While the “Boys Love” genre has begun to blossom overseas, Japan has finely tuned the genre over decades allowing the current generation of otaku to pick from pairings and doujinshi as if they were a fine wine. Though many may never see the inside of a doujinshi shop, one of the biggest sections is undoubtedly the One Piece section. Sure, popular fandoms rise and fall, but One Piece always manages to persevere with new content and the majority of the overall section is dedicated to Zoro and Sanji, two of the most iconic characters of the series with hordes of fans. Why? Well, that’s what this list is for!
1. Pet Names Make the World Go Round
Pet names are the foundation of every relationship and this pair is no different. While “Marimo” is not quite a term of endearment, neither is “Ero Cook”. Ever since they first met, Zoro and Sanji have been doomed to have a love/hate relationship and the names they give each other are a big clue as to the feelings behind their cruel words and actions. Even in the midst of dire situations, such as Robin’s kidnapping during Water 7, the two still can’t seem to resist insulting the other.
A brief explanation may be required for some readers unfamiliar with what exactly a marimo is. A marimo is a ball of green moss that can often be found floating in water and what Sanji mistakes Zoro’s hair to be. The moss is super soft to touch and somewhat cute, which is probably the reason Zoro dislikes the name so much. The name came to Sanji in an instant and may have been a Freudian slip considering how cute marimos can be.
Sanji’s nickname is a bit more straightforward. Zoro frequently refers to Sanji as “Ero Cook” or “Pervert” usually after Sanji is seen fawning over Nami, Robin, or various other girls the crew comes into contact with. Zoro continues to create deviations of the name, but everyone still includes the word “ero” or “pervert”. But why does Zoro care about Sanji’s flirtatious side so much anyway? Jealousy is the obvious answer. Zoro never receives the same kind of attention that women do in Sanji’s eyes, but Zoro might just be missing the little nuances in his blind rage. Marimos ARE cute, aren’t they?
2. They Fight Like an Old Married Couple
The cute names Zoro and Sanji give each other are just the tip of the iceberg since name calling quickly escalates into physical fights. While normal couples may have their spats, Sanji and Zoro become serious enough that they do not hold back, though the rest of the crew knows that they would never seriously injure each other, but that doesn’t mean they don’t get in trouble for seriously damaging the Sunny Go or causing already bad situations to become worse than they were.
They say a person’s fighting style is a reflection of the soul. Sanji’s fighting style shows his burning passion as fire consumes his legs while he kicks his enemies into oblivion. His moves show off his love of cooking, but also his desire to keep fighting against all odds which fits Sanji’s character precisely.
Zoro’s three sword style is more reminiscent of an era past when honor meant something. Zoro is blunt and never makes any unnecessary moves, but always hits his target. While he may struggle, such as when he fought Pica in Dressrosa, he won’t stop until the job is finished, even if he has to sacrifice himself. In fact, Zoro almost DID in Thriller Bark when he stood up to Kuma and Sanji was the only one to witness it.
Now, if what they say is true, then Sanji and Zoro know each other very intimately. When the two do fight, they are always able to predict the moves of the others. After so many fights, it becomes a challenge to catch your opponent off guard. They’re play fighting most likely contributes to their strength as fighters, but also improves their personal relationship no matter what those on the outside may think.
3. They Need Each Other! They’re Nakama!
Despite their raw feelings for each other (whatever they are), there’s no denying that both Sanji and Zoro are part of the same crew and therefore, nakama. Because of this, they are duty bound to have each other’s backs when lives are on the line. While they may not easily cooperate with each other, both have a mutual sense of respect towards one another and acknowledge each other’s skills.
Though they may have their differences, they do tend to come together when it counts (though sometimes this is by accident). During large battles, both of these fighters pull their weight to defeat their common enemies. With Luffy, both Sanji and Zoro make up what has been dubbed the Monster Trio and it’s not just a name!
While the Monster Trio may be strong, Zoro and Sanji do have their weaknesses. Zoro’s impeccable ability to become lost no matter the situation requires that he have constant supervision. Even after the timeskip on Sabaody, Zoro nearly gets taken to Fishman Island by another pirate crew. It is then that Sanji decides to take charge of Zoro so to ensure a smooth departure for the Straw Hats.
Counter to this, Sanji’s supposed woman problem can blind his judgement and so Zoro must take up arms because Sanji will refuse to do so. During the Davy Back game episodes, Nami becomes the target of Foxy’s Slow Slow beam. Zoro rushes Nami to shove her out of the way, but Sanji disapproves of Zoro’s rough treatment. In the end, both get caught in the crossfire and are subjected to thirty seconds of slow motion causing them to nearly kiss.
4. Sanji’s Overcompensating
Anyone that has watched One Piece knows about Sanji’s flirtatious attitude when a woman arrives on the scene. In fact, you could almost say he has radar built into his head that can detect the most beautiful woman on an island within a hundred miles. His nose bleeds are notoriously bad and one time almost cost him his life on Fishman Island due to blood loss. Usually these antics get a rise out of Zoro who usually initiates a fight, perhaps showing that he secretly cares.
In fact, the only time Sanji can be pulled away from women is due to Zoro. When Sanji decides to babysit Zoro after finding him on another person’s pirate ship after the Time Skip, Sanji is distracted by the smell of food and the lovely woman selling it. He quickly comes to his sense after a few minutes realizing that he had lost Zoro in his infatuation. He pulls himself together and forms a one man search party for the easily lost swordsman.
Though Sanji can be very forward with his advances towards women, deep down he must carry a deep, dark secret which forces him to become someone he is not. Sanji most likely exaggerates his weakness for women so that Zoro will never find out his true feelings. Sanji may very well be the biggest farce in the series, or so the running theory goes.
5. They Look Cute/Hot Together! Is There a Better Reason?!
Both characters are extremely attractive, so much so that the internet has an almost infinite amount of shirtless fanart featuring these two hunks. And it’s no wonder why, Sanji has an attractive face accentuated by his fashion sense and amazing skills as a professional chef which makes him the total package! If women weren’t so terrified by his overzealous advances, they might even be swooning over him. At least the okama loved him.
Zoro has an amazingly rugged feel about him. He’s down to earth, exposes his extremely well sculpted chest, and chooses to wear practical clothing that will not interfere when he is fighting. He is a creature of instinct and no one questions his macho persona due to his physique. The fight style Zoro uses to cut down his enemies is also merciless giving enemies and allies alike the impression that he doesn’t fool around…except when he’s with Sanji.
Although Zoro may be fierce the majority of his waking life, he also has his weak moments and here is when he turns to the bottle. Yes, in Zoro’s off time, he’s pretty much an alcoholic gym rat. But some may ask, “Why must he drown himself in alcohol? He’s got it made!” Perhaps he wouldn’t need to escape reality if he could have the one thing his heart truly desired: Sanji.
Regardless, put these two blockheads together and magic happens. Women swoon in droves and it’s no secret that Zoro and Sanji pairings make up a majority of One Piece doujinshi. Opposites attract and these two couldn’t be any more different than each other!
Pairing Zoro and Sanji will always be a staple of One Piece fans and there is a just cause. The two go marvelously together and complement each other very well. Legions of fans will never be satisfied until Oda officially announces the pairing as cannon, but everyone knows this will never happen. Until then, we must be vigilant and read between the lines that the great Oda gives us, since he’s such a master of his craft already. As long as One Piece, this pairing will never die!