One Piece: How the three Straw Hat Commanders symbolize Earth, Sea, and the Sky

Zoro, Jinbe and Sanji are Luffy
Zoro, Jinbe and Sanji are Luffy's strongest subordinates (Image via Toei Animation, One Piece)

One Piece's protagonist group, the Straw Hat Pirates, recently achieved a major milestone; after their victory over the mighty Beasts Pirates, they finally achieved the status of a Yonko crew.

Since the beginning of the series, Luffy, Zoro, and Sanji have been forming the crew's Monster Trio, i.e. the three strongest Straw Hats. In Wano, another powerful individual, the former Warlord Jinbe, joined the crew. Luffy is the leader of the Straw Hat Pirates, while Zoro is his right-hand man and strongest subordinate. Sanji (the cook) and Jinbe (the helmsman) are the other mighty members of the bunch.

Although it's more of a fanmade-term, Zoro and the others can be considered as Luffy's three commanders and interestingly enough, the trio may share an unexpected connection.

Disclaimer: This article contains major spoilers from the One Piece manga up to chapter 1078 and reflects the writer's personal views, which may be subjective in nature.


One Piece may have hinted at a shocking link between Luffy's three strongest men

1) Roronoa Zoro represents the Earth

Roronoa Zoro as seen in One Piece (Image via Eiichiro Oda/Shueisha, One Piece)
Roronoa Zoro as seen in One Piece (Image via Eiichiro Oda/Shueisha, One Piece)

Zoro, Luffy's devoted right-hand man, is the second most powerful member of the Straw Hat Pirates. A master swordsman, he aims to become the world's strongest, surpassing even Dracule Mihawk.

Zoro is the only crewmember who is comparable in power to Luffy. Such immense strength allows the character to often act as the vice-captain of the crew, replacing Luffy if needed and protecting him if he is incapacitated or in danger.

The connection between Luffy and Zoro is very similar to the one between Rayleigh and Roger. In fact, they are the only two Straw Hats to share several strength-related accomplishments.

The duo aim to reach the top as the Pirate King and the World's Strongest Swordsman, respectively. Both are members of the Eleven Supernovas of the Worst Generation, making them "super rookies," the mightiest rising pirates.

Among the Straw Hats, only Luffy and Zoro are born with the rare Conqueror's Haki, which emphasizes their superior willpower and potential. Impressively, both managed to upgrade that ability to its advanced level, which is a feat in itself.

Zoro is noticeably linked with the element of Earth; his counterpart from the older generation, Silvers Rayleigh, was hailed as the Dark King, hinting at him being a sort of a "shadow captain" for Gol D. Roger.

After unleashing his ambition as a true owner of the Conqueror's Haki, Zoro goes by the name of King of Hell, which is an obvious parallel to Rayleigh's very similar moniker.

In the original Japanese spelling, Zoro and Rayeigh's epithets have the same exact meaning as "King of the Underworld," which recalls the mythological concept of an individual powerful enough to rule on his own, but who decides to stay in another person's shadow.

This was the case with Hades to Zeus (for ancient Greeks) and Pluto to Jupiter (for ancient Romans) and also seems to be the evident inspiration for Zoro and Rayleigh, who, despite being kings in their own right, decided to follow Luffy and Gol D. Roger respectively.

Not only Zoro's self-imposed moniker recalls the King of Hell of ancient Greek and Roman mythology, but one of his swords, Enma, is directly tied to the same concept. In the context of Japanese myths, the latter is indeed the "King of Hell" who judges dead souls, ruling the underworld.

Many of Zoro's sword techniques follow demonic imagery and terminology. Due to his overwhelming strength and threatening aura, even he himself has often been compared to a demon in human form.

Demons are obviously linked to the underworld, which recalls Zoro's King of Hell theme once again. It goes without saying that most myths consider the insides of the Earth to be the location of Hell.

Furthermore, it was recently revealed that Zoro's mother was named Terra. Interestingly enough, "Terra" is the Italian word for "Earth." This marks the umpteenth connection between Zoro and this element.


