One of Sanji's most easily noticeable characteristics is the kind, calm, cool, and collected manner in which he carries himself. He tends to speak in a very composed manner, even in dire situations, and rarely acts without thinking. His demeanor in a lot of ways can be compared to that of a secret agent. This is amplified by the fact that he tends to wear a suit, very often enjoys a smoke, and in the anime, they tend to play smooth music with jazzy undertones when he speaks. He quite often makes comedic exceptions to this, such as when in the presence of beautiful women, or when angered by a crew member.
Like Zoro, he is more perceptive than he seems, and often tells people what they need to hear instead of what they want. Hence, he is seen as one of the more hardened members of the crew. For example, when the Straw Hats first meet Laboon and learn that the whale had been waiting for 50 years for a reunion with his crew, it is Sanji who immediately (and correctly) points out that Laboon's crew is most likely dead. Sanji does possess an optimistic and idealistic side. His dream is to find a sea that even other cooks consider mythical. Furthermore, even after the abuse, he experienced from his family as a child, he held out hope that they may have changed for the better. However, this hope proves to be completely futile, but he was angrier than surprised at the revelation, showing that he maintains a healthy sense of skepticism even at his most hopeful. Sanji also showed a high degree of faith in his fiancée, Charlotte Pudding, and was horrified and downcast when he discovered her true motive.
Like Franky (and unlike Zoro), Sanji is not afraid to show his emotions when the moment calls for it and is entirely capable of crying or losing his temper, which results in Sanji's short fuse and subsequent beatings of most villains (and Luffy). In fact, a running gag has appeared since Sanji's fight with Jabra, during which he stated that when he gets angry, he "heats up". After this fight, when Sanji gets particularly angry at a villain, he appears to burst into flames. This occurs with both Absalom and Duval, though the latter example appears only in the anime. It is also seen when Luffy states nonchalantly that he is friends with Boa Hancock, a beautiful woman when she appears to prevent a Marine ship from sinking the Thousand Sunny.
Despite his hardened outlook on life, Sanji does not object to acting foolishly on certain occasions, like dancing with the more immature members of the crew (Luffy, Usopp, Chopper and Brook), or acting childishly excited in certain situations (like when they first visited Skypiea) and he was also the crewmember who enjoyed going to Fish-Man Island the most as he was seen partying with mermaids. He is also one of those who believes that afros give power.
Sanji seems to enjoy relaxing with a cup of tea (his favorite drink) as seen when he entered Mr. 3's wax house and helped himself to Miss Golden Week's tea set. This habit came up again in Enies Lobby when Kalifa distracted Sanji by offering him tea; in another instance, Sanji angrily refused Bege when he was offered something to drink while trapped inside of Bege's body.
Since at a young age, Sanji has a habit of saying "shit" or "shitty" when describing something. While the Japanese word for feces, "kuso", is not specifically an expletive, Sanji's manner of speech makes the term sound brash. For example, he might call a person he especially does not like a "shitty bastard" or something along those lines (such as his personal nickname for Zeff, "shitty geezer"), but he also described something pleasant to him, like being alone with Nami, as "shitty fantastic" and "the shitty best". In the FUNimation dub, this habit is downplayed to swearing that is less offensive.
He has a habit of separating himself from everyone else and subsequently helping the crew survive, such as times like:
- When Luffy, Usopp, and Karoo were fighting Mr. 3, Miss Goldenweek, Mr.5, and Miss Valentine, Sanji got back to Going Merry and found Mr. 3's hide-out instead, fooling Crocodile to think he was Mr. 3.
- When Mr. 2 Bon Kurei came on board the Going Merry, Sanji was not present, making him the only member left of the Straw Hat Pirates whose identity was not known to Crocodile.
- When he and Usopp were going to save Nami from Enel, he took a detour first to destroy the inside of Enel's Ark.
- In Water 7, he left the group after finding Nico Robin and was not seen until the Puffing Tom's departure.
