Being the World's Strongest Swordsman, "Hawk Eyes" Mihawk is among One Piece's mightiest fighters. He is portrayed to be at least as strong as "Red Hair" Shanks, if not even stronger than the latter. Aiming to reach and surpass Mihawk, Roronoa Zoro relentlessly improves.
One Piece 1073 featured Zoro clashing with S-Hawk, the Seraphim based on Mihawk, and intimidating him. With a relaxed smile, Zoro compared the Seraphim to the real Mihawk, stating that despite being a cyborg, S-Hawk appears to be much more human than "Hawk Eyes."
Such a statement emphasizes Mihawk's reputation for strength, implying that he is several times stronger than S-Hawk, a cyborg powerful enough to replace the Warlords. This thread attempts an analysis of Mihawk's might.
Disclaimer: This article contains major spoilers from the One Piece manga up to chapter 1074 and reflects the writer's personal views.
Being the strongest swordsman in One Piece, Dracule Mihawk surpasses even the Four Emperors
One Piece fans can't wait to see Hawk Eyes Mihawk in action. With the series having entered its endgame, the time for the World's Strongest Swordsman to receive his well-deserved spotlight is finally about to come.
One after another, Mihawk overwhelmed all his opponents until he was declared to be the most powerful. Given his former nickname of “Marine Hunter” it’s safe to say that nobody was off-limits in his quest to reach the top of the world of swordsmanship. Not even Shanks could beat him.
As revealed in the One Piece Vivre Card Databook, since Shanks lost an arm, and Mihawk is waiting for a challenger even mightier than him. That person will likely be Roronoa Zoro.
Despite being strong enough to outclass an Emperor's right-hand man, Zoro still needs to improve further to reach Mihawk's level. This emphasizes how powerful the infamous "Hawk Eyes" is.
Mihawk was the first member of the Seven Warlords of the Sea to be introduced. Along with Crocodile, Mihawk recently co-founded Cross Guild, a new organization that shocked the One Piece world.
The group's supposed leader, Buggy, was raised to the status of Emperor, implying that Cross Guild's power and influence are equivalent to those of a Yonko crew. In fact, the true founders and rulers of the group are Mihawk and Crocodile.
Not interested in becoming a Yonko, Mihawk decided to present Buggy as the figurehead leader of Cross Guild, to alienate any unwanted attention from himself. Believing in the facade, the World Government declared Buggy one of the Four Emperors.
Objectively, the only asset that allows Cross Guild to compare with a Yonko crew is the presence of Mihawk, who is as powerful as the Emperors, if not stronger than many of them. Mihawk could have achieved the Yonko status had he wanted to, he he chose not to obtain it.
Mihawk and Shanks are true rivals
Dracule Mihawk is a man of the same caliber as Shanks, a mighty swordsman and Haki master who is reckoned among the Four Emperors. The two share a world-renowned strength rivalry. As such, they are depicted as sort of equals.
Being the World's Strongest Swordsman, Mihawk is implied to be even more powerful than Shanks, which is an extraordinary feat, given that the latter is an individual strong enough to intimidate Admiral Ryokugyu and clash with Whitebeard.
Mihawk and Shanks used to fight a lot. Their ferocious battles became famous throughout the entire Grand Line, to the point where even Whitebeard, the World's Strongest Man and a rival to the Pirate King, acknowledged those clashes as legendary.
As One Piece Magazine recently revealed, the rivalry between Shanks and Mihawk is an analogy to the one between Gol D. Roger and Whitebeard. Just like them, outside of combat, Shanks and Mihawk have a friendly relationship, getting along despite their diametrically opposed personalities.
Mihawk and Whitebeard have the world's strongest title, which their counterparts didn't seek, despite being more or less as powerful as them. Shanks and Roger became Emperor and Pirate King, respectively. Their counterparts could have achieved that had they wanted, but they weren't interested.