2) Jinbe represents the Sea

Jinbe as seen in One Piece (Image via Toei Animation, One Piece)
Jinbe as seen in One Piece (Image via Toei Animation, One Piece)

Jinbe is the helmsman of the Straw Hat Pirates and one of the top fighters in the crew. As the former captain of the Sun Pirates and a former member of the Seven Warlords, the character is an influential and experienced pirate.

Jinbe's strength was praised even by the Four Emperors. After joining the Straw Hat Pirates, he was awarded a greater bounty than Sanji; this occurrence led fans into debating whether the third strongest member of the crew was Jinbe or Sanji.

However, it has been stated several times that bounties aren’t purely a reflection of strength. Jinbe's bounty could have been inflated by his history as a former subordinate of the two emperors, Whitebeard and Big Mom, as well as a former warlord.

Regardless of Jinbe's background having potentially played a role in is bounty, One Piece author Eiichiro Oda wanted the former warlord's head to be worth a lower price than Zoro's, but higher than Sanji's. Admittedly, this could be a compelling point.

Given how poorly reliable bounties are with regards to power levels, Jinbe having a greater bounty than Sanji doesn't necessarily mean the former is stronger than the latter. They shouldn't be that far from in strength, though.

When it comes to feats, Jinbe is one of the characters that Eiichiro Oda always treats with respect. Every single time that he is featured in One Piece, he makes a decent impression, no matter who he has to face.

Jinbe is clearly linked to the Sea. He is a whale shark fishman, making him part of their race. Fishmen are hominids that possess traits of water-breathing creatures, having both lungs and gills.

Each of them presents features of a type of fish or cephalopod, obtaining different abilities depending on the species. Moreover, they have the latent power to manipulate water, which can be developed through martial arts training.

Jinbe is not only a fishman, but one of the most powerful representatives, if not the absolute strongest, of his race. This earned him the moniker of "Knight of the Sea." With his fishman traits and his epithet, no one more than Jinbe can represent the aquatic element.


3) Sanji Vinsmoke represents the Sky

Sanji Vinsmoke as seen in One Piece (Image via Eiichiro Oda/Shueisha, One Piece)
Sanji Vinsmoke as seen in One Piece (Image via Eiichiro Oda/Shueisha, One Piece)

Sanji is the cook of the Straw Hat Pirates. He is usually considered to be the third most powerful member of the crew, ranking only below Luffy and Zoro within the crew hierarchy of strength.

Sanji dreams of finding the All Blue, a legendary place where all the seas join in a single one. He is usually a rather clever individual, however, when in the presence of women, his exaggerated chivalry makes him lose his mind.

One Piece typically features Sanji using his kicks to challenge the third strongest combatant from the enemy's side. He indeed uses only his legs to fight, refusing to use his hands, which he only uses to cook.

Sanji comes from the Vinsmoke family, a bloodline that rules the Germa Kingdom. Native to the North Blue, the Vinsmokes also work as infamous mercenaries, employing their army, the Germa 66.

As shown in the Whole Cake Island Arc, Sanji has a very strained relationship with his family. After awakening the genetic enhancements connected to his Vinsmoke heritage, he noticeably improved his body, unlocking a new level of capabilities.

Sanji is tied with the Sky. His mother was named Sora, which is the Japanese word for "sky." Moreover, after the time skip, Sanji started using aerial techniques that allowed him to move in mid-air.

Performing a technique called "Sky Walk," Sanji can leap to great heights in the sky. Kicking the air itself at great speed, he can even propel himself in mid-air, following the same principles as the World Government agents' Geppo.

During the Wano Arc, Sanji decided to destroy the Raid Suit that he received from his family. However, he previously used that item, which allowed him to temporarily gain the ability of free flight.


One Piece author Eiichiro Oda may be hinting at something big

Even the mere blueprints of an Ancient Weapon are threatening (Image via Toei Animation, One Piece)
Even the mere blueprints of an Ancient Weapon are threatening (Image via Toei Animation, One Piece)

With Zoro, Jinbe, and Sanji being clearly linked to Earth, Sea, and Sky respectively, they represent the three planets which, in Greek and Roman mythology, are linked to three distinct deities. The Greek names of those deities are especially interesting.

