Thoughts on chapter 864

Overall, I found this chapter a bit disappointing because it was anticlimactic. I was expecting to see Big Mom causing havoc, but instead we got to see her spacing out. Katakuri and Smoothie also didn’t do anything.

I was also expecting more from the Vinsmokes, Judge was looking pathetic, like Ichiji said. A powerful political figure, a mad scientist and an underworld boss crying like a little kid because he was betrayed. No plan B was really naive and stupid, since you are dealing with pirates.

But maybe now, if they survive, Judge will be grateful and ask Sanji for forgiveness? Not sure if Judge can be properly redeemed, but he gives me the vibes of someone who might die with Sanji forgiving him as a last act. I just know that after this chapter, chances that Sanji will part in good terms with his family increased.

My biggest problem with this chapter was the pace. It felt weird and clumsy. The scene with Sanji and Pudding felt out of place, Luffy and Jinbei were also in the middle of chaos but they almost didn’t have anything to do with the chapter. And the weirdest part is that Brook destroying the picture was somewhat irrelevant to the plan, and they had to think about bringing the picture to Big Mom so she could finally get angry and scream, like when you have to repeat a joke for someone who didn’t get at first. …I don’t know Oda-sensei, the pace looked really weird to me.

But since I was really interesting to see Pudding’s reaction to Sanji’s kindness, after recovering herself from the breakdown, I’m pleased with Oda’s decision to not cheap Pudding’s character by making her switching side so fast. This chapter, she even goes too far, trying to kill Sanji:

She even confess that she had deceived countless people, who likely ended up dead (Luffy, Nami and the others almost died because of the trap she led them). It should be no surprise that she is at least an accomplice of several murders ordered by Big Mom. But it’s clear that she isn’t a plain villain, the fact that she has to say “Look! This is who I really am!” just proves that she is desperately trying to to regain her menacing persona. Sanji could see that something was off with her. But like everyone noticed, Sanji had a serious and cold expression, he knows she is dangerous.

Part of the fandom was really thinking that there was a romantic tone in Sanji and Pudding’s relationship but I once more disagree, and this chapter seems to back me up. Pudding was never in love with Sanji, she never liked him, and even his kind words didn’t prevent her from shooting him. She wasn’t grateful like Viola, she still wanted to fight Sanji before Daifuku knocked her out. She is clearly hesitating, but not because of romantic feelings, but because Sanji remembered her from a time where she didn’t have to act deceving people and how she became like this because no one supported her. She is hesitating because she doesn’t know anymore if her current life is okay to her. Continuing to live like this is deceiving herself, that’s the message I think Oda is trying to pass.

As for Sanji, we all know that he is able to convert enemies by his kindness, it happened before and several times. And I believe, like everyone, that Pudding will be redeemed. But saving her here is an act of chivalry, as he wouldn’t let a lady be hit like that. I didn’t get any sign of Sanji being particularly caring or in love with her during this arc. To endorse this, Sanji completely ignores Pudding and Daifuku when he realizes that his family is in danger:

Let’s remember that the only reason Sanji is attending this freaking wedding is to save them:

And now that we are seeing Sanji seriously worried about the Vinsmokes, Nami’s role as the leader of the rescue team gets more weigh and personal importance to Sanji:

We don’t know how things will develop, but if Nami is succesful, I’m sure that Sanji will really appreciate her gesture (and of course, Chopper and Carrot too). It could be a parallel with Sanji bringing the G5 Marines to help Nami save the children in Punk Hazard, when she was becoming desperate with Mocha almost dying. Sanji controlled the situation back then and now she can do the same. Remember that Nami said she wouldn’t leave the island without the children? Now Sanji is the one that cant leave the island without his family. You can read my analysis from that moment here:

Nami also might be really important to “convert” Pudding (I still don’t think she will be nakama), as it seems that both have a special relationship with Lola. Sanji noticed that something is wrong with Pudding but he also was the first one to noticed Momonosuke’s problem. However the kid only opened up to others in Zou, when Sanji was already taken. Perhaps Pudding will be the same, with Sanji noticing the problem but she only open up when she faces Nami, and we finally get the explanation of Lola’s flashback? It’s a possibility.