Warning: Contains spoilers for Chapter 1052 One Piece!
As part of such a long-running series as One Piece, there are bound to be countless fan theories that constantly pop up. Although not everyone gets support, one of the frequently discussed theories is the idea that Admiral “Green Bull” Ryokugyu is actually Shimotsuki Usimaru, the legendary samurai from Vano. This theory also suggests that Ryokugyu is actually Zoro’s father.
Although not all fan theories have proof, there is a lot of information that supports the idea that Ushimaru is Zoro’s father and somehow became an admiral working for the Lookouts. Admiral Ryokugyu debuted in Chapter 905 of One Piece, and Ushimaru appeared shortly after in Chapter 953. In its current form, Shimotsuki Usimaru was one of the most powerful daimyo in the history of Vano, being a direct descendant of the “God of the Sword” Shimotsuki Ryuma. After his defeat at the hands of Kaido, Orochi and the Beast Pirates, Ushimaru was imprisoned along with other Daimyo and Yamato, but soon staged a prison break and only after that was considered dead.
Related: Explanation of the Most Powerful Pirates of One Piece: Who are They?
It is known that Ryokugyu and Fujitora joined the Sentinels within two years after the events of the Marinford Arch. In addition, both of these admirals are very friendly with each other, as if they were old friends. On top of that, Fujitora’s clothes and fencing style are unlike any other Marine’s clothes. His robes, wooden sandals and the way he holds a sword have only been seen by other samurai in the Vano country so far, so it’s reasonable to assume that Fujitora could be from Vano. Linking this to Ryokugyu, it is likely that they both came from the country of Vano at some point in their history. This backstory is also related to the fact that Fujitora blinded himself after experiencing some unnamed tragedy, it is possible that Pirate Beasts are ravaging Vano and its inhabitants. It would be a convenient way to keep Fujitora—if he really is from Vano—from confessing to Zoro or Kin’emon during the events on the Dress Rose.
However, the most important proof of the connection between Ryokugyu and Usimari is the coat of arms of Usimaru. Ushimaru is depicted with an image of a bull engraved on his mantle. The very name Ushimari is also proof, since “ears” means “bull” in Japanese, and Admiral Ryokugyu is nicknamed “Green Bull”. Zoro’s main color palette throughout the series also consisted of green, and there is strong evidence that Zoro is also from the Shimotsuki family.
Zoro’s hometown is literally called the Village of Shimotsuki and already has close ties with Vano. Similarly, Zoro and Ryokugyu were introduced. Both of these characters were presented as starving for a long period of time: Zoro tried not to eat for a month, and Ryokugyu stated that he had not eaten for three years. It has also been said several times in the series that Zoro and Shimotsuki Usimaru have striking similarities, even in the way they use their blades. The author of the series, Eichiro Oda, addressed the idea that Ushimaru is Zoro’s father in the 101st volume of SBS, stating that this theory is not true, but SBS Oda was not always true. The most recent example of this might be when Oda said that Kaido would not be defeated with one strong blow, and yet that’s exactly what happened.
Since Ryokugyu is finally heading to Vano, in the following chapters it will be possible to shed some light on this popular fan theory by revealing whether he is really Shimotsuki Ushimaru. Anyway, One Piece fans are already eager to see more of this mysterious admiral and learn about his connections with the land of Vano and, possibly, Zoro.