Despite not being the main topic of One Piece, romance always ends up captivating the audience's interest. Regarding Eiichiro Oda's masterpiece, the most heated debate on the subject involves Luffy's love interest.
According to many fans, at the end of the series Luffy and Nami will become a couple. Although this assumption is based on reasonable grounds, nothing must be taken for granted in One Piece. Follow this thread to learn more.
Disclaimer: This article contains major spoilers from the One Piece manga up to Chapter 1069 and reflects the opinions of the writer.
Will Nami and Luffy become a couple at the end of One Piece?
Nami's status within the Strawhat Pirates
Despite being one of the least powerful members of the Strawhat Pirates, Nami is one of the most important individuals within the crew. With her navigational skills, Nami proved herself to be essential for the success of their journey. Her wit has saved her comrades many times.
While all the Strawhats have a great bond between themselves, Luffy, Zoro, Nami, Usopp and Sanji, the first five who joined the crew during the East Blue Saga, are clearly more emphasized than the others.
Even among the so-called "East Blue Five", fans noticed that the three original members of the crew were more spotlighted than others: Luffy (the captain), Zoro, (Luffy's right-hand man), and Nami, the navigator. The three have been unofficially labeled as and "Original Trio" and "Romance Dawn Trio".
As some fans have noticed, each of the three first original Strawhats have a strong connection with the three main aspects of Gol D. Roger's accomplishments as Pirate King: wealth, fame, and power.
Nami, who seeks gold and riches more than anyone else, is tied to wealth. Luffy, who will be the most famed in the world once he achieves his dream, represents fame. Zoro, the man who will defeat even the strongest opponents to fulfill his ambition, embodies power.
At the beginning of One Piece, everything revolved around Luffy, Zoro, and Nami, with the other Strawhats being a mere addition to them. The three were crucial in Whiskey Peak, which led to the development of the iconic Alabasta Arc. Even Blackbeard's introduction featured Luffy together with Zoro and Nami.
Strongly resembling the three pirates in Oda's original sketch, Luffy, Zoro, and Nami seem to be the quintessential protagonists in the author's mind. The concept involves a boy who acts as the captain, another boy who is the latter's loyal right-hand man, and a girl who travels the world together with them.
However, Nami shifted to a much lesser role over time. Her relevance slowly faded in favor of Sanji's, until he "robbed" her of the place of the third most relevant Strawhat
The interactions between Luffy, Zoro, and Nami as a trio have now become rare and have lost their prominence. Moreover, while Luffy and Zoro have been under the spotlight for their combat skills, Nami, lost her importance when the series started revolving more around battles.
The relationship between Luffy and Nami throughout One Piece
At the beginning of the series, Nami heavily despised pirates. After suffering because of Arlong's evil deeds, she thought all pirates were evil. Her whole perspective changed after she met Luffy.
They have a mutual reliance. Luffy relies on Nami as his navigator, while she counts on him as a pillar of strength during dangerous times. The two often argue due to Nami getting frustrated by Luffy's stupidity and him being annoyed at her for ruining his fun. Nonetheless, they deeply care for each other.
Nami joined the crew after getting closer to Luffy and seeing his kindheartedness. However, she eventually betrayed Luffy and the others, stole their ship with all their treasures on board, and returned to Arlong.
Before his fight with Arlong, Luffy placed his straw hat on Nami's head as a sign of his promise that he would defeat him for her. Remembering Luffy saying his hat was his only treasure, Nami teared up at the gesture.
Luffy freed Nami and her fellow countrymen from Arlong's ruthless blackmail. Following her breakdown after Arlong denied her the chance to free herself and her village, a tearful Nami turned to Luffy in tears and sought his help.
This moment showed Nami's great trust in Luffy. Until that point, she had refused to seek help from anyone. When he deduced that Arlong had imprisoned Nami in a room during her childhood years just so she could draw maps for him, Luffy destroyed the entire room.
With this act, Luffy freed Nami not only physically, but also from the mental prison she was trapped in. Since then, she has developed complete loyalty to Luffy, feeling indebted to him for everything he has done for her.
Throughout the series, Nami has always acted as a negotiator and counselor on Luffy's behalf. She also tends to make sure Luffy is not too reckless, frequently scolding him for his careless actions.
When Nami read that Luffy witnessed Ace's death before his very eyes, she tried to escape Weatheria, where Bartholomew Kuma sent her. She wanted to get to Luffy to console him. When Haredas pointed out that the "fake tears" she put up before were still flowing, she became embarrassed.
When Nami fell sick with a mysterious illness, Luffy carried her up a 5,000-meter-high mountain - barehanded and through a blizzard - to get her to a doctor. He also assisted her while she was bedridden.
