As the blog section lies dead once again after the hiatus plague, I'll ask a question that has never really been answered directly but comes up a lot in discussions: Is the Dressrosa Arc good? Should it be put up on the tiers of arcs like Alabasta and Enies Lobby, or was it just "there" like Skypiea? (braces for flame comments). I'll give my perspective, but of course I want to hear your opinions as well.
I got caught up to One Piece around Chapter 707, so Dressrosa Arc was unique for me in the fact that it was the first arc I read on a weekly basis. This put me in quite over my head as I was expecting a 40-50 chapter arc like the previous two, yet nearly all my two years of following it week by week has been there. Indeed, Dressrosa's length is the main point of complaint among fans. And was the length needed?
The root cause of Dressrosa's length is the ridiculous amount of new characters introduced. Unlike some people, I was able to keep track of them, due mostly in part to Oda doing a great job of making most of them unique. We would also find out in Chapter 800 that a large quantity of these new characters would play a big part later in the series. However, the number of parties here was a tad excessive.
- Law: The most important point of the story, and his story is necessarily and thankfully fleshed out, with a 6 chapter flashback to boot which worked well in also characterizing Doflamingo and setting up the tragedy of Dressrosa.
- Samurai: The second-most important story point arguably lied within Kin'emon's quest. However, this was quickly left in the back-burner, putting a rather sour taste in our mouths. Kanjuro was an infamous man in Dressrosa, yet Kin'emon rescued him with little effort. Momonosuke was also said to be an important card in play, but he left the scene 30 chapters in and any importance he has will have to be explained later. Kin'emon and Kanjuro later went and stood around for the rest of the arc, and what was once a great plot point was reduced to basically nothing.
- Colosseum Gladiators: There's a lot of them. The important ones did play a large and important role in the story, especially in 800, and their character foreshadowing in the Colosseum did not disappoint. Then there were the others, which only served to make a long fight even longer (which I'll get to in a moment). Overall used well.
- Royal Family and Kyros: Oda gave them quite the backstory (2 in fact) but given the amount of parties involved, their plight only made this story even fatter. Rebecca was not characterized incredibly well, and Riku's character sometimes fell flat. Ultimately, I'm not even sure they were necessary, as Law's story and the toys did well enough to establish Doflamingo's villainy.
- Straw Hats: I'm pretty sure Oda realized he had too much on his plate, so he had to cut corners. However, he ended up cutting out part of the center. The lack of half the crew so soon after the timeskip, and introducing yet ANOTHER party in Big Mom, didn't really go too well.
So even though most of these parties were fleshed out well, the fact that they were in one arc certainly hampered things a bit.
The other issue is pacing. Despite the fact that it went for over 100 chapters, there honestly aren't many scenes in the arc that were useless. The part after the Birdcage when the final fights were set up certainly went on too long, as well as the last part of the Luffy-Doflamingo fight. You could possibly say that the toy subplot and the Colosseum battles went on too long, but I honestly don't think they did. I got the chance to binge-read Volumes 71-75, and some parts of the story that seemed too long on a week-by-week basis did better when read all at once, while some still dragged on.
Overall, while I believe that Oda introduced too many parties and struggled with some areas of pacing, I really liked this arc: Its scope, its fights, and its fleshed-out characters were all very strong points. We got multi-man brawls, great villains, great Devil Fruit powers, and most importantly GEAR FOUR which was extremely good. While I don't think it's reached the caliber of Enies Lobby or Marineford, I give this arc a solid 8/10.
Did you think this arc was good or bad?