Kaido has begun to take things more seriously. He’s starting to get visibly irritated at the Worst Generation opposing him. If I could describe Chapter 1010 in one word, it would be “defiance.” Kaido, the eastern dragon god who stands over these new gen pirates, demands they stay down and submit.
Zoro, the Conqueror, faces all the hardships despite his broken bones. He refuses to allow Kaido to harm Luffy. This shows how important Oda views Zoro’s dedication. Zoro needed to basically dead but not to be forced to leave and leave things to Luffy. Zoro’s level of devotion is still alien to Kaido, who believes pirates can only be coerced into obedience. Zoro’s resolve is channeled into Asura, which he uses to permanently scar Kaido. The second to ever do so.
Kaido mentions Conqueror’s Haki, which would explain several things for Zoro. For starters, it explains the various strange instances of where his aura is mentioned.
Overwhelming figures with weaker spirits.
Taming Enma. No one but Oden, another Conqueror’s Haki user, has done.
Asura in specific is assuredly related to Haki, as the first time it was used, Kaku concluded it manifested through his force of will.
And now we have Kaido wondering if Zoro has Conqueror’s Haki after that attack.
Zoro’s attack leaving a scar is also akin to Oden. The fact none of the Red Scabbards could permanently scar Kaido could mean that the ability to actually put down Kaido rests on those who possess Conqueror’s Haki.
All in all, Zoro possessing Conqueror’s Haki is a done deal. But is he done for the arc? Far from it. Zoro’s role is not done. The other Straw Hats still have their fights to complete. In some cases, haven’t even begun them. Zoro will form a black blade this arc, as will be mentioned later with Luffy, Zoro’s power progression this arc is tied to forming a black blade, and his contribution can’t be done until he has. Wano is the arc where Enma boasts the most narrative importance, and the impact of blackening it after Wano would be lessened.
The Kaido/Zoro panel on Conqueror’s Haki gives off an ominous feeling that Zoro still has unfinished business before these battles are done. Zoro has spent most of the battle on the roof on the defensive. He was more concerned protecting Luffy and the others than attacking head on, and the first real kill shot he had on Kaido missed.
Asura itself flew by relatively quickly, with Zoro experiencing what might’ve been a Haki bloom just before collapsing. Zoro will need to make use of that bloom in what is his and the others most important battle yet. Oda allowed us to see his best to a degree, but he needs more than his best, he has to go beyond it. Onigashima is still hurling towards the capital, and we all know of the legends about things flying over the capital. It may not come to pass, but Oda doesn’t write things without a reason.
But for now, he’ll need to rest, and he deserves it after all he’s done.