I actually really loved Dressrosa. The whole first part about Colosseum was easily one of my favorite post timeskip and even later it keeps being a good entertainment. The whole fall is on Doffy's final battle shoulders to me: him dropping to be a former Celestial Dragon, Law being a D, Ope Ope's plot relevance and DF awakening all looked like a shark jump after another.
In the end the whole arc is still a good ride, but I can't keep myself by considering Doffy as an overpowered villain which actually put more trouble than he should have, easily the most plot relevant villain since ever just for all he represents and the huge amount of plot threads (PUN!) he leads, while getting a bit emptier chapter by chapter.
In the end, what most made me enjoy the arc is the Impel Down-Marineford "not only Star Hat Pirates matter" vibes with all the combatants joining an important fight after another. Kyros taking down one of the top commander really hit me just as Wyper dealing with Shura, but harder.
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On the other side can't get the rant against Punk Hazard: a realtively short arc with a lot of future development points and just a few-but-good opponents. Caesar, Vergo and Monet are easily better than most of Dressrosa's villains and I remember really hyping myself about the whole Pirate Alliance matter.
On a sidenote, one of Dressrosa's lowest point actually were Doffy's crew: Senor and Baby 5 aside they were all or running jokes or nothing at all. And I am looking at you Dellinger, Machvise, Buffalo and Jolla, absolute empty and useless characters!
The trio of Ceasar /Monet /Vergo (and briefly Law) are my favourite constellation of villains in the entire series and a large reason I enjoy the arc so much. Quality over quantity.
And I'm glad to hear people speak up about what they like with Dressrosa. It's fun to read.
The common trend of these pace issues is due to clashing of different storylines meshed together. Like, Dressrosa was about beating Doflamingo and restoring the kingdom. All good. But it also:
- Mera Mera Tournment
- Search for Kanjuro
- Introduced the Grand Fleet and its captains
- Reintroduced Sabo and finally made the revolutionaries a real presence in the story rather than background noise
- CP-0 Aegis introduction
- Burgess’ presence
- Law’s story
- Kyro’s story
- Tontatta’s story
- Fujitora’s introduction and plot to abolish the Warlords
The last four all mesh well together with the main arc objectives, so by themselves they don’t grind out pacing. But the other stories are kinda off, and whenever they are developed, the main story suffers and vice-versa.
Maybe it could have been better to separate the mera-mera tournment into its own mini-arc that happens before Dressrosa, so the others plot could start (and some even end) there and have lesser impact when we arrive in Dressrosa.
The New World see this problem come back constantly because of the scope of each arc tries to further as much other world lore as possible. It has an epic feel, but it’s unfocused, so more plots need to halt so other plots can move forward at each chapter.
What can help and I hope will happen is that the scope of future arcs will be smaller. Considering how much stuff Wano is dealing with, I sure think we may get more focused stories once the Yonko are dealt with.
Another plot point to add: Bellamy.
And agreed about making arcs smaller. I'd be overjoyed if Oda could return to the format of the Alabasta Saga with several small arcs with a larger connecting plot line instead of a big mess of everything.