First of all, I firmly believe that cherry blossoms exist in Wano. Roger and Whitebeard are seen talking next to a cherry blossom in a flashback shown during the Marineford arc.
Roger also recruited Oden from Whitebeard’s crew, which was revealed during the Zou arc. If you add the fact that Oden is from originally from Wano, it can be deduced that this conversation between the two took place in Wano.
Cherry blossoms are significant in japanese culture, so it makes sense that they have them in Wano. They represent the fragility of life and death, which seems to fit in with a lot of the connections I’m about to discuss. And besides, why else put them in the background of their conversation if they had no importance? After all, these were 2 of the most powerful and influential pirates the world has ever seen.
The connections I discovered are undeniable, but I had a hard time coming up with a solid conclusion so these are just speculations.
For those of you that don’t remember, Doctor Hiluluk was Chopper’s father figure and original mentor.
Quote from Hiluluk wiki page: “In his early days, Hiluluk was a thief who was diagnosed with a fatal illness. What he believed cured him was the serene vision of a grove of cherry blossoms.” This was told to Chopper as a story like “In a faraway land in the west, there was a thief who had a heart disease”, but it was later implied (by how Doctor Kureha spoke to him about it) that he had been referring to himself. In short, a man see a bunch of cherry blossoms and his incurable disease seems to go away, and he uses this story to tell Chopper that there are no incurable diseases.
In the manga, he says “a powerful emotion had triggered the man’s body, and cured him!” Assuming that cherry blossoms are in Wano, could he have been in Wano at one point? Oda decided to make him a thief, so could he have stolen some cherry blossom leaves to experiment with so that he could try to “replicate” them in Drum Kingdom? Did they actually have healing properties?
His fatal illness wasn’t actually cured, and it was never revealed where it came from. Even Dr. Kureha, a world renowned doctor, told him that his body was infected by a strong bacteria that she could not cure (although she was able to keep it at bay for a while longer). It must have had a very delayed effect, because over 30 years had passed since he was originally diagnosed with this fatal disease, assuming the story he told Chopper was true.
What other person do we know had a fatal, incurable disease with a delayed effect? The one and only Pirate King, Gol D. Roger. He got this fatal disease from an unknown source, but died 4 years later. (He died by execution, but it was heavily implied that he would have succumbed to his illness soon after.) What’s more is that his disease was also kept at bay by his doctor, Crocus. This was the main reason he was recruited for the final journey of the Roger Pirates.
Another weird connection is that after his “interaction” with the Cherry Blossoms, Hiluluk was examined by a doctor and was said to be completely healthy.
28 years ago, Roger contracted his incurable disease. During episode 0, Buggy tries to use the captain’s “condition” as an excuse so that Crocus (the ship’s doctor) would stop Roger from battling Shiki. Crocus replies by saying he’s in perfect shape. This doesn’t make sense, because he contracted an seemingly fatal and incurable disease a year before the Edd War. My guess is that he went to Wano before this war, and had some kind of “interaction” with these cherry blossoms.
Also, in Hiluluk’s story, the man “passed a mountain” before stumbling upon the cherry blossoms. In the flashback of the conversation between Whitebeard and Roger, they are clearly mountains in the background, and they even seem to be on top of one.
My last connection is that they both had a common and unique outlook on death.
Hiluluk says this shortly before his death: “Hey… When do you think a person dies? When a bullet from a pistol pierces his heart? No… When he’s attacked by an incurable disease? No… When he eats a deadly poisonous mushroom soup? No! A man dies when people forget him…”
Roger says this to Rayleigh shortly before his death: “I’m not gonna die, partner.” If you combine this with what he said at his execution platform, you can come to the conclusion that he had the same outlook on “death” as Hiluluk: a man only dies when he is forgotten.
So here are all of the connections:
- They both have (allegedly) been to Wano, and had some sort of interation with cherry blossoms.
- They are the only known characters to contract a fatal, incurable disease.
- The sources of their diseases are unknown.
- Both of their illnesses had some kind of delay already, and were delayed even further by a doctor.
- At some point after they contracted their illness, both of their doctors told them they were in good health.
- They both seemed to be near mountains during their “interactions” with the cherry blossoms. They might have even been at the same place.
- They both had a common and unique outlook on death.
But what could this possibly mean? I’m pretty confident that these things are too similar to be a coincidence, but I’m not exactly sure how it’s supposed to be interpreted.
Here are the possibilities I could think of:
- Maybe Hiluluk’s story was a lie, or at least somewhat exaggerated. The man in his story was rich, but he was not. It sounds like the man traveled to Wano, but it doesn’t seem like he would be able to travel that far into the new world. He did, however, emphasize to Chopper how small the Drum Kingdom really was and how it was a just a speck compared to the rest of the world, which could imply he did do some travelling. Also, the man in the story had a heart disease, while Doctor Kureha diagnosed Hiluluk to have “strong bacteria in [his] body”, which does not line up. Of course, “heart disease” just could refer to his sinful desires like thievery. After all, he said “this country, its government, and the hearts of the people are sick” in a previous panel of the same chapter, in which he seemed to be referring to the corrupt nature of the government and the oppression and sadness of the people. The only reason I don’t like this idea is because the moral of the story would be something along the lines of “cherry blossoms make you feel better” and that’s just kinda insignificant.
- He could be telling a story about Gol D. Roger. The timeline wouldn’t fit if it were really him 30 years before, so it could have been about someone else. 30 years ago would have mean he sailed the new world before Roger, and thats doubtful. Getting back to the East Blue without getting to Raftel first would be one hell of a feat. Although, Roger was never truly cured, yet it seems like the person in the story was. Regardless, his only reason for telling the story was to show Chopper that there is no incurable diseases, so that last part may have been his “alternate ending”. Idk. Roger had an incurable disease, has seen cherry blossoms, and was probably was rich, so those parts of the story would fit.
- Chopper may play an important role in Wano relating to the cherry blossoms.
*Theory by Su Long Bepo