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.
One Piece's Kuina Death Explained
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.