The Earth, tied to the realm of the underworld, i.e. Hell, is ruled by Pluto. The Sea is ruled by Poseidon and finally, Uranus rules the Sky. It may be a coincidence, but these three deities are the names of the infamous Ancient Weapons.

Capable of immeasurable destruction, the Ancient Weapons are indeed known as Pluton, Poseidon, and Uranus. The World Government fears that knowledge of such weapons could result in a global war, but simultaneously tries to gain possession of them.

Pluton is indeed connected to Earth, which is the venue of Hell. Crocodile believed that Pluton was buried deep somewhere in Arabasta, but, after decyphering a Poneglyph, Nico Robin discovered that in truth it can be found somewhere in Wano.

Poseidon, the personification of the Sea, is a mermaid who has the ability to command the Sea Kings, giant aquatic creatures. Hence, it is not an item but a living being. The current owner of Poseidon is Shirahoshi, the mermaid princess of the Ryugu Kingdom.

Not much is known about Uranus, but it's rather clear that the third Ancient Weapon will be heavily tied to the Sky, given the inherent connection with such an element. Hopefully, more will be revealed in the next arcs.

Considering the massive amount of references, One Piece author Eiichiro Oda may be truly hinting at something. Zoro is the "King of Hell" and his ancestors are natives of Wano, the country where Pluton is located.

Jinbe can fight at his best when he is near the water, and is originary of Fishman Island, like Poseidon. Sanji has many aerial moves, and an evident tie with the Sky, the element of Uranus.

Some One Piece fans speculated that Sanji's Vinsmoke heritage may be related to the Void Century, through the Vinsmoke family's bloodline manipulation. The Void Century was stated to have a connection to Ancient Weapons.

Sanji's genetic powers could be a result of a bloodline tie with the Lunarians. During the Wano Arc, some cryptic dialogs between him and Queen seemed to hint at this. Moreover, Sanji's capabilities seem to reflect those of a Lunarian, although on a lower scale.

For instance, he is especially resistant to fire, and can even generate it freely, even if it is not as strong as those of Lunarians, which was directly compared to magma.

While Lunarians are invulnerable when their flames are active, Sanji doesn't possess such extreme resilience. Still, he recently developed an exoskeleton, which makes his body much tougher than that of most characters.

The Lunarian tribe mysteriously disappeared. Many fans believe that the World Government is the culprit for their onslaught. Interestingly enough, the Lunarians dwelled on the Red Line, where the World Government later created the Holy Land of Mary Geoise.

It's possible that Uranus was in the skies above the Red Line and that Lunarians had access to it. After taking over the Lunarians, the World Government, led by Imu, took possession of Uranus as well.

This would tie well with the widely shared theory, according to which the powers that allowed Imu to instantly destroy the Lulusia Kingdom by blasting it from the sky were none other than those of Uranus.


In conclusion

Many One Piece fans believe that Imu used Uranus to destroy the Lulusia Kingdom (Image via Eiichiro Oda/Shueisha, One Piece)
Many One Piece fans believe that Imu used Uranus to destroy the Lulusia Kingdom (Image via Eiichiro Oda/Shueisha, One Piece)

The lore of One Piece never ceases to capture the interests of fans. With the aim of predicting Eiichiro Oda's plot, fans analyze every possible aspect of the series. Admittedly, some details are just coincidences.

With regards to the connection between Luffy's three strongest subordinates and the three elements of Earth, Sea, and Sky, which in their own right are inherently tied to the Ancient Weapons, nothing can be excluded.

It may turn into a simple coincidence, or a purposeful red herring. It could also be the cue to something big that will be revealed in the final arc of One Piece. At the moment, there are no certainties.

Still, one of the greatest supporters of the aforementioned theories is the account of Arthur - Library of Ohara, a popularizer for analysis and news regarding One Piece. Undoubtedly, fans can't wait to see if he is right this time too.

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