roronoa zoro in 'One Piece'

‘One Piece’: Zoro’s Family Tree Explained

Roronoa Zoro, the swordsman and second mate of the Straw Hat Pirates, has a different kind of backstory from the common One Piece pattern, which led to some fan questions about Zoro’s family tree.

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There’s a large group of characters in One Piece that have an incredibly tragic backstory involving the loss of a parent—mom gets shot while protecting daughters, mom sacrifices herself for the future pursuit of forbidden knowledge, mom dies of illness while the father’s out pursuing his dreams. Lots of dead moms among the Straw Hats, in other words.

Zoro, on the other hand, grapples with the passing of a childhood friend and competitor Kuina. Beyond that, the story of One Piece has given us absolutely nothing about Zoro’s parents or family, which is surprising. Chopper and Franky’s parents ditched them, and Brook and Jinbe were past 40 when they joined, but we’ve learned at least something about every other Straw Hat’s parental figures. The reveal of Sanji’s biological parents turned into an entire arc! Plus, unlike many of the Straw Hats, Zoro has a family name, which has to mean something, right?

Many fans expected Zoro’s lineage to get a grand reveal in Wano, and it did get revealed, just not within the story itself. Instead, mangaka Eiichiro Oda dropped Zoro’s entire family tree in the SBS, the question and answer section in the manga volumes, because fans were asking him about it so frequently. Oda unleashed Zoro’s family tree while saying, “I don’t think there’s anything to explain in the main story anymore,” meaning he has no plans to turn Zoro’s lineage into a plot point.

Zoro’s grandparents: The boat that sailed from Wano

55 years before One Piece‘s present day, a group of 25 people sailed away from Wano. After three years, they wind up in the East Blue, where they defeat a group of mountain bandits attacking a village. 10 of the group decide to stay and settle on the island, where they found Shimotsuki Village.

There were a handful of notable people on this ship. One was Shimotsuki Kouzaburou, the master swordmaker who had just finished crafting Enma for a four-year-old Oden when he boarded the ship. Kouzaburou settles in the East Blue and is Kuina’s grandfather—which explains why she was given his legendary sword, Wado Ichimonji. Zoro remembers him as some weird old man who smoked a pipe on a hill and taught him “sunacchi.”

The other important figure on the ship was Shimotsuki Furiko, who is the older sister of Shimotsuki Ushimaru. Ushimaru was the last daimyo of the Ringo region of Wano and was imprisoned at Onigashima after rebelling against Orochi and Kaido. While imprisoned, he befriended and became a mentor figure to a young Yamato. Ushimaru and the other imprisoned daimyos sacrificed themselves so that Yamato could one day fight to liberate Wano from Orochi.

Ushimaru is Zoro’s great-uncle, because his sister, Furiko, is Zoro’s grandmother. Furiko was another one of the members of the ship who founded Shimotsuki Village. She married a local swordsman from the East Blue named Roronoa Pinzoro.

Zoro’s parents

Shimotsuki Furiko and Roronoa Pinzoro had a son, Roronoa Arashi. Arashi grew up and married a “daughter of thieving bandits” named Terra. It seems like there’s a fascinating love story somewhere in there, since it’s likely that Terra is related to the bandits that Arashi’s parents drove out when they founded Shimotsuki Village. There’s a real Romeo and Juliet situation here, if you read between the lines. But alas, that story will likely remain the subject of conjecture.

Sometime shortly after giving birth to Zoro, their only child, Roronoa Arashi and Terra died tragically young. Arashi died in a battle against pirates, and Terra passed away from illness. This explains why Zoro seems like an orphan in his childhood flashbacks.

Meanwhile, Shimotsuki Kouzaburou and his nameless villager wife had a son named Shimotsuki Koushirou. And this is a person we actually know! Koushirou is Kuina’s dad and the head of Isshin Dojo, the swordsman school where Zoro learned his craft. Whether Koushirou or Kouzaburou founded Isshin Dojo is never stated. Koushirou is also the one who gives Zoro Wado Ichimonji after Kuina’s passing.

Kuina’s mom is sadly just as anonymous and unnamed as her grandmother, but Kuina is her and Koushirou’s only child. All these Wano people seem very intent on single-child households. Unfortunately, since Kuina died in a horrible accidental fall, this means that Kouzaburou’s lineage ended with her, which possibly explains why he gave Zoro any time of day.

The big question: Is Zoro related to Ryuma?

That’s all we know about Zoro’s family … except for one particularly famous potential descendent.

Many centuries before One Piece’s modern day, there lived a legendary swordsman named Shimotsuki Ryuma. Tales of Ryuma’s valiance and incredible skill made him the pride of Wano. Theoretically, this is the same Ryuma who is the protagonist in Oda’s Monsters one-shot, which was turned into an OVA for Netflix. (As much as the Netflix OVA tries to make Monsters canon to One Piece, there’s several details about its world that simply don’t fit with One Piece’s. But that’s a discussion for another time.)

23 years ago, Ryuma’s grave in Ringo was ransacked. Gecko Moria stole both his corpse, which he “reanimated” with Brook’s shadow, and his sword, Shusui, which is a national treasure of Wano. Zoro fought and defeated the reanimated Ryuma at Thriller Bark, and Ryuma presented Zoro with Shushui upon his defeat.

Now, you might notice that “Shimotsuki” is also the family name of Zoro’s grandmother, Shimotsuki Furiko, and her brother, Shimotsuki Ushimaru. You might also remember that Ushimaru was the last daimyo of Ringo, which is where Ryuma just so happened to be buried.

Oda confirmed that Ushimaru is a direct descendent of Ryuma—which, in turn, means that Zoro is a direct descendent of Ryuma. Talk about a long line of ridiculously talented swordsmen.

This also means that Shusui, in addition to being a national treasure, was also kind of Zoro’s birthright, but that’s almost certainly a debate that isn’t worth opening up—especially since Zoro ended up with Enma.

(featured image: Toei Animation)


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Author
Kirsten Carey
Kirsten (she/her) is a contributing writer at the Mary Sue specializing in anime and gaming. In the last decade, she's also written for Channel Frederator (and its offshoots), Screen Rant, and more. In the other half of her professional life, she's also a musician, which includes leading a very weird rock band named Throwaway. When not talking about One Piece or The Legend of Zelda, she's talking about her cats, Momo and Jimbei.