One Piece: Greek lore behind Shanks losing his arm

An image of Shanks sacrificing his arm for LuffyCrunchyroll

Shanks losing his arm because of a sea king is a very confusing moment in One Piece. However, there is a mythological inspiration behind it.

Eiichiro Oda has created a benchmark for Shonen with One Piece. As one of the longest-running series, it portrays a variety of characters, powers, cultures, symbolism, and so on. One Piece is also known for its many mysteries that all seem to have a connection to the Void Century. There must be a number of influences for a series to last well over two decades, and Oda Eiichiro, the creator of One Piece, is no exception. He draws motivation from legends across different societies and integrates them into the story to improve the expansive worldbuilding of One Piece.

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The worldbuilding of One Piece, which is regarded as some of the best in all of anime, is formed by all of these inspirations, and the numerous references to Greek mythology that are made throughout the series appear to be more than just pure coincidence. One source of such inspiration is the myths and legends derived from ancient paganism, which includes Greek mythology. Fans are aware of the mythological references behind Boa Hancock, Ancient Weapons, and even Big Mom’s weapons.

However, there is one particular scene with a hidden mythological reference, and it remains one of the most impactful scenes in the series. Shanks loses his arm because of a Sea King, despite being one of the strongest characters in the series. Therefore, it somehow ends up being a plot hole, making fans question Oda’s decision even now. However, there is a valid reason behind it that proves why this scene is important.

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How does Shanks lose his arm in One Piece?

An image of Shanks saving Luffy from the sea king in One PieceCrunchyroll

In Episode Four, due to a minor scuffle, Luffy is thrown into the water by some pirates and finds himself near the jaws of a vicious Sea King. Just as he is about to be eaten by the Sea King, Shanks comes and saves him, only to end up losing his own arm. One scene that could be a foreshadowing of Conqueror’s Haki is when Shanks glares at the Sea King to intimidate it. Things get even more confusing when fans learn about Shanks’ being a Yonko, and then his powers get revealed in the manga.

Even non-Haki users such as Luffy and Sanji (pre-time skip) can defeat a Sea King without getting hurt, much less a seasoned veteran and one of the Four Emperors such as Shanks. Despite fans’ disapproval, this scene is necessary for forming a bond between Luffy and Shanks that will have some relevance in the future. Many mysteries still surround Shanks, and his intentions are yet to be revealed.

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The mythological reference behind Shanks losing his arm

Shanks has a very obvious reference to a famous Viking pirate named Erik the Red. Other than that, his character heavily draws inspiration from a Greek God named Tyr. In Greek mythology, Tyr is known as the patron of warriors and mythological heroes. Despite being exceptionally strong, Tyr willingly offers his arm to a monstrous wolf as an act of sacrifice that is prophesied to bring balance to the realms.

Shanks brings the legendary Devil Fruit to East Blue, where Luffy ends up eating it by mistake. Therefore, Shanks gives up his arm to save Luffy, a child of prophecy who will bring a great change in the world. This sacrifice acts as a catalyst for Luffy to become King of the Pirates and to fulfil his destiny.

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The One Piece anime can currently be streamed on Crunchyroll.

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