Zoro Out of Hell
Zoro mentions that he made his way back from hell in order to kill Sanji but considering the visage of the grim reaper looming over Zoro after his battle with King, it begs to question, is Zoro completely serious?
Whether the reaper is real or not is hotly debated even now and I can easily make either argument but if we consider not only the facts, but how Odacchi has been deliberately teasing the event without addressing it, it would appear to be more than just a simple artistic flair. Let’s lay out the facts.
・Zoro witnessed a grim reaper.
・Brook was preoccupied so it was not him.
・Its forearm bones appeared to have space between them so the bones appear to be legitimate (i.e. it’s not a thin person wearing a skull)
・However, if Caribou hitched a ride on Momo, it’s possible he used bones from the battlefield as a disguise to move around safely. (Caribou did use a scythe during Fishman Island)
・There was no foreshadowing Caribou having an interest in Zoro.
・According to Brook, Yomi (the land of the dead) *does* exist.
・The concept and existence of souls in ONE PIECE most certainly exist as proven by Brook and Big Mom’s abilities.
・Souls have a single known means of *returning* to Earth via the Yomi Yomi Fruit, but souls are not able to automatically return their bodies, they must locate it.
・Big Mom can manipulate and absorb souls with ease through her Soul Soul Fruit power.
・Brook is capable of manipulating souls through the power of music.
・Hypnotism, in the world of ONE PIECE, is capable of similar yet different manipulation of sentient beings and, at its base, may be a form of soul manipulation. Examples of this would be Django, Marianne, and *potentially* the ninja of Wano.
・The concept of souls seems to reach deep into Wano as the Fire Festival is focused on honoring the dead and attempting to send messages to them.
・People in the world of ONE PIECE have various concepts of Heaven and Hell much as they exist in real life.
・Impel Down includes many allusions to real-world concepts of hell, perhaps most prominently, Buddhist Hell with its various levels of torture.
・Whenever Brook invokes the essence of the afterlife, he tends to freeze things. This aligns with a frozen level of Hell as we saw in Impel Down.
・Horned people have long been a part of the One Piece world, not unlike large people, giants, long-legged people, etc.
・Both Rayleigh and Zoro display references to the afterlife. Rayliegh’s epithet being a Western notion of the afterlife’s ruler(Hades/Pluto) and Zoro an Eastern notion (The King of Hell) while wielding the ‘Enma’ sword, Enma Daio being literally a ruler and judge of Buddhist Hell.
With this in mind, it’s possible that Yomi is inhabited by a race that displays horn-growth. These genes, not unlike the genes of giants, could very possibly have seeped into the general population if some form of transport between Yomi and the ‘normal world’ exist. For all we know, Yomi could actually be a part of the world and not an entirely abstract location. As souls cannot instinctively find their way to and from Yomi (Brook certainly had trouble finding his own body) a reaper or, I suggest, reapers may in fact be escorts for souls to Yomi. If Zoro actually died at Wano, and his soul was taken to Yomi by a reaper, and *IF* what he says in Chapter 1052 is not just a throwaway gag, it means that Zoro’s soul was taken to hell, fought his way *out* of hell, and then, somehow MIRACULOUSLY FOR ZORO, managed to make his way back to his body without getting lost.
Sounds pretty fantastical, but if everything we know about Yomi and souls to be true is indeed true, not entirely implausible. In fact, out of all of that, the hardest part to believe is that Zoro successfully found his way back to his body.
Which is why I think, if he *did* fight his way tooth and nail out of the afterlife, he might have had some…unexpected…help.
This reaper may have been Oda’s way of foreshadowing how Yomi might come into play later in the story or, at the very least, help us accept that souls might play a bigger role in the story than they seem to at this point.
Or, ya know, it was just a hallucination from the mink medicine.
Weekly Shonen Jump #28 Ch.1052
One Piece Vol.46 Ch.443
One Piece Vol.101 Ch.1016
One Piece Vol.103 Ch.1037
One Piece Vol.103 Ch.1038