- When everyone else was fighting the two hundred captains at Enies Lobby, he went to close the Gates of Justice instead.
- In Punk Hazard, he left the group of Straw Hat Pirates in order to save Tashigi from Vergo.
- The most significant would be having to leave Zou to spare his crew from the Fire Tank Pirates while he has to confront his family.
He does admit that he is not perfect. He convinced Usopp to let him fight Jabra, because of their differences in abilities. He admitted that he was stronger than Usopp in terms of physical strength, that they both had things they could not do and things they could do and because of that, they can help each other. This inspired Usopp to realize he was the only one who could save Robin by the use of marksmanship.
Sanji is also able to think one step ahead in most situations, making him extremely clever compared to his other crewmates. The first example is when dealing with Baroque Works he fooled Crocodile into thinking he was Mr. 3 and lying that he killed the Straw Hats which allowed the crew to be unhindered by the criminal organization until they reached Alabasta. Later on when the rest of the crew was captured by the Shichibukai, Sanji (with the help of Chopper) outwitted him using a Den Den Mushi. This was very impressive as Crocodile was known for his scheming nature. Another example is when Nico Robin was captured by the CP9, he somehow knew (or was able to deduce) that the CP9 were going to take Robin to the station. He was seen at the station hiding before the CP9 even got there. When these events go as he planned, he has a habit of saying 'Bingo!'.
He is extremely amorous, constantly flirting with any attractive woman he sees, earning him the nickname "ero-cook". Even as a child, while working in Baratie, Sanji would become love-struck with attractive female customers and end up making mistakes in the process much to Zeff's irritation. In fact, he claimed that Nami was 98.72% of the reason he joined Luffy's crew in the first place. Since, and a while after, this romantic nature is a hassle for the rest of the crew in times of crisis. Returning to Sabaody Archipelago after his two years on Momoiro Island, Sanji became even more perverted due to not having seen a woman in two years, making lewd faces when he so much as thought of beautiful women (primarily his crewmates, Nami and Robin) and acted strangely when he got close to 'real' women, causing others to question about his health.
He's also known to show jealousy towards others when their luck with women appears better than his, with an example of this being his reaction upon learning that Luffy spent his two years during the time skip on Amazon Lily and being very close to both Boa Hancock and the mermaid Shirahoshi, as well as his reaction to Momonosuke continuously being allowed to go places like the women's room that Sanji himself would be prohibited. He is also amorous toward females of different humanoid species such as mermaids and minks.
Sanji considers himself handsome and charming, often comparing himself to a fairytale prince (fitting since he is actually a prince). This trait is rarely been noted by others, though there are times where ladies are interested in the cook, like after rescuing Cocoyasi Village from the Arlong Pirates a whole group of women gathered around him (anime), the female bounty hunters at Whisky Peak and the female members of the Foxy Pirates also took an interest in him (but both of these times they were merely fooling him, making him drop his guard) and more recently, the mermaids of Fish-Man Island were very captivated with the cook and played with him in the water causing Sanji to cry with happiness. At other times when Sanji is full of himself, he tends to be brought sharply back to earth by the people around him (such as being called the "Prince of Dumb-ass Kingdom" by Zoro, prompting Sanji to attack him).
Sanji is shown to sometimes act like a jerk to anyone who is not a romantic interest. Unlike Nami and Robin and other attractive women, Sanji will not lend his chivalrous assistance to his fellow male crewmates when they ask for it on the ship and will even react rudely to their cries for help, but this is rarely the case. He was more willing to assist them as they were chased by a Pacifista, thinking they'll die if he did not aid them.
Despite his extremely perverted nature, Sanji has some degree of self-control, stemming from his loyalty to his crew, as is shown by the fact that in spite of being attracted to Pudding, he sternly refused to marry her and thereby decided to let her down gently. Though he is capable of self-control, Sanji can still allow his extreme lust to control him as in spite of his knowing about Pudding's malicious nature as well as her intention to murder him, Sanji still found himself deeply captivated by Pudding's beauty and seductive words and physically struggled with himself. However, when the moment called for it, he was stoic when Pudding tried several times to assassinate him, disregarding her feeble taunts and suggested to her that she was lying to herself.
