Roronoa Zoro is the favorite Straw Hat for many, and his backstory has long been a mystery, but ever since Wano Country arc started, we’ve slowly been getting more clues that he is linked to the samurais and the Shimotsuki Family. Let’s look back on what we know, though if you’re not caught up on both the anime and manga, spoilers ahead.
The Shimotsuki Village
The earliest thing we know about Zoro is that he lived and trained in a village called Shimotsuki Village. In an SBS (special column where Oda answers fan questions as part of a volume), a fan asked the following question:
Q: Odacchi!! A question!! Several characters have appeared with the name Shimotsuki, including Shimotsuki Yasuie, Shimotsuki Ryuma, Shimotsuki Kozaburo and Shimotsuki Ushimaru, but is there a connection with the place Zoro grew up in that bears that exact name, Shimotsuki Village, and Zoro’s teacher Koushirou?
To this, Oda replied:
Ah yes. You might have to follow very closely to picture this, but… let me explain! It all starts with Shimotsuki Kozaburo (swordsmith and swordsman):
1. He forges the “Enma” and bestows it to the heir of the Kozuki Family, Oden.
2. 55 years ago, he sets out to sea!
3. He and the samurai of Wano have a grand adventure!!
4. They make landfall in a certain place in the East Blue.
5. They save the locals from mountain bandits.
6. They teach the villagers the way of the sword, who become enamored with swordplay.
7. They decide to settle there, founding Shimotsuki Village.
8. His son, Koushirou, is born.
9. His granddaughter, Kuina, is born.
To put it in other words, who Zoro meant by “a geezer in his village” that he met was actually grandpa Shimotsuki Kozaburo-san himself, who comes from the Wano Country. Oh? Then could that mean…Zoro’s lineage…?! Well, the story of Shimotsuki Kozaburo, the samurai who founder Shimotsuki Village, is all I’m willing to share today.
So the village was named after Shimotsuki Kozaburo, who illegally left Wano 55 years ago and eventually founded the village. His son Koushirou ends up as Zoro’s teacher, and his daughter Kuina is Zoro’s rival. This means that they aren’t directly related, so how did Zoro get there? We can only guess for now, which is what we’ll do a bit further down.
Zoro and Shimotsuki Ryuma
Shimotsuki Ryuma was a legendary samurai from Wano Country known as the Sword God. We met him all the way back at Thriller Bark, only he was nowhere near his original power and was only able to move thanks to Brook’s shadow. However, Zoro did have previous knowledge about him, as he had heard the story of him slaying a dragon somewhere before.
Now, Oda actually wrote a side story which is considered canon where Ryuma is the main character. In that manga, we can see him as a young man, and he looks a lot like Zoro, only with black hair. This manga is actually getting a voiced version on September 6/7, and young Ryuma will be voiced by Yoshimasa Hosoya! His personality also shares several things, one of the main ones being the gratitude to people that help them and the way they treat swordsmanship (“The sword is a swordsman life”). Someone from Wano had to tell him about the story due to the country’s strict isolation policy.
A battle isn’t measured by how much fame you gained through it, but by what you protected.Shimotsuki Ryuma in Monsters
From what we saw, Zoro barely interacted with anyone besides fighting, and then he somewhat got closer to Koushirou and Ruina after becoming a student at their dojo. Kozaburo may have passed on the story of their ancestor to Koushirou and then Ruina, who at some point shared it with Zoro. However, there was another hint from Oda which may suggest he wasn’t born to a random Wano samurai.