Let’s say it now: the One Piece anime is being quite boring lately. It’s average, at best. There have been many critics pointing at why this could be happening. These critiques are divided into two problems: pacing and animation. Let’s try to find out why this is happening.
[ WARNING: This article contains spoilers for the anime ]
Dressrosa is the longest arc in the One Piece series so far and that’s a fact. Ever since the Straw Hats, Law, Kinemon and Momonosuke arrived at Doflamingo’s kingdom, 51 anime episodes have past. And, as you might have seen in today’s episode, things are just getting started. We’ve done some research on One Piece Wikia and we put into perspective the amount of episodes we’ve seen for Dressrosa so far:
So we’ve seen as many episodes of Dressrosa as episodes there are in Fishmen Island Arc, the longest arc so far. Except we’re nowhere near done with Dressrosa yet. It should also be pointed out that many of these arcs included fillers and recaps, something we haven’t yet seen in Dressrosa.
Why is this happening? One of the explanations could be that, for some reason, TOEI has decided to translate 1 manga chapter to 1 anime episode. Which is something that doesn’t really always work since narrative in comics and audiovisual pieces is not the same. We’ve also seen too many
unnecessary reaction shots. For example, recently we got nearly a quarter of an episode of just toys transforming back to humans. Or hundreds of panning shots of Sabo (without showing his actual face until last week’s episode). Or repeated flashbacks, like Rebecca and her father. Seriously, who was happy about seeing those flashbacks again when we were all waiting for Sabo to eat the Mera Mera no Mi?
Yes, One Piece is a veeeery long series and it was just recently that Oda confirmed that we were only half-way through the story. The New World has just started and OP fans want to watch the show forever and enjoy and savour every little moment. As a hardcore One Piece fan, I agree with that. However, it’s starting to get frustrating when the excessively long pacing makes things less exciting and thrilling because it’s just too slow, boring and repetitive.
Caesar’s Retrieval Arc (or Lawlu paradise)
This is happening because the manga and the anime are pretty close at the moment. Usually, what animes do in these situations, as Gintoki points out, is create filler. One Piece fillers aren’t that bad: we’ve got Foxy, the G8 arc… A 10-episode filler prior to Dressrosa would have been enough. Yes, we did get filler: Caesar’s Retrieval Arc, but it was only 3 episodes. We also got the 3D2Y Special, but it still doesn’t seem to be enough.
And if that wasn’t enough, a new complaint has arisen from the current arc: poor animation. Just as many fans agree that the best animation was seen between Ennies Lobby and Thriller Bark where it was consistent and fluid, many fans also agree that the animation in Dressrosa is barely average (I mean, wtf). As a gif maker, I’ve noticed these differences when it comes to counting the amount of frames used for certain movements. There are very few frames in quick movements, and lots of still frames for overly prolonged reaction shots.
Why is this happening? Well, we really don’t know much about the current working process of these animators. However, there is a rule that seems to apply quite often: short animes have good quality animation (Shingeki no Kyojin, Akame ga Kill, Tokyo Ghoul...), long animes don’t (Naruto Shippuden, One Piece, Bleach). And it does make sense, since producing an anime that has to air every week during all year is very different from seasonal animes with only 12/21 episodes. Then there’s also the fact that animators don’t have to work that hard in these animes since they’re already incredibly popular. People will continue watching One Piece no matter what, which gives animators an excuse to relax and not work that hard in the animation.
It has to be said though, that there is also Eiichiro Oda’s manga to blame. Dressrosa is also the longest arc in the manga, and Oda is probably regretting introducing so many parties in this island (CP0, Revolutionaries, Colosseum fighters, toys/civilians, Law, Kinemon, Doflamingo’s plans, the Straw Hats…). Hell, he even had to send some Straw Hats away on the Sunny because there is just too much going on! Whether Oda has realised this or not, we don’t know. Although he seems to be rushing things lately in the manga. We can only hope that he’ll rethink how to write things in the New World and possibly we’ll get some short arcs like Whiskey Peak or Jaya. One thing is for sure: in Oda we trust!