How Did One Piece's Kuina Die? Zoro's Backstory Explained

By Klein Felt Updated:
Zoro One PIece Kuina Death

Netflix's One Piece stayed fairly faithful to Zoro's backstory, including the tragic death of Kuina. 

After more than twenty years of winning over fans with its beloved anime and manga, Eiichiro Oda's pirating odyssey has a full-fledged live-action TV adaptation for the very first time. 

And, for the first time, one of Netflix's live-action reinterpretations of a beloved anime is actually doing very well.

The series has garnered rave reviews, as it manages to honor the source material while making smart changes along the way.

One Piece's Kuina Death Explained

Kuina One Piece Live Action

Netflix's live-action One Piece series deviated from the source material but kept the death of Kuina.

In the anime and manga, Kuina is a compatriot and fellow swordsman alongside an 11-year-old Roronoa Zoro. While their relationship is at first adversarial, she ends up providing the inspiration for the future Straw Hat to become the world's greatest swordsman. 

One Piece Zoro Backstory

In Zoro's backstory - seen via flashbacks in the live-action series, manga, and anime - Kuina defeats the young warrior several times in training, giving him the push to get better and realize his full potential. 

Kuina One Piece Anime
Toei Animation

However, the pair's friendship is cut just as it is starting to bloom as Kuina tragically dies.

In the source material, Kuina is said to have fallen down a set of stairs, suffering fatal injuries in the process. 

Kuina Death Anime
Toei Animation

This differs from Netflix's live-action reinterpretation where she instead dies of a mysterious "accident" in the live-action series, with no stairs ever being mentioned.

Zoro Kuina Death One Piece Live action

Both causes of death are incredibly vague, potentially leaving the door for the character to reappear somewhere down the line.

The death of Kuina gives Zoro the push to become a renowned swordsman, and his signature Three Sword Style comes as a result of Kuina leaving her sword to him after her tragic death. 

Zoro One Piece Kuina Death Live Action

Kuina's live-action actress even poked fun at her character's mysterious cause of death on TikTok, posting a video of her hilariously coming face-to-face with a set of stairs:

Could Kuina Still Be Alive? 

One of the biggest fan theories amongst the One Piece community is that Kuina is not actually dead. 

Despite falling down stairs in the anime/manga and an unnamed accident in the live-action series, some have held out hope that Kuina will be revealed to actually have been alive this whole time in the hit pirating adventure.

This theory stems from an uncanny resemblance Kuina shares with another One Piece character Tashigi.

Introduced early on in the anime/manga (and yet to be brought to life in the live-action series) Tashigi is exactly the same age as Kuina and shares eerily similar features to Zoro's former training partner. 

After more than 1100 episodes of the hit anime, nothing officially connecting the two characters has happened, but that has not stopped fans from speculating.

In a 2008 interview at the anime convention Jump Festa, One Piece creator Eiichiro Oda commented on this theory, telling fans, "It's just a coincidence. There's no backstory like Tashigi [turning] out to be Kuina."

Oda has gone on to distance the characters even further, drawing a young Tashigi wearing glasses (which Kuina never did) and giving the pair two different birthdays.

Netflix's One Piece series can be streamed now. 

- In This Article: One Piece
Release Date
August 31, 2023
Emily Rudd
Iñaki Godoy
- About The Author: Klein Felt
Klein Felt is a Senior Editor at The Direct. Joining the website back in 2020, he helped jumpstart video game content on The Direct. Klein plays a vital role as a part of the site's content team, demonstrating expertise in all things PlayStation, Marvel, and the greater entertainment industry.