As I mentioned in my last blog post, I'm way behind on One Piece (34 episodes to be exact), so I watched a few of them yesterday. The ones I watched were the latter part of the Impel Down arc.
I am a huge One Piece fan and it is propably my all time favorite anime, but this arc really made me dislike One Piece. Not so much that I'd stop watching One Piece, but not far from that.
Why is that? Well, the main reason was that the crew is still scattered and the entire arc is all about luffy. The Amazon Lily arc was also a Luffy only arc, but it didn't piss me off as much as this arc did because that arc was only a few episodes. This arc felt like it dragged on way too much. I have never complained about the dragging of episodes in One Piece simply because I loved every second of it, but this time it was sheer agony. To me, One Piece has always been about the unity and chemistry of the crew and the complete lack of the crew is like all the fun has been sapped out of the anime. Sure Luffy is fun every now and then, but it can't support the entire show.
Then the arc did the unexpected and showed the reappearance of Crocodile, who is one of my all time favorite villains. But when it became obvious that Crocodile was downgraded into a simple helping hand, he lost all shine he previously had. As for the reappearance of Buggy, Mr. 2 and Mr. 3. Well, I never cared for any of them and in this arc they are reduced into a simple comic relief, which started to irritate me even more.
Then there was the entire okama crew. Oh boy, where to begin. One Piece has previously introduced weird characters and character achetypes, but most of them were nothing more than comic relief (except for Mr.2). Ivankov takes the weirdness up a notch and introduces the entire crew of okama fellows who side with Luffy. This was the beginning of a multiple facepalm moments that were ment to be funny, but became more awkward than funny. Promoting a comic relief into a main character has never worked in any show and neither does it work here.
On a plus side, the arc did introduce a good character also - namely Inazuma. Inazuma is part of the revolutionary army, who dresses a little funny, but is very powerful, silently cool and most importantly, charismatic enough to make me care for him. He is also part of the whole okama thingy, but he is not weird enough to be downgraded into a comic relief. On the contrary, the entire okama aspect opens a new dimension in the character - the female side. Inazuma was the only character in the arc that I would like to see join Luffy's gang.
Then there was one other character that was at least interesting - namely Jinbei. As an ex-Shichibukai, he is immediately raised above the others. Most of the arc, he acts like the voice of reason for Luffy (cause like we all know, Luffy desperately needs help with the thinking). It's not until the end of the arc that we see what Jimbei can really do.
All in all, the entire Impel Down arc is now finally over and all I am afraid of is that the next arc will be exactly the same. Well at least it will have the epic war between Whitebeard pirates and the Shichibukai.