REMEMBER WHEN THE IMPORTANT PART OF SANJI’S CHARACTER WASN’T THAT HE GOT A NOSEBLEED AT THE SIGHT OF BOOBS BUT THAT HE WAS A CHEF WHO KNEW THE SUFFERING OF ALMOST STARVING TO DEATH AND VOWED TO MAKE SURE THAT FATE DIDN’T BEFALL ANYONE ELSE EVEN IF THEY WERE HIS ENEMY
REMEMBER WHEN SANJI TOOK HELLA PRIDE IN HIS CULINARY ABILITIES AND HIS NUMBER ONE RAGE TRIGGER WAS TO SEE SOMEONE WASTING FOOD?
REMEMBER WHEN SANJI WAS A TOUGH TALKING THUG WHO’D BEEN RAISED BY SCOUNDRELS AND HAD NO RESPECT FOR OTHERS BUT ACTUALLY DEEPLY CARED ABOUT HOLDING UP HIS VOWS AND PROTECTING THOSE HE WAS CLOSE TO??
JUST ONCE I WOULD LIKE TO SEE THE ARC’S SANJI BOSS BATTLE NOT BE ABOUT SOMEONE DISREPSECTING A WOMAN, BUT BE ABOUT SEEING SOMEONE WASTE FOOD AND GETTING REALLY PISSED. OR SEEING SOMEONE HURT ONE OF HIS MALE CREW MATES AND BEING LIKE “YKNOW WHAT ONLY I GET TO BEAT THE SHIT OUT OF THEM AND ITS ONLY WHEN THEYRE STEALING GRUB FROM MY KITCHEN. GET READY TO DIE.”
SANJI IS THE ONLY ONE PIECE CHARACTER I CAN THINK OF WHOSE CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT SHOWS REGRESSION NOT PROGRESSION. EVERYONE ELSE THAT I CAN THINK OF GOT MORE FLESHED OUT AND LIKABLE AND BETTER PEOPLE OVER TIME WHILE SANJI BECAME MORE 2 DIMENSIONAL AND TROPE-LIKE AND AN ASSHOLE OVER TIME.
I have this crazy hope for Sanji’s character that Oda is taking him in a ‘macho’ direction specifically to cover how much he cares about all people, and not just women. He has a gender obsession, probably fueled by growing up with such macho men who spent all their time telling him what a ‘Real Man’ should act like. Real men don’t cry, they don’t interfere in fights that other men are taking on, real men can protect themselves, they always respect the afro, and they never hit a woman.
His time with the Okama blurred the line between man and woman. He had a constant struggle with gender definition, and may have even come to the realisation that it’s a non-issue. However, because of his upbringing, he also has a really really hard time letting go of his own ultra-masculine gender identity. It’s a personality paradox.
It’s been a long time since I watched the Fishman Island arc, and I can’t remember specifically if it happened then, so I’ll use Punk Hazard and Dressrosa as my examples.
On Punk Hazard, Sanji’s body was injured thanks to Nami getting trapped in the avalanche. He’s so bad off that he’s not even running for himself anymore. Brown Beard is carrying him because he is injured (And the others hop on as well either because they’re lazy, or they’re protecting Sanji’s ego by disguising his weakness as joined laziness). Even around these injuries, he notices something off behind them, and turns around alone to go help out.
Now, what he claims is that he ‘heard a woman’s tears’ and he has to go be the dashing hero to protect her. But I’m fairly certain it’s more than that. Sanji cares about people. He doesn’t walk through them and slaughter them like Zoro does. Even when he really kicks someone, they still get back up eventually.
And that’s why he’ll never have a bounty as high as Zoro or Robin.
What I think really went on here was that Sanji and Zoro BOTH noticed that G7 were in trouble using their Haki. Zoro decided to cross his arms and sit back to pay attention to it unfolding from a safe distance (after all, it didn’t really impact him personally), but Sanji decided something needed to be done. He left relative safety to run back and help out.
Now, you might just think that he was there to protect Tashigi, but then why wouldn’t he have just picked her up and brought her to safety? No, he stuck around to protect the G7. He ran at the back of the pack and literally kicked the asses of anyone who fell behind. As far as he knew, he was risking his own life to protect theirs. He had no reason to do this other than simple kindness, but he used the ‘I’m only here to protect the woman, so don’t bother thanking me’ excuse to protect his own ego. And theirs, I guess. Which I guess would also be why—even though they’re supposed to be enemies—they suddenly decided they loved him like a brother, and decided they would follow him and take orders from him. Sanji made marines think twice about their views on pirates—even if it was only briefly—just by being himself around them.
On Dressrosa, Sanji is taken in by Violet because he’s distracted by a woman coming on to him. And I have no blame for this. Violet is hot, and she’s all over him. But more than that, Sanji can see the honesty in her words, and he decides he wants to help. The fact that he gets to play the
prince knight in shining armour is just a bonus.
And what’s so out of character about that? Sanji loves fairy tales. Sanji’s ‘fantasy’ about him and Robin back on Water 7 was that he would save her and carry her off on a horse. His whole reason for being is searching out All Blue, which is a place just about everyone he’s ever met has insisted is make-believe. He’s the one that knows the full backstory of Liar Noland and explains it to everyone else.
Sanji lives in a fantasy world, because that’s the world he wants to live in. (Headcanon: His mom used to tell him stories when he was little, and after she died he grasped onto those stories as his only connection to her.)
The idea of finding true love and being the hero to a damsel in distress is one he finds incredibly inciting. So OBVIOUSLY he’s going to seek that fantasy out in every woman he comes across. He’s just playing make-believe with Violet (albeit at a very inappropriate moment), right up until the point where he realises what honest to God danger she’s actually in. Then he starts to turn it around and actually step up and be a hero. He wants to stick with her and protect and save her. You can see the change in his body language, words, tone, and expression. He’s going to be there for this woman in danger, even if it kills him. At least right up until the point where she tells him that his own crew is in more immediate danger.
Sure, maybe Zoro is the best choice they have for fighting Doflamingo. But chances are really good that only Sanji—who can now fly—can get there in time. But how to protect Zoro’s ego while simultaneously protecting their fragile ‘I hate you’ facade? His best option in this situation is to insist that if anyone’s going to save Nami, it’s going to be him.
You’ll note, however, that when he shows up, it’s not just Nami he’s concerned for.
"Those are my comrades" "Leave them the Hell alone" "Don’t do anything! Just Run!!!"
SPOILERS FOR THIS WEEK’S EPISODE…
Sanji sacrifices himself (or ties to. Yet again.) in an effort to save all of them. It has nothing to do with his infatuation with women, and it has nothing to do with sex. They’re his friends, he’s tired, he’s out gunned, he’s still injured from Punk Hazard let alone the damage he took playing along with the Violet rouse, and the best he can do to protect them is to put his soon-to-be corpse between his nakama and a shichibukai that he probably couldn’t defeat on his best day. If Law hadn’t been there, Sanji would be dead.
And if I’m right about all of the above, then that’s not only amazing character development, but it’s amazing character consistency.
The fact that he isn’t as obsessed with food as he was before the timeskip? Well, I just think he’s been too beat up and too busy to make it a priority. He’s nearly died a few times in the last three arcs, and that’s got to take a lot out of a guy. He did create that feast on Punk Hazard for all of the pirates AND all of the marines, though. Even though they’re enemies, he still felt the need to feed them and give them their strength back. So maybe that should count towards something?
tl;dnr version: I agree that Sanji is starting to come off as ridiculously two dimensional lately, but I also have hopes that this two dimensionality is just a ploy to protect him from other feelings he doesn’t yet understand or know how to acknowledge.