The Straw Hats' Sanji & Zoro: Companions or Competitors?

Any One Piece fans out there are familiar with crewmates Zoro and Sanji. They are some of the first characters, some of the muscle that protects the rest of the Straw Hat pirates, and their steep competition with each other does not stop. As 2020 brings with it a battle in the land of Wano, let’s pause for a moment and take a look at the relationship between two of the Straw Hat pirates: Vinsmoke Sanji and Roronoa Zoro. What brings them to the crew? What do they feel strongly about?

Influences and Similarities

While traveling with the Straw Hat crew, Sanji and Zoro have their personal goals. Zoro looks to become the world’s greatest swordsman and defeat Dracule Mihawk. Sanji is looking to find the All Blue, where fish from all over the world can be caught. Along the way to their dreams, they aim to make Luffy the King of the Pirates.

For Zoro and Sanji, their introduction to the Straw Hat Pirates was more or less the same. Luffy offered them a spot on their crew, they declined, and then they found themselves joining anyway. Sanji and Zoro are both dedicated to making Luffy King of the Pirates. Also, in their spare time, both of these characters spend their time practicing their respective craft.

Loyalty and Chivalry

Zoro has some particular feelings about the principle of loyalty and the seriousness of what the Straw Hats are doing. When Usopp leaves the crew, and they want to bring him back, Zoro expresses very seriously that their adventure is no club that crew members can walk in and out of and that if that’s the way people begin to treat their journey, that he will be the one to leave.

Sanji, though he is a decent person, has no such strict morals—He was one of the crewmates who wanted to get Usopp back in the example mentioned above. Also, something that many fans have noted remains undiscussed is the initial reaction of Sanji when Luffy and Nami caught up to him in the Whole Cake Island arc. In this scene, the chef attacks Luffy, viciously, leading many to ask what Zoro would think about this.

Just as firmly as Zoro feels about loyalty, Sanji has set feelings on chivalry. Sanji’s history is one of mistreatment as a child, except by his mother and sister. Sanji cares for his mother tenderly and makes many statements throughout the series, specifically about sensing and stopping the tears of women. Though he’s so overzealous it undoes his goodwill, Sanji has strict beliefs about the treatment of women. He would never cook less effectively to make someone feel better about their cooking, but he expresses again and again throughout One Piece that he would not kick a woman.

Zoro seems to view all people by the sum of their potential plus effort. His own story reflects on his childhood rival who, shortly before her young death, was having the idea enforced upon her that women could never become master swordsmen because of their bodies. Zoro believes that beating her is his goal and cannot stomach her pitying herself. When Zoro faces women, unless they are Captain Tashigi, there are no punches pulled that would not apply to other opponents. Most notably is his fight on Punk Hazard with Monet, which ends when he cuts her in two.

Companions or Competitors?

Sanji and Zoro have a long history of competing with each other that many fans have noticed. A great introduction to this is their fight in Little Garden (see episodes 70-78) when Sanji and Zoro find themselves in the same type of hunting competition that has kept the island’s giants in battle for a hundred years. From there, the match continues for Zoro and Sanji.

Though they argue incessantly, they do trust each other with the safety of the crew. Sanji and Zoro have often left the other in charge of protecting the members of the crew who need protection to accomplish their goals.
FANatics!
One Piece fans online often ask who between Sanji and Zoro is the strongest. Now that the story has “raid suit Sanji,” and Zoro with Enma to consider, the competition between fans is fiercer than ever. Because of their constant bickering and their very different, yet specific, behavior toward women, lots of One Piece fanfic involves shipping these two characters. (“shipping” is when fans pair up characters romantically) Of course, One Piece fandom is so vast that lots of ships are now on forums. Luckily for us, Oda has a no-romance-between-crewmates history so far that keeps us at the mercy of imagination!


Final Thoughts

Though they both protect the rest of the crew, Zoro and Sanji always find time to compete or be annoyed with one another, and after more than 20 years of publication, that theme is alive and well in the Wano arc.

Who is your favorite? Raid-suit Sanji or Zoro with Enma? These two have a competition every bit as fierce as that of the giants at Little Garden. Was there anything we should have included here? Let us know in the comments.

by Mool Basil



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