The trend line to One Piece is getting distressingly terrible. Next week the series is on break again. It seems to only be publishing every other week these days. That's bad enough, but the edifice would be creaky even without this hiatus x hiatus crap.
We've seen series go down the path of One Piece before, where every villain you seemingly defeat just breaks free from prison or wherever and appears on the game board again. Kenichi did this, and Kenichi wandered off into an endless hell of fighting as a result with no discernible plot progress. Afterwards, when the author was sick of it, the series abruptly quit with nothing resolved and still no plot progress. The series was just suddenly over, the end, all plot threads left hanging.
There's an even worse ending than Kenichi though. That's when the story just goes into indefinite hiatus in the middle of nowhere, like Hunter x Hunter or Bastard! The series author never resolves anything, gets bored of his own work, and quits in disgust halfway through. Whose fault is it that the story became boring? The author's, for never having the plot progress. Of course he would get tired of drawing something like that. Drawing is a lot more difficult than reading manga, and we're already tired of reading it.
Have any characters changed in any meaningful manner from when they were introduced in One Piece? Nami opened her heart and began to rely on and trust others again. Nico Robin got over her despair and learned to enjoy life again. Has anyone else undergone any character development, aside from those two, which occurred at the very beginning of the series?
After the two year time lapse, did anything change about anyone, aside from their looks? Usopp was no braver than before. Franky was as bizarrely stupid as before. Chopper had a little change of heart in not being so shy and afraid of his own beastly appearance. Sanji was an even worse pervert than before. Zoro was just as singleminded and incompetent in all manners aside from sword play as before. Brook was as annoying as always. Nami and Robin obviously already had their character moments so there's no reason to expect a change on their side. Luffy is just as reckless and thoughtless as always, getting caught by Ceasar Clown and losing to the Snow Harpy girl with only luck saving him both times.
Nevermind the two year time lapse then, did anything change in the last two hundred chapters of One Piece? All this writing, did anyone learn any lessons from it? Did any relationships between the crew develop? Do they have a different philosophy about the world than when they left fishman island?
These are normal things that all writers are supposed to do. If the story is continuing, that's because a person's own life story has yet to stabilize. If a situation has stabilized, like say a police officer or fireman just goes out and fights crime or fires every day, there is no particular need to write about every single day he went out to fight crimes or fires. We can just take one day as typical of all the others and stop wasting our time following the meaningless minutia of life. Luffy's crew has stabilized. They're inert. They're boring and uninteresting people. Why are we continuing to watch their story? Can't he just write "and their adventure continued" and sail them into the sunset?
What are we waiting for, as readers? We get that Luffy is always involved in endless fights against super strong opponents. But who cares? That's just the same as his situation was yesterday or the day before. Surely we aren't watching this series because we like fighting for its own sake? Fighting is just a tool to reveal character, it shows peoples' motives and determination. Fighting on its own is just violence. There's no point to reading about any more of it than we already have seen a million times over by now.
In Bleach, even though the fighting has gone on for a long time, we're still getting flashbacks about people's life stories we still know nothing about. We're still getting bankais that we've never seen in action before. We're still getting something more and something new about the characters we love. That's also true about Fairy Tail. We just learned about Natsu's past in the latest chapter. We're also learning more about Lucy's mother. Major things are happening. Bombshells of plot development are dropping everywhere.
When's the last time we learned any of the secrets of One Piece? We don't know the mystery behind 'D.' We don't know the void in the history. We don't know what One Piece is. We don't know what the three weapons are. We don't know what the Noah's Arc is for. We still don't know who the mother of that ugly girl in Thriller Bark is. We don't know Crocodile's past even though they kept referring to it. Every single mystery One Piece has presented to us has simply gone unanswered. Hundreds of chapters and we're not making any progress on any of them. There isn't even a chance that any of them will be answered soon.
Right now in Zou, we're at literally the worst One Piece chapters ever written. Even the Foxy Pirates were better than this, because even then characterization was occurring. Like when they told Chopper to man up and act like a pirate and he did so. Or when Nami saw through the various ploys on the coastline and was upset when people called her heartless, which shows what a softie she really is. This Zou stuff is just absolutely pointless. It's about two complete groups of strangers fighting each other over an utterly stupid reason whose outcome is meaningless no matter what happened because we don't give a damn about either side.
We've descended into some sort of One Piece hell where even the slow pace of Dressrosa sounds like heaven. At least then we were defeating a long-established arch villain and seemingly narrowing the ranks of the strongest that Luffy was eventually destined to overcome. Now we learn that this random mastodon Jack is way stronger than Doffy ever was and he's just one of Kaido's underlings, so how strong does that make Kaido? Do you see the chances of the fights ever ending receding as your hope drips away bit by bit? That's right, Luffy isn't nearly strong enough to become pirate king yet. If it took two hundred chapters to beat Doffy, how many chapters would it take to defeat Jack? Who's stronger than Doffy? And then, how many chapters to beat Kaido, who rules an army of zoan types all as strong as Jack? And that's just one of the four kings that Luffy is supposed to take down by the end. Are you kidding me? We'll all die of old age before any of this gets done. And this by an author who can't even publish a chapter a week.
I've seen manga tailspins before and One Piece is caught in a tailspin. I don't know if this ship can ever be righted. I don't think One Piece will ever reach its ending. The author will give up before then, and the story will just be this forever incomplete edifice just like Hunter x Hunter. Most of One Piece's competition hasn't finished either, so for now it hasn't fallen like a rock down my rankings, but it's already dropped down to 6th place just on my sinking suspicion that the author really isn't up to the task he's set himself with this overly ridiculous epic length.
You know some other overly long series with zero plot development? Kyoukai no Rinne and Shinryaku! Ika Musume. You really really don't want to be in their company. Meaningless gag humor with no plot development, no character's relations changing, no secrets being revealed, just an empty wasteland of energy expended but no goals achieved, forever and ever and ever. If One Piece just becomes a gag manga like those two, it is lost. It'll plummet from 6th place to 99th. When One Piece was first introducing the crew members, it wasn't like this. It used to be so good. It's hard to believe the same author is even writing both works, the quality has dropped so far. One Piece is like a zombie from Thriller Bark, just a mere shadow of its former self.