It occurred to me that Act 2 of Wano is the closest thing to a “shounen training arc” we’ll probably see in One Piece. The two main stories in it being Luffy and Zoro’s training in Ryuo.
Coincidentally the closest thing to a “shonen tournament arc” in One Piece was also just a section of a big arc. That being the Corrida Colosseum in Dressrosa. But I digress.
Now I wanted to try and sort out the stark differences between Luffy and Zoro’s training to see how Oda got creative with this very common trope of “training arcs”.
- Luffy acquired a master to train him while Zoro acquired an item to use for training. This is clever in a few ways. Luffy is not used to training himself so of course he requires a master to instruct him whereas Zoro trains as a hobby everyday so he has practice in training himself with little instruction. Also the similarity in the method of acquisition highlights how similar Zoro and Luffy are. Both of them got these things because they displayed a lot of strength and selflessness towards strangers.
- Luffy learns what Zoro can do while Zoro learns what Luffy can do. Luffy learns how to output Haki from his body into the air same way Zoro can output Haki from his body into his swords. Zoro learns to generate ridiculous amounts of his Haki same way Luffy can generate ridiculous amounts of his Haki in Gear Four. Enma requires you to generate so much of your own Haki that you can pass out from exhaustion which is something only Luffy has been able to do AT WILL with Gear Four draining his Haki to exhaustion. Now Zoro must do this as well AT WILL even without Enma since swords aren’t supposed to decide for the swordsman how much they cut.
- Luffy has onscreen training while Zoro essentially offscreened his training. The bulk of Luffy’s story is actually him training while Zoro literally acquires his training sword one chapter to the end of his story. Of course this highlights the previous point, Zoro doesn’t need that much onscreen training time since we know he’s more experienced at training regularly than Luffy is.
- Luffy starts his training because he got beaten while Zoro starts his training because he needs a third sword. This is very fun as a contrast since again the character writing is very appropriate. Luffy is always easily motivated by recognising his failure especially after Marineford. Zoro is easily motivated by the need for three swords and even dangerous swords that drain people don’t matter as long as it’s a third sword.
- The training mirrors each of their time skip training. Luffy was taught with constant battles against beasts and this time he’s constantly fighting “Beasts Pirates”. Zoro from what we know was told to go and just pick up on Armament Haki just on his own somehow and this time Zoro again trains on his own but with assistance from Enma. Even the unfinished aspects of the training is similar. Luffy pre time-skip never picked up on Advanced Armament and Zoro never managed to make an actual black blade. Now Luffy is mastering Advanced Armament and twice now, Black Blades have been mentioned in reference to Zoro during his training.