Today the last episode of the filler Silver Mine Arc aired, so I thought I would review it as a whole. This is the first filler arc I've ever watched, so I really can't compare it to previous OP fillers, but I am aware of the overall stigma around them.
This arc was meant to tie in to One Piece Film: Gold, and it did so pretty well, relating well to the upcoming movie while still having a story of its own. However, the original story part was definitely pretty weak, and it brought a reality check to all the fans who were basically praying for filler filler and more filler as the Dressrosa Arc went on. Is it worse than padding? I really can't say at this point.
First, the good things. Bartolomeo and Luffy's interactions were done pretty well. I was expecting all of Bartolomeo's lines to basically be hymns of praise for Luffy, but his character was handled well as his silly fanboy moments were dwarfed by his unwavering devotion to Luffy and his willingness to risk his life for his idol, which was a much better direction to go in. So when Bartolomeo did have silly fanboy moments, those were easily seen as just little gags that didn't ruin his character. Then there's Desire, the only new character that was actually pretty good for the most part. Her history with Bartolomeo was interesting, since we're still learning more and more about Bartolomeo's past. I also really enjoyed seeing how Bartolomeo's devotion to Luffy ended up affecting and alienating her, as it's not really often that fillers break this much ground on an established character. Desire also wasn't played for fanservice, and the only time she cried was pretty well-deserved as she found out the man she was serving nearly annihilated her crew. Desire gets a massive thumbs-up from me. Luffy was, well, Luffy. His particular standout moment was wrecking Bill in the last episode without having any BS pulled to weaken him. And as for the actual Film Gold stuff, well, it made me more hyped for the film, so I guess the arc did a good job with that. Let's just hope Tesoro doesn't turn out to be a letdown after all this arc hyped him up to be.
Other than Desire, however, the new characters were all pretty weak. There's the main antagonist Bill, who's such a flat bad guy that I only wanted to see him defeated so we wouldn't have to see him anymore. He's just a typical "Oh I pretend to care about you but actually don't" like Crocodile was except without any other real personality traits. Then in the final episode we learn that he's just a Gildo Tesoro wannabe who's not interesting at all. At least his power was cool, though, and I did enjoy seeing how far he took it at the end. Then there was Peseta, who was funny and intimidating with his cannon army strategies. However Toei just decided to turn him into Zoro fodder in the third episode. Then there's Aveyron, who was a funny one-time villain, but there's really nothing to say about him at all. The plot is basically Luffy and Bartolomeo getting captured for slaughter and escaping, with the only real nuance being Desire and Bartolomeo's subplot, so the arc was definitely subpar in terms of story. And as for the other Straw Hats, well I'll be a happy man on the day when Toei creates a filler arc that stars every single Straw Hat and doesn't leave any out to dry. The only two Straw Hats that did anything were Zoro and Kin'emon. Kin'emon was a nice surprise, given how underused he is in the actual manga, and of course Zoro was just there to look cool.
Overall I would give this arc a 5.5/10. It certainly wasn't awful, but it definitely isn't worth rewatching, and the good points and bad points are just about equal in size. In two weeks we'll be in Zou, although it doesn't appear to have a promising start as the preview for next episode was nearly all flashbacks.
I'll hopefully be back sometime this week to review Heart of Gold once Crunchyroll picks it up, as well as Film Gold whenever I can see it. This isn't the Year of Sanji, it's the Year of Gold.