The relationship between Nami and Sanji is both a complex and an interesting one. We have discussed whether the two of them are in love or not, and while this article is going to talk about their relationship as well, we’re not going to tackle that issue again. In this article, we are actually going to tell you why Sanji calls Nami “Nami-san, “in One Piece, a term of endearment he doesn’t use with other female crewmembers. Oda has explained that himself, so read here to find out the answer.
Officially, Eiichiro Oda has replied that there was no particular reason why Sanji addressed Nami as “Nami-san,” while, at the same time, he addressed Nico Robin as “Robin-chan.” He said that it could be related to the fact that he wanted to show respect to them by treating Nami as more mature, and by referring to Robin as a younger person, but there is no real reason behind it. Oda simply decided like that, and he used it without any hidden agenda.
The rest of this article is going to explain one aspect of the relationship between Nami and Sanji. As we’ve said, this is a very interesting dynamic as the two of them are quite specific as a pair and are – because of that – often shipped together. And while a relationship might not seem that likely, they are very close friends, and they care deeply for each other, which is why this question is more than relevant. And that is what inspired our article and why we decided to write it. The number of spoilers won’t be that vast but do be careful around some parts of the article.
Oda has revealed the reason why Sanji keeps calling Nami “Nami-san”
The relationship between Nami and Sanji is very, very specific. Sanji and Nami have been part of Luffy’s crew for a long time, making them very good friends. In fact, both of them were part of the original crew, which also consisted of Luffy, Zoro, and Usopp; this was before Nico Robin and Tony Chopper joined the crew.
But, even though they are close and care for one another, Nami only views Sanji as a friend. On the other side, Sanji flirts with Nami, but Sanji flirts with all attractive women. Therefore, this isn’t a valid counterargument for those claiming that they are close and that Sanji flirts with her.
Now, a lot has been said about Nami and Sanji being a potential couple, but this doesn’t seem likely from our perspective, although it is not completely impossible. Sanji, as far as things stand now, is viewed by Nami as a friend; they are close, but there doesn’t seem to be anything romantic in their relationship.
In fact, Nami often makes good use of Sanji’s simping by making him do things for her or instead of her, which speaks more than a lot about the nature of their relationship. Still, she does respect him, and she does care for him as a friend, which is what can be said about all the Straw Hats and their interpersonal relationships.
But, Sanji does treat Nami differently in the series, and he does respect her more than other female characters, despite the fact that he is a true gentleman to all of them (yes, yes, despite his constant simping). He has cared for Nami and has done a lot to make her feel good over the years, helping her on more than one occasion and protecting her as well.
But, there is another specific thing that is unique to the two of them: how Sanji refers to Nami. Namely, he uses the phrase “Nami-san”, which is often used in formal and polite situations, especially towards one’s seniors; on the other hand, he refers to Nico Robin as “Robin-chan”, which is generally informal and is used for younger girls. Nico Robin is older than Nami, while Nami is quite young in the series. So, why does Sanji use “-san” for Nami and “-chan” for Nico Robin? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Well, it is a good thing that we read the SBS sections, as Volume 80 revealed Oda’s official answer to this question:
D: Oda-Sensei, After I started watching One Piece, I thought of it all the time, but why is Sanji addressing Nami with “San” and Robin with “Chan”? Yet it is Robin who’s the elder!! Is there any deep meaning behind it!? P.N. Miracle♪
O: Well I actually didn’t think anything of it. Before there was a staff member in our workplace who asked us something interesting. The wish to treat a woman older than you as if she was younger, and a woman younger than you as if she was more of an adult….Is Sanji acquainted with this feeling? I replied, “Oh, of course. That is right.”– One Piece, SBS Volume 80
So, there you have it. Eiichiro Oda, when he decided that Nami would be called “-san” and Robin “-chan” had absolutely nothing in mind. It happened like that, and he later explained it by saying that it isn’t so unusual, as he himself knew a guy personally who wanted to talk to younger women like they were older and to older women like they were younger.
It was a sign of respect, as it made younger women feel more mature and older women feel younger. This wasn’t his reason, but he used this to explain that it wasn’t that strange.
In any case, both “-san” and “-chan” are actually terms of endearment for him, and a way of showing how he likes and respects both of his crewmates. And that is the whole story.
Also, before we finish, we’d like to address one interesting issue that keeps popping up online but is actually an error. Namely, many fans around the internet claim that Sanji also uses “Nami-Swan” alongside “Nami-san” or even exclusively “Nami-Swan.” Now, the Japanese language doesn’t have the word “swan” in its vocabulary, and the animal in question is called ハクチョウ (Hakuchou), written in Kanji as 白鳥, which literally means “white bird” when translater. So, unlike some animals (for example, the beaver is called ビーバー, or Biibaa), the swan has an authentic Japanese name, so the word “swan” is not really present in the language.
Now, Sanji’s pronunciation of the work “-san” can sometimes seem like “swan” and there have been translations and subs where the word “swan” was sometimes used, but we don’t really think that Oda intended it to be like that, i.e., it could probably be a translation issue.
Of course, if Sanji did really use the phrase “Nami-Swan” on occasions, it was mostly when he wanted to do something especially good for her or when he needed a favor. So, yeah, in that aspect, it has the same function as “-san,” but we simply wanted to clear that up for you since the internet is full of different interpretations.