After receiving Luffy's message to wait two years to rejoin, Nami was frustrated (the only one of all Strawhats) by this choice. She decided to spend her time on Weatheria to get stronger and become a more capable navigator for Luffy's sake, believing she owed him a lot for all he has done for her.
During the raid on Onigashima, Nami tearfully reiterated her belief that Luffy would become the Pirate King, despite the threat of certain death from Beasts Pirates member Ulti, who gave her the option to live if she abjured Luffy.
Despite both Nami and Nico Robin being crewmembers who were saved by Luffy and the other Strawhats, the focus of the two scenes is completely different. In Robin's rescue, Luffy speaks with her, but the others are completely present in the scene. The whole crew is in front of her.
Instead, during Nami's rescue, Oda shifted the focus only to her and Luffy. Before Luffy himself called the entire group, the interaction was only between the two of them.
Is romantic love a thing in One Piece?
One Piece author Eiichiro Oda doesn’t have anything against romance. He just prefers not to write much about it in his story because he doesn’t believe he’s very good at it and also because One Piece is a story about adventure and friendship.
Moreover, despite Oda claiming he doesn't want to write romance in his story, there are a few notable exceptions: Sanji and Pudding, Boa Hancock who fell in love with Luffy, Rayleigh and Shakky who are confirmed to be married, Kyros and Scarlet, Oden and Toki, Roger and Rouge, and Senor Pink and Russian.
In a 2008 interview, when asked: “Doesn't anyone on Luffy's crew fall in love? Will there ever be a romance between Strawhats?", Oda answered:
"Of course they're in love... with adventure!"
Hence, he never said that there will never be a romance within the crew. He just avoided answering the question directly, which is emblematic. If he wasn't planning relationships between Strawhats, he could have simply said that there would be no love story between them. However, he didn't.
Does the relationship between Luffy and Nami involve romantic love?
To the present day, One Piece author Eiichiro Oda has never given a clear indication of the relationship between Luffy and Nami being a love story. However, there have been several instances where it seems that the author hinted at Nami having some romantic feelings towards Luffy.
When Reiju saved him from being poisoned, Nami showed her gratitude. Interestingly enough, Nami blushed when Reiju removed the poison from Luffy via mouth-to-mouth. When the old man Haredas noticed Nami was crying because of Luffy having lost his brother Ace, she blushed.
During the Zou Arc, Nami rejoined Luffy, Zoro, Usopp and Robin. Despite not meeting all of them for a while, she singled Luffy out and ran into his arms emotionally.
Nami trusts Luffy and believes in him no matter what. Their bond is real and built over time. As the series progressed, Nami developed feelings for Luffy. There may not be a proper romance between them, but it's evident that she cares about him more than anyone else in the crew.
While that doesn’t necessarily mean that Nami and Luffy will end up together, their emotional attachment has a realistic chance of turning into romantic love within the context of Eiichiro Oda’s writing.
One Piece breaks the conventions of the typically poorly written shonen romance. Luffy and Nami don’t need to kiss and blush around each other. They have a deeper kind of love - based on trust, loyalty and friendship. These aspects could potentially turn their relationship into romantic love.
When Luffy gives Nami his hat, it’s not a mere gesture. It means that he trusts her and that she has to trust him. The straw hat is a symbol of trust, and both fully know that. The occurrence itself is not romantic at all, but the fact that Oda uses this important element to declare the connection between them is meaningful.
The movie One Piece: Gold featured a significant scene which emphasized the close relationship between Luffy and Nami. When the villain, Gild Tesoro, captured her, Luffy got annoyed and shouted at him to let her go.
On that issue, the villain saw himself from the past in Luffy. Tesoro noticed Luffy had the same determination he had in the past in wanting to save Stella, the woman he loved. This is extremely important.
The parallelism between Tesoro and Stella with Luffy and Nami is remarkable. Although movies aren't canon to One Piece's main plot, it's significant that Luffy and Nami were likened to a romantic couple.
The scene between Genzo and Luffy seems to be another similar hint. Before Nami leaves the village to sail with the Strawhat Pirates, Genzo asks Luffy to never make her lose her smile.
Genzo is a father figure to Nami, so the scene looks a lot like a father threatening the person that his daughter is about to marry. Interestingly, Genzo did not ask the entire crew to take care of Nami. He only asked Luffy.
Despite his steadfast refusal to ever share his meal, Luffy made an exception for Nami, sharing her food with her when he saw she was upset as they left Arabasta.
The fact that he is willing to share food with her is not a trivial matter. According to him, "A hero shares the meat he has... a pirate eats it." However, Luffy shared meat with Nami. Despite being a pirate, when it comes to her, he can become a hero.