Sanji is conscious of his romantic nature but feels no shame throwing himself at beautiful women. When forced to agree with the marriage with Pudding for the sake of his loved ones, he told himself to act like his old romantic-side "love cook" despite feeling the grief of being separated from his friends and the danger they were in.
During his time on Momoiro Island, Sanji showed his resentment to putting on a dress and losing his manhood. He bluntly declared to Ivankov that he is a man among men who was born to love the ladies and not to be friends with them. To this end, Sanji resisted becoming an okama for two long years.
Sanji will often get so caught up in what he calls a "hurricane of love" that he becomes downright delusional. He often imagines himself bursting in on a horse to save Nami or Robin. At Water 7, he went overboard by not only leaving Nami a confidential letter, but defeating its purpose by writing Nami a very obvious message for her and only her at the Blue Station when he went off to sneak onto the Puffing Tom, which said that whoever else read it were all idiots, managing to annoy Nami once she spotted it.
Whenever he prepares a meal or a drink for his female crewmates, he dislikes it when his male crewmates start griping for not receiving any other food from him and then bickers at them to make their own food or tells them they were undeserving. If they try to sneak food, he is also quick to punish them, especially Luffy, with whom he has gone to great lengths to protect the fridge from being raided on the ship.
At Wano Country, Sanji was given the task of using his cooking to gather Kin'emon's allies, but he instead used his cooking solely to attract women, managing to irritate Nami when she saw this and later on, he was more interested in hearing Robin's opinions about the taste of his soba noodles and snarling at Franky when he was making a suggestion on how to attract samurai.
Sanji's attitude towards fights is an interesting matter. Unlike Zoro, he does not go looking for fights and his many brawls at the Baratie can be attributed to certain customers (e.g Fullbody) aggravating him. At other times, Sanji will try to avoid unnecessary confrontations, like onboard the Puffing Tom where Sanji tried to simply move past the government agents or detach their traincarts instead of fighting them. On the other hand, Sanji is shown multiple times to enjoy fighting like when he kicked a piece of a building at Oars, Sanji grinned in a similar manner to Zoro. Sanji also refused to back down when he was challenged during the Davy Back Fight, and in Arlong Park, he chided Luffy for bursting into Arlong Park so quicky. Sanji is sometimes too confident in his skills, leading him to underestimate his opponents (as noted by Zoro in Jaya). This happened with Wanze when Sanji got his legs trapped in Wanze's Ramen Armour and later underestimated Vergo, leading to the Vice Admiral fracturing Sanji's shin bone. He also held back against his father and was shocked when Judge used a human shield to get an advantage.
|— Sanji's strict policy in combat.|
Because of the chivalrous lectures he received from Zeff, Sanji has sworn to never let women be insulted or injured while he can still stand, regardless of how attractive (or unattractive) they are, even in life-or-death situations. When he found Cosette brutally beaten to the point of unconsciousness, Sanji became absolutely furious and broke Niji's jaw when he saw him again despite the threats and warnings his family issued towards him; only when Ichiji reminded him did Sanji stop the assault. However, he is not quite above insulting some women himself if they prove to be evil or hurt his crew in anyway, like when he called Dr. Kureha "old hag" after she beat Luffy around and he called Kalifa "Witch" after being distracted by her and her tea when he needed to rescue Robin. He was also rude to his older sister Reiju but this was due to being forced back into the family and his arranged marriage as he actually bears no true hatred toward her specifically.
