One Piece: The Evolution of Kanjuro From Ally to Traitor, Explained!
This blog post might contain some spoilers for Wano Country Arc.
The One Piece series is characterized by its abundance of memorable characters and remarkable personalities. Either villains or allies or even villains disguised as allies. The most iconic of the latter category is Kanjuro in One Piece, the traitor of the Nine Red Scabbards. All questions about this despicable – but deeply developed – impostor are about to be answered.
Who is Kanjuro Kurozumi in One Piece?
Kanjuro Kurozumi, also known as “the Evening Shower“, is a samurai from Wano and a spy undercover as Kozuki retainer.
Since his childhood, Kanjuro has carried an inherited burden.
The Kurozumi family was persecuted because they attempted to assassinate the Shogun of the land. When he was a child, Kanjuro’s parents got killed and he received help from other members of his family: Orochi, Higurashi, and Semimaru. From then on, he pretended to be Kozuki’s associate and continued to play this spy role even after Oden’s death.
It’s worth noting that Kanjuro never mentioned details about his origins.
Kanjuro is also the holder of the Fude Fude no Mi power, allowing him to give life to everything he draws, just like Sai of the Naruto series. A Devil Fruit which was proven to be particularly utile.
Kanjuro’s Intro at Dressrosa
Kanjuro was first introduced during the Dressrosa arc, where he joined the Straw Hat Pirates and their allies in their quest to defeat Doflamingo.
With Luffy on the rampage in the Corrida and Law dealing with Fujitora and Doflamingo, Kin’emon tried to track down his old friend Kanjuro. He finally found him in the Scrap Head while he was hiding from Doffy’s bounty game.
Together, they managed to escape the pit, and Kanjuro “accidentally” allowed the other commoners to come with them. This “mistake” was already suspicious on Kanjuro’s part, but none of them realized it.
Later, Kanjuro’s interest in aiding Usopp grew, and, thanks in part to his unique ability as a Devil Fruit user. Despite his doubts, Kanjuro eventually scribbled a piece of ammunition that Usopp shot at Sugar from an astonishing distance. After God Usopp’s feat, the two samurai also helped Zoro stop the Birdcage Attack from shrinking while Luffy battled Doffy.
Here are some other remarkable feats of our beloved samurai Zoro.
All these events contributed to making Kanjuro a full member of their alliance, the Straw Hat Grand Fleet.
Kanjuro’s journey along the Straw Hats pirates
In the following arcs, Kanjuro Kurozumi continued to play his spy role to perfection, fooling even the most astute members of the Alliance. He accompanied the Straw Hats to the island of Zou, where they reunited with the second group of the crew. There, they realized that the crew’s gentleman chef Sanji was missing.
By the way, find out why Sanji is the best member of the Straw Hats.
Since the Straw Hats were also looking for strong allies, an alliance with some other members of the Nine Red Scabbards would be an asset.
However, about two weeks before the arrival of the Straw Hats, the Minks tribe, inhabitants of Zou, had suffered a massive loss. Jack, one of Kaido’s All-Stars, attacked their island in search of one of the retainers of Oden named Raizo.
This could have led to the revelation that Kanjuro was probably the one who leaked the information about Raizo’s location to Jack. We also got some revelations about the real identity of Momonosuke, the heir of the Kozuki Clan.
In order not to arouse suspicion, Kanjuro also fulfilled his role as an ally and was of great help several times. Without his help, they wouldn’t be able to reach the top of Zunesha.
But that didn’t last too long.
Kanjuro’s Mask Slipping: the traitor’s revelation at Wano
During the Wano Land arc, Kanjuro’s true allegiance was revealed.
With the most shocking smile ever, Kanjuro revealed that he was the traitor. He had been providing Kaido and Orochi information all along and was responsible for leaking the plans of the Alliance.
This led to a devastating setback, especially for the Red Scabbards, as they were ambushed by the three fleets of Kaido’s crew.
Kanjuro stands out as a major antagonist, as he maintained his role for three hundred chapters after traveling to the future. Thus, the revelation of his evil intent forced us to look at all of his actions during Dressrosa, Zou, and the beginning of the Wano arc in a different light.
While seeking revenge on his former friend, Kin’emon realized that the Kanjuro in the boat was merely a drawing clone. The real one captured Momonosuke and turned him over to Orochi and Kaido.
Kanjuro’s Death: the dramatic exit of Kin’emon’s companion
When events came to that point, Kanjuro had committed himself to a path that could not be reversed.
Due to the gravity of his wounds, he knew he would die. But, Kanjuro returned to Onigashima where he faced his former friends disguised as Oden.
This allowed him to take revenge on Kiku. Finally realizing the extent of his former comrade’s betrayal, Kin’emon dealt him a fatal blow. The dramatic “theater piece” life of his friend Kanjuro was then over.
Kanjuro’s true intentions were still unclear, and that’s why his betrayal was so shocking.
Kanjuro stated that his parents’ death had robbed him of his sense of self, and he was only acting in different roles. He was so committed to his act that he continued it, even if it meant positive results for those he was supposed to antagonize.
Kanjuro’s complex character blurs the line between ally and enemy, as he takes pleasure in betraying his fellow Scabbards or torturing Momonosuke. But he still has helped Straw Hat Luffy in defeating Doflamingo.
Furthermore, Kanjuro’s deception was noticeable through his acting.
In his final moments, as Kin’emon strikes him down, Kanjuro’s emotions are both heartwarming and heartbreaking. He smiles through tears, as if his heart has been melted by the joy of finally meeting death, and the deep sorrow of betraying his dearest friends.
He gave us the story of an actor down to his toes…
Top Crunchy facts about Kanjuro in One Piece
- Kanjuro’s character is fully inspired by Kabuki acting and the story of “Yūdachi Kangorō”;
- Kanjuro’s Kabuki makeup is called “Kumadori” in Kabuki acting jargon. Just like Kumadori, the CP9 agent of Enies Lobby arc;
- The color of his makeup details, “dark red“, represents anger and cruelty in the Kabuki code;
- Kanjuro and Eren’s endings have some similarities;
- In his earlier and first adventures with the Straw Hats, Kanjuro was shown brushing with his left hand (chapter 754), instead of his dominant right hand (chapter 979), as if he was holding back all the time.
Kanjuro is undoubtedly one of the most compelling villains of the One Piece series. He is not just a villain or a traitor, but an actor lost between these two roles. Was he happy because he finally got a place to die? Was he sad because he realized that he had made true bonds after experiencing pain and joy with the scabbards?
These questions are the testimony of the intense investment of our loving author, Eiichiro Oda, in the best actor/traitor of One Piece.