Let’s say it now: the One Piece anime is being quite boring lately. It’s average, at best. There are two things that fans accuse Toei of doing wrong. 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. At the time this article is being written, it has been 51 anime episodes have past since Luffy & co. arrived at Doflamingo’s kingdom. We have done some research on One Piece Wikia and we put into perspective the amount of episodes we have seen for Dressrosa so far:
We have 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 adapt 1 chapter per episode. That might work for longer, monthly mangas, but definitely not for shorter, weekly mangas like One Piece. This could be explained with the fact that the anime is too close to the manga right now. Because of that, Toei been adding way too many unnecessary reaction shots, many of them including Dressrosa citizens running (although that also happened in the manga). If that wasn’t enough, One Piece also seems to be suffering from the Naruto flashback syndrome: how many times have seen Rebecca’s past at this point?
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 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.
How could this be fixed? Usually, what anime does when they are too close to the source material is to create filler, as Gintoki points out. One Piece fillers aren’t that bad: there’s 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. And the TV specials don’t seem to be enough either.
If bad pacing wasn’t enough, a new complain has arisen from the current arc: poor animation. Just as many fans agree that the best animation was seen between Ennies Lobby and Thriller Barkwhere it was consistent and fluid, many fans also agree that the animation in Dressrosa is barely average (Imean, wtf). Toei having poor animation is no surprise. There were many complains for viewers of Dragon Ball Super too, and many people couldn’t even get into World Trigger for the same reason. Toei has become synonym of poor animation and that’s sad.
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 12/25 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.