Firstly, Zoro and Ryuma Parallels Appearance wise Zoro and Ushimaru (who is a direct descendant of Ryuma) are like two peas in a pod. Ryuma is also a one eyed swordsman. Both cut a Western Dragon. Both were punished for a Crime that was not done by them. Not a parallel but that Uncanny-ness in their looks shouldn’t go unnoticed, this may later be addressed additionally as a backstory or a flashback connecting Zoro and Shimotsuki bloodline.
The mention of Ryuma and his legend ever since Thriller Bark all the way to Wano is an interesting thing to me, for a character of the past, all his statements and connections should be directly connected to Zoro. Same with Shimotsuki Ushimaru.
Zoro’s Remaining Role in Wano
I believe all three parallels(Luffy, Oden, Ryuma) have an endpoint in mind. But before we talk about that, we need to talk about Zoro’s condition. It’s bad enough that Oda made Chopper mention this more than once.
An on other occasions, Franky has made note that Zoro’s condition is very dire. And there absolutely must be an end goal to this, right? Even bringing in the “Grim Reaper” which signifies death to meet with Zoro.
Many of you have thought of this as well. As Luffy has awakened his devil fruit in “death”, Zoro will also awaken his sword in “death”. Luffy’s Awakening marked the return of “JoyBoy” the prophesied figure of legend. Zoro’s Awakening Marks the return of “Ryuma” the Sword God of Wano.
But what exactly is a black blade?
Is it simply just continuous battles with your blade until it eventually becomes black? If it was that simple, modern legends such as Roger, Whitebeard, Rayleigh, Shanks, all who have battled continuously for years would’ve obtained one. In Zoro’s battle with Gyukimaru, Zoro was unable to truly understand what makes a blade black, it’s as if it’s a very complicated process especially considering a current Emperor too has a sword that isn’t a black blade.
Which is why Oda may have placed Zoro under these dire circumstances to begin with. Do you remember what happened when Zoro was nearly dead before? (Alabasta arc fight with Mr.1) He bloomed, he felt the breath of all things, he gained a greater understanding of the blade, he learned to cut steel.
But what is even greater than cutting steel?
Becoming a KENSEI. Truly becoming one with your blade. A Kensei is a level beyond even a grandmaster. Kensei means SWORD SAINT/GOD which is Ryuma’s Title. Kensei definition: Kensei is a Japanese honorary title given to a warrior of legendary skill in swordsmanship. The literal translation of Kensei is “sword saint”. Thus, the term is considered by some to imply a higher degree of perfection than the more commonly used Kengo or “sword master”. Wikipedia.
This is why Gyukimaru was pissed at Zoro. To truly utilize a black blade, you must create one yourself otherwise it’s like any ranked blade. Zoro lacked the understanding of black blades, so he could never use it correctly. Thus, it doesn’t just merely make your attacks stronger, rank up your blade.
Think of a black blade as a result of the swordsman obtaining a level over swordsmanship beyond perfection. The black blade being merely a byproduct of peak swordsmanship. Remember what Luffy said? “This is my peak, this is Gear 5” in chapter 1045.
Luffy felt as if anything was possible for him in his awakened form. What if Zoro feels the same way but with swords? What if he feels as if he can create any sword technique imaginable? What if he could hear the breath of everything? Could this be the state? Like vs Daz bones?
To think of black blade as a powerup in contrast/parallel with Luffy’s Gear 5 powerup in Wano, you have to look up some Luffy and Zoro Dynamics which was great during Wano.
Zoro and Luffy Parallels throughout Wano
For me at least, I saw them on a parallel path throughout the arc of Wano. Of course, one should mention that Luffy in most cases will outshine Zoro, however, it’s important to note that Zoro received a lot of focus within Wano so far. Both Zoro and Luffy meet a legendary figure of Wano’s past who are shells of their former selves. Yasuie The Hedgehog and Hyogoro of The Flower. Both figures were saved by Luffy and Zoro respectively in their introductions.
These figures are among the few people who stayed by Oden’s Side during the years that Oden was considered a laughing stock. (Scabbards, His Family, Hyogoro and His Wife, Yasuie). Both are connected to Oden’s heirs (Momo and Luffy, Zoro and Hiyori). Both are pissed out the beast pirates spilling Oshiruko.
Luffy and Zoro had their own side plot outside of the flower capital upon splitting up. Both also saw the devastating effects of war.
Zoro’s journey through Ebisu, Hiyori, Yasuie, Kamazou, Gyukimaru.
Luffy’ journey vs Kaido, Udon, Hyogoro, Queen, Liberation of Udon, Big Mom, Kid.
Luffy learns about Ryuo from Hyogoro which gives a callback to what Zoro may have awakened in Alabasta. Important to note that Luffy even goes beyond the level of this. Both Luffy and Zoro are training their Ryuo in different ways before the war. Both test out their new ability on the SAME type of tree. Zoro and Luffy are the only supernova who use Ryuo (flow or internal destruction to harm Kaido). Luffy and Zoro learned to imbue their attacks with Conqueror’s Haki which Kaido explained only the strongest were able to do so.
Both Luffy and Zoro fell off Onigashima and were saved (Franky and Heart Pirates). Zoro and Luffy remind Hyogoro of Two figures: Sword God Ryuma and Wisdom King. Luffy and Zoro both appeared to be dead or in a death like state. Luffy, however, has returned and awakened his devil fruit “awakening”, so assuming same goes for Zoro’s sword to “awaken”.
Additional Zoro and Oden parallels below, Zoro making Enma black is something Oden didn’t do, so in retrospect to ‘inherited will’ theme of One Piece, it’s important to know these parallels in case Zoro makes Enma black.
Zoro and Oden Parallels throughout Wano
The Princess in Distress, Oden saves Toki while Zoro saves Hiyori. Both Healed by The Princess after the battle. Hiyori cries on Zoro’s chest as he finds out the smiles brought over by Orochi and Kaido.Toki cries on Oden’s chest as he finds out that Orochi sent assassins to take out his family.
Zoro and Oden rage towards Orochi to finish him off. Zoro and Oden are stopped by an outside force before taking Orochi’s life (example Zoro got stopped by Denjiro). Zoro and Oden’s original target was Orochi, both realized that Kaido was the true target later on.
Oden and Zoro are the only ones who were able to tame Enma. Zoro and Oden are the only ones who scarred Kaido. Though Zoro wishes that he’d at least put Kaido down on his knees. Both (like Zoro and Ryuma) were blamed and punished for a crime that wasn’t done by them. Zoro was punished for 10 days for saving a girl’s life, a sacrifice. Oden too danced on the streets of Wano for days sacrificing pride.
Theory by Munixturn (https://www.reddit.com/user/theundisputed11)