Zoro picked the sword from a barrel of cheap katanas in a shop at Loguetown after sensing its quality; Tashigi later identifies the sword from a catalog. When the owner first saw it, he was not going to allow Zoro to buy it, telling him of the curse. Zoro liked the concept and decided to test his luck against the curse. He threw it into the air and held out his arm, willing to let it cut his arm off. Zoro's luck won and the blade circled neatly around his arm. The shop owner gave Zoro both Sandai Kitetsu and Yubashiri for his skill and luck.
Sandai Kitetsu is a moderately curved katana with a white edge and a distinct blue hamon that has the appearance of flames. Its tsuba is golden and shaped like a rounded cross pattée; the hilt is wrapped reddish-brown, with a golden clasp around its middle and a golden kashira pommel.
The sheath of the sword is deep red and continues the design of the hilt, having two golden clasps in short succession around its middle, and the kojiri end cap also being golden.
Being created by Tenguyama Hitetsu, one of Wano's Greatest Swordsmiths, and the imitation of Kotetsu's Nidai Kitetsu, Sandai Kitetsu has both superior qualities and strength compared to other normal swords despite being a Meito among the lowest grade. The most notable feature of Sandai Kitetsu is its great sharpness, making it easier for cutting, which was highlighted when Zoro had decided to test his luck against its curse and its previous owner, Ipponmatsu declared it could cut off his arm. Once Sandai Kitetsu passed by his arm without leaving a wound, it still cut deep into the floor point first, leaving one-fourth of its blade. Sandai Kitetsu also managed to cut a Sea Train carriage in half.
However, Zoro later commented that the sword appeared to be a "problem child"; notably, it seemed bloodthirsty and wanted to make his arm slash without his direction. Feeling this, he gave the sword more attention to make it realize it only acts on his direction. From the moment he first touched it, Zoro could sense that it was cursed and this nature means he can feel when the sword is nearby even if it is not in his immediate possession. When Chopper found Zoro half-stuck inside a chimney at Water 7, he could sense that Chopper had Sandai Kitetsu with him and explained the fact he could sense the blade's curse.
Aside from its sharpness, Sandai Kitetsu also has great durability, being able to defend against the powerful blows from Kaku's Zoan Devil Fruit enhanced Rokushiki techniques. It later withstood strikes from the far more superior Great Grade sword, Shusui, wielded by the master samurai, Ryuma; though Zoro commented that his swords might break if their fight continued. Zoro also managed to use Sandai Kitetsu (alongside both Wado Ichimonji and Shusui) to block the bite of an enormous dragon.
After the timeskip, coupled with Zoro's improved strength and skills, Sandai Kitetsu's sharpness could grievously wound Hody Jones underwater. He later sliced through both the massive stone golem and Pica using Senhachiju Pound Ho, wounding him. At a testament to this, Sandai Kitetsu managed to wound, Kaido having strengthened it using Haoshoku Haki and Busoshoku Haki, giving him another permanent scar.
In the past, one of Wano's best swordsmiths Tenguyama Hitetsu crafted Sandai Kitetsu in imitation of one of the 21 Great swords, Nidai Kitetsu, which also became an infamous cursed sword. It was later exported overseas and was eventually acquired by Ipponmatsu. Fearing its curse, he refused to sell it until Zoro took a liking to Sandai Kitetsu because of its cursed nature. Zoro courageously tested his luck by risking his arm, extending it against Sandai Kitesu's falling edge, ultimately keeping the sword after his luck prevailed over the curse. Afterward, Zoro continues wielding it in countless battles against powerful enemies such as Kaku, Ryuma, and Oars. After the 2-year timeskip, Zoro used Sandai Kitetsu to grievously wound Hody Jones in battle.
Translation and Dub Issues
The name part of the sword is actually the "Kitetsu" part with the "Sandai" being an identifier of generation ("San" being "Three", so Third Generation). Thus, the official English versions (FUNimation, Viz) translate the generation identifier but not the name of the sword itself, coming out to "Kitetsu III" in writing (in the Manga, and Anime Subs/Titles) and spoken aloud as "Kitetsu The Third" in the dub.
- In SBS Volume 92, Oda drew Zoro's swords personified as humans. Sandai Kitetsu took the form of a man with an evil smirk, a stubble beard, and a nearly bald head with a dark topknot.
- It seems from their name and classification, the Kitetsu was made weaker with each new sword. Being of the lowest grade of the three swords, Sandai Kitetsu is the weakest of all the Kitetsu swords. Its name also indicates it was the last of the three to be made.
- The panel of Zoro keeping Sandai Kitetsu in the manga is extremely similar to that of Zoro keeping Enma.
- One Piece Manga and Anime — Vol. 11 Chapter 97 (p. 12-18) and Episode 49, Tashigi estimates Sandai Kitetsu's true value around 1,000,000, while it was sold for only 50,000 due its curse.
- One Piece Manga and Anime — Vol. 95 Chapter 955 (p. 15) and Episode 956, Tenuyama informs Zoro that he created Sandai Kitetsu
- One Piece Manga and Anime — Vol. 12 Chapter 108 and Episode 65, Zoro uses Sandai Kitetsu for the first time.
- One Piece Manga and Anime — Vol. 38 Chapter 363 (p. 11) and Episode 254.
- One Piece Manga and Anime — Vol. 48 Chapter 467 (p. 11) and Episode 326.
- SBS One Piece Manga — Vol. 92 (p. 76), Zoro's swords personified.
- One Piece Manga and Anime — Vol. 11 Chapter 97 (p. 13) and Episode 49, Tashigi explains the ranking of the Kitetsu swords.