This is still often problematic in his fighting as he cannot attack female opponents as he would rather die than hurt them (though that does not mean he will not resort to blocking their attacks, and even pointed a gun at Nico Robin when her status as a Baroque Works Officer was revealed). He even went out of his way when he sensed Tashigi crying, simply to protect her from Vergo, in spite of her being a Marine. He is shown to be protective of women of all ages, whether they are old or young, such as when he protected Kureha from Kuromarimo's attack and stopped Usopp from harming Lil. All of this is due to Zeff teaching him the "ancient laws of the universe" that men should never hurt women. Because of his chivalry towards women, he refuses to carry a grudge against any of them no matter how they offended him, and even sees the deeper meanings of their actions, such as how Robin appears to betray the crew and how Viola deceived him and even violently beat him down. Even when he discovered Pudding's betrayal and how she cruelly mocked him behind his back, instead of feeling angry, Sanji only wept silently in the rain. Conversely, Sanji is very abrasive and insulting to many other males throughout the series.
|— Brook on Sanji's kindness.|
As stated by Brook, Luffy, his mother and his sister, Sanji is extremely kind, having a strong sense of generosity and compassion ever since he was a child, as is exemplified by his feeding food to a rat and looking after a turtle though he was brutally bullied by his brothers and punished by his father for doing so. Sanji's experiences with his family hardened him up greatly as was shown when he pulled a knife out on his father and when he nearly killed Zeff for "food". It wasn't until Zeff sacrificed his leg to save him that Sanji truly lightened up again and regained his merciful nature for the majority of the series. Due to his kindness, Sanji will even save people that he has no obligation to help such as Gin, Kinemon, and the kids from Punk Hazard (though this was due to Nami wanting to save them). Sanji even saved his enemies as was shown when he saved Tashigi and the G-5 Marines from Vergo and Caesar's gas and later, Sanji saved an entire race when the Mink Tribe was poisoned, as was shown by his ordering Caesar to neutralize his own gas weapon. He also went out of his way to save Chiffon from being executed by Oven. The greatest sign of Sanji's kindness was shown when he confessed to Luffy that despite the immense suffering his own family has caused him, he refused to leave them behind to die and wanted to save them. During the chaos caused by his crew, Sanji did not hesitate to save Charlotte Pudding despite overhearing her mockery of him as well as her intentions to kill him. This side of him is shown again as when his family was in danger, Sanji ran to their aid before he succeeded in saving them from being killed by the treacherous Big Mom Pirates, much to his family's mutual shock. Despite her previous deception and attempts to kill him, he thanked Pudding for being his fiancé, which caused the latter to feel guilty at his kind hearted nature.
His kindness also extends to his disdain towards cruelty. An example was towards his family's royal ethics. When Niji told Sanji that he brought shame to their family, Sanji retorted that being part of the family brought shame to him. He openly stated how Niji had no respect for food and the latter's willingness to harm a woman as well as the arrogance of royalty that compels them to see their servants as less than human, which goes against everything Sanji stands for.
There are still times when Sanji is downright ruthless to his enemies. In his first appearance, he brutally beat Fullbody and dangled him from the neck with one hand for wasting food; this is similar to Zoro's intimidating introduction into the series and even threatened to kill Fullbody when he said he was going to report the restaurant to the Marines. Sanji is especially brutal to any foes who attack or insult women, as he sent Kuroobi flying through Arlong Park when the latter insulted Nami, he reconstructed Wanze's face and kicked him through a door when the agent badmouthed Robin and viciously smashed Absalom into a solid stone wall due to his perverted actions towards Nami (and also for stealing his dream of invisibility). When his despicable older brother Niji threw a plate at Cosette's face, Sanji caught it inches from her face and was furious. He later became outraged when Niji brutally beat up Cosette and upon seeing Niji again, he kicked his brother's face in, forcing Niji to fix his jaw with his hands.
When he learned that Orochi fed his impoverished citizens faulty SMILE fruits to rob them of their ability to feel sadness and anger, Sanji was silently enraged and alongside Zoro stood up against Orochi by defending Toko.
