One Piece episode 1085: What ties Zoro to the Shimotsuki Clan? Explained

Roronoa Zoro with Ryuma and the other members of the Shimotsuki Clan (Image via Shueisha/Colored by JLjarx)
Roronoa Zoro with Ryuma and the other members of the Shimotsuki Clan (Image via Shueisha/Colored by JLjarx)

With episode 1085 of the One Piece anime, the Straw Hat crew's adventure in Wano comes to an end. Resolved to free the country, Monkey D. Luffy and Roronoa Zoro teamed up with the other Supernovas to challenge Kaido and Big Mom.

After proving his value against the two Emperors, Zoro faced and defeated Kaido’s strongest subordinate, the Lunarian survivor King. During the battle, the "Pirate Hunter" unleashed his true Haki powers, ascending to new heights as a master swordsman.

In this regard, Zoro is set to retrace the steps of his forefather, “Sword God” Shimotsuki Ryuma. Keep reading to learn everything about Zoro's connection with the Shimotsuki family, which One Piece author Eiichiro Oda recently celebrated with a smashing color spread.


The connection between Zoro, Ryuma, and the Shimotsuki Family in One Piece

The Pirate King's right-hand man, Roronoa Zoro

Roronoa Zoro and Monkey D. Luffy (Image via Toei Animation, One Piece)
Roronoa Zoro and Monkey D. Luffy (Image via Toei Animation, One Piece)

A master swordsman who aims to surpass Dracule Mihawk, Roronoa Zoro is the number two of the Straw Hat Pirates and can be considered the second strongest among the Eleven Supernovas. In both cases, his might is only second to that of Monkey D. Luffy.

Zoro has been at Luffy's side before anyone else, supporting him as his loyal right-hand man and second-in-command. For all intents and purposes, their dynamic resembles the one between Silvers Rayleigh and Gol D. Roger.

Initially, Zoro threatened to kill Luffy if he ever hindered his ambition to become the World’s Strongest Swordsman, but they soon became a tight-knit duo. As the only Straw Hat who is, to a certain extent, comparable in power to Luffy, Zoro typically assists or protects the captain.

Luffy and Zoro throughout the One Piece story (Image via Toei Animation, One Piece)
Luffy and Zoro throughout the One Piece story (Image via Toei Animation, One Piece)

In Thriller Bark and during the Onigashima Raid, Zoro selflessly put his life on the line to save Luffy’s.To Zoro’s devotion, Luffy retaliates with total faith in his right-hand man’s capabilities.

One of the few fighters who can use all three types of Haki, Zoro can even unleash the all-powerful Advanced Conqueror’s Haki, which further emphasizes his combat prowess. Step by step, Zoro is approaching the level needed to confront Mihawk and his unparalleled Black Blade.

Zoro is honorable and loyal, a trait that he possibly inherited from his Shimotsuki ancestors. The name of the clan literally means “the month of frost,” as "Shimotsuki" is the traditional Japanese name for the month of November.

Interestingly, “Shimotsuki” can also be read as “Samurai.”. Following Oda's typical number-based symbolism, the greatest Shimotsuki clansman and samurai, Ryuma, celebrates his birthday on November 6, while Zoro's anniversary is on November 11.


Zoro and "Sword God" Ryuma

Ryuma and Zoro are strikingly similar (Image via Toei Animation, One Piece)
Ryuma and Zoro are strikingly similar (Image via Toei Animation, One Piece)

In terms of aesthetics, Ryuma and Zoro are almost identical, with the only difference being in the color of their hair. Hyogoro and Kawamatsu, two Wano natives, stated that Zoro’s looks and fighting style reminded them of Shimotsuki Ushimaru's, with the latter being a descendant of Ryuma.

The two also declared that Zoro returning Ryuma’s sword, Shusui, to Wano was a sign of fate and acknowledged the “Pirate Hunter” as the fabled samurai's successor.

Other than being featured in One Piece, Ryuma appeared in the one-shot Monsters. For Oda's explicit statement, One Piece's Ryuma is the same character who was depicted in Monsters, and vice versa.

In the SBS of the manga's Volume 47, Oda confirmed that the content of Monsters, including Ryuma’s character, is part of One Piece's canon. In Monsters, Ryuma effortlessly beat Cyrano, a famed swordsman, and slayed a gigantic dragon.

"Sword God" Ryuma, Wano's greatest legend (Image via Shueisha/Colored by JLjarx)

Ryuma might very well be the strongest swordsman who ever lived in the One Piece world. Several centuries ago, he single-handedly protected Wano from pirates and World Nobles, preventing them from seizing the country.

Ryuma’s feats earned him the reputation of “Sword God,” a fighter that would end any battle with a single slash. He was hailed as "The King", the most powerful warrior in the world.

