Luffy may not be the smartest pirate to sail the seas, but my goodness can he see through people. He is able to look past the apparent form and understand what lies beneath hidden away. Sanji was doing his best to find an outcome that saves the most people, even if it meant sacrificing his own dreams in the process. Luffy understood the hollowness in Sanji’s comments as well as the pain within his kicks and chose to continue believing in Sanji. As much as Sanji wanted Luffy to leave, Luffy knows he needs to stay. Their bond has not been severed. And Luffy knows Sanji does not really want to sever their bond.
I was curious to see if Luffy would fight back against Sanji and as expected he didn’t. Luffy picked up on the lies Sanji was trying to convince them of and how forced they were. Luffy, as his captain, chose to endure Sanji’s burden with him and take whatever Sanji needed to give. Regardless of Sanji’s intentions, Luffy felt the pain in Sanji’s kicks and made the decision to continue waiting for Sanji. To continue to believe in the man he invited into his crew, the man he adventured together with. Luffy resolved to Sanji that he will not move until Sanji comes back, even if it means his death. Through his reckless, childish and absurd comments, Luffy expressed to Sanji just how much he believes and needs him in his crew.
The current events must be incredibly hard for Sanji, no matter what his chooses, there is no positive outcome. If he returns to the Straw Hat Pirates, Zeff (and his hands) will be in danger. If he chooses to stay and go ahead with the wedding, he will be abandoning his nakama and his dream. Sanji chose to prevent the death of anyone by going ahead with the wedding. He didn’t want to be selfish and cause harm to Zeff, so he burdened himself with regret and sorrow in order to drive Luffy away. Despite wanting the opposite, he saw no other option to achieve the best outcome in this scenario. He attacked his captain in order to widen the fissure between the Straw Hat Pirates and himself with the intention of making his departure that much more bearable. Yet throughout his battle, Luffy understood what he really wanted and rejected his [indirect] resignation from the crew. To know that Luffy still believes in him, to know that Luffy wants to adventure more together with him, to know that Luffy considers him the best chef, to know that Luffy would choose death if it meant he couldn’t have Sanji’s cooking again, to know that without him Luffy does not believe he can become the Pirate King. To know that he has people who values him, how hard must it be for Sanji to make the choice of abandoning them? Those tears Sanji can’t help but let escape, how will they change his decision? How will the knowledge of what he really wants affect what is about to happen?
This chapter was heartbreaking and intensely moving. Luffy has expressed how much he needs Sanji in his crew and now it is up to Sanji to reciprocate those feelings, his own feelings. What will Sanji decide? And what will the consequences of his decision be? Will Reiju aid him? And when will Jinbe appear to help Luffy and Sanji? Or will Jinbe’s current circumstances force Luffy and Sanji to join together to help him? Really forward to the next chapter.