I'll preface this post by saying that I don't want to take away from the massive joy this chapter has brought to (according to a subreddit poll) 85% of the community. It's great that so many enjoy it and you aren't wrong for doing so. I'm not trying to convince you otherwise. I do think a lot of people are really reaching in trying to prove that Oda is a genius and had everything planned all along but I digress. This post is more of a vent than anything.
Man, I've been reading One Piece since 2001 (I think) and started to read weekly in 2005. I've never been so let down until now.
I see so many problems with this that I fear it may be One Piece's dreaded "Jumping the Shark" moment. Of course, Oda has enough credit for me to wait and see, but I'm really worried by where this seems to be going.
Maybe the next chapters will make things better. But really, right now, I'm really worried that this story may take a direction I either don't care about or even deeply dislike.
This is pretty much how I feel. I caught a handful of episodes in the 4Kids days but really started following in 2009. This has to be the worst I've felt about OP in all that time. I'm wrestling with whether this or chapter 755 (Franky kissing Kyuin) is my most disliked. For the first time I'm deliberating on if I want to take a break from the manga. I say this about my favorite series and not easily. For me Onigashima has, despite many awesome moments been a massive exercise in frustration and disappointment. Heck, I'll make my own list of problems for the whole of act 3.
-Problem #1: The lack of tension. From the very start we had way more named protagonists in this raid than enemies. The "danger" was solely in the number of mooks and the presence of two emperors. But we never really feel like the raid could fail. Or like it will succeed but with an important sacrifice. Queen and Tama did a good job of removing the mook threat. We even had two of the Tobiroppo taken out as a freebie by Big Mom and another with Drake's defection. Also Marco's here to help despite prior evidence to the contrary because…he's popular, I guess? But we can add tension by dropping the island and its bombs on the flower capital as if Kaido winning wouldn't already doom the people of Wano!
-Problem #2: The easily removed subplots. Nami and Usopp running away for days on end. The ice oni plague that Chopper had to cure in an arc where he already easily cured a plague made by the exact same antagonist. The kanzenbo chase. Nami "gaining" Zeus despite having had him for the past 100 chapters. All unnecessary.
-Problem #3: Excessive use of fake-out deaths. I'm the first person to defend Oda not killing characters off too often. Heck, Kinemon surviving was actually really clever. And nobody expected Orochi to die from a beheading. But Kiku? Kanjuro? Kanjuro again? You can't have your cake and eat it too.
-Problem #4: The disrespect of Big Mom and the BMP. I've said it before and I'll say it again. Oda deliberately avoided Luffy having to fight BM because he doesn't want to depict his main character spending 30 chapters punching a woman. So he handed her off to two side characters. And we never got to see Smoothie have a real fight. I'd love to believe BM will be back for Elbaf but given how much attention she got in Wano, I doubt it.
-Problem #5: The failure to give all of the SHs interesting fights. Luffy, Zoro, and Sanji got the love they deserved. Robin's fight was decent. Jinbe's was great thematically and visually but I'd rather have had him struggle with Jack than curb-stomp WW and then go on to rescue mooks. Franky's was a disappointing reel of shogun, suplex, and beam - the only 3 things Franky knows how to do anymore. I'm not validating Nami and Usopp's fights as real. Brook 1-shot a number. Chopper held off a not-serious Queen. In what is the face-off arc, it's criminal to have snubbed 4+ members of the crew. Problem #2 proves that time wasn't the issue. Not enough villains? Add a stegosaur, parasaur, ankylosaur, a proper T-rex, a fricken megatherium for all I care.
-Problem #6: Carrot being put on the backburner. :ninja:
-Problem #7: Hiyori's role was pathetically underwhelming. She snuck into the raid, seemingly patched up the scabbards, and stuck a nail in Orochi. That's fundamentally it. The collapsing roof did most of the work and because Oda can't have a sympathetic female do something dark, the last gasp of the Kanzenbo conveniently shows up to deliver the finishing blow. It really feels like she was added just to be Zoro's EOS love interest.
-Problem #8: The Human-Human Fruit Mythical Model: Nika. So instead of Luffy having a random paramecia (granted, a pretty good one) that Shanks' crew just randomly plundered, he actually has arguably the most significant fruit in the entire series, that is actually a mythical zoan which, barring heavy theorycrafting, isn't tied to any real-life animal or myth, but rather one that Oda very recently established within his own story. That presumably had rubber properties. I'm sorry, Oda, but that is the most convenient bullpoop you've ever whipped out. Oh, and it also ties Luffy to this legendary figure that was first name-dropped less than 30 chapters ago (or if you want to lean on Luffy's Joy Boy connection, ~80 chapters ago when the Oden flashback made that evident). Because Luffy already having the hat that the prior Pirate King wore and which was apparently a very important symbol in history wasn't already suggestive of a "child of prophecy." Look, even if you argue that Luffy did have to work hard to achieve what he has, this still reeks of the trope and leaves a sour taste in the mouth. I won't complain about gear 5 itself because although I think awakening is a bad concept, his abilities do seem plausible within that framework. But poor Chopper. His fruit just got outshone hard.