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Part 1: Is Shanks a swordsman?
In the manga, life maps, databooks, etc., Shanks has been repeatedly confirmed to be a swordsman. For example, this databook calls him a “master swordsman.”
We know that “swordsmaster” = swordsman, because it is said that Zoro is a swordsman and Mihawk is waiting for a “swordsmaster” to surpass his rival, Shanks.
Another source calls him a “great swordsman” when referring to Mihawk’s visit to Shanks, proving that Shanks is an extremely strong swordsman and not just a guy who uses a sword.
本来 左きき である シャンクス は かつて 、 の 腰 に に 長剣 携え て て い た。 ミホーク だっ た た て て も 、 その 剣 の 実力 世界 で も も トップ トップ だっ た のだろ のだろ。 Shanks, which is left , used to wear a long sword on his right hip. He must have been one of the best swordsmen in the world, given that he and Mihawk were rivals in the past.
Also, in the novel Zoro where the Marines are in a bar and discussing who is the strongest swordsman, 5 candidates show up. Mihawk, Zoro, Vista, Ryuma and Shanks. This means that even in the world of One Piece, Shanks is considered a swordsman.
When comparing Mihawk to Shanks, the Marines mention SWORDS, which strongly implies that Shanks is a swordsman since that’s the primary factor they use. In other words, the Marines wouldn’t say “Mihawk is a better swordsman than Kaido” when comparing the two, since Kaido is not a swordsman, which makes the point irrelevant.
Raw Japanese Kanji: 剣士勢揃い!斬れると痛エぞ~!? Translated: “The swordsmen line up!! Getting cut by them hurts! »
Part 2: Sword Skills
Mihawk is a bigger and more skilled swordsman than Shanks, there’s not much to add. We will, however, leave all the evidence here to make it absolute.
Raw Kanji- « 背に持つ巨大な黒刀と、鋭い鷹の目が世界一の証。ゾロの中に本物の強さを感じ、その成長に期待をかける » Avec l’épée noire géante sur son dos and the sharp eyes of a hawk, they are proof of the best in the world. He senses the real strength in Zoro, and has high hopes for his growth.
Raw Kanji – “The man who has reigned atop the way of the sword for many years!” He is a member of the Shichibukai, and continues to hunt pirates alone, carrying the “Yoru”, one of the 12 most powerful swords. When will a challenger appear to end the tedious days of Mihawk? The man who reigned at the pinnacle of swordsmanship for many years! Wielding one of 12 Supreme Grade “Yoru” swords, he hunts… When will a challenger appear before Mihawk to end his boredom!
Part 3: Overall Strength
Now that we’ve proven two things – that Shanks is a swordsman and that Mihawk is a more skilled swordsman than Shanks, let’s see why Mihawk is stronger than Shanks.
The main argument used against Mihawk’s strength is that it’s just a title, but that’s wrong because the title has been CONFIRMED as shown here:
he distinguished himself even before the great age of pirates. And now he finally reigns as the strongest swordsman in the world, both in name and in reality.
Also, it says that Shanks once rivaled Mihawk or had the ability to rival him, depending on which translation you use. Since we have already demonstrated that Shanks is a swordsman and Mihawk is the strongest swordsman, this means that Mihawk and Shanks were once equal in strength/skill, and Mihawk ended up surpassing him.
A common counter-argument is that these claims come from Live cards, which have been proven to contain errors in the past. But even if we assume that the Vivre cards are incorrect, even the manga supports this claim, as this example shows:
These two statements clearly indicate that Mihawk is the strongest/powerful swordsman. It doesn’t say “He holds the title of the strongest swordsman” or anything similar, it just says he is the strongest swordsman, which is a direct confirmation with no room for debate.
PART 4: AWARENESS
In SBS 73, Oda calls Mihawk a legend among men alongside Shanks and Whitebeard. While this isn’t a direct confirmation that he’s on their level, it does prove that Oda sees Mihawk the same way he would see Whitebeard or Shanks, as a legend.
Although he’s very close, Mihawk is both stronger than Shanks and more skilled than Shanks, and he’s simply superior in almost every way. Shanks is also unmistakably a swordsman, contrary to popular belief. All major news sources strongly support Mihawk > Shanks, as a swordsman. Manga supports Mihawk > Shanks, life cards support Mihawk > Shanks, and databooks support Mihawk > Shanks. There is virtually nothing in official sources that leans in favor of Shanks.