I'm not saying this arc is perfect but it does not deserve the absurd level of picking apart it gets. Which, again, is easy to do when you get it in weekly installments. The story works far better in one breezy read than little dissected chunks every week.
It's easy to say Skypiea is a flawless masterpiece when we've internalized it but there was a lot of draggy baggage at the time of release. Remember Satori and his excessively long fight? His twin siblings? Yama? Shura and what an anticlimax he was? Lots of walking around? How long the Enel conflict dragged out just to push in a flashback just before the climax (at least the Corazon flashback came before the final battle)? Hell, to this day people still call it a filler arc (when it was actually the foundation of one of the most major parts of the story) with years of opportunity to see how it fits into the main plot.
And not to knock Skypiea, I love the arc. I just think it's far easier to look through rose tinted glasses at an arc long done and internalized opposed to something that we're only getting a brushstroke of every week. That's why I'm confident once we're finally able to see the forest for the trees, the arc will get far more appreciation especially as its foundation for basically the upheaval of the status quo of the New World.
This is so so true for me. First time I watched Skypiea (yes, watched. I didn't read manga back then ) I hated it. It seemed like a neverending story set in a different world, that had no relation to the actual plot of the series, with crap villains and crap support cast (except Enel and Wiper, respectively). Then we didn't even have proper 1 v 1 fights, lots of trees everywhere, and meh. Didn't like it one bit. The flashback didn't bother me that much, actually. Only by the 3rd or 4th time I read/watched the arc did I start to see the quality and importance it holds in the overall plot, and even on its own. Today, I can't say it's one of my favourites, but I like some of its aspects.
Tension? Don't remember feeling any in Skypiea, except when Chopper was involved (also didn't like Chopper's treatment that arc, although him defeating Gedatsu pleased me; Chopper was my number 1 character back then, and it's still in my top 5!). Pacing and lenght problems? Don't need to say anything. Villains being bad at their job? One of the top guys got defeated by Chopper… Only Satori in the beginning made them feel threatening, but it soon turned around. Lack of emotional connection? Other than Enel being about to destroy the island and kill everyone, the Straw Hats didn't have much reason to be there.
In the overall scheme of things, Dressrosa is much more to my tastes than Skypiea. It's OP's Spain!! I live next to Spain, I really enjoyed the theme of the island! The Colosseum was very cool, although block D and the last fight didn't live up to the expectations built by blocks B and C. Law and Doffy's backstory? Amazing. One of the best in OP. Running chapters? Yeah, those were kind of unnecessary, but not nearly as bad as Punk Hazard. Dwarves? Loved the concept and their role until somewhere in the middle. Then it kind of... don't know. Just became secondary; the Mansherry plot was badly handled, true. The constant jumping around to give a sense of all out war and confusion hurt the storytelling. And that same lack of focus made the officers look bad, when they actually made contributions throughout the arc, but the only focus on them was their defeats... The Rikus' backstories were so so. You can see their inferiority because every time the focus switches to the Doffy and Law plot, the way it resonates with readers is way better. But, altogether, they didn't take that long and they were necessary to build a connection to the island, its people and its plight. Could have been better, but it worked for me. The resolution with Diamante vs. Kyros... Not so much, but it also suffers from the same lack of focus that other fights do.
Don't want to make this post much longer, since I have more stuff to do, so overall, Dressrosa is cool for me. Probably had one of the top 3 setups in the series, alongside Water 7 and the war saga, but the middle portion and resolution were more average for One Piece. Still enjoy it weekly and the final fight is looking good so far. Just hope the atmosphere in the manga section of this forum improves a bit. It's been almost unbearable for me lately.