This is an interesting thread. My guess is that Oda tried hard to keep the pace up through Impel Down and Marineford so that he became more accustomed to that attitude. Ever since the timeskip, I've felt like the chapters have all been very full of material like never before.
After the timeskip I really started to get the feeling that Oda was trying to get all he could out of every panel. It's a feeling I didn't have before.
Yeah, his pacing is definitely off with FI. I'm not sure why he seems to be in such a rush… but he does seem to be. Maybe he's excited to showcase the new world, maybe he's been leading up to FI for so long that now that he's finally here he's grown bored with it, or the opposite, he's so excited that he wants to show everything as soon as possible. Maybe there's a certain key scene he's eager to get to that'll put a context to the whole arc... I dunno, something. Maybe its just a case of him being human.
I agree with this, and specifically off panel development. There are more things happening off panel now than I can ever remember. Robin tracked down a poneglyph in one page. It's almost as if he has higher standards for what he bothers to draw now.
Hopefully the flashback will slow down to a real pace with the next chapter, and after the flashback is over we'll get a proper FI arc. I've been… okay... with the pace so far, on the assumption that its going to be a 2 year arc and this has just been the opening mini-event, the Jaya setup, and that we're going to be spending a lot more time in the place and there's going to be a lot of meat to come yet, some big twist that'll make it more epic and more like the thing he's been teasing steadily for 5 years.
If we make an assumption that Oda needed this flashback before he was ready to reveal certain things, then the pace seems a lot more understandable. If the pace of Impel Down was pushed in order to get back to a comfort zone for the author, then Fishman Island before the flashback could be in a similar position.
But if this arc is already almost over? Finished before the end of the year? There'd be a major dropped ball here.
Yes, if Fishman Island is left behind for the New World before 2012 ends, I'll feel as though Oda rushed too much.
He hasn't even given us a MAP yet… especially crucial in this case when its a three dimensional terrain, with bus tunnels to other connected islands and some things up in the air. He's usually waaaay better about that.
YEAH, I want that fucking map so bad. The shape of this island is so bizarre, we need to know where all these neighborhoods fall relative to eachother, esepcially where the fuck the Fishman district is, and where the Sea Forest is, if it's outside the bubble then WHERE. I mean for fucks sake, we even got a map of Enies Lobby, which was basically a glorified combat arena.
Absolutely agree. If there's one thing I want to point out, though, it's how Oda uses maps in the first place. Typically Oda gives us maps that coincide with the crew's knowledge. We get the map when they get the map or have constructed one. I believe Oda wants us to feel as lost as the crew does (I hope). It seems like the taxi ride from Mermaid Cafe to Pappug's house was an ideal time to bring it up, so I can only hope that there's a reason why it's still a bit of a mystery (and that it doesn't wind up revealing any plot holes).
This map is also the most complex layout in the history of One Piece. It's all very 3D. If it was all just explained from the get go, the complexity of it all and the feeling of traversing an unexplored area would be damaged.
Brenrouge and some dingus were able to have a huge debate about it, shows how little we've been given. The stuff they were arguing we should know from the comic.
It also shows how many little pieces of information we've received. There are some conclusions that can be pieced together without being specifically revealed, such as the Sea Forest and Fishman District being outside of the island. Assuming all the pieces fit together properly at the end, I see great potential for the overall layout/design. Of course, there's also the potential of a piece not fitting properly and ruining it.
I can only guess that there's just some big things that Oda doesn't want to show yet that a full map would give away? But usually a blank unspecified spot on a map just leads to curiosity as to what it'll have. I really can't think of why he's waited this long.
That's possible, and the first thing that comes to mind is that upper island bubble above FI. Maybe there's something about the location of the giant ship in the Fishman District that makes it an important reveal, or maybe even the same for the Sea Forest/poneglyph, though I doubt it. There's also the possibility that Oda just wants us to feel as lost as confused as the characters at the beginning of the arc as they're all separated.
I'm not sure a blank spot could be justified, though, unless it was a map that the crew was putting together in pieces.
Or maybe Luffy is going to destroy it sooner than anybody expects so there's no point getting attached to the current layout.
That logic didn't apply for Angel Beach, so I'm guessing it's not the case here either. I suppose I just don't see destruction as a reason to avoid revealing it.
Maybe it is a side effect of sending so much time on the mermaids whom I really don't care all that much about in comparison to the Fishmen, but I can agree that this arc hasn't quite clicked with me yet. We're at the point where usually all the main players have been introduced or alluded to, yet there's no tension here. Part of this is because the Straw Hats (or I guess really just Luffy and Zoro) are coming off as so overpowered relative to the villains that it feels like nothing poses any danger to them. I'm holding out for something big happening, like Luffy landscaping the place, to bring back some honest to goodness sense of danger and urgency. As it stands, with what we currently know, I can't imagine this arc lasting all that much longer, which would be quite a disappointment given how we've been waiting for this arc for around five years.
Almost all of the tension to this point has surrounded drowning (the erupting volcano might be the only exception). From the adventure of sailing underwater to get to FI, to Hammond and his gang of sea monsters, to the crash landing entry to FI, to the flooding of the palace, the danger and tension has continuously come from the sea itself. It's what I'd expect, though, so I don't have a problem with it.
Luffy and Zoro just had a two year timeskip to get stronger in fights, so I'd expect them to totally outclass everyone who attempts to match up with them for a while. I wouldn't expect to see them struggle with strength until people like Usopp/Nami/Brook are upended first, so the danger and tension would need to come from somewhere else in the meantime. Luffy and Zoro will get worthy opponents eventually, and Oda wants to show them off until that comes.
This is a lot like Water 7 at this point, and the NFP are like the Franky Family. The Franky Family were absolutely no threat to the crew physically, but Oda created tension through losing the money. The NFP don't seem to be any threat either, but tension can be created through drowning.
I fully expect the outlook of the arc to be totally different after the flashback, so I don't dare to even pretend to see the end until I can see the twist that comes first.
Crossword said it good about there being no real sense of danger. I think the only sense of danger right now is Zoro, Usopp, Brook, and Neptune being captured by the New Fishman Pirates at the moment. Vander Decken's first encounter with Luffy didn't give me a good impression of him and if it weren't for the water, I'd say Zoro would have defeated Hodi Jones (which is probably why the water was there). While I do like seeing how strong the SH are post-timeskip and seeing them oneshotting fodder, until they are forced to go all out, we won't know exactly how strong they are. Plus the oldest prince is already dealing with one of Hodi Jones's top crewmembers. When it comes to their subordintes so far, I'd say Vander Decken doesn't anyone that stands out as a threat and Hodi Jones has Hyozo (who's a mercenary first and a NFP pirate second). Maybe his other top crewmembers, but if one of the princes is already dealing with one of them, who knows? I think taking out the one Fukaboshi is fighting and Hyozo, there's only 3 top crewmembers of Hodi Jones and if the other 2 princes were to fight at least 2 of them…
I think this is my only complaint so far but I'll reserve judgment until the arc's over.
It's true that we don't have a good understanding of the crew's strength at the moment, but I think that's a good thing. Fights are frequently won when a character either reveals something new, or learns/creates something new. The option of revealing something new makes more sense in situations like reappearing after a timeskip, so Oda really needs to take advantage of it while he can. The crew will have to grow to succeed during their adventures in the New World for probably over 10 years of real time. Having a backlog of growth to call upon, however, is a situation with a few very limited chances.
At the beginning of the story, the interest came from wondering just how strong Luffy and Zoro were, rather than from wondering how they'd get stronger. It would make sense to follow the same pattern for the second half of the story.