I've got a question for y'all. Since Yamato basically introduced himself by asking Luffy to join his crew, we have all always judged him according to the standards we hold for a new crewmember. Interactions with the crew, dream, tragic backstory, loveability etc. Basically, we judged him like we would judge a main character. And from the reactions to him not joining after all, I've noticed a sort of consensus that people quite like the character, but weren't so hot on him becoming a full-fledged crewmember and are thus more or less relieved he won't be (for now) (of course, there is an even bigger consensus that the execution for this plot development was really lacking).
So, my question is: does your judgment of Yamato as a character change now that we have to reconsider him not as a crewmember and main character, but as a secondary, more or less arc-centric (time will tell) character? Because, to me, if I forget about all my qualms I had about him joining the crew, forget about all that stuff and just look at him like I would at any other secondary character in the story? Then he might just be one of my absolute favorite non-main characters in the whole series!
I just found Yamato immensely likable and fun. He was a real scene-stealer during the raid, got his own little flashback, even got to fight the main villain for a bit. It's a character with a lot of potential and I find myself wanting to see more of him in the future. That's not something I can say for a lot of characters in One Piece. Don't get me wrong, there are literally dozens of characters in One Piece I really love - that's one of Oda's gifts as a writer, he just knows how to make you fall in love with his creations - and I'm always happy when we get to see them again in the story. But I don't often find myself bummed out at the end of an arc because I want to see more of a particular character.
And that's how I feel about Yamato right now. I'm not per se bummed that he didn't join the crew - as I said in the spoiler chapter thread, I don't really need more crewmembers after Jinbe - but I wouldn't have minded him tagging along for a while, like Law or Vivi did. And as much as I didn't like how Oda executed things in the current chapter, I think the fact that I feel like this about a character that was only introduced really late in the arc, and also that it is totally believable and rings true that Luffy would allow him to join the crew when Yamato feels ready to, that seems to me like a big success on Oda's part.
I've read some people state that now in retrospect, all the time spent on Yamato during the raid was a waste of time because he didn't even join, and I just can't agree with that. Were Wyper's scenes in Skypiea a waste of time? Or Kyros's fight against Diamante in Dressrosa? Or Bartolomeo or Cavendish's fights? Or Bege's scenes in Whole Cake Island? I get it, secondary characters also take away screentime from the main characters and the cast of the raid was already bloated to begin with. But if Oda has a really good idea for a character, should he just scrap that character to save time? Especially if its a character like Yamato that a ton of fans really fell in love with?
Plus, we all figure that a lot of the established secondary characters will play some part in the final war, and if that's the case, Yamato is almost guaranteed to play a particularly big part. While there are a ton of characters in One Piece, there is a surprisingly small set of characters that hold "almost-main character" status for me. Law is in that category, for example. Vivi, too, I guess (don't get me wrong, she'll always be a crewmember to me, but it doesn't feel quite right to give her the same status as the regular main characters). And that's the group where I would put Yamato now - almost Strawhat-level.
That might not be all that satisfying for those who really wanted to see Yamato join - more like a consolation prize than anything, probably. I'm just saying that I don't see his character as a waste of time at all.