Not even Kozuki Oden, a man strong enough to compete with Kaido and obtain Roger and Whitebeard’s respect, was considered worthy of replacing Ryuma as "Wano's Greatest Hero.”

Ryuma's sword, Shusui, is considered Wano's national treasure, as he managed to turn it into a permanent Black Blade. Only Mihawk was able to replicate this feat, which not even Oden could ever achieve.

The fight between Zoro and Zombie Ryuma in Thriller Bark (Image via Toei Animation, One Piece)
The fight between Zoro and Zombie Ryuma in Thriller Bark (Image via Toei Animation, One Piece)

Ryuma was even compared to Joy Boy, establishing a direct parallel between the two legendary warriors. Unquestionably, the “Sword God” ranks among the most powerful One Piece characters of all time.

Just like Luffy is the reincarnation of Joy Boy, Zoro is set to become Ryuma’s heir. With his incredible power and fame, Ryuma is a major benchmark for the green-haired swordsman to reach and possibly surpass.

Centuries after Ryuma’s death, Gecko Moria stole his corpse and turned it into a zombie by putting Brook’s shadow in it. While much weaker than the real one, the “Zombie Ryuma” was still powerful enough to brutally defeat Brook.

As the Straw Hats arrived in Thriller Bark, Zoro beat the zombie, finally freeing Brook’s shadow. Impressed by Zoro’s prowess, Ryuma, before vanishing forever, gave him his sword, Shusui, which the former wielded for over two years, and then eventually returned to Wano.

The parallel between Zoro and Ryuma is evident (Image via Toei Animation, One Piece)
The parallel between Zoro and Ryuma is evident (Image via Toei Animation, One Piece)

Two of Zoro's best attacks are clearly based on the dragon-beheading slash that Ryuma performed in Monsters.

  • One Sword Style: Dragon Blaze - A Haki-enhanced slash powerful enough to seriously injure Kaido in his huge dragon form. Upon seeing the attack, Big Mom was worried about its consequences.
  • King of Hell: Three Sword Serpent Dragon Damnation - A technique empowered by Advanced Conqueror’s Haki and Armament Haki at the same time. It crushed King’s Lunarian body and magma-like flaming dragon.

The incoming anime adaptation of Ryuma’s story in Monsters is titled Monsters: Ippyaku Sanjo Hiryu Jigoku, which is exactly the Japanese name of Zoro’s previously mentioned Dragon Damnation attack.

To emphasize Ryuma and Zoro's connection even further, the One Piece mangaka recently dedicated a color spread to the two iconic swordsmen, depicting them together with their fellow Shimotsuki clansmen.


Retracing Zoro's Shimotsuki roots

Zoro's shared past with Kuina, Kozaburo, and Koushiro (Image via Toei Animation, One Piece)
Zoro's shared past with Kuina, Kozaburo, and Koushiro (Image via Toei Animation, One Piece)

Fifty-five years ago, Shimotsuki Kozaburo left Wano with some relatives. A renowned swordsmith, Kozaburo also brought one of his finest creations, Wado Ichimonji. The travelers arrived at a certain location in the East Blue, where they saved the locals from mountain bandits.

The Wano natives decided to settle in the place, which was renamed Shimotsuki Village. Shimotsuki Furiko, a relative of Kozaburo, became the wife of a swordsman named Roronoa Pinzoro. Their son, Arashi, married Tera, and the two had a child. Unfortunately, both Arashi and Tera died young.

Their son, Roronoa Zoro, started training in the village’s dojo. Despite being just a child, Zoro was already stronger than most adults. Still, he was no match for Kuina, the granddaughter of Kozaburo.

One day, Kozaburo, now an aged man, lectured Zoro about the nature of blades. Many years later, during the Onigashima Raid, Zoro would realize the significance of Kozaburo's words.

Zoro and Kuina promised each other that, someday, one of them would become the World’s Strongest Swordsman. As she died in a tragic accident, Zoro vowed to honor their mutual pledge. He asked her father, Shimotsuki Koushiro, to give him Kuina's Wado Ichimonji, to which Koushiro agreed.

Koushiro taught Zoro that a sword can cut everything and nothing, describing this ability with the same words that Hyogoro used to explain Advanced Armament Haki to Luffy. During the battle against Mr 1, Zoro would remember Koushiro's precious teachings about how to cut anything, including hard steel.

The symbol of Zoro’s promise to Kuina, the Wado Ichimonji also represents his connection with the Shimotsuki Clan, especially as in, upon his arrival in Wano, Zoro eventually obtained Enma. Like Wado Ichimonji, Enma was another creation of Kozaburo.


