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Sanji’s Hidden Strength & Awakening

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Here’s what Oda to say about the Vinsmokes’ hair colour:
「血統因子の操作による影響が出なかったからこそ、そのまま親と同じ髪色なんですね。」
Translation: Due to the fact that Sanji didn’t manifest the effects of having his lineage factor manipulated, he retains the same hair color as his parents.

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At first glance, this might sound like a confirmation that Sanji didn’t have his lineage factor modified, but I want y’all to think about it for a moment, does having your lineage factor modified automatically give you an exoskeleton or make you void of emotions? The answer to that is no, and Reiju is living proof of that given she has emotions unlike her brothers bar Sanji. If it wasn’t already obvious before, it becomes increasingly clear that said effects were specifically configured by Judge. The unique hair colors of all the Vinsmokes bar Sanji is most likely the same. Now Oda said Sanji didn’t manifest the effects of having his lineage factor manipulated by Judge, but effects of what exactly? Judge’s configuration? If so, then that’s accurate. However, it doesn’t eliminate the possibility of Sanji’s genetic modifications having taken a slightly different route from that of his brothers in consequence to the drug Sora took. Sanji keeping his emotions and not having developed an exoskeleton doesn’t necessarily prove that he wasn’t genetically modified, just that he is fundamentally different from his brothers.

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A potential hint that Sanji was modified differently from his brothers is the fact that his curly eyebrows take an inverse shape in comparison to his brothers.

Now moving on to the nitty gritty of my theory which is Sanji’s awakening, I’m sure the lot of you guys & girls are familiar with the story of the ugly duckling. If so, you’ve prolly already noticed that Sanji’s backstory shares a lot of similarities with it and I don’t think it’s simply just a coincidence either given the following:

  • In SBS vol.20 Oda was asked what animals best represent the SHs and Oda’s choice for Sanji was ‘domesticated duck’ which, I personally think, is a very peculiar choice.
  • Taking a look at the cover page for chapter 124, after the events on Whole Cake Island, it becomes abundantly clear that it was a foreshadowing of Sanji’s past. In the image below, Sanji is carrying a box with the word secret and a sticker with the Straw Hats jolly roger on it, indicating that Sanji at the time, was keeping a secret from the Straw Hats. It is also very interesting to note that in the same picture Oda depicts a man at the pier riding a “Swan”.
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  • Sanji’s pet-name for Nami is Nami~swan!

As pointed out above Sanji character seems to be somewhat tied to Ducks & Swans, so taking the above into consideration, I for one, think it’s very unlikely that the similarities between Sanji’s backstory & the story of the ugly duckling is simply a coincidence.

Now, seeing as the story of the ugly duckling could very well be the template for Sanji’s backstory, I think an awakening is very much on the cards for Sanji. One could argue that Sanji has already found his flock of swans & acceptance in the Straw Hats & Baratie which is true. However like the ugly duckling came to the realization that he’s not actually a duck but a magnificent swan, Sanji is still yet to come to realization that he isn’t a Germa failure but something that might surpass even Judges’ initial configuration for his kids (hypothetically speaking). For example, Sanji is fundamentally different from his brothers in that his emotions intensify/strengthen his fire ab,ilities. Anger in particular increases the intensity of his flames and this phenomenon is what gave birth to one his strongest techniques shown to date in his hell memories. So as opposed to his brothers’, Sanji’s abilities have the potential to evolve whereas his brothers’ remain stagnant due to their lack of emotions.

Now due to the fact that Sanji’s emotions make his fire abilities stronger. There’s a real possibility that Sanji’s flames evolve to even stronger flames like blue or potentially even black sometime further down the line (maybe even as early as Wano) depending how intense his emotions get. Scientifically speaking we know fire changes color the hotter it gets (red -> orange -> white -> blue), so going in line with that Sanji could potentially unlock blue flames. However, due to fact that the lot of Sanji’s epithets have been tied to the color black till now (i.e. Black leg, Stealth black). I won’t be surprised if it ends up being black flames and not blue. Blue/Black flames are pretty extreme, as such it could potential hurt the user themeselves, so maybe that’s why Oda added the fire immunity feature to the Raid Suit?

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If something does happen that stimulates Sanji’s emotions enough for his flames to evolve, I don’t think it will end with just that and the reason I say this was something that happened way back on TB pre-timeskip. When Usopp told Sanji that Absalom took a good look at Nami in the shower, he got so angry that he literally combusted and the intensity of his fire kept on rising and he seemed to be transforming into a devil of sorts, to which Zoro commented saying that if the intensity of Sanji’s flames got any higher it seemed as though he could transform into something.

I personally think that the above is a foreshadowing of a potential transformation for Sanji in the future, one which would allow him to bear all the fruits of his genetic modifications which I think, will also include some durability buff of some sorts. Seeing as Sanji’s fire abilities have a lot more potential that his brother’s abilities, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if his exoskeleton equivalent is superior as well. Now, I’m sure some of y’all are wondering why I think Sanji will get a durability buff with his awakening when he already has the Raid Suit and the reason is as follows; although the Raid Suit provides Sanji with a very durable shield in it’s cape to protect him against powerful blows, it doesn’t really up his durability during CQC. To add, Sanji’s forte isn’t Armament (Oda’s has emphasized that a few times already post-timeskip) and he’s going to be fighting against some really durable and powerful fighters from now on so I think a durability upgrade is also on the cards for Sanji.

ps. To those who may think Sanji can’t be awakened because he’s not a devil fruit user, this isn’t a literal devil fruit awakening, it’s more like his modifications are dormant and will be awakened and his true powers will surface.

*Theory by PuckTheGreat

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