Respect For Food
One of Sanji's most prominent characteristics is a strong respect toward food and the preparation of food in the kitchen. Since food and sustenance play a crucial role in maintaining life, he strongly believes that a chef's work must be treated as though it were sacred. This respect stems from Sanji taking after his mother and practicing his cooking (but for rats), causing outrage from Judge who would throw away the food Sanji made, causing Sanji to cry. Prior to being stranded on the rock with Zeff nine years before his introduction, Sanji thought food was dispensable and would toss out any that had gone bad. In fact, he was disgusted by how his fellow chefs would eat leftovers from customers, disregarding their lecture on the importance of conserving food on sea-based voyages. However, after nearly starving to death on the rock, he came to regret his maltreatment to food, especially after finding out that Zeff has sacrificed his own leg as emergency rations in order to give Sanji all the remaining food. As a result, he has a strong tendency to become hostile towards those who waste food or regard it in any way that is less than his respect for it. Thus, he has a habit of beating up anyone who steals food from the fridge (mainly Luffy). When Niji wasted his food by trying to throw it at Cosette, Sanji unhesitatingly ate it off the floor claiming it was delicious, causing the female cook to cry in happiness and Niji to become disgusted. When a thug kicked his soba pot while threatening him at Wano Country, Sanji forced the wasted soba noodles into the thug's mouth after knocking him out.
It has been dictated on many occasions that Sanji puts the quality of food before everything that is not vital, even his instant infatuation with any woman he sees. A strong example of this was shown in the anime-only G8 Arc, where he snapped out of an infatuation with Jessica after she questioned his culinary skills, and demonstrated his superiority (but when she recognized his skills and told him he was welcome in the kitchen, his infatuation returned). This is precisely why Sanji, in his first appearance, proceeded to beat Fullbody. He is also shown to fully believe that anyone who wishes for food should be given food, be it a customer or a criminal, with an example being his giving the starving Gin food in spite of the other chefs refusing to serve him. The greatest example of his adherence to his belief is that Sanji strongly opposed to Bege's intention to sabotage Big Mom's substitute wedding cake with poison or explosives despite the fact that the Yonko had held Zeff hostage and tried to massacre him and his family for her own selfish ambitions.
Being one of the strongest members of the crew and being part of the "Monster Trio" Sanji is naturally fearless, as he is often fighting armies and powerful opponents with barely a concerned look. Sanji showed no fear to undead denizens of Thriller Bark and didn't hesitate to fight a Shichibukai in mid air when his crew was threatened and even fired at a Yonko's ship despite all the risks.
Sanji, while very brave, is not completely without fear. In the Jaya Arc, he was terrified alongside Nami at the spiders and huge insects, showing he may have arachnophobia and entomophobia. Sanji was also terrified of the Okama that fought and chased him for two years. Sanji also becomes nervous whenever Nami is absent and fears for her safety (the same goes for Robin) and Sanji will be fearful when other crewmates are in direct danger of losing their lives as seen with Kuma. Sanji has also displayed fear while in the presence of Big Mom. He also suffered post-traumatic stress disorder from his childhood abuse at the hands of his brothers as was shown that in spite of having become immensely stronger both physically and mentally, he still trembled when Ichiji and Niji arrived in the Germa Kingdom. He also became terrified for Zeff's safety when Judge blackmailed Sanji by threatening Zeff's life and thus allowed Niji to strike him down when his older brother threatened the old cook.
Because of his own brutal childhood, Sanji sympathizes with anyone who keeps their past hidden. This can be seen with Nami, Robin, Chopper, Viola, and even Kin'emon. When Sanji's own past is brought up by his friends, he has a tendency to try and shrug it off. However, when Bege finally revealed his infamous heritage, he said he never intended to keep his past hidden from his crew, and that he must deal with his problems alone.
Due to being locked up and punished by his own father, Sanji has a morbid attitude towards anyone whose been enslaved or locked up. When the crew witnessed a slave bite his own tongue off at the Human Auction House, Nami wondered what just happened and Sanji stated that compared to living life as wretched "property" of another person, dying might have been the right choice. This belief also led Sanji to call in the Flying Fish Riders after Camie was kidnapped, as he knew their previous experience with the Human Auctioning business was necessary to locate Camie in time before she could become a slave herself.