From Ryuma to Zoro, through Ushimaru

Ushimaru was Ryuma's direct descendant, and Zoro's grand-uncle (Image via Toei Animation, One Piece)
Ushimaru was Ryuma's direct descendant, and Zoro's grand-uncle (Image via Toei Animation, One Piece)

Shimotsuki Furiko was Zoro's grandmother, and her younger brother Ushimaru was Zoro's great-uncle. While Furiko traveled to the East Blue, Ushimaru remained in Wano as the daimyo of Ringo.

A direct descendant of the legendary Ryuma, Ushimaru was a powerful swordsman and Haki user. He tried to stop Kaido’s takeover of Wano, but the Emperor beat him. Despite being locked in a cave, Ushimaru’s spirit never wavered.

When a young Yamato was jailed too, Ushimaru and his comrades broke out of the cave and mounted a desperate stand against Kaido. Their selfless sacrifice ensured that Yamato could survive and partake in the battle twenty years later.

Meanwhile, Ushimaru’s faithful pet, a fox named Onimaru, remained in Ringo, protecting the graves from robbers and collecting weapons for the future conflict.

Shimotsuki Yasuie as seen in the One Piece anime (Image via Toei Animation, One Piece)
Shimotsuki Yasuie as seen in the One Piece anime (Image via Toei Animation, One Piece)

A fellow clansman of Ushimaru, Shimotsuki Yasuie also sided with Kozuki’s cause. Carefree and compassionate, Yasuie never stopped trying to help the Wano population. He adopted a little girl, Toko, who eventually became acquainted with Kozuki Hiyori, Oden’s daughter and Momonosuke’s sister.

Yasuie spent several years acting as a cheerful jester, but he was waiting for the day of the Kozuki's revenge. When the Straw Hats arrived in Wano, Zoro met Yasuie, and the two forged a sincere bond.

As Orochi and the Beasts Pirates were about to uncover the plotted revolution, Yasuie sacrificed himself to mislead them. His death truly marked Zoro, giving him even greater motivation to fight Kaido.


Zoro's Supreme King ambition and Shimotsuki legacy

Zoro during the fight against Kaido (Image via Toei Animation, One Piece)
Zoro during the fight against Kaido (Image via Toei Animation, One Piece)

As the alliance assaulted Onigashima, Luffy, Zoro, Law, Kid, and Killer teamed up to face Kaido and Big Mom. Zoro unleashed his Flying Dragon Blaze, which forced Kaido to dodge, at the urging of Big Mom, who had noted the danger packed by the move.

Wielding Enma, Zoro struck Kaido with the Dragon Twister, cutting through the Emperor’s hard skin and injuring him. Willing to crush the five rookies, Kaido and Big Mom performed a combined attack, the Hakai. Zoro blocked the blow, protecting Luffy and the others, but suffered significant wounds in the process.

As Kaido knocked Luffy out, Zoro gathered the last of his energy to protect his captain. Using his Nine Sword Style: Ashura, Zoro clashed against the Emperor and inflicted a large cut on his chest.

Enma testing Zoro (Image via Toei Animation, One Piece)
Enma testing Zoro (Image via Toei Animation, One Piece)

The strike left Kaido with a permanent scar, a feat that not even the Red Scabbards put together could replicate. However, Kaido endured the damage, while Zoro collapsed.

Injected with a medicine that would instantly heal him, but at the cost of feeling twice the pain later, Zoro recovered and engaged in a fierce battle with King. Factoring in his Lunarian powers, Kaido’s right-hand man endured all of Zoro’s attacks, despite their potency.

Suddenly, Zoro’s sword, Enma, started reacting uncontrollably. As the fight raged, Zoro remembered his childhood encounters with Kozaburo, the creator of Enma. According to Kozaburo, to properly wield a sword, the owner must understand its will and adapt to it.

Zoro is now the
Zoro is now the "King of Hell" (Image via Toei Animation, One Piece)

Realizing that Enma had been testing him by draining away his Haki, Zoro decided to unleash all of it so that the blade would finally be pleased. Revealing his Conqueror’s Haki, Zoro caused King’s nearby subordinates to pass out.

Showcasing his insane potential, Zoro was immediately able to use the Color of Conqueror’s to coat his weapons and attacks. Furthermore, he combined Advanced Conqueror’s Haki and Armament Haki to create the King of Hell Style, a new Haki-based mode.

In front of Zoro’s newfound power, King, despite his special Lunarian features, stood no chance. As a major user of the advanced version of Conqueror’s Haki, Zoro entered the realm of the absolute strongest fighters.

Having unleashed the true power of his Haki and established his mastery over Enma, Zoro took a big step forward. Carrying on the Shimotsuki legacy, Zoro is striving to become the World’s Strongest Swordsman, and support Luffy in his journey to become the Pirate King.


Be sure to keep up with One Piece's manga, anime, and live-action as 2023 progresses.

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