In One Piece Chapter 1023, Sanji made us aware that his body had been feeling odd since he wore the Raid Suit the 2nd time, and then 5 chapters later, in Chapter 1028, Sanji had already started awakening the “Germa Science” asleep within his body. In this chapter, he was able to almost instantly regenerate after having all his bones crushed by Queen’s “Bracoil Hold” and then unguarded and distracted, he was able to completely shatter Queen’s blade with his awakened exoskeleton.
At which point albeit to his dismay, Sanji was already well on his way to become an enhanced human like the rest of his Vinsmoke siblings. Amongst this unavoidable crisis that Sanji was battling, what he was dreading the most was the possibility of losing his emotions and becoming emotionless like his brothers.
Fast-forward to Chapter 1031, we got a foreboding of this worst-case scenario that Sanji dreads, in which he allegedly hurt an innocent Geisha, which leads him to resolve himself and come to terms with the possibility of losing himself, and then asking Zoro to kill him in the case that he does.
Where do we go from here?
At this point, Sanji has already awakened all abilities his brothers have (i.e. abnormal regeneration, an exoskeleton and a unique ability, which in Sanji’s case is invisibility). The shape of his eyebrows which were previously an inverse of his siblings has, now also changed to look like theirs, so there’s a chance that Sanji will also lose his emotions just like his brothers. But I think Sanji will overcome this crisis, and Nami is going to be what ultimately allows Sanji retain his emotions.
1. Nami is closely tied to Sanji’s awakening.
Firstly, the whole notion of Sanji’s awakening started on Thriller Bark. When Sanji found out from Usopp that Absalom saw Nami naked, he was so angry that he combusted into flames and the angrier he got, the more violent his flames became, to which Zoro commented, telling Usopp to stop instigating Sanji as he felt Sanji was going to transform into something if he was stimulated any further. The condition Zoro established here for a potential Sanji’s transformation is “extreme stimulation”. The whole reason Sanji got so angry in the first place was because of Nami. In other words, Nami was at the core of the foreshadowing of Sanji’s awakening.
Secondly, the start of Sanji’s awakening on Wano. According to Sanji, his body started feeling weird the second time he wore the raid suit which I personally thought weird at the time. I mean Oda could’ve simply had Sanji state that his body started feeling weird after he wore his raid suit but there was an emphasis on the second time he did which coincidentally happened to be when Sanji snuck into the Bath House on Wano and experienced the full glory of Nami’s happiness punch.
What is even more interesting about this is that it comes full circle to the points I made above, which are; the condition Zoro established for Sanji’s transformation (i.e. extreme stimulation), which in this case would be Nami’s happiness punch and the fact that Nami is once again at the core of Sanji’s awakening as she was not only present when Sanji’s transformation was triggered but could also be the potential catalyst of the transformation. As such, might also be the key to Sanji keeping his heart.
2. Sanji as Nami’s knight in shining armor.
If you’ve read One Piece up till this point you’d know that Nami is always Sanji’s highest priority, he values her safety over even his own and the safety of this other crew mates. One iconic line that encompasses this, which is also coincidentally Hirata’s (Sanji’s Voice Actor) favorite Sanji line is Sanji’s comment to Usopp on Skypiea: “Listen, Usopp… if it’s for Nami-san’s sake, I don’t care if you die!”.
Sanji almost always (and I mean like 99.9% of time) comes to Nami’s rescue to the point where whenever Nami is in trouble it’s natural to expect Sanji to come and save her. He’s quite literally her knight in shining armor. So naturally, from a narrative standpoint, I think it’d be very poetic to have Nami be the one that saves Sanji who is currently facing the biggest crisis he’s ever face in his life.
3: Luffy vs Sanji on WCI a foreshadowing of Sanji developing a “heart of ice” and becoming emotionless?
On WCI, when Luffy and Nami finally made their way to Sanji after fighting through WCI, in order to not endanger their lives and lives of those Big Mom and Germa held hostage, Sanji put on an ice cold act against Luffy & Nami, insulting them, referring to them as pirate scum etc.
Putting the fear of god in Nami with an ice cold stare and then proceeded to cold heartedly put down Luffy who decided to take all Sanji’s attacks with no guard. At which point Nami had had enough and got so pissed she intervened, slapping Sanji and ending that who debacle. One could say Nami’s slap brought him back to his senses (I mean it didn’t as it was technically just an act, but it doesn’t change the fact that, that was the intent behind that slap).
4. Nami is partly responsible for Sanji’s current predicament.
At the end of WCI, after Sanji received the Raid Suit from Niji, he felt that Niji was just mocking him and he had no interest in using Germa science, so he decided to toss it into the ocean. But Nami stopped him from doing so telling him to not underestimate the power of science, so Sanji losing his emotions will ultimately be a direct result of him keeping the raid suit because of Nami. I’m not necessarily blaming Nami here as we all know she had good intentions regardless of the consequences, but one would think she’d feel a bit responsible for Sanji’s current crisis and try to help him.
How does Sanji retain his emotions?
The answer to this I think lies in Queen’s comments in Chapter 1029 with regard to the enhanced humans Judge once told him he was gonna create. According to Queen, Judge stated that he intended on creating emotionless humans with “hearts of ice”. This is the first time Oda has ever used this analogy in relation to the emotionlessness of Sanji’s brothers, which is very surprising as having Queen simply state “emotionless humans” without the inclusion of that analogy would have sufficed. Thus, this analogy will probably be important with regard to how Oda will be going about addressing Sanji’s current conflict.
Now, we know that Sanji possess fire abilities, “Fire” counters “Ice”, so chances are that Sanji’s fire melts his heart of Ice, and allows him to retain his emotions. What’s even more interesting is that at this point, it is pretty clear that Sanji’s fire abilities didn’t come as a result of Judge’s configuration for him, not only is his epithet stealth black, but with him now fully awakened, he’s able to use invisibility (the unique ability of stealth black) in base, so more likely than not, his fire abilities are because of the drug Sora took to save her children at birth.
It might even be her bloodline who knows but what is important here is that Sanji’s fire abilities are a direct result of Sora. As such from a narrative standpoint it’d be very poetic for the fire that Sora gifted Sanji to melt the heart of Ice that Judge gave him.
Now when we talk about fire, pertaining to Sanji. It has a direct correlation to his “passion”. Once when Oda was asked about why Sanji doesn’t take damage from his flames, he stated that it’s because Sanji’s heart burns even hotter.
In addition, in Chapter 1023, Queen stated that is ridiculous for a person to burst into flames without being Lunarian or having some sort of enhancement and then Sanji replied, “It is possible! My passion will surpass the temperature of flame!”. It was established again recently that Sanji’s flames has a direct correlation to his passion and I think this passion will be what allows Sanji to produce the kinda flames that will overcome his heart of ice and Nami will be what triggers that passion.
How will Nami incite Sanji’s passion?
The most obvious answer is Nami being put in danger as a result of Queen’s actions which would incite his flames to burn hot enough to melt his heart of ice.
Theory by PuckTheGreat.