Shanks and Mihawk are two of the main benchmarks for Luffy and Zoro, respectively. As such, they share a Yin and Yang dynamic as the prominent figures who act as both mentors and rivals for the two most ambitious members of the Strawhats Pirates.
An overview of Mihawk's Haki abilities
Since the beginning of the series, Mihawk has been set up as Zoro's final and greatest opponent, waiting for him at the top of the world. With Zoro being revealed as a Supreme King as well as an Advanced Conqueror's Haki user, it's unrealistic to think that Mihawk won't have those abilities.
Conqueror's Haki is a natural-born ability. It is only possessed by those who have the attitude to be king, i.e. the willpower and the concrete potential to overwhelm their opponents and enter the circle of the absolute strongest in the world.
Being the World's Strongest Swordsman, Mihawk is a king who sits on the throne above all the other fighters. He gained fame by defeating stronger and stronger swordsmen until he had no worthy challengers left and now reigns at the top as the most powerful in the world.
A testament to Mihawk's incredibly powerful Armament Haki, he was able to make his sword a Black Blade. Besides him and the legendary Ryuma, no other character was ever able to achieve this feat.
Mihawk likely possesses a remarkable Observation Haki as well. During the Paramount War, he was able to precisely locate Luffy despite the latter being very far from him. He was also able to blend in with a crowd of thousands and thousands of people.
Being able to clash with Shanks, a master of this ability, Mihawk's Haki prowess is certainly one of the best in the entire One Piece world. Another testament to this, despite starting as a novice, Zoro became a Haki master after receiving personal teachings from Mihawk.
Mihawk's bounty is only based on his individual strength
Contrary to what some might think, bounties aren't power levels and don't measure the strength of characters. The amount of the reward doesn't only consider the individual's fighting capabilities but mostly depends on the offences perpetuated against the World Government.
Characters often receive a lower, or occasionally even higher, reward compared to what they would deserve because of their individual strength. Thus, bounties are not meant to be power levels. Feats, statements and portrayals are much better arguments to back up theories involving the power scaling of the series.
However, it may be interesting to compare how the author issued Mihawk's bounty (3.590.000.000 berries), especially in comparison with that of Shanks' (4.048.900.000 berries).
Frankly, it's remarkable that Mihawk has a bounty not that far from Shanks. The latter is one of the Four Emperors and the captain of a group which includes very powerful individuals, such as Benn Beckman, his right-hand man, as well as Lucky Roux and Yasopp.
Having such an insanely strong crew at his disposal was directly mentioned to be one of the reasons for Shanks' bounty. Conversely, Mihawk, up until the recent foundation of Cross Guild, has always been a lone wolf, wandering alone without comrades, let alone powerful ones.
The mere fact that Shanks is a Yonko is a significant boost to his bounty. In fact, being categorized as one of the Four Emperors causes the individual's bounty to surge noticeably.
Emperors fighting each other is a very rare occurrence: Kaido and Big Mom haven't seen each other in years. Whitebeard stated that he hasn't heard Shanks' name in a long time. This means that most of Shanks' fame as a fighter comes from his battles with Mihawk.
It is very impressive that Mihawk has a slightly lower bounty than Shanks (3,6 billion berries to 4 billion berries) despite not being an Emperor and not having any crew, let alone a very mighty one.
Mihawk's bounty is not inflated by any of these aspects. He was awarded it only because of how powerful he is, being the World's Strongest Swordsman and a fighter even mightier than Shanks.
As the World's Strongest Swordsman, Mihawk surpasses even Shanks
To this day, no pronouncement in the series puts Shanks over Mihawk, but there are several statements that directly declare the opposite. The fact that the former is a swordsman, and the latter holds the title of the World's Strongest Swordsman, automatically implies that Mihawk is stronger than Shanks.
Now the gap may be very slight, and they are likely very close in strength, to the point where they can be considered equals. However, if one of them is stronger than the other, that's Mihawk. In fact, that's what was stated.