Is Boa Hancock a romantic rival for Nami in One Piece?
Unlike Nami, Boa Hancock openly declared her love interest in Luffy. She seems to be very interested in him. However, Luffy unequivocally refused Boa. He is a very straightforward person who doesn't take his word back.
Under certain aspects, Hancock would be a better partner than Nami for Luffy. The latter has no interest in romance but he does have a great liking for food. From the start, Hancock understood that very well. During the time skip, she learned to cook, aiming to better take care of his appetite.
The way she took care of Luffy after Ace’s death was adorable. Ace's issue was one of the most important incidents in Luffy’s personal life, and Hancock was there for him.
Oda, when asked about the eventual love affairs between Strawhats, avoided giving a definitive answer, stating that they are in love with adventure. This is interesting because in the Thriller Bark Arc Nami refused to marry Absalom, saying "I’m not ready for this... I still want to go on adventures!".
Nami said she was not ready, implying that one day she may be ready. In contrast, Luffy answered Hancock's proposal by saying “I’m not marrying you!”. It's important that Luffy doesn't completely dismiss marriage. He said he doesn't want to marry her.
While in shonen series the girl who expresses her feelings to the main character is the one who ends up with him, One Piece seems to differ. For example, Goku didn't even know what the word marriage meant when he accepted Chichi's proposal. Instead, Luffy, who rejected Boa's, knows what marriage means.
Moreover, Goku marrying Chichi only served to give birth to Gohan and Goten. There is no real relationship growth between Goku and Chichi. They go from being friends to being engaged.
In One Piece, Oda doesn't need to make Luffy have sons to continue the story. Hence, a marriage with Boa would be of no use to the plot despite her declaring her interest in him.
Hancock falling in love with Luffy was a plot device needed to get her to help the latter in freeing Ace. Oda had Hancock become interested in Luffy not because he has big plans for their romantic future, but because he needed a logical reason for her to help Luffy.
Boa was written to be a tool to allow Luffy to reach Ace. In her own right, she had no emotional impact on Luffy. Conversely, Nami has a deep connection with the latter, which goes beyond their relationship as crewmates.
Luffy and Nami never showed romantic love, such as the one portrayed in shojo series. That's because in One Piece the shojo-kind of romance is used as comic relief. For instance, this happens for Sanji and his love for any female, as well as for Hancock and her love for Luffy.
Having Luffy and Nami behave as a shojo-like couple would just end up being a humorous situation and disastrously change their characters. Especially Luffy's. Shojo-kind of reactions are used as humor in One Piece. Thus, their absence is more of a good sign than a bad one.
Hancock's vision is only fantasy. Her romantic reactions have nothing to do with the style of One Piece. Instead, the relationship between Luffy and Nami has solid foundations towards the future, with their bond of trust represented by the straw hat.
While Boa only sees in Luffy the man of her fantasies, Nami sees the latter's true essence. She sees Monkey D. Luffy, a man who showed her what a true pirate is, and freed her from her nightmare. The man who risks his life for the sake of adventure. The person who she risks her life for, and who she believes in.
Is Nami a parallel to Portuguese D. Rouge?
Oda always hinted at the similarity between Roger and Luffy. After the time skip, he also emphasized the parallel between Rayleigh and Zoro. The author made them extremely alike, from their roles as second in command, to their swordsmanship and Conqueror's Haki, to their looks and behaviors.
Curiously, Oda also made Nami very similar to Portuguese D. Rouge, the woman who was Roger's lover. Rouge was the mother of Roger's son, Ace. She protected the child by holding him in her lap for fifteen months.
For the author to display this kind of connection is not a trivial matter. Unsurprisingly, the three characters who were given a parallel with the protagonists of the past are Luffy, Zoro, and Nami, who Oda called "the triggers of the story".
With Luffy and Zoro clearly walking in the footsteps of Roger and Rayleigh, it will be interesting to see if the similarities between Nami and Rouge will stop at their appearances or go further.
So far, Luffy and Nami have been good friends. The romantic relationship between them is yet to be highlighted. However, there are several hints at their bond possibly developing into a romance. With the argument being fiercely debated among fans, only the series' finale will give a definitive answer.
Admittedly, if Luffy and Nami end up together, then readers will think of all the previous adventures in the manga as romantic moments. This would pretty much kill the purpose of One Piece as a shonen manga.
However, the foundations that Oda set in the the first part of the story may allow Nami to become Luffy's partner in the future without changing the spirit of the series. With Nami being One Piece's main female heroine, she has a good chance to suit that role.
Poll : Will Luffy and Nami become a couple?