Simply put Zoro is the closest thing we have to a deutoragonist in the entirety of One Piece, not Law, not Kid, not Ace nor Koby, only Pirate Hunter Zoro. “What does deutoragonist mean?” you ask, well the deutoragonist is the secondary protagonist, as in second only to the protagonist. With that definition established it’s easy to see why the most fitting candidate in the story of One Piece is Roronoa Zoro.
Zoro’s performance on the rooftop is indicative of his narrative position; out of all the Supernovas on the rooftop, the two shown to be delivering the most consistent damage and eliciting the strongest reactions from the Yonko were none other than our protagonist and deutoragonist. That isn’t a coincidence, it’s a narrative.
Zoro has also been paralleled with Silvers Rayleigh much in the same way Luffy is with Roger. The same Silvers Rayleigh who Garp had as much respect for as The World’s Strongest Man, an indication on where on the totem pole the top two of a Pirate King crew rank.
Silvers Rayleigh isn’t the only interesting parallel I found, I bet you you can’t find a character with more similarities to Luffy than Zoro himself, other than maybe Garp or Roger. Don’t believe me? Here’s but a few examples both in and out of Wano:
- both were about to attack a Celestial Dragon no problem
- both agreed on ruining the Onigashima plan because of the O-Shiruko
- both went to sea to surpass top tier pirates who were Rivals
- both of their dreams require the absolute pinnacle of strength to achieve
- both have a scar on/around their left eye and across their chests
- both have a mentor role to Momonosuke and a special relationship with each Kozuki sibling
- both don’t want to be heroes they want to eat meat/drink sake.
There’s many more but I think the point is clear here, Luffy and Zoro are the pair in One Piece because they are the protagonists. And that has been no different in Wano, especially so in Wano where Luffy and Zoro have had the most narrative focus in the entire arc.
Zoro himself has inherited two swords wielded by legendary Wano figures, one of which slayed a dragon and another fought and permanently scarred a pirate who can turn into a dragon. And guess what, all of Zoro’s swords right now are Wano-made and it’s painfully obvious he is STILL going to perform amazingly in an arc set in Wano.
When you see Zoro performing better than your favourite characters it’s not Oda downplaying or wanking or whatever the word of the day is, it’s just the narrative of Zoro being second only to Luffy. Don’t be surprised if Zoro goes back to fight/beat Kaido with/without Luffy because if anyone in the narrative can do it, it’s the character who stands next to the protagonist.