A narrative hinting at Mihawk's superiority may be the fact that he visited Shanks in the latter's own territory and in front of his own crew, brutally calling him "One Armed Has Been." Shanks did nothing to stand up for himself, and neither did any of his crewmates.
The weaker crew members appeared to be frightened by Mihawk's appearance. The fact that not even Benn Beckman attempted to trash talk back at Mihawk is emblematic.
This moment is important because it establishes one of the core layers of Mihawk's character. He sits alone at the top, suffering from success - after Shanks has lost an arm, there is no swordsman strong enough to give him a properly challenging duel.
This notion was asserted in the very beginning of the story, featuring a bored Mihawk who, after many years, finally found himself excited again, because of Zoro's exceptional, once-in-a-lifetime potential. Mihawk understood that Zoro is the only swordsman who could potentially surpass him.
Mhawk's superiority over Shanks was restated in One Piece chapter 1058, which textually pronounced that the former's swordsmanship surpasses the latter's. Some fans tried to argue that swordsmanship doesn't include Haki, speculating that Mihawk is a better swordsman but Shanks is stronger overall.
However, this argument seems to be completely flawed. Not only does swordsmanship include Haki, it is inherently based on it. The clearest evidence of this is Zoro's path throughout the series.
Most of Zoro's power-ups and techniques are based on nothing other than Haki. Cutting steel, using Armament Hardening, mastering Enma, learning the King of Hell Style, achieving a Black Blade - most of Zoro's growth as a swordsman involves him learning or improving his Haki.
If Zoro can still be called a swordsman despite using Haki cannonades and barriers, as well as Conqueror's Haki bursts, there's no reason to think that Shanks can't, especially given that Shanks has been referred to as a swordsman several times throughout the series, and has involved his Gryphon sword in every combat issue he has been included in.
Mihawk's true power is reserved for One Piece's endgame
To this day, One Piece author Eiichiro Oda has only shown a glimpse of Mihawk's capabilities. The World's Strongest Swordsman's real power is yet to be shown in the manga.
However, this makes him even more impressive. Even one of Mihawk's most casual attacks, a nameless slash, unleashed enough power to cut in half a mountain-sized iceberg.
To cut a mountain-sized area, characters such as Zoro and Law fresh out of the time skip needed to put much more effort, into using some of their best techniques. This gives an insight into how fearsome Mihawk's real capabilities can be expected to be.
Kaido, one of the Four Emperors and a man known as the World's Strongest Creature held very high esteem Oden Kozuki, a swordsman from Wano. During a heated battle, Oden was able to inflict a serious injury on Kaido, to the point where the latter was left with a scar.
Despite such an incredible feat, which left a mark on Kaido both physically and mentally, not once in his lifetime was Oden ever recognized as the World's Strongest Swordsman, even though he was an extremely famous samurai who made a name sailing with Whitebeard and Gol D. Roger.
Still, even with such power and fame, Oden's reputation for strength didn't even approach that of Mihawk. Even Zoro, who managed to replicate the same feat as Oden, still has a way to go before being comparable to the World's Strongest Swordsman.
Hawk Eyes Mihawk is a true icon of the series. One Piece fans have been waiting for years to see him in action and learn more about him. His status as the World’s Strongest Swordsman and the ultimate benchmark for Zoro emphasizes his role in Eiichiro Oda's masterpiece.
Another significant trait of Mihawk's character is his rivalry with "Red Hair" Shanks. Being depicted as a swordsman even stronger than Shanks, Mihawk is easily one of the most powerful characters in the series.
Shanks is so strong that he can intimidate Admiral Ryokugyu as well as clash on equal grounds with Whitebeard. However, not even he could overcome Mihawk. In fact, the latter is waiting for another contender even stronger than Shanks to challenge him.
With One Piece having entered its endgame, the moment for fans to witness Mihawk's real fighting capabilities is not too far away. Until Zoro is ready to challenge him to a fierce duel, Mihawk will wait for him, reigning as the World's Strongest.
This article was modified on Wednesday, July 26, at 2:19 pm
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