shueisha, One Piece)
Very few characters in the entire series are as alike as Zoro and Rayleigh, the right-hand men of the Pirate Kings (Image via Eiichiro Oda/Shueisha, One Piece)

Zoro is considered the new generation version of Silvers Rayleigh, Roger's right-hand man and the first mate of Roger Pirates. They share the same portrayal as the right-hand men of Pirate Kings, the former one and the future one. Oda created a noticeable parallel between Zoro and Rayleigh, making them very alike in every possible way, from their status to their fighting style.

The clearest likeness between the two is portrayed by their similar monikers, "Dark King" and "King of Hell," that recall the concept of shadow rulers, hinting at the fact that they are powerful individuals who are very comparable to their captains. In fact, both Zoro and Rayleigh possess the very rare Conqueror Haki.

Throughout the One Piece series, it has been made clear that people born with Conqueror Haki inside them don't follow others because they are the kind of people who lead, not the ones who tag along.

The presence of multiple Conqueror Haki users in Rocks Pirates led the crew to their downfall. Whitebeard wondered why Oden would join him. Zoro refused the Baroque Works' offer to join the organization, saying that he would only join if he was made the boss of the group. Nevertheless, despite being Conquerors in their own right, Rayleigh and Zoro decided to follow Roger and Luffy, respectively.

This happened because, unlike the others, their strength is extremely close and comparable to their captain's. They didn't join him out of a need for protection, but because of the spontaneous trust they felt for him. As a result, the connection between them is different. Rayleigh and Zoro don't appear to be mere followers of a leader, but kings who decided to join another king, believing in his vision.

As a result of this, Luffy and Zoro, and Roger and Rayleigh, make two outstanding duos of Conqueror Haki users and individuals with immense potential and their strong will. As captains with their trusted and close right-hand men, they advance together, aiming for the top of the One Piece world.

Zoro's parallels with Rayleigh also include the fact that both have a similar fighting style, based on their abilities as swordsmen and Haki masters.

Throughout the One Piece series, the author really stressed the similarities between Zoro and Rayleigh, making them very alike in every possible way, from their powers to their esthetics. There's no reason to think that the analogy also doesn't involve their roles.


Conclusion

All things considered, it seems logical to think that Zoro is the unofficial but factual vice-captain of the Strawhats Pirates (Image via Eiichiro Oda/Shueisha, One Piece)
All things considered, it seems logical to think that Zoro is the unofficial but factual vice-captain of the Strawhats Pirates (Image via Eiichiro Oda/Shueisha, One Piece)

No Strawhat member receives the same portrayal as Zoro. The author sometimes puts Sanji in a similar class to him, as the two wings who support Luffy, acting as his biggest pillars among all the crewmembers. However, even while mantaining the aforementioned dynamic, Oda sets Zoro apart, putting him on a higher pedestal in strength, importance and leadership.

The only time Sanji took command of the crew was when both Luffy and Zoro weren't present. Zoro, on the other hand, took the lead many times throughout the One Piece series, with Sanji being present. By implication, Zoro has a greater authority than him. Which only appears logical, given that the swordsman is Luffy's right-hand man and the second strongest right after the latter himself.

After all, the Strawhat crew is clearly based on Roger Pirates, meaning that the Monster Trio composed by Luffy, Zoro and Sanji recalls the Metal Trio involving Roger, Rayleigh and Gaban. With the original names of two of them being based on silver and gold, two precious metals, and the third on copper, which is a metal but not a precious one, this hints at Luffy, Zoro and Sanji having a similar dynamic.

A testament to that, the concept of Zoro being the one who acts as a first mate when the crew needs one was textually declared, with countless statements in the manga and even concurring information from the databooks. Further proof was also given with the many panels of Zoro being portrayed along with the other first mates and exerting his authority over his crewmates.

Given all these premises, the most logical understanding seems to be that Zoro, while not being officially proclaimed as the vice-captain of Strawhats, factually acts as one, as a result of his strength and influence. His attitude and willpower as a Conqueror, his dominant leadership and his wisdom allow Zoro to fulfill this role in the best possible way.

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