When one thinks of Nami’s family, immediately Bellmere, Nojiko and Genzo come to mind. However, during the Arlong Park Arc we are given a glimpse of the meeting between Bellmere, Nojiko and Nami: an unnamed island burst into conflict and the Marines are on the scene. The conflict is particularly brutal and both sides take heavy damage, when Bellmere (a marine) notices a small girl carrying a baby away from the battlefield. Bellmere scoops the two of them into her arms and runs for the safety of the Navy ship, later bringing the two of them home with her to be raised in Cocoyashi Village.
While the drama between the villagers and the Arlong pirates was the center focus of the Arlong Park Arc, some questions remain unanswered after the flashback is revealed:
Where did Bellmere really meet Nami?
What sparked the conflict on this mystery island?
And most importantly, what happened to Nami’s TRUE family?
I think our answers may lie in a certain character that we met only recently. A character that has a history with one of the Straw Hats particularly, is a close friend of one of Luffy’s brothers, and already shows many similarities to our resident navigator.
Yes, I believe that Nami is not only related to, but is the younger sister of Koala.
I suppose TECHNICALLY we didn’t meet her recently. Though some may not have connected the dots, Revolutionary Army member Koala was first met during the Fishman Island arc, in which Jinbei was sharing stories of the legendary fishman Fisher Tiger. Koala was a young slave girl that was rescued at age 11 by Fisher Tiger, who later traveled with the Sun Pirates while they took Koala to her home island.
The manga and anime (from what I’ve found) are unclear on when she became a slave, but it can be guessed based on Aladine’s quote saying “the lifestyle of a slave was ingrained in her blood” that she was sucked into slavery at a very early age. It can also be guessed that since she had a homeland to return to with a mother waiting, she was not born into slavery, but in fact taken at a very young age.
After Koala is returned to her home island and Fisher Tiger is unjustly killed, we next hear of Koala in Dressrosa, where she has grown up considerably and found a home for herself among the Revolutionary Army. She has orange hair, has a small but curvaceous figure and can be seen being playful with Sabo during their mission, even to the point of angrily tugging on Sabo’s cheeks when he does something she doesn’t like.
This appearance and behavior are very, VERY reminiscent of a certain Straw Hat we know by the name of Nami.
At the time of my writing this, the manga is very deeply entrenched in the Whole Cake Island Arc, with the Wano Kuni Arc to follow shortly. While Sanji’s backstory is being more fully developed in the current arc, it’s safe to say based on Oda’s tendency to balance Sanji and Zoro that the following arc will feature Zoro’s more fully fleshed-out backstory (at least the pieces of his life before he appeared at the Dawn Island dojo).
My thoughts naturally came to the question “Who else has a backstory that hasn’t been fully explained?” Sanji’s is in the works, Zoro’s is (agreeably?) imminent, Usopp’s and Chopper’s seem pretty cut and dry, while Luffy and Robin had theirs cleared up after they were present in the story for a while, showing their early (and tragic) childhoods. All that remains in my eyes are Franky’s backstory that theory for another day, Brook’s backstory and, in some respects, Nami’s. I can’t be the only one that was dying to truly understand the reasons Nami and Nojiko were swept up in a battle between the Marines and some mysterious force.
So, to (finally) get to the theorizing bit: I believe that Koala and Nami lived together as young girls on the same island with their mother. Money-hungry pirates attacked their island to kidnap young potential slaves to be sold away on the black market. Koala is captured, but Nojiko carrying a baby Nami barely escapes capture, later meeting Bellmere who then raises the two in Cocoyashi Village. This mystery island is then much later the drop-off point for an 11-year-old Koala and the final resting place of the legendary Fisher Tiger.
Yeah, it’s a lot to take in. But if you think about it, the timing matches up.
Koala post-timeskip is 23 years old. Nami post-timeskip is 20 years old. It can be assumed that if their island was attacked by slave-hunting pirates, a 4- or 5-year-old girl would be a more likely target than a baby.
It isn’t until after Koala’s escort mission and Fisher Tiger’s death that Arlong, then a member of the Sun Pirates, breaks away from the Sun Pirates and forms the Arlong Pirates. They later sail for the East Blue and take residence in Cocoyashi Village, where a young Nami and Nojiko live. Nami can be estimated to be around 8 or 9 years old, which would match the 3-year age gap between herself and 11-year-old newly-freed Koala.
This is all before I even mention Koala’s role in the Revolutionary Army. Koala is an assistant Fishman Karate instructor in the Revolutionary Army. Her reason to teach Fishman Karate is self-evident in her history with the Sun Pirates, and her involvement with the Revolutionary Army can easily be chalked up to her disdain for racism between humans and fishmen, or a hatred she feels toward those that encourage slavery like the Celestial Dragons. However, another, far more personal reason could be behind why she would join the Revolutionary Army.
(Warning: Serious speculation can be found in the following paragraph, but I feel the potential for this idea was too strong not to include.)
After returning home from her days in slavery, Koala must have been caught up on all she missed while she was held captive, including the abduction of not just one, but BOTH of her mother’s daughters: one by slave traffickers, and the other by the Marines that swear to protect you. Growing up in that household would be an easy way to fuel the hatred of both the World Government AND the Marines. Joining the Revolutionary Army would be a no-brainer to anyone in that situation.
In conclusion, Nami’s parental history is shown to be that of Bellmere’s sacrifice for her adopted but no less loved children, but if what is happening in the Whole Cake Island Arc is proof of what’s to come, an extension of seemingly finished backstories is on the horizon, with Zoro’s quite possibly in the near future. I believe that there is much to be gleaned from Nami’s mysterious birth family and the events that drove her into Bellmere’s arms. I think that an explanation into why a conflict arose on her island and a potential tie-in of Koala’s history would be a perfect segue into the much-needed history of the Revolutionary Army and it’s strongest players, so in my opinion it’s only a matter of time until we get some solid evidence one way or another.
*Theory by Sonata D. Riley