I always wanted to do a thread about Zoro and his personality, strength, ambition and how Oda handles him since the beginning of One Piece.
Zoro is a special character that lots of people love. The recent chapters 997th and 1000th clearly showed the characterization of Zoro and how much Oda loves him or at least doesn’t consider him just a friend of the MC.
Oda clearly gave Zoro the place of deuteragonist since the beginning of the manga but 50% want to ignore it because they want their character to also be important and shine which is understandable but if you are honest, you can clearly understand that Oda put Zoro next to Luffy and not as simple underling.
Deuteragonist means “the second most important character, after the protagonist. The deuteragonist may switch between supporting and opposing the protagonist, depending on the deuteragonist’s own conflict or plot” (definition by Wikipedia). Here Zoro doesn’t oppose to Luffy’s ambition but supports him at 100% but at the same time he is not just a supporting character because he didn’t forget his own ambition which is to become the World’s Strongest Swordsman.
And many won’t like it but the World’s Strongest Swordsman title put you directly in the top 5 of the OPverse considering how many Top Swords(wo)men we have in the manga. This is what I will explain to you in the following arguments and why Zoro could be considered as the Dark Horse of One Piece.
First of all, Zoro was created in 1997 so the only one shonen characters with whom we can compare is Vegeta so no Zoro is not Sasuke, Kenpachi nor Escanor, he is Zoro. But again except the pride arguments for Vegeta and Zoro, they are not at all the same. Zoro just after few chapters, was ready to give his life to save Luffy (Buggy arc), we waited a long time for Vegeta. That’s where the comparison between Zoro and Vegeta stops, when Vegeta had a character development through whole DBZ, Oda already showed Zoro as the buddy everyone want in their life: the friend who is ready to do anything for you.
But Zoro also got a character development, the more the manga progressed the more serious he became especially after his fight against Mihawk who changed forever Zoro. He understood that playing and goofing around are not gonna help him anymore because he is not Luffy. He trains everyday and fights opponents who are dangerous and lethal.
As I said many times, tanking a slash from edged weapons is not comparable to tank punches/kicks. I don’t want to underestimate any characters but let’s be honest, fighting a guy with your barehands and fighting a guy who has a sword, it’s completely a different thing.
Anyway back to Zoro, his personality changed the moment he faced Mihawk and not post-skip as many claim because it’s not the case. He seems to be more arrogant but in backstage, he keeps telling himself that he is still weak and needs to become stronger. That’s Zoro and the 2nd main character.
Zoro since the beginning of One Piece was always compared to Luffy. Many people even thought he was the captain and not Luffy, but why? In normal case, no one would even talk about that because Luffy is the MC but why Oda keeps doing that everytime? Even when Luffy showed his Conqueror’s Haki at Fishman Island, Zoro said “expected from my captain, if not he needs to step down”, why again? Because Oda wants to show that Zoro won’t follow any random people but only the chosen one: Luffy.
Let’s talk about post time-skip which is more interesting. At Fishman Island, Zoro one shoted Hody underwater and beat Hyouzou so the strongest fishmen in the island.
Why Zoro and not any other Straw Hat (not even Jinbe)? Because Oda wanted to draw a parallel between Luffy and Zoro. Again only those two fought an overpowered fishman who ate many drugs (Hody and Hyouzou), only both of them.
At Punk Hazard, no one from the enemies were strong enough for Zoro. Monet was no-match for Zoro and Oda knew that, that’s why for the first time in One Piece, Oda introduced something new: Beating an opponent without even touching him. So Zoro defeated a logia just by his menacing stare and that’s where Oda put Zoro in whole new powerscale.