Sanji's loyalty to those dear to him has their priorities, and he is willing to turn cold towards comrades for the sake of those who are in more danger. An example of this is when he knew that his father figure, Zeff, is being threatened with death if he is disobedient, Sanji would put up an act of bigoted cruelty towards the Straw Hat Pirates to sever ties with them, in order to protect Zeff, and hoping to chase away the crew from hopelessly chasing after him any further. This ploy was tragically successful as Nami was heartbroken and angry at his supposed change and slapped him for his words. However, Luffy refused to believe Sanji of all people would abandon their crew after all their adventures and proclaimed he will not leave until Sanji returns, as Luffy could tell Sanji's words were forced and fake, and that he felt pain himself for kicking Luffy. In response, Sanji broke down in tears as he recalled his time with the crew. Later, he bargained with Big Mom to spare the Straw Hats' lives in exchange for his cooperation in the political wedding, showing he is fully willing to commit in giving up his freedom with his friends in exchange for their safety.
Like Zoro, Sanji strongly believes in loyalty, as he sided with him about Usopp rejoining the crew when the latter stepped on Luffy's pride. This is shown again at Punk Hazard during his fight with Vergo. After saving Tashigi and the G-5 from his slaughter, Sanji commented that Vergo would be someone that his captain would hate the most. After being forced to fight his captain at Whole Cake Island, he claimed that he had lost the right to return to the crew, until Luffy convinced him to return by saying he would help Sanji save his family from Big Mom.
Sanji can be rather prideful and stubborn at times, as he originally considered the Raid Suit given to him by his family as an insult and refused to use it at first due to his hatred of his family's cruel usage of their technology. However, when confronting Page One, Sanji acknowledged the fact that he and his crew were up against a Yonko. Thus, he willingly put aside his pride for the sake of his friends.
Sanji is usually modest about his culinary skills, though he strongly dislikes his meals being criticized (especially by Zeff) and he tends to refer himself as a first class chef. Sanji even claimed to Tamago that the other Straw Hats were likely suffering without his meals, causing Tamago to scoff at his arrogance though Sanji was right about the crew.
Like Zoro, Sanji takes pride in his bounty. Prior to the timeskip, he was angry over how he was the only member to have been given a poorly drawn image of himself unlike the other members. He also hated how his bounty was changed to "Only Alive" due to his father's demand to capture him. Upon finally given a bounty increase that surpasses Zoro's, Sanji was overjoyed to have been given a bounty higher than Zoro's and more so after seeing it was changed back to "Dead or Alive". However, he was dismayed to see that his family name is included on the bounty poster. Sanji also believes that having a higher bounty would attract women to him more as he was deeply shocked to see Zoro and Hiyori interacting with each other so closely despite Zoro's bounty being lower than his.
Desire for Invisibility
One of Sanji's greater desires was to gain the power of invisibility. By his claim, he desired the power to be a superhero, though it was constantly punctured by his true desire to peep at women bathing. For this reason, he desired the Suke Suke no Mi, the only Devil Fruit he was willing to consume and lose his ability to swim. For this reason, he hated Absalom for eating the fruit, for it meant Sanji's dream of gaining invisibility to be over. At that point, he claims to have lost interest in the fruit, and would just peep at women bathing in another way.
Non-canonically, when Sanji saw the Iro Iro no Mi's camouflage abilities being so similar to the Suke Suke no Mi, he became angry at Psycho P for the same reason at Absalom, though it also revitalized his dream slightly at the possibility of other Devil Fruits granting such powers.
Upon gaining his own Raid Suit, which grants him the power of invisibility, Sanji was conflicted, as he finally gained the power he desired so much, though at the irony of under the Germa science he detested so much. Nevertheless, he was overjoyed at the thought of finally being able to peep at women's bath (or, as he swiftly corrected himself, to protect his friends).