The Celestial Dragons loom large in One Piece, being the top social class and holding all power and authority in society. They can kill at will and have human slaves, which they discard without another thought. But is Shanks a Celestial Dragon in One Piece?
Shanks’ backstory is not complete enough to say whether he is a Celestial Dragon, but given his position as a top pirate crew leader, he is definitely an enemy. While he may have a claim to the bloodline, he likely would’ve been officially exiled already.
Let’s look at the hints and clues to Shanks’ history to determine what the chances are of him being a Celestial Dragon, as well as reasons why he likely is not one, and make some predictions about what his past actually is.
How Does One Become a Celestial Dragon in One Piece?
After the Void Century, a variety of people came together to form the World Government, with the founding stock being known as the Twenty Kings. This top social class is referred to as the Celestial Dragons.
Self-anointed as the World Nobles, this status is due to them being direct descendants of the Founders of the Government. The rules are clear that nobody can become part of this group unless born into it, and there so far has not been mention of alternative joining methods.
Not only are they allowed to have slaves and act with impunity such as killing people with no consequences, they even refuse to breathe the air that non-nobility does, using a bubble system to stay separate.
Due to their actions, they are generally hated by the rest of the world, and thus live in the protection of the Holy Land of Marie Geois, being also the location of the World Government and the Marine HQ.
They are despised for good reason, as while there are a select few who are generally good people, the corrupting power of their position leads to rampant corruption and dirty dealing.
If any member wants to give up the status due to this, that means permanent exile and banishment. The use of bounties to designate enemies of the Celestial Dragons also means that the full force of the Marines and other organizations comes crashing down on you.
The fragile sensibilities of the group is on clear display, as anyone who insults them faces a jail term, or even worse you could be pursued by the Three Marine Admirals.
With all these privileges, the organization must be fiercely protective of who is a member and who is an enemy, and due to the amount of enemies the Celestial Dragons have amassed over the years, the rules must be strictly followed.
Is Shanks a Celestial Dragon?
One the surface, it seems unlikely that Shanks is a Celestial Dragon. One of the Four Emperors and a pirate following in the footsteps of Gol D Roger, Shanks would be a big annoyance to the Celestial Dragons and the World Government.
Shanks also looms large in the ascendancy of Monkey D Luffy, with his crewmate being responsible for Luffy’s eating of the Gomu Gomu no Mi, and even giving Luffy the straw hat which may hold the key to finding the One Piece.
Shanks has also shown diplomatic skill, brokering peace and ceasefires in large battles, particularly the Summit War of Marineford and the fight between Whitebeard Pirates and the World Government, even getting Marine Fleet Admiral Sengoku on his side.
However, this is not to say that the World Government is content to leave Shanks be. They realize the power and loyalty he commands, and just because Shanks seems to be generally pacifistic and avoiding conflict, they know he could be a fierce enemy.
In the end, the World Government are not quite prepared to take him out just yet, but are willing and able to do so should they feel he is getting too powerful or too much of a threat.
Similarly, there is a level of respect between Shanks and Admiral Sengoku, seen in the episode where the body of Ace and Whitebeard were transferred to Shanks at Marineford, with the admiral willing to declare the war over.
These interactions also reveal something else which points towards Shanks having some kind of special status, as Shanks seems to totally lack fear when confronting these people despite their power, all the more so given that he is one of the four emperors and a pirate.
Shanks has also paid visits to the Five Elders, which generally outsiders have no chance of doing, revealing that Shanks must have some kind of elevated status in their eyes.
This last interaction shouldn’t be understated, as Marijoa is the most sacred ground of the World Government and thought to be off limits to pirates.
Given the World Government’s opposition to pirates (they make it their mission to eradicate all pirates), then to meet with the figureheads of this organization, being the most revered and all powerful, speaks to something great about Shanks.
During this meeting, reference is made to the fact that Shanks should stay out of politics, and reading between the lines it’s possible that this could mean that Shanks is entitled to be in politics, putting him as a member of the World Government.
Finally, there is the God Valley incident. While the location of the island is unknown, approximately when Shanks was around a one-year old, the Rock Pirates fought against the Marines and the Roger Pirates.
Apparently the World Nobles were in attendance as well, and possibly left one of their babies behind, which was Shanks. There have been some oblique references to the Roger Crew raising a baby, and Shanks was part of the crew at least from his early teenage years.
This is further supported by the phrasing used by Gol D Roger to get Monkey D Garp when he was handing off Ace, referencing that one can raise the child despite their unacceptable family history, as the child is innocent.