Something that has always striked me as “interesting”, to say the least, is Dragon’s tattoo. Especially the fact that in Chapter 0, we see Monkey D. Dragon at Roger’s execution, 24 years ago.
At that time Dragon didn’t have a tattoo. It was deliberately excluded, and in the current day it is a staple for Dragon’s appearance. It severely affects his appearance and it is probably the most memorable thing about his design.
But what is this tattoo? What does this symbolise, and why did Dragon get it?
Well, to answer this, I’ll have to refer to another symbol that has appeared in the story, a symbol that is fascinatingly very similar to the one tattoo’d on Dragon’s face. In fact, I think it is fair to say that Dragon’s tattoo and that symbol definitely have some sort of connection.
That symbol was seen on Ryuma’s kimono back in Thriller Bark.
The main reason I believe this symbol has a connection to Dragon’s tattoo is because of the kanji on Ryuma’s tattoo. The kanji on Ryuma’s kimono is the kanji for “Dragon”.
DRAGON’S APPARENT CONNECTION TO SHIMOTSUKI KOUSHIROU
In the ASL flashback, Dragon and the Revolutionaries who accompanied him at the time were shown on the shore of Shimotsuki Village and were supplied with provisions by the dojo in the village. The dojo ran by Koushirou. This has led to numerous theories regarding the possible connection between Koushirou (Zoro’s master) and Dragon.
Interestingly enough, this relationship between Dragon and Koushirou was alluded to a while back in a fan-sponsored interview with Oda. Take from this what you will, but the censorship of Oda’s words and the reaction of the guys who asked the question tells me that Oda spilled some beans in the interview.
Considering Dragon is a wanted man and we’ve only seen him seek refuge with trusted individuals (ie. Ivankov), I think it’s very safe to assume that he was familiar with someone in Shimotsuki Village before he went there to gather supplies.
If you’re wondering why I’m calling Koushirou a Shimotsuki, it was confirmed in the SBS Question Corner of Volume 96 that Shimotsuki Kozaburo (the man mentioned in Chapter 955 who forged Enma and Wado Ichimonji) illegally set out to sea from Wano and found himself in the East Blue. He settled down in a village there and had a son who he named Koushirou. Yes, the same Koushirou who lived in Zoro’s home village.
Oda also alluded that Zoro could be a member of the Shimotsuki family in this SBS.
Speculation – DRAGON’S QUEST FOR KNOWLEDGE
This is where the speculation and theorising begins.
Dragon is a man who is actively working to destroy the World Government. Of course, power is an absolute necessity for him to achieve this goal but something just as, if not more important than power is knowledge.
I believe Dragon ventured to Wano in his youth, specifically around 18 years ago. Considering Wano has deep deep connections to the Void Century and Poneglyphs, it is only fair to assume that that this is the perfect place for Dragon to seek knowledge and information.
Shimotsuki Ryuma was famed as a great defender of Wano. He is the man who kept Wano safe from the World Government, taking a defensive approach.
Contrastingly, Dragon is the man who is trying to save the world from the World Government. Trying to topple them, taking an offensive approach.
This is something very similar yet wildly different between the two.
As I said earlier, I believe Dragon ventured to Wano, specifically 18 years ago.
WHY 18 YEARS AGO?
Because that was the year Shimotsuki Ushimaru was killed by Kaido.
Considering they are both a part of the Shimotsuki Family and the village in the East Blue is literally called “Shimotsuki Village”, it is only fair to assume that Ushimaru could have had a relationship with his relative, Koushirou.