In Oden’s flashback, we see a young Shanks apprenticing aboard the Oro Jackson with Buggy. While Roger made the historic voyage to Laugh Tale, Shanks was forced to stay back because Buggy went down with an illness. When the crew returned, Oden notes that Shanks asked Roger something and then he began crying. This was probably because of what Roger said in reply to his question. While this is but a very small scene, it managed to stir up fans, who believe this symbolized something bigger. Given how One Piece creator Eiichiro Oda loves to foreshadow major events through such small details, it’s no wonder that everyone was left guessing what Gol D. Roger could have told his apprentice.
While we can only guess as of, here are some possibilities for why Shanks could have cried!
Shanks learns about Roger’s imminent death:
The most common and the simplest assumption of all would be that Shanks cried because he came to know about Roger’s illness and his imminent death. We see Roger mentioning to Oden that he at the most had one year left to live. That’s why he was in such a rush to reach the last island and circumnavigate the globe. It is possible that he kept this detail hidden from his crew, to prevent them from obsessing over his health.
In chapter 967 of One Piece, we see Shanks being concerned about Roger coughing.
So he could have had his doubts about the captain’s health. On returning from Laugh Tale he could have asked him about this. Knowing that Roger was going to die soon due his illness could have made Shanks cry.
About going to Laugh Tale:
In chapter 967, when Shanks chose to stay back to tend to Buggy, he assured Roger that they would take their own ship to Laugh Tale someday.
When Roger returned from the voyage, Shanks could have asked him about Laugh Tale and the One Piece. We see Roger and Rayleigh mentioning multiple times that they were early for the One Piece. They realised that the person to claim the One Piece was not even born yet.
So, going by that logic, Roger could have told Shanks that even if he took his ship to Laugh Tale he wouldn’t be able to find the treasure. Knowing that he would never be able to realise his dream of claiming the One Piece is what could have made Shanks cry. This would also explain why Shanks never went to Laugh Tale even though he knew its location. We say this because, when Roger’s crew figured out the island’s location (chapter 967, page 16) Shanks and Buggy were still in the crew. They only stay back after this.
This adds more meaning to Shanks asking Luffy if he was going to surpass them at the beginning of the series.
Shanks could be a spy:
Considering how suspicious and evasive Shanks has been throughout One Piece, theories claiming that the captain of the Red-Haired pirates could be a spy have gained traction in the fandom. Shanks visiting the Gorosei only added fuel to the fire. And if these theories are indeed true, then this gives a whole new meaning to Shanks crying.
From a narrative point of view, the above possibilities are angles that have been revealed to the readers (we hear Roger say they were early to claim the One Piece, and we know Roger was ill). So there was no point in hiding what Roger tells Shanks. However, if Shanks is going to be revealed as a World Government spy, it would make total sense as to why Oda chose to leave out what Roger told Shanks.
Going by this assumption, Roger could have known that Shanks was a spy and kept quiet about it. When Shanks realised this, he could have confronted his captain to know the truth. Realising that Roger knew his dirty little secret all this time and still chose to keep him on the Oro Jackson made Shanks cry. Roger could have then proceeded to surrender to the World Government so that Shanks would not find himself in trouble.
And if this is how it played out, then it would be a nice parallel to how Luffy cried at the beginning of the series.
Both of them are guilt ridden over their actions. And they are vowing to rectify it in their own way. Shanks could have promised Roger that he would act as a guidepost to the person who would not only come in search of the One Piece but also worthy of it in some ways. Shanks placed his bet on Luffy and passed on the Straw Hat to him. An emotional moment indeed.
What do you think is the reason why Shanks cried? Let us know your